27/02/2013 Daily Politics


27/02/2013

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn present live from Brussels and have an interview with Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner. Plus full coverage of Prime Minister's Questions.


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LineFromTo

Bonjour, and welcome to the Daily Politics live from the European

:00:10.:00:15.

Parliament in Brussels. Like Britain, the eurozone is mired

:00:15.:00:18.

in stagnation, crippled by debt, but in Brussels they were beginning

:00:18.:00:24.

to think the worst was over, to the Italian elections now mean the

:00:24.:00:34.
:00:34.:01:04.

eurozone is back in crisis? -- to The result touches us all, said the

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Spanish Foreign Minister in reaction to the Italian elections.

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We have jumped into the void. Italy is the big story of the week here

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in the European Parliament. By voting strongly against EU imposed

:01:16.:01:20.

austerity and electing a raft of Euro-sceptic politicians, the

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Italians have laid down the gauntlet to the Euro-elite here in

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Brussels. We will try to discover what happens next.

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David Cameron is promising an in- out referendum on our relationship

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with his place, but not until 2017. What do the men and women who work

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here make of that? We will be meeting one MEP who

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believes the way forward is more integration, not less.

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Trade that is fair rent free across the Atlantic supports millions of

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good paying American jobs -- fair and free.

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We will meet the man negotiating with President Obama on an historic

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trade deal between America and the And standby for the fire and fury

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of a Prime Minister's Questions the day before the most important by-

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election for 30 years. We won't be missing a moment of PMQs afternoon.

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That is all in the next hour-and-a- half live from this Ben Ali

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building in the European Parliament. Joining us both for the duration is

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one temporary exile from the Westminster village, David Davis, a

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former Foreign Office Europe Minister who famously whipped the

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Maastricht treaty through the House of Commons, to the chagrin of some

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of his colleagues on the Tory right - that is French, you know!

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And Glenis Wilmott of Labour, who leads her party's MEPs in the

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European Parliament. Bienvenue a vous deux.

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Let's get a bigger update on the big domestic story of the day, the

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whole Chris Rennard story. Vicki Young is our political

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correspondent. Nick Clegg has been doing his phone-in, what did he

:03:11.:03:16.

say? He must have been delighted to remember that he had half an hour

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of questions on the London station LBC, and Chris Rennard came up.

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Nick Clegg has slightly changed the story again. When he mentioned why

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Chris Rennard stood down in 2009 we were always told it was about ill-

:03:30.:03:35.

health, but today Nick Clegg said that have caused the allegations of

:03:35.:03:38.

inappropriate behaviour towards women were in the background. He

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also suggested that because he had just come in as leader, he wanted a

:03:43.:03:48.

change himself up the part of -- at the top of the party structure. But

:03:48.:03:53.

there seems to be again a change in the story which just keeps on going.

:03:53.:03:56.

After the discomfort of the phone- in, where do we go? We have heard

:03:57.:04:00.

from the women who have made the allegations, we have heard

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responses from Nick Clegg which has changed, what do we do now?

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party would like everybody to stop talking about it, they have Party

:04:09.:04:12.

investigations going on which they hope will get to the bottom of it,

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but the more they talk about it, the more the story changes, the

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more it will be covered. That could be a problem, especially with the

:04:21.:04:26.

very important by-election tomorrow. The problem they had originally was

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that the women involved in this did not want publicity, they thought

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the issue had been dealt with, Chris Rennard stood down, he had

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stepped from sight, but then they saw him upping his profile and I

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think they were worried he was trying to get back into a position

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of power. That is where it went wrong. But the party President Tim

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Farron has today said that the party led down these women and

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things need to be dealt with in the party structure and organisation.

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Tim Farron was the one who famously said that the party screwed up.

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By that, I think he meant Nick Clegg!

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David Davis, this has gone from being a sex scandal that does not

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seem to involve any sex, thank you, Lib Dems, for that, into a crisis

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of Mr Clegg's leadership. Will it impact the Eastleigh by-election?

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Hard to know, but I suspect not, in truth. People making by-election

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decisions tend to make them on local issues. But it certainly

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can't help their position or make the Liberal story on the door step

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even easier. -- any easier. In a by-election called because the

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sitting candidate is going to jail, fought in the middle of a

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leadership crisis for the Lib Dems, with you only a few thousand votes

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behind, if they -- if you can't win this, you can't win anywhere?

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That's true. It ought to be in our favour, but Lib Dems are

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notoriously difficult to remove. You have 39 or 40 councillors, they

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control the council entirely in the area. That is their army on the

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ground. I have had to do something like this in my own seat, it took

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10 years to basically eradicate my Lib Dem opposition. You say and

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eradicate, should we go there?! But you have said that if you can't win

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in Eastleigh you can't win anywhere. It would seem to me that if on the

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early hours of Friday morning we discover the Lib Dems have held on,

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despite all we have been talking about, we have gone from a crisis

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for Mr Clegg to a crisis for Mr Cameron. I am not sure about that.

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It has been discounted with the expectation that they will win. But

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the UKIP/Tory relationship, what that will be, that is much more

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likely to win back Tory MPs. UKIP does well and the Lib Dems

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hold onto the seat, and you come second or, maybe even, a terrible

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suggestion, third, I suggest there is another crisis for Cameron.

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think if we came third it would be a crisis, that is the case. A bit

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is a close second with UKIP on our tail, it would be pretty

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uncomfortable -- if it is a close second. It will not dislodge David

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Cameron, he will be there until the next election, but it will make

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things more uncomfortable. Glenis Wilmott, One nation Labour clearly

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does not include Eastleigh? It was always going to be an uphill battle

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in Eastleigh, but I think it says more about what is happening in the

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Conservatives, the Lib Dems and the coalition in general. People

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obviously don't have these in either party. It will be

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interesting to see what happens tomorrow. -- people don't have

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faith in either party. The if you are right and voters do not have

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faith in either coalition party, that means Eastleigh is precisely

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the kind of seat that oppositions should be winning. And you have

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said you would win seats outside your heartland, Eastleigh is not a

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Porsche, seven-seat, working-class, a former railway workers. -- is not

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a Porsche seven-seat. If you come forth, it is not good for Labour.

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A joke it did well in Italy, why can't they do well for Labour?

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don't think it is quite the same as in Italy! Why are people turning

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away from this Conservative-led government? Let's look at why

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Labour can't do well in a constituency like Eastleigh in the

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midst of an unpopular coalition government with living standards

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being squeezed higher than in any time since the 1920s. Why do you do,

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as the polls suggest, so badly? Let's see what happens tomorrow.

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The story here is that UKIP have taken so many boats from the Tories,

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which is a real crisis for David Cameron -- so many votes. That is

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the issue that David Cameron has tried to deal with when he has

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spoken about a referendum, it has not worked. If the viewers would

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like to see a full list of beastly candidates, and there are many of

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them, you can see them on the BBC website -- a full list of the

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Eastleigh candidates. The indecisive Italian election

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result has led to fears that political gridlock in the third

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largest eurozone economy could rekindle the European debt crisis.

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57% of Italians voted for and to austerity parties, and with the

:09:51.:09:55.

result an effective stalemate, shares and Italian banks fell 7% in

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value on Tuesday. The eurozone may have been out of the news recently

:09:59.:10:04.

but the economic picture remains bleak. Its economy shrank by 0.6%

:10:04.:10:10.

in the final quarter of 2012. Italy has barely grown for a decade. The

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European Commission has forecast a further 0.3% contraction across the

:10:14.:10:19.

whole of the EU in 2013. Continued uncertainty in its elite makes any

:10:19.:10:26.

wider recovery less likely. -- continued uncertainty in Italy. The

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commission says the average unemployment rate will reach 27% in

:10:29.:10:38.

Greece, 28.9% in Spain and 17.3% in Portugal -- 26.9% in Spain. This

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comes at a time when credit ratings agency Moody's has downgraded

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Britain's rating from 8882 A one. I am joined by Jane Foley, senior

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strategist at Rabobank. People would argue that losing the AAA

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credit rating is a blow for George Osborne, the markets may well have

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acted it in. But what is the long- term impact of losing the AAA from

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the UK? Relative to, say, five years ago, there is a new normal in

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the markets. The UK was not the first to lose AAA, the US lost

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theirs around 18 months ago and France lost theirs last year. So we

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have adjusted to what is a worse standard for economies. The other

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factor is that credit rating companies are only really

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reflecting the bad news that the markets already know about. There

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is not too much shock value year, but that is one difference in the

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UK, there is still a prospect that all three major credit ratings

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companies could potentially downgrade the UK by the end of, say,

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this quartet. The march Budget will be key in determining whether that

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happens. George Osborne could breathe a sigh of relief because of

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the stalemate in the Italian elections, it has somewhat

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overshadowed what has happened since Britain lost its AAA. Now the

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markets will be more spooked by what is happening in Italy.

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eurozone crisis, foreign international investment point of

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view, is much bigger than the UK credit rating outlook. Most people

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had anticipated that would happen anyway. These elections are

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potentially really very significant. Most people, from an economist

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point of view, most eurozone politicians, see the need for its

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elite to carry on with structural reform -- the need for Italy to

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carry on. But Italy has a very strong history of short-lived, weak

:12:42.:12:46.

coalition governments, that has been since the Second World War.

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There is a lot of voter apathy so many Italians do not take the

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elections that seriously, so consequently we have a stalemate

:12:55.:12:59.

position meaning that more structural reform looks really

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difficult. That is a problem for the eurozone and it serves as a

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reminder that the crisis in the eurozone is very much up and

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running still. Thank you, Jane Foley.

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Here in Brussels we are joined by the European commissioner for trade,

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Karel de Gucht. Welcome to the programme. The bail out for its

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elite agreed by the Commission and the ECB and so on was contingent on

:13:29.:13:34.

a number of austerity measures. -- the bail out for its elite. Well

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that bail out continue now that Italy has voted against austerity

:13:39.:13:45.

measures? I see no other option. It is a deliberate choice of the

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European Union that we continue to support its elite in its -- to

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support its elite to get back to normal economic growth. I would not

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call it a bail out. It was not a bail out. Italy has not been bailed

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out, we have been taking measures, the Italians have done so, Mario

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Monti has done so, so that the interest rates went down. In terms

:14:19.:14:27.

of the budget deficits for Italy this year, 2013, it will be a

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little bit above 2%. So we have quite a good result. We know that

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Italy could not get away with a huge number of bombs it needs to

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put into the market if the ECB was not standing behind it. -- the

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number of bombss. If they abandon the programme of Mario Monti, will

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the ECB continue to support existing measures? These questions

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are very interesting for journalists. This is not a

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hypothetical question. Italy has to bother 350 billion euros this year.

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-- has to borrow. Regardless of whether they stick with austerity

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or not, does the ECB continued to support that bond buying? Your

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question is hypothetical because Italy has not decided to abandon

:15:24.:15:27.

the austerity measures they have been taking in the past. People

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just voted against it. Yes, but first of all you need a government

:15:33.:15:37.

in the country which will change those decisions, and apart from the

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fact that it will not be easy to find the Government, I don't think

:15:42.:15:47.

you'll find a government that makes a way with those measures. In

:15:47.:15:52.

politics, the day before elections on the day after elections, the

:15:52.:16:02.
:16:02.:16:07.

difference in between is much more If you continue with what I call

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the bail out, you want to choose a different word, it means the

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conditions you impose on bail outs don't matter and the Greece and the

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Portuguese and the Irish will be saying why are we doing it, as

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well? But that's why I say that they will continue those measures

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and you say 57% has been voting against Europe, that's not true.

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I said voting against austerity. But even that is not true. I happen

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to know Italy rather well and they have voted with their feet and they

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are simply fed up with Italian politics and then you could argue,

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but in the end, Berlusconi got quite a good result, yes, because

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people say look we don't like him, we don't trust him but at least he

:16:56.:17:02.

doesn't make us problems, you know. Then you have somebody like Monti,

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predecessor of mine who has been courageous in in taking these

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measures and if you demonstrate that kind of courage in politics

:17:10.:17:14.

you have to calculate it might well be that you are losing the next

:17:14.:17:18.

elections and that's what's happening with Mr Monti but doesn't

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say anything about whether his measures were right, his measures

:17:21.:17:25.

were right and you will see that in the future. Not according to the

:17:25.:17:29.

Italian people, I understand they may not matter in Brussels. Let me

:17:29.:17:32.

ask this, do you you accept those European Commissioners, your

:17:32.:17:39.

colleagues and others here who said the eurozone crisis was effectively

:17:39.:17:42.

over at the end of last year was wrong? I don't think what we have

:17:42.:17:47.

been saying is wrong. We were able to stop the cycle of the euro

:17:47.:17:53.

crisis because of the ECB saying clearly, look, we are going to do

:17:53.:17:59.

everything necessary to keep the eurozone together. That has not

:17:59.:18:03.

changed, you know. It is still in crisis, isn't it? You should

:18:03.:18:10.

realise, Sir, that the economic monetary union is monetary project

:18:10.:18:15.

but before all it's a political project and that will stay like

:18:15.:18:20.

that. It's not going to change because of an election in Italy and

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and then - are you then still a Democrat in all this? When you see

:18:28.:18:35.

the figures, the outcome of the Italian election, of course you

:18:35.:18:38.

have to respect that, but on the other hand, you should not be

:18:38.:18:42.

pleased with that and not look upon this as a demonstration of what you

:18:42.:18:46.

would call a good democratic practice, you know. That all of a

:18:46.:18:53.

sudden a quarter of the population is voting for somebody like Beppe

:18:53.:18:56.

Grillo, who seems to be a very good comic, tells something about the

:18:56.:19:01.

mood in that country and tells something about difficulties

:19:01.:19:05.

democracy is in and the difficulties democracy is in tells

:19:05.:19:10.

something about the courage you need at this present time to take

:19:10.:19:16.

tough decisions like Mario Monti has been taking. The European Union

:19:16.:19:20.

is beginning, is already under way with negotiations for a free trade

:19:20.:19:24.

deal with the United States, which is a big step for both the European

:19:24.:19:28.

Union and for the United States. What's the timetable on that and

:19:28.:19:33.

how confident are you that you will get a free trade deal?

:19:33.:19:37.

timetable, I think we should do it in a short period of time, that's

:19:37.:19:40.

also what the Americans have been saying, that it should happen on

:19:40.:19:45.

one tank of gas but the gas price went down considerably in the US.

:19:45.:19:49.

The American tanks are pretty big! That's what I mean. We should do it

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now, because there's no reason that you would have a better chance if

:19:53.:19:58.

you take more years and more time to do it. What's your timetable?

:19:58.:20:03.

am not going to nail myself down on timetable. I think ideally we

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should do it within this serve, in term of this college but of course

:20:08.:20:13.

- then you don't have much time, but don't nail me down on a

:20:13.:20:17.

timetable. Nail me down on a result and the result should be that it's

:20:17.:20:20.

really a big and deep and comprehensive trade deal that's

:20:20.:20:24.

giving a lot of oxygen to both our economies and that re-establishes

:20:24.:20:27.

our leading role in the world economy, that's what we are aiming

:20:27.:20:31.

at, you know. This will be a trade deal that will include the French

:20:31.:20:34.

agricultural sector? Of course and also the British one. Yeah,

:20:34.:20:38.

although you know the problems of the French one. We have already

:20:38.:20:42.

seen what the French agricultural Minister has said. They've said

:20:42.:20:47.

they're open to a deal but vigilant on agricultural matters. The French

:20:47.:20:51.

Minister for agriculture is not negotiating in the European

:20:51.:20:54.

Commission. We will take into account... They still have to

:20:54.:20:59.

approve it. All kind of considerations. You don't have a

:21:00.:21:03.

problem only with European agriculture, there's also very huge

:21:03.:21:06.

problem with the American agriculture. I understand that, but

:21:06.:21:09.

the American Agriculture Minister has said that everything in their

:21:09.:21:14.

sector is up for negotiation, as we have not yet heard that from the

:21:14.:21:19.

French. Let me ask this, if Britain was to leave the European Union and

:21:19.:21:24.

Mr Cameron is offering a referendum on that if he is re-elected in 2015.

:21:24.:21:29.

He is promising a referendum which will be in or out. If Britain voted

:21:29.:21:32.

to leave, would the European Union be prepared to negotiate a free

:21:33.:21:40.

trade arrangement with Britain? First of all, this is a statement

:21:40.:21:47.

about a period after the next legs. Secondly -- after the next election.

:21:47.:21:51.

Secondly, I haven't heard Mr Cameron saying he want to leave the

:21:51.:21:55.

union, the last two pages of his speech, he is... I didn't say that,

:21:55.:22:00.

I said he is offering a referendum and if the people were to vote to

:22:00.:22:04.

leave, would it be possible for Britain to negotiate a free trade

:22:04.:22:07.

arrangement with the European Union on the same basis as you would like

:22:07.:22:13.

to negotiate one with the United States? Europe is not a free lunch.

:22:13.:22:16.

Britain is part of the European Union. It's a very important member

:22:16.:22:20.

state. By the way, they have been playing a very important role, for

:22:20.:22:26.

example, in establishing internal markets, also in the enlargement to

:22:26.:22:30.

the eastern countries, so we want them to stay in, that's what we are

:22:30.:22:33.

going to work on and I am not going to pronounce myself on something

:22:33.:22:37.

that I think will never happen for a number of reasons. It will never

:22:37.:22:42.

happen, David Davis? That's a misjudgment. Depending on how the

:22:42.:22:46.

European authorities respond to attempts at renegotiating our

:22:46.:22:50.

membership, if there's a blank response I think there's a high

:22:50.:22:56.

chance that the British people will vote to leave. Commissioner?

:22:56.:23:01.

understood that you would have a referendum after a treaty change at

:23:01.:23:10.

conditions. Now you have said that we started talking about - also

:23:10.:23:16.

have been working that for 30 years, first in European Parliament,

:23:16.:23:19.

national Government and now in European Commission. I don't see

:23:19.:23:23.

any treaty change in the foreseeable future. Even though

:23:23.:23:30.

there are demands for much deeper fiscal union within the eurozone?

:23:31.:23:34.

There's difference between treaty negotiations, treaty change

:23:34.:23:37.

negotiations and treaty changes, that's not exactly the same, you

:23:37.:23:43.

know. It will be extremely difficult because we have to do

:23:43.:23:47.

that by unanimity and when you start a process there will not only

:23:47.:23:51.

be demands by Great Britain on the table but demands by almost all of

:23:51.:23:54.

the member states and that's why I personally - that's my personal

:23:54.:23:58.

opinion. I cannot see any treaty change in the foreseeable future.

:23:58.:24:05.

Probably if you have any time at any time a referendum in Great

:24:05.:24:09.

Britain, that's the Sovereign decision of Great Britain but I

:24:09.:24:13.

don't think it will be about treaty change. Commissioner, the way the

:24:13.:24:17.

Prime Minister has phrased this is we will have a renegotiation with

:24:17.:24:20.

the European Union about our our relationship which would require

:24:20.:24:24.

treaty change. Very fundamental parts would require treaty change.

:24:24.:24:30.

If that doesn't happen, then his stated aim of arguing to stay in

:24:30.:24:34.

will be completely undermined. If there's no change in our

:24:34.:24:37.

relationship with the Union, the odds of the British people voting

:24:37.:24:43.

to leave would be quite high. you are a democratic country. You

:24:43.:24:46.

are democratic people. If you vote to leave the European Union, that's

:24:46.:24:50.

your Sovereign decision. What I am arguing is that you have many more

:24:50.:24:55.

reasons to stay in than to get out. I believe that in the end people

:24:55.:25:01.

are rationale, you know. someone like yourself, who's a

:25:01.:25:05.

committed European and in any referendum would vote yes to keep

:25:05.:25:08.

Britain in, isn't there a problem that you have with the British

:25:08.:25:13.

people in that if you were to say to the British people Britain could

:25:13.:25:18.

have a free trade arrangement similar to what is being offered to

:25:18.:25:22.

the United States, most British people may say, I would rather have

:25:22.:25:25.

that, actually? It's difficult at the moment, because we haven't had

:25:26.:25:28.

a proper debate about why it's in Britain's interests to be part of

:25:28.:25:31.

Europe. I think the discussion on the referendum, whether I agree or

:25:31.:25:35.

not, is actually bringing that discussion to the fore. That's a

:25:35.:25:38.

good thing. I think once we get people from British businesses, as

:25:39.:25:41.

we have had, coming forward and saying why it's in British

:25:41.:25:45.

interests for us to have strong engagement in Europe, you see the

:25:45.:25:48.

whole term of the debate change and that's happened and that will

:25:48.:25:55.

continue to happen. I think when we have the debate proper... You would

:25:55.:25:58.

win the argument? We had the US saying how important it was, as

:25:58.:26:03.

well. I know we are not governed by the US but it's interesting how

:26:03.:26:07.

people's views change when people like that start coming and making

:26:07.:26:12.

the case. Final word, Commissioner. The Commission have personal

:26:12.:26:14.

congratulations because we are starting with negotiations with US

:26:14.:26:18.

and good reason for that, it will benefit very much to the UK, very,

:26:19.:26:23.

very much. Britain is a big supporter of a tree trade area with

:26:23.:26:26.

America -- free trade area with America. Commissioner, thank you

:26:26.:26:30.

for being with us. The EU may have won the Nobel Peace

:26:30.:26:34.

Prize recently - not a bad little trophy, that one - but there is one

:26:34.:26:36.

glorious gong, revered across the continent, that our European

:26:36.:26:41.

masters are yet to get their grubby hands on. Yes, that's right, the

:26:41.:26:44.

Daily Politics taza, tasse, kuppi, kopp or mug to you and me - and

:26:44.:26:50.

here's your chance to win it. We'll remind you how to enter in a minute,

:26:51.:27:00.
:27:01.:27:09.

but let's see if you can remember The Prime Minister is on his way as

:27:09.:27:19.
:27:19.:27:34.

we speak. Not long to wait for his There is a certain preshuplness in

:27:34.:27:44.
:27:44.:28:14.

To be in with a chance of winning that wonderful Daily Politics mug

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send your answer to our special e- mail address.

:28:19.:28:29.

You can see the full terms and conditions on our website.

:28:29.:28:33.

It's coming up to 1.00pm here in Brussels - and it is nearly midday

:28:33.:28:37.

back in London. Just take a look at Big Ben - and that can mean only

:28:37.:28:40.

one thing - yes, Prime Minister's Questions is on its way. And that's

:28:40.:28:42.

not all, our political correspondent Iain Watson is here

:28:42.:28:48.

with us. The day before the by- election, loss of the credit rating,

:28:48.:28:52.

what's is Mr Miliband's tactic? is going to go on the economy,

:28:52.:28:56.

almost exclusively the economy, he is not going to get into the

:28:56.:29:04.

private grief of the Liberal Democrats. He wasn't doing well on

:29:04.:29:08.

the economy on Monday. They're aware of the risks. The first risk

:29:08.:29:14.

is AAA is a battery rating, so not a credit rating. Does break through

:29:14.:29:19.

to the wider public? The Moody's report on the downgrade there is

:29:19.:29:22.

ammunition there for the Government. For example, if you are cutting too

:29:22.:29:24.

far and too fast as they would suggest, they're saying there might

:29:24.:29:27.

be a further downgrade. They're also saying the economy is still

:29:27.:29:31.

quite competitive. So, there is some ammunition. He knows on its

:29:32.:29:35.

own this isn't going to be the silver bullet that kills off

:29:35.:29:39.

Conservative economic crediblity but he is going to portray it as a

:29:39.:29:45.

symptom of a wider economic malaise. I think he will try and get in

:29:46.:29:49.

these gas prices and profits, as well. That's the squeeze on living

:29:49.:29:54.

standards and people are hurting. Absolutely. The wider Labour

:29:54.:29:58.

strategists are saying they don't want this debate about the economy,

:29:58.:30:03.

they're not entirely winning. They want to move on to living standards

:30:03.:30:06.

and they know by the time of the next election living standards will

:30:06.:30:11.

certainly not be rising so they think that's better territory to

:30:11.:30:21.
:30:21.:30:26.

occupy. Thank you. Let's go to the Enact the 1984, when the Brighton

:30:26.:30:33.

bomb went off, I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of

:30:33.:30:35.

Margaret Thatcher's demise, and yet a disappointment that such a chance

:30:36.:30:39.

had been missed. Those are the words of the Labour candidate in

:30:40.:30:44.

Eastleigh by-election. They are a complete disgrace and I hope the

:30:44.:30:52.

leader of the Labour Party will get up and condemn them right now.

:30:52.:30:59.

Mr Speaker, three years ago the Prime Minister had this to say, the

:30:59.:31:06.

first priority of any government has got to be keeping UK plc's

:31:06.:31:12.

credit rating, that has got to come first. It is the only responsible

:31:12.:31:17.

thing to do. Can the Prime Minister tell us, how was that going?

:31:17.:31:21.

First of all, isn't it amazing that the leader of the opposition will

:31:21.:31:26.

not condemn someone who apparently speaks up for terrorists? It isn't

:31:26.:31:30.

it absolutely disgraceful? He will have a second chance when he gets

:31:30.:31:35.

up again. But the decision of the ratings agency is a reminder of the

:31:35.:31:39.

debt and deficit problem that this country faces, and frankly it is a

:31:39.:31:44.

warning to anyone who thinks we can walk away from it. It is absolutely

:31:44.:31:47.

vital that we continue with the work of this government, that has

:31:47.:31:51.

cut the deficit by a quarter, has a million extra private sector jobs

:31:51.:31:56.

and interest rates at record low levels. I know it is still his

:31:56.:31:59.

policy to address excessive borrowing by borrowing more.

:31:59.:32:05.

I was asking about the country's credit rating, about the country's

:32:05.:32:10.

credit rating. This is what he used to say, that it was a mark of trust

:32:10.:32:15.

in our economy, that it was right up front and centre in our new

:32:15.:32:19.

economic model. And his manifesto published for the general election

:32:19.:32:24.

said this, safeguarding Britain's credit rating was the very first of

:32:24.:32:31.

his, and I quote, bench marks for Britain against which the British

:32:31.:32:35.

people can judge the economic success or failure of of the next

:32:35.:32:40.

government. So does the Prime Minister accept that by the first

:32:40.:32:44.

Test he set himself, he has failed? If there is a problem of excessive

:32:44.:32:50.

borrowing, why is it his policy to borrow moult? That is the question

:32:50.:32:56.

he simply has to answer. -- why is it his policy to borrow more? The

:32:56.:32:59.

credit ratings agency Moody's says that Moody's could also downgrade

:32:59.:33:03.

the UK government debt rating further in the event of reduced

:33:03.:33:07.

political commitment to fiscal consolidation. On this side of the

:33:08.:33:12.

house, we know that is the vital work we have to do. Will he finally

:33:12.:33:17.

admits that he is in favour of more borrowing? Admit it. You always

:33:18.:33:21.

know when he starts asking me questions that you can't answer

:33:21.:33:28.

questions about his own record. -- that he can't answer question. A

:33:28.:33:31.

part-time Chancellor said it would be a humiliation for Britain to

:33:31.:33:38.

lose its AAA credit rating -- the part-time Chancellor. I know the

:33:38.:33:44.

Prime Minister is not big on humility, but is manifested it

:33:44.:33:50.

promise he would be accountable and open. -- his manifesto did promise.

:33:50.:33:55.

Yes or no, has he failed the first Economic test that he set out in

:33:55.:34:02.

this manifesto? I'm not arguing for one moment that

:34:02.:34:07.

the rating agency doesn't matter, that is his argument. His argument

:34:07.:34:11.

is the rating agency does not matter, his answer to debt is to

:34:11.:34:15.

borrow more and not take responsibility for the mess they

:34:15.:34:20.

left. This Government has cut the deficit by a quarter, has a million

:34:20.:34:23.

extra private sector jobs and lower interest rates which are vital for

:34:23.:34:28.

the future of the economy. If he wants to see those economies which

:34:28.:34:33.

maintain their AAA rating, they are countries like Canada and Germany,

:34:33.:34:37.

who fix the roof when the sun was shining. Why doesn't he admits that

:34:38.:34:42.

his answer to extra borrowing is to borrow more? Have another go, admit

:34:42.:34:51.

it. Anytime you want to swap places, I will gladly answer the questions!

:34:51.:34:55.

And he talks about borrowing, I don't know when the last time he

:34:55.:35:02.

checked was, the deficit is rising, not falling this year. And he is

:35:02.:35:06.

borrowing �212 billion more than he planned because of his failure to

:35:07.:35:12.

grow the economy. Let's turn to the reasons for the downgrade. Can we

:35:12.:35:16.

take it from his answers so far that he really believes that this

:35:16.:35:21.

loss of the country's AAA status, which he set as the test, has

:35:21.:35:26.

nothing to do with him? I'm the one saying his credit

:35:26.:35:30.

rating does matter, and it demonstrates we have to go further

:35:30.:35:34.

and faster are reducing the deficit. But the very fact he won't answer

:35:34.:35:38.

the question about wanting to borrow more, he will never sit on

:35:38.:35:41.

this side of a house but he won't answer the questions about what the

:35:41.:35:46.

country needs to do. If you want to look at what is happening in the

:35:46.:35:50.

economy, isn't it interesting that he doesn't mention the other

:35:50.:35:56.

economic news from last week, 154,000 extra people in work, more

:35:56.:36:00.

people in employment than any time in our history, youth unemployment

:36:00.:36:03.

down since the election, unemployment down since the

:36:03.:36:08.

election, that is what is happening in our economy, but he can't

:36:08.:36:11.

recognise it. When will he admit that we should never listen to

:36:12.:36:17.

someone who sold the Gold, who bossed the banks, who racked up the

:36:17.:36:20.

deficit and can't say sorry for any of it?

:36:20.:36:24.

I think we can take it from that answer that he can't accept the

:36:24.:36:29.

simple fact that he has failed on the first Test he set himself and

:36:29.:36:34.

it is his fault, it has happened on his watch. And borrowing is rising

:36:34.:36:38.

under him. Even after all the pain of the tax rises, all the spending

:36:38.:36:43.

cuts, borrowing is rising, because the part-time Chancellor's plan is

:36:43.:36:48.

failing. The truth is that they are the last people left who think

:36:49.:36:52.

their plan is working and the failure is nothing to do with them.

:36:52.:36:57.

We have 1 million young people... The Education Secretary calls out

:36:57.:37:02.

that is not true, maybe he believes that, but behind the scenes he is

:37:03.:37:09.

briefing against the Chancellor! Maybe they should swap places! We

:37:09.:37:13.

have 1 million young people out of work, the deficit is rising, not

:37:13.:37:17.

falling, the economy is flatlining. What further evidence does he need

:37:18.:37:22.

that his plan is not working? examine the points he has made, he

:37:22.:37:27.

says the deficit is up, it is down by a quarter since the election. He

:37:28.:37:32.

said we don't have support for our plan, the CBI, the biggest business

:37:32.:37:36.

association in the country, says we have the right plan for growth. He

:37:36.:37:40.

complains about unemployment, it is down on the election and a record

:37:40.:37:44.

number are in work. Those are the facts. Now let us examine his

:37:44.:37:48.

policy, the fact that the New Statesman, the in-house magazine of

:37:49.:37:52.

the Labour Party, says this, his critique of the Government's

:37:52.:37:56.

strategy will never win back public trust, his proposals for the

:37:56.:38:00.

economy will never convince, his credibility problem will only

:38:00.:38:05.

become magnified as the general election progresses. That is the

:38:05.:38:10.

New Statesman! With the greatest of respect to the New Statesman, he is

:38:10.:38:20.
:38:20.:38:31.

All we have heard today... Order, order, order! You are excitable

:38:32.:38:36.

fellow! It is not very statesmanlike, calm yourself! Mr Ed

:38:36.:38:43.

Miliband. All we have heard today is a Prime Minister who refuses to

:38:43.:38:47.

accept that he has failed on the central test he set himself, who

:38:47.:38:52.

has failed to meet the first Test he set for himself. It is not just

:38:52.:38:57.

our credit rating downgraded, we have a downgraded government, a

:38:57.:39:02.

downgraded chance land are downgraded Prime Minister. --

:39:02.:39:06.

downgraded Chancellor and a downgraded Prime Minister. If the

:39:06.:39:10.

New Statesman is scraping the barrel, it was the only newspaper

:39:10.:39:20.
:39:20.:39:21.

which endorsed his leadership! I have to say... LAUGHTER AND

:39:21.:39:25.

SHOUTING. In this Oscar week, perhaps the

:39:25.:39:29.

best we can say is that Daniel Day- Lewis was utterly convincing as

:39:29.:39:33.

Abraham Lincoln, and the right honourable gentleman is utterly

:39:33.:39:39.

convincing as Gordon Brown. More borrowing, more spending, more debt.

:39:40.:39:45.

Andrew Jones! In 10 years running Harrogate

:39:46.:39:49.

Borough Council, the Conservatives have cleared to the �19.6 million

:39:49.:39:54.

of debt left by the Liberal Democrats and have enabled a

:39:55.:39:59.

council tax freeze. Does the Prime Minister show that this shows the -

:39:59.:40:03.

- does the Prime Minister agree that this show us the wisdom to

:40:03.:40:07.

tackling debt and anything else is the road to ruin? It is worth

:40:07.:40:11.

recognising that when it comes to finding efficiencies and value for

:40:11.:40:14.

money, local government has an excellent record and we should

:40:14.:40:18.

really say that in this place, they have a good record of paying down

:40:18.:40:23.

debt, dealing with deficit and being refashioned. That reduces

:40:23.:40:30.

your debt interest charges. -- and being efficient.

:40:30.:40:36.

Next month a big event alongside the Budget will be the champions

:40:36.:40:42.

Wales playing England at the Millennium Stadium. HEAR, HEAR!

:40:42.:40:45.

Does the Prime Minister have the same confidence in England winning

:40:45.:40:49.

the Triple Crown as his Chancellor had in retaining the AAA credit

:40:49.:40:54.

rating? And as team manager, does he intend to change his economic

:40:54.:41:01.

team to avoid further humiliation and a triple dip recession? There

:41:01.:41:04.

is a difficult record with prime ministers endorsing various rugby

:41:04.:41:09.

or football teams, so I won't plan to do that, but I am very proud of

:41:09.:41:12.

the fact that on St David's Day the Welsh flag will be flying above

:41:12.:41:16.

Downing Street, as it should be, and when it comes to the rugby, may

:41:17.:41:26.
:41:27.:41:28.

the best team win. Has My right honourable friend

:41:28.:41:33.

noticed that, in common with the United States and Japan, we lost

:41:33.:41:36.

our to play staters, that the cost of our international borrowing has

:41:36.:41:45.

actually fallen? -- lost our AAA status. I don't deny for one second

:41:45.:41:48.

the importance of the ratings agencies, but the most important

:41:48.:41:53.

test of credibility which you face day-in, day-out in the market, is

:41:53.:41:58.

the rate of interest at which you borrow, and our rate of interest is

:41:58.:42:02.

still at record lows. It has gone down since the elections where it

:42:02.:42:06.

has gone up in many other countries. If we listen to the party opposite,

:42:06.:42:12.

it would go up again. The Prime Minister will be aware of

:42:12.:42:15.

an increased need for food banks in constituencies like mine brought

:42:15.:42:21.

about by his Government's failed policies. Will he sign a my

:42:21.:42:25.

petition calling for action so that no family in the UK goes hungry due

:42:25.:42:31.

to his policies? I was certainly look at his petition. First of all,

:42:31.:42:35.

the use of food banks went up tenfold under the last Labour

:42:36.:42:40.

government. But a very important change the maid, asked for by the

:42:40.:42:44.

Trussel Trust, which does so much to promote the work of food banks,

:42:44.:42:48.

was to allow them to be advertised in JobCentres. The last government

:42:48.:42:52.

didn't do that because they were worried about the PR. We put people

:42:52.:42:58.

ahead of public relations. This week, the generation that

:42:58.:43:02.

fought in the Arctic convoy and Bomber Command, who died in the

:43:02.:43:07.

Second World War, have finally been recognised. Does my right

:43:07.:43:11.

honourable friend agree with me that it is right that we remember

:43:11.:43:18.

the 3000 sailors and the 55,000 their lives for the freedom of this

:43:18.:43:21.

country? It is right to raise this issue and I am sure there will be

:43:21.:43:24.

support right across the House of Commons for those who do parts in

:43:24.:43:28.

the Arctic convoys and all those who served in Bomber Command. It is

:43:28.:43:33.

not enough to have the excellent memorial to those who served in

:43:33.:43:37.

Bomber Command in Green Park, it is right that we have the medal for

:43:37.:43:42.

Arctic convoy and the class four Bomber Command. It is very

:43:42.:43:46.

important that we hand these out as quickly as possible, because people

:43:46.:43:50.

who served all those years ago, tragically, we are losing more and

:43:50.:43:54.

more of them and they deserve their Acknowledgments, I am proud that we

:43:54.:44:00.

will get them under this Government. Mr and Mrs Goodwin live in the

:44:00.:44:04.

Caerphilly Borough, they are both registered blind and relied heavily

:44:04.:44:08.

on guide dogs, family and neighbours. Life is not easy for

:44:09.:44:13.

them. But on the 1st April, things will become even more difficult,

:44:13.:44:18.

because they will have to pay the Government bedroom tax on their

:44:18.:44:21.

home for 26 years. What justification can there be for

:44:21.:44:27.

this? First of all, I will look at any individual case, the Department

:44:27.:44:32.

of Work and Pensions will look at any individual case. But can I make

:44:32.:44:36.

this point, this is not a tax. Eight taxes when someone earns

:44:36.:44:41.

money, it is their money and the Government takes some of it away. -

:44:41.:44:47.

- a tax is. The party opposite have to engage with the fact that

:44:47.:44:52.

housing benefit accounts for �23 billion of government spending, a

:44:52.:44:58.

50% increase over last decade. We have to address the fact that we

:44:58.:45:01.

have 250,000 families in overcrowded accommodation and 1.8

:45:01.:45:06.

million people waiting for a Council axe. That is why it is not

:45:06.:45:09.

surprising that the honourable gentleman on the front bench is

:45:09.:45:14.

shouting, shameful, let him listen to what Labour's Housing Minister

:45:14.:45:18.

said under the last government. He said, we have reiterated time and

:45:18.:45:23.

again the need to ensure that houses that are too large for

:45:23.:45:25.

people's current needs are allocated accordingly, that is what

:45:25.:45:29.

they said in government but now when opposition all we get is rank

:45:29.:45:39.
:45:39.:45:43.

Businesses in Yorkshire have full order books and the head of the CBI

:45:43.:45:48.

has said the Yorkshire economy is turning a corner. Would he ignore

:45:48.:45:55.

the poor advice from the party opposite? The British economy has

:45:55.:45:58.

been through difficult times, not least because we are recovering

:45:58.:46:05.

from a massive boom and bust, a massive banking bust and the

:46:05.:46:08.

deepest recession since the 1930s. In terms of employment, in terms of

:46:08.:46:13.

new business creation, you can see an economy that's rebalancing and

:46:13.:46:15.

it's that rebalancing and that business growth that we need to

:46:16.:46:22.

encourage. The Prime Minister has stood idly by while hard-pressed

:46:22.:46:26.

families across the country have faced soaring energy bills, now

:46:26.:46:32.

over �1400 a year. Last October, the Prime Minister promised to take

:46:32.:46:35.

afrbgs. -- action. The country wants to know what is he going to

:46:35.:46:38.

do now to keep his promise to those families who are struggling to heat

:46:38.:46:43.

their homes? We are legislating to make sure that energy companies put

:46:43.:46:47.

people on to the lowest tariffs. When that Bill comes in front of

:46:47.:46:55.

the House of Commons, I hope she will vote for it. Will the Prime

:46:55.:46:57.

Minister withdraw the National Health Service procurement patient

:46:57.:47:02.

choice and competition regulations that seem to contradict assurances

:47:02.:47:05.

given in the other place that this coalition Government will not

:47:05.:47:13.

privatise our NHS? I would urge my honourable friend to look very

:47:13.:47:16.

closely at these regulations because I think what he will find

:47:16.:47:20.

is they are absolutely in line with the principles the last Government

:47:20.:47:24.

put in place and actually, the effect of withdrawing the

:47:24.:47:28.

regulations would actually mean that you have more competition in

:47:28.:47:33.

the NHS, rather than managed competition, managed by monitor. I

:47:33.:47:36.

think the effect of what he wants could be the exact opposite of what

:47:36.:47:44.

he seeks. The Energy Secretary, the Deputy

:47:44.:47:48.

Prime Minister, the committee on climate change, the chair of the

:47:48.:47:54.

energy and climate change Select Committee and a group of over 35

:47:54.:47:56.

businesses NGOs and faith groups are among those who back the

:47:56.:48:01.

inclusion of a target to decarbonise the power sector by

:48:01.:48:05.

2030 in the Energy Bill. Can the Prime Minister explain why his

:48:05.:48:08.

Government have failed to include such a target in the Bill? We don't

:48:08.:48:13.

believe it makes sense to consider setting a target range for 2030 in

:48:13.:48:20.

advance of setting the 5th carbon budget which covers the period. It

:48:20.:48:23.

will be taking the power in the Energy Bill but setting it in

:48:24.:48:30.

advance wouldn't make sense. 2008, Labour commissioned three

:48:30.:48:34.

reports into the state of the NHS to celebrate its 60th birthday

:48:34.:48:38.

party. We now know those reports were damming and raised issues such

:48:38.:48:43.

as a dangerous target culture that was raised five years later. Those

:48:43.:48:47.

reports were suppressed by the Labour Government. Had they not

:48:47.:48:51.

been suppressed thousands of lives could possibly have been saved.

:48:51.:48:56.

Will the Prime Minister join me in calling for an investigation as to

:48:56.:49:02.

who exactly was responsible for suppressing those reports? I know

:49:02.:49:05.

what my honourable friend has said and I will look carefully at the

:49:05.:49:10.

issue she raises. The whole point about the Frances Report is we

:49:10.:49:13.

should use this opportunity to say yes, of course we support the NHS

:49:13.:49:18.

and its founding principles, but not everything in the NHS is right.

:49:18.:49:21.

Where there is bad practice and where there are things going wrong,

:49:21.:49:24.

we need to shine a very bright light at that and make sure not

:49:24.:49:27.

only that we deal with it, but we also hold people to account for it,

:49:28.:49:34.

as well. Further to the honourable member's question on the new

:49:34.:49:40.

regulations laid down on 13th February, the Government gave

:49:40.:49:44.

assurances that GP Commissioners would not be forced to put health

:49:44.:49:47.

service at competitive tendering. The regulations go completely

:49:47.:49:54.

against this. What is the Prime Minister's excuse for this? The GP

:49:54.:49:57.

Commissioners are not forced to put services out to competitive tender.

:49:57.:50:02.

It's GP Commissioners and the point is it is going to be doctors making

:50:02.:50:06.

the decisions about whether they want to expand choice and diversity

:50:06.:50:11.

in the NHS. But I would say to the honourable lady, what is she

:50:11.:50:13.

worried about, what's the Labour Party worried about? Isn't it the

:50:13.:50:18.

case that there are lots of voluntary bodies, charities, the

:50:18.:50:25.

hospice movement, organisations like Mind, like Whizz Kids in Tower

:50:25.:50:29.

Hamlets that provide an amazing service for wheurpb with --

:50:29.:50:34.

children with wheelchairs. Let us have diversity, let us have choice,

:50:34.:50:40.

make sure we are on the side of patients. Two-and-a-half years ago,

:50:40.:50:45.

a nine-year-old from Glamorgan became the 9th person to die in a

:50:45.:50:48.

river incident on a rafting exercise on a river. There appeared

:50:48.:50:53.

to be blatant disregard to common sense health and safety standards.

:50:53.:50:57.

Her parents have campaigned tirelessly for a criminal

:50:57.:51:00.

investigation, improved standards and even funded witnesses to travel

:51:00.:51:03.

to the Turkish courts but their efforts have been frustrated for

:51:03.:51:07.

what appears to be bureaucratic reasons. Will the Prime Minister

:51:07.:51:12.

work with the Turkish authorities to gain justice and help warn

:51:12.:51:17.

people of the risks of white water rafting in Turkey? He is right to

:51:17.:51:23.

raise this tragic case of a nine- year-old constituent of his who

:51:23.:51:28.

died in 2010 in Turkey. I want to send my sincere condolences to the

:51:28.:51:31.

family in these terrible circumstances. I know he's been

:51:31.:51:34.

speaking to the Minister for Europe Europe regarding this. Our Embassy

:51:35.:51:37.

in Turkey is monitoring the case and can approach the Turkish

:51:37.:51:41.

authorities and ask them to keep the family fully informed of any

:51:41.:51:45.

progress and I am sure the Foreign Office will have listened carefully

:51:45.:51:48.

what what what he said today, standing up for this family's

:51:48.:51:52.

interests. I have a vulnerable constituent, near pension age,

:51:52.:51:56.

who's lived in the same house his whole life. His parents have now

:51:56.:51:59.

died. He is willing to be rehoused but cannot find an alternative. He

:52:00.:52:03.

now faces homelessness because he simply can't afford the

:52:03.:52:09.

Government's bedroom tax. Can the Prime Minister explain why he has

:52:09.:52:13.

prioritised a tax cut for millionaires whilst devastating the

:52:13.:52:19.

lives of vulnerable people? point Wye make is there are 250,000

:52:19.:52:24.

families who live in overcrowded accommodation. There are 386,000

:52:24.:52:29.

people who live in underoccupied homes. There are 1.8 million people

:52:29.:52:32.

who would love to have a council house who couldn't get one. Of

:52:32.:52:37.

course we need to build more social homes and we are doing exactly that.

:52:37.:52:40.

But in the meantime, we should do everything to make sure those homes

:52:40.:52:45.

are used in the most efficient and fair way, that's what these changes

:52:45.:52:53.

will help to achieve. That's why they deserve our support. We were

:52:53.:52:58.

all hugely inspired by the wonderful Paralympic Games in

:52:58.:53:05.

London last year. Not only a triumph for sport, but a triumph

:53:05.:53:11.

for perceptions of disability. Will the Prime Minister welcome the

:53:11.:53:17.

generation-inspired report which is going to be presented to Downing

:53:17.:53:20.

Street today, as a great opportunity to use the legacy of

:53:20.:53:25.

this to improve the lives of young disabled people? I will certainly

:53:25.:53:29.

welcome the report my honourable friend mentioned. I thought the

:53:29.:53:33.

Games were an absolute triumph for Britain, the way they were

:53:33.:53:38.

put on and the way the auditorium and stadium were full for almost

:53:38.:53:41.

every single event. It was a great testament to the generosity of

:53:41.:53:46.

people of this country and their enthusiasm for Paralympic sports.

:53:46.:53:49.

The important thing is the change in perception about what disabled

:53:49.:53:53.

people are capable of and that's a real gift and something we should

:53:53.:53:58.

encourage. The Prime Minister supports an exemption to the

:53:58.:54:03.

bedroom tax for families of prisoners, but not for people with

:54:03.:54:08.

cancer, people with disabilities, foster parents, or armed forces

:54:08.:54:14.

families. Why? As the honourable lady knows there is a �50 million

:54:14.:54:18.

found directly support people as part of this measure. We have

:54:18.:54:21.

addressed very specifically the point about armed forces' families

:54:21.:54:27.

where people leaving the home will be more than compensated for any

:54:27.:54:30.

costs under occupancy rules. I come back to the bigger picture, which

:54:30.:54:37.

is that housing benefit is up 50% in real terms, it now accounts for

:54:37.:54:41.

�23 billion of public spending. I have to say to the party opposite,

:54:41.:54:45.

if you come here week after week and you say no to the benefit cap,

:54:45.:54:51.

no to capping housing benefit, no to restriking -- restricting growth

:54:51.:54:55.

of benefits, people will simply not believe you have any plans to deal

:54:55.:55:04.

with our deficit whatsoever and you know what, they'd be right.

:55:04.:55:08.

Reeducation forms as pursued by this Government have been emgraced

:55:08.:55:14.

by -- embraced by schools in Bedfordshire and by staff in one

:55:14.:55:19.

school in pursuit of an academy. This week there has been a blip. A

:55:19.:55:23.

school which had been offered free school status 14 months ago has

:55:23.:55:27.

found as part of the Barnfields Trust, has found last week that's

:55:27.:55:32.

been removed without knowing why. I wonder if the Prime Minister could

:55:32.:55:38.

use his offices to implore the Department of Education to let me

:55:38.:55:44.

snow stphp the reason -- to let me know know as soon as possible the

:55:44.:55:47.

reason. I would join her in strongly supporting the free

:55:47.:55:51.

schools movement. It's a remarkable advance that within just two-and-a-

:55:51.:55:55.

half years we now have 101 free schools that are open, we have many

:55:55.:56:01.

more in the pipeline. I know that my right honourable friend, the

:56:01.:56:04.

Education Secretary, was listening very closely about the specific

:56:04.:56:07.

proposal. It's obviously important we vet proposals to make sure

:56:07.:56:10.

they're strong proposals for education, that they have parental

:56:10.:56:13.

support, they'll raise standards in the local authority but I strongly

:56:13.:56:17.

support the free schools movement and I am sure my right honourable

:56:17.:56:23.

friend will be in touch with her. My own local authority have done

:56:23.:56:26.

pioneering work over years on improving public health. They've

:56:26.:56:31.

recently asked adults to refrain from smoking in children's play

:56:31.:56:41.

areas. Does the Prime Minister agree with me one of his own health

:56:41.:56:45.

Ministers - that we should go a step further and introduce a ban on

:56:45.:56:49.

smoking where children are present in vehicles? I think we should look

:56:50.:56:54.

carefully at what he and others have said. We are looking across

:56:54.:56:58.

the piece at all the issues, about whether we should follow the

:56:58.:57:03.

Australians with a ban on packaging, what more we can do on restricting

:57:03.:57:07.

smoking in public places. -- there has been a real health advance from

:57:07.:57:10.

some measures taken. We have to look at each oupb and work out

:57:10.:57:17.

whether there is a real public benefit. He makes a good point.

:57:17.:57:27.
:57:27.:57:28.

22 years since the landmark Medical Research Council report made a

:57:28.:57:32.

direct link between - countries have fortified their basic food

:57:32.:57:37.

stuffs but this policy is mired in bureaucracy between the Food

:57:37.:57:40.

Standards Agency, the Department of Health and others. Will the Prime

:57:40.:57:44.

Minister do everything he can and give reassurance to the House that

:57:44.:57:53.

he will unblock this logjam to prevent the entirely preventable

:57:54.:57:58.

conditions of spina bifida? It's true that levels of - conditions

:57:58.:58:03.

like spina bifida have come down and it's true that folic acid has

:58:03.:58:07.

an important role to play. In terms of the specific points and the

:58:07.:58:11.

bureaucratic problem he identifies I will look at that and perhaps get

:58:11.:58:17.

the Department of Health to write to him about it. With respect, I

:58:17.:58:20.

make no apology for returning to an issue which my colleagues have

:58:20.:58:26.

raised. A letter from my constituent said this, I am

:58:26.:58:31.

disabled, wheelchair dependent, suffer from brittle bones, require

:58:31.:58:36.

day and night assistance from social services, and therefore, I

:58:36.:58:43.

need a spare room on health grounds. I feel suicidal about this bedroom

:58:43.:58:47.

tax. Would the Prime Minister, consulting with the Secretary of

:58:47.:58:53.

State for Work and Pensions, agree to put the needs of disabled people

:58:53.:59:00.

first and revisit what's turning out for hundreds of thousands of

:59:00.:59:07.

disabled people and their families, to be a disastrous policy? This

:59:07.:59:12.

Government always puts disabled people first. That's why we have

:59:12.:59:16.

protected disabled benefits, specifically on the issue that he

:59:16.:59:23.

raises, there is the �50 million fund to support people affected by

:59:23.:59:27.

the underoccupiesancy measure. Disabled adult - they don't want to

:59:27.:59:30.

hear the answers. This directly answers the point. Disabled adults

:59:30.:59:34.

will have access to discretionary housing payment scheme and it will

:59:34.:59:37.

remain for local authorities like his own, to assess the individual

:59:37.:59:44.

circumstances. It is worth making the point again, a �23 billion

:59:44.:59:48.

budget, 50% increase over the last decade, we have to do something

:59:48.:59:52.

about the growth in the housing benefit bill and all we hear is

:59:52.:00:00.

irresponsibility from the party opposite. Who would have thought

:00:00.:00:05.

when some of us voted for just a common market all those years ago,

:00:05.:00:11.

that the EU would now be interfering potentially in what

:00:11.:00:16.

benefits we should be paying to Romanians and Bulgarians before

:00:16.:00:21.

they've made any contribution to our society? Is it any wonder

:00:21.:00:26.

people feel disillusioned and powerless? Isn't the good news this,

:00:26.:00:30.

who is more likely to vote to give people a genuine choice in a

:00:30.:00:35.

referendum, a Liberal or a Conservative MP for Eastleigh?

:00:36.:00:38.

delighted my honourable friend managed to slip that point in at

:00:38.:00:41.

the end. I would urge any honourable friends who aren't there

:00:41.:00:45.

already to make their way to Eastleigh this afternoon and

:00:45.:00:50.

support Maria Hutchings in the campaign. The point that he makes

:00:50.:00:54.

is very important, which is we need to look through every aspect of how

:00:55.:00:59.

we welcome people to our country and make sure while we must be fair,

:00:59.:01:04.

we must not be a soft touch. I am making sure we look at our health

:01:04.:01:08.

service, we look at housing, at benefits, we look at legal aid, at

:01:08.:01:12.

all of the things and make sure we have proper and tough controls on

:01:12.:01:15.

people who want to come and live here.

:01:15.:01:19.

The Treasury was required to approve the settlement made with a

:01:19.:01:24.

dismissed former chief executive of my local hospital Trust in February

:01:24.:01:28.

last year. If he believes in openness in the NHS, why has his

:01:28.:01:34.

Government allowed this size of this pay-off to be kept secret?

:01:34.:01:37.

will look closely at this issue that he raises. I know there have

:01:37.:01:41.

been particular issues around foundation Trusts in the area which

:01:41.:01:45.

he represents. I will make sure that the Health Secretary writes to

:01:45.:01:51.

him about this issue. Recently large numbers of my constituents

:01:51.:01:56.

have taken a great interest in political campaigning in the

:01:56.:02:00.

neighbouring County. My belief is that it's always best if local

:02:00.:02:05.

people have a strong independent voice, particularly if they're in

:02:05.:02:11.

favour of controlling immigration, making welfare fairer, and an in-

:02:11.:02:15.

out referendum. Does the Prime Minister agree with my advice that

:02:15.:02:20.

the people of Eastleigh will be well advised to vote for Maria

:02:20.:02:26.

Hutchings tomorrow? I want to thank my honourable friend for his hard

:02:26.:02:31.

work and for the ingenious way he managed to get that question in

:02:31.:02:41.
:02:41.:02:46.

If you have any luck in getting the honourable member for Rhondda to

:02:46.:02:52.

shut up, do let us know how it's done! The Prime Minister Prime

:02:52.:02:54.

Minister shouldn't bother phoning me, I will phone him in those

:02:54.:03:00.

circumstances. Thank you. Thank you very much for that, Mr

:03:00.:03:05.

Speaker. Perhaps we could end Prime Minister's questions on a similar

:03:05.:03:11.

note to that which we began it with, recognising the appalling views of

:03:11.:03:16.

the Labour candidate in Eastleigh. He said this about the Falklands

:03:16.:03:20.

war, one of the proudest moments of this country's recent history, I

:03:20.:03:25.

settled, he said, on the position of wanting Great Britain to lose a

:03:25.:03:28.

war for the good of Great Britain. This candidate endorsed by the

:03:28.:03:32.

leader of the Labour Party, a shocking lack of patriotism and

:03:32.:03:36.

national pride. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister has run away from

:03:36.:03:40.

the question as to whether he will personally benefit from the

:03:40.:03:44.

millionaires tax cut. It's a simple question. When the top rate of tax

:03:44.:03:50.

is cut from 50p to 45, will he personally benefit? The top rate of

:03:50.:03:54.

tax under this Government will be higher than any year under his

:03:55.:03:58.

Government. That is the change that we are bringing about. When they

:03:58.:04:06.

introduced the 50p they lost �7 billion in tax revenue. They're not

:04:06.:04:16.
:04:16.:04:28.

only socialists, they're Iain Watson got it right, although

:04:28.:04:36.

it was not that difficult! They went on the economy, we will talk

:04:36.:04:40.

about that in a minute, it was the argument about the AAA rating, the

:04:40.:04:44.

deficit, it was the sense that we have heard a lot of this argument

:04:44.:04:48.

before and we probably will again in the future. It really only came

:04:48.:04:52.

to light when the Prime Minister quoted the New Statesman magazine,

:04:52.:04:56.

and the Leader of the Opposition attack did, which seemed strange.

:04:56.:05:05.

It is a fine centre-left magazine we might talk about that in a

:05:05.:05:14.

moment. What were the viewers saying? Jimmy from Nottingham said

:05:14.:05:18.

that when David Cameron stonewalls the questions by asking more which

:05:18.:05:23.

aren't answered by Ed Miliband, that is the question. The

:05:23.:05:29.

politicians are just taking a turn to punch a wall. Another viewer

:05:29.:05:32.

said that Ed scored an own goal with his New Statesman jibe, if he

:05:32.:05:37.

can't land one blow on the Prime Minister today, you never will. Tom

:05:37.:05:40.

from Rotherham says that neither Ed Miliband nor David Cameron have

:05:40.:05:45.

grasped the fact that the credit ratings have no more substance than

:05:45.:05:48.

a considered opinion. Diane from Cornwall said clearly the loss of

:05:48.:05:52.

the AAA rating, though largely insignificant economically, is

:05:53.:05:57.

dynamite politically, which Ed Miliband exposed eloquently. And

:05:57.:06:01.

this from Marjorie, petty squabbling in the House of Commons

:06:01.:06:05.

while Rome burns. I'm depressed about Britain's future. The level

:06:05.:06:09.

of political debate is so squalid and I feel sorry for the Deputy

:06:09.:06:16.

Prime Minister, he looks ill. On that note, let's turn to Iain

:06:16.:06:20.

Watson. Give us some more of your penetrating prescience. Two things

:06:20.:06:26.

struck me, the first was, as you alluded to, Ed Miliband got mugged.

:06:26.:06:31.

His strategy was quite clear, let's go on the economy then say the

:06:31.:06:35.

credit rating as part of a wider malaise surrounding the Government.

:06:35.:06:39.

And interest rate -- interestingly trying to get onto the issue of

:06:39.:06:43.

trust in the Prime Minister, waving around the Conservative manifesto

:06:43.:06:48.

which promise to protect the credit rating. That was fine. Then

:06:48.:06:54.

suddenly he almost walked into this trap. He said that you are scraping

:06:54.:06:59.

the bottom of the barrel by quoting the New Statesman, Ed Miliband says

:06:59.:07:02.

to David Cameron. Them the punchline, David Cameron says, this

:07:02.:07:07.

was the magazine that supported you. In terms of the theatre, Ed

:07:07.:07:12.

Miliband would not have got a victory, but in terms of wider

:07:12.:07:18.

arguments, the Conservatives not sticking to their own promises.

:07:18.:07:22.

Very briefly, as one of the e-mail suggested, Nick Clegg had not

:07:22.:07:26.

looked well, but I was surprised at how restrained backbenchers were on

:07:26.:07:32.

both sides. They mentioned Eastleigh but they did not spiral

:07:32.:07:39.

them into the Liberal Democrats' current troubles. Is there not some

:07:39.:07:45.

substance in the claimed that both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, despite

:07:45.:07:49.

having an open goal on the economy, are having difficulty in getting

:07:49.:07:54.

the ball in the back of the net? think the AAA rating is not the

:07:54.:07:59.

thing, this was Osborne's test, but for me I think you need to talk to

:08:00.:08:04.

families on the street, as I do all the time. For them, wages are

:08:04.:08:09.

falling, prices are rising, how do they cope? Nobody in the coalition

:08:09.:08:16.

seems worried. These are issues that quite absolutely resonate in a

:08:16.:08:22.

way that, it was even said earlier, AAA might be a form of battery to

:08:22.:08:26.

most people. Whether you can put food on the table or pay the Energy

:08:26.:08:30.

Bill Matters. It is more relevant. And Osborne said it was so

:08:30.:08:34.

important, when Labour said it was not, what is important is getting

:08:34.:08:38.

growth back into the economy, because it is not happening. They

:08:38.:08:43.

said about the deficit coming down, it is not. It is going up. Debt is

:08:43.:08:47.

going up, borrowing is coming up. Their strategy has not worked.

:08:47.:08:51.

Let's look at what is happening to people trying to feed their

:08:51.:08:58.

families every day, that is really important. You've just done a

:08:58.:09:02.

better job than Ed Miliband it. There is a tradition and a House of

:09:02.:09:06.

Commons, I said, the open goal has always missed. The expectation is

:09:06.:09:11.

too high, it is too obvious, you almost pointing out which corner of

:09:11.:09:18.

the let the ball is going into. I think Ed Miliband would have been

:09:18.:09:20.

much better going on cost of living, it would have been much stronger

:09:20.:09:25.

and less expected than the credit ratings argument. If we are trying

:09:25.:09:34.

to do better than Miliband, let me have a go. David Davis, inflation

:09:34.:09:37.

is 50% higher than target, real living standards have been squeezed

:09:37.:09:42.

as never before and for longer than any time in 70 years, death a debt

:09:42.:09:48.

reduction has stalled, that is a polite way of putting it -- deficit

:09:48.:09:52.

reduction. There is no growth in the economy and your credit agency

:09:52.:09:57.

rating has gone. What is going right? My view on this is that it

:09:57.:10:02.

is very simple, we ought to have a Tory growth strategy. Let's not kid

:10:02.:10:05.

ourselves, this started with an inheritance which was very hard to

:10:05.:10:09.

deal with, namely the enormous deficit, the overspending over the

:10:09.:10:15.

good times. That is a clear cause. You are now borrowing more than

:10:15.:10:18.

Alastair Darling plan to, and your party said he was borrowing too

:10:18.:10:22.

much. This solution requires an austerity programme which is

:10:22.:10:26.

tougher than the one we have. We have had a lot of rhetoric about

:10:26.:10:31.

austerity, we need a bit more reality. More cuts, I'm afraid, or

:10:31.:10:39.

the same cuts faster. And the second half, the simple truth is if

:10:39.:10:49.
:10:49.:10:49.

every 1% less on growth loses you on the deficit every year after.

:10:49.:10:53.

Myself and John Redwood have said for years, there has been a need

:10:53.:10:58.

for a growth strategy from day one, meaning lower taxes. It is the sort

:10:58.:11:03.

of thing the Germans did in 2003 when they cut taxes in the middle

:11:03.:11:07.

of a deficit problem unsolved the deficit. In the Times this morning,

:11:07.:11:11.

John Redwood had an alternative plan to the Government. You have

:11:11.:11:16.

admitted to me that not a lot has gone right with it. If there is no

:11:16.:11:23.

change in the Budget, and there is no sign that there will be, for how

:11:23.:11:26.

long will your backbench colleagues put up with current economic

:11:26.:11:31.

strategy? They will, but they will be critical. It is interesting to

:11:31.:11:36.

see what happens in the Budget. He has a narrow slot and he might well

:11:36.:11:40.

start to think that some tax reductions are necessary in order

:11:40.:11:48.

to get the growth under way. They must be getting unhappy? Of course

:11:48.:11:53.

some of them are run happy. You don't see it on this, you see it on

:11:53.:11:58.

the rather less watch debates on the House of Commons when people

:11:58.:12:01.

are on their feet, but it is a real issue not just in this country but

:12:01.:12:07.

virtually every Western country. They are failing to resolve this

:12:07.:12:12.

problem. The Americans are, most Europeans are, obviously it's any

:12:12.:12:22.
:12:22.:12:23.

is. It requires a much more robust, much bolder policy on taxation.

:12:23.:12:26.

said that you were sure, despite the criticism, that Mr Cameron

:12:26.:12:30.

would remain as Prime Minister until the end of the parliament.

:12:30.:12:35.

Are you as Shearer by George Osborne remaining Chancellor?

:12:35.:12:40.

are two halves of the same coin. are you as sure about George

:12:40.:12:45.

Osborne. We were meeting people last night

:12:45.:12:50.

associated with the parliament, we have a big audience in Brussels, it

:12:50.:12:54.

was very encouraging to hear that. Not caught up in the ratings,

:12:54.:13:00.

either! Should the European Parliament not consider a kind of

:13:00.:13:04.

Prime Minister's Questions to raise its profile? If it is like that

:13:04.:13:14.
:13:14.:13:19.

I was trying to think of something diplomatic. I don't want to be in a

:13:19.:13:23.

bear pit like that, what does that achieve? I am not sure what we

:13:23.:13:28.

achieved by that. It keeps you in a job, yes, but does it inform the

:13:28.:13:34.

debate. Do you not like PMQs? OK for a little bit of jousting,

:13:34.:13:38.

but I don't think it moves the debate on. That is the way our

:13:38.:13:43.

Parliament works, this one works differently, it is more about

:13:43.:13:47.

consensus. That is why you see a lot more women. This is the way

:13:47.:13:51.

women prefer to work. That is not the way most women like to work.

:13:51.:13:56.

You should have asked Margaret Thatcher that question! You think

:13:56.:14:00.

if we had more women and the British Parliament, and they are

:14:00.:14:05.

still terribly under-represented, we would see less of what you call

:14:05.:14:10.

the bear-pit? I would hope so. And I think it puts a lot of women

:14:10.:14:17.

going into national politics, absolutely. Final thought? I think

:14:17.:14:22.

the final thought would be... We managed to talk about a European

:14:23.:14:27.

issue at the end, Romanian and Bulgarian immigration, it will be

:14:27.:14:32.

interesting to see where that goes. David Cameron mentioned faster cuts,

:14:32.:14:36.

I was wondering if that was faster than Labour, and an attempt to

:14:36.:14:40.

appease people like David Davis. Thank you very much.

:14:40.:14:47.

The Budget was coming up in a few weeks.

:14:47.:14:53.

Deduce a pizza before? That is your imaginary friend. -- did you say

:14:53.:14:58.

Peter? Back to the issue of Europe and

:14:58.:14:59.

with the Conservatives continuing to dangle a possibility of an in-

:14:59.:15:03.

out referendum after the next election, we should remember that

:15:03.:15:07.

many European Parliament MEPs believe that Europe's next -- real

:15:07.:15:13.

future lies in further integration. This is Sophie in 't Veld, a Dutch

:15:13.:15:23.
:15:23.:15:33.

liberal, with her take on which way When European integration started

:15:33.:15:38.

in the 50s right after two devastating world wars that tore

:15:38.:15:43.

this continent apart, the purpose was very much to integrate nation-

:15:43.:15:47.

states and make sure they would never make war on each other again.

:15:47.:15:53.

Today, the challenges are a very different nature. The challenges

:15:53.:15:58.

are a globalised economy, the challenges our energy, the

:15:58.:16:01.

challenges are the competition for raw materials in the world. And

:16:01.:16:05.

this is something that Europe needs to consider. If we want to preserve

:16:05.:16:10.

our way of life, if we want to preserve our standard of living,

:16:10.:16:14.

our quality of life, then we need to do it as a single consonant and

:16:14.:16:20.

speak with one voice, that is why Europe needs to integrate further.

:16:20.:16:24.

For decades, Europe has been shaped by diplomats who would come

:16:24.:16:30.

together, diplomats from different countries negotiating and having an

:16:30.:16:35.

exchange of national interests. But now Europe needs to become a fully-

:16:35.:16:38.

fledged political union where citizens actually give a mandate to

:16:38.:16:48.
:16:48.:16:55.

If we are to become this democratic political Union of citizens then we

:16:55.:16:59.

need to develop into a community of citizens based not only a shared

:17:00.:17:04.

interest but also shared values. The world today is going through

:17:04.:17:08.

nothing short of a revolution comparable to the Industrial

:17:08.:17:11.

Revolution. If the world is different, Europe needs to change

:17:12.:17:16.

as well. We need to do it together, that is the only way that Europe

:17:16.:17:20.

can preserve our quality of life, our way of life, in a changing

:17:20.:17:30.
:17:30.:17:33.

And Sophie joins us now, alongside the UKIP MEP, Roger Helmer. You are

:17:33.:17:35.

obviously in favour of further integration, do you want all EU

:17:35.:17:39.

member states to join the single currency? Well, I don't think it's

:17:39.:17:44.

up to me to tell member states what to do, but I think ultimately, it

:17:44.:17:50.

would benefit us all if we have a single continent with a single,

:17:50.:17:54.

strong currency that also provides protection against external shocks,

:17:54.:17:58.

but obviously it is for, in this case, the British people to decide

:17:58.:18:02.

whether or not they want to join. It's an interesting view, bearing

:18:02.:18:06.

in mind the euro is in such a crisis and many in Britain say it's

:18:06.:18:10.

a relief we are not part of the euro. How do you think it would

:18:10.:18:14.

benefit stphus. The euro is not in a crisis. The euro has proven to be

:18:14.:18:18.

remarkably stable and resill kwrept. We have a crisis of a different

:18:18.:18:22.

nature, an economic crisis, a political crisis. It turned out we

:18:22.:18:27.

didn't have the political, the governance instruments to reply to

:18:27.:18:31.

respond to the economic turbulence coming at us a. But the euro is

:18:31.:18:37.

very stable. I don't think we have a euro crisis. I think we are too

:18:37.:18:42.

focused on internal matters. We are fairly obsessed with our belly

:18:42.:18:45.

buttons and seem to forget the euro is not only an exchange instrument

:18:45.:18:49.

between European countries, it's also a global currency, a reserve

:18:49.:18:54.

currency. What do you say to that. I don't think Sophie is living in

:18:54.:18:59.

the real world. We have had the euro crisis running like some

:18:59.:19:02.

perverse soap opera for the last three years or so. We have large

:19:02.:19:06.

parts of southern Europe in utter crisis. We lost the Bulgarian Prime

:19:07.:19:09.

Minister recently, we all know about Greece. We have seen what's

:19:09.:19:15.

happened in the Italian elections, which are mainly motivated by

:19:15.:19:18.

unhappiness with austerity imposed from Brussels. The thing is a

:19:18.:19:22.

crisis, no argument about it. The British people know that. The

:19:22.:19:26.

British people would absolutely not contemplate joining the euro.

:19:26.:19:32.

Haven't the Italians stuck two fingers up to austerity, austerity

:19:32.:19:35.

imposed by Brussels? They may not be saying no to the euro but

:19:35.:19:39.

they've said in a sense, no more, thank you very much. I fully

:19:40.:19:43.

understand but you have to distinguish what is the cause and

:19:43.:19:47.

what is the consequence. I think any country, including my own

:19:47.:19:50.

country, we could not escape austerity even if we were outside

:19:50.:19:55.

the eurozone. It's very simple maths. You cannot systematically

:19:55.:20:01.

spend more than you earn. At some point you have to cut back or you

:20:01.:20:07.

have to earn more, one way or the other. You have a 35% gap in

:20:07.:20:11.

competitive... Let me finish, please. There are several ways out

:20:11.:20:17.

of the debt crisis and economic crisis. Is further integration and

:20:17.:20:21.

closer fiscal union one? If we have a shared currency, which we have,

:20:21.:20:25.

then we also need to have the governance instruments to go with

:20:25.:20:29.

it. Or we should choose not to have the currency. One or the other.

:20:29.:20:33.

are halfway to a solution. You would need to make the euro work,

:20:33.:20:37.

you would need fiscal integration, that would mean Germany sending

:20:37.:20:42.

billions of euros to Greece and Italy and Spain, not on the odd ad

:20:42.:20:47.

hoc bail out, but every year. The The German voters won't stand for

:20:47.:20:51.

it. That solution will not and cannot work. The only solution,

:20:51.:20:55.

actually, is to break up the euro, the question is when, how, and what

:20:55.:21:00.

pattern we get afterwards. Further integration, is that what Labour

:21:00.:21:04.

MEPs would like to see actually Britain encouraging more

:21:04.:21:07.

integration with Britain part of it? Absolutely not. That's a

:21:08.:21:11.

Liberal point of view. Our view is that we want strong member states,

:21:11.:21:14.

working together on those areas where it's obvious that it's

:21:14.:21:18.

helpful, like the environment, security. All of those, a single

:21:18.:21:22.

market. There's lots of areas we should work together. We are not

:21:22.:21:26.

federalists, we don't believe in that model. In order for there to

:21:26.:21:30.

be prosperity again in Europe that's what has to happen,

:21:30.:21:33.

otherwise this will continue. are two issues. One is what do you

:21:34.:21:37.

with the eurozone countries that have obviously got to make changes

:21:37.:21:41.

about how they manage their economies. I think it's a different

:21:41.:21:44.

issue about Europe altogether. not a referendum, why is Labour

:21:44.:21:48.

standing on the fence in terms of offering the British people a

:21:48.:21:53.

referendum saying not now, it will create uncertainty but we are not

:21:53.:21:58.

ruling it out, which also creates uncertainty? It Does create create

:21:58.:22:01.

uncertainty to say in X number of years we will have a referendum.

:22:01.:22:08.

British businesses will tell you that. I had a meeting with an

:22:08.:22:11.

ambassador, it caused uncertainty for American companies. It's not

:22:11.:22:14.

the right time. We have more things to do, getting the economy working.

:22:14.:22:19.

Will a Conservative Prime Minister take us out of the EU? Depends what

:22:19.:22:25.

the referendum says. What he won't do is take us no the euro. When it

:22:25.:22:29.

was first founded we didn't join and opposed it for two reasons. One

:22:29.:22:32.

was because it would amplify the shocks, the problems, the economic

:22:32.:22:35.

problems that we had. Secondly, it would take away democratic

:22:35.:22:39.

accountability from the nation states. You have seen that in Spain,

:22:39.:22:45.

in Greece, in Italy, today, in Spain, in Portugal. We don't want

:22:45.:22:48.

it. What do you make of the British position? I don't know what the

:22:48.:22:54.

British position is, frankly. There are many different positions in

:22:54.:23:01.

Britain. I think there is one very positive outcome of all this and -

:23:01.:23:06.

of the whole crisis situation, never before have we debated so

:23:06.:23:11.

much about the purposes, the merits or not of European integration and

:23:11.:23:15.

how we want Europe to integrate. When European integration started

:23:15.:23:21.

in the 50s, Europe was about 20% of the world population of then 2.5

:23:21.:23:25.

billion. Now the population is 7 billion and we are about 7%. We are

:23:25.:23:29.

shrinking and ageing. If we want to preserve the position of Europe in

:23:29.:23:33.

the world, we need to do it together. But we need to do it in a

:23:33.:23:35.

democratic way. We have to stop there. Do you think Britain will

:23:35.:23:39.

still be in the EU after the next election? I very much hope so.

:23:39.:23:43.

Tkoeu think that we belong -- I do think that we belong together.

:23:43.:23:49.

I bring us back to the Eastleigh by-election. Reports cominging out

:23:49.:23:54.

there is a head of steam behind UKIP, what say you? I can endorse

:23:54.:23:57.

that, I was there at the weekend. I am not going to make predictions,

:23:57.:24:01.

it's a mug's game. People may well be surprised by the outcome and I

:24:01.:24:06.

think we are we are doing very well, having said I won't make a predicts,

:24:06.:24:09.

one I would make is I think we are going to get a record share of the

:24:09.:24:13.

vote for UKIP in a by-election. number of your colleagues, senior

:24:13.:24:17.

UKIP people, were telling us in private, that they thought you

:24:17.:24:23.

would win Eastleigh. If we do, I shall drink a great deal of

:24:23.:24:27.

champagne. I got that bit! Do you think you will win? We are in with

:24:27.:24:31.

a chance. We know that, but do you think you will win? I am not

:24:31.:24:34.

venturing... A strong word in private, why don't you say it in

:24:34.:24:37.

public? If I believe we were going to win I would say we are going to

:24:37.:24:42.

win. You know what it's like in politics, you make a prediction and

:24:42.:24:47.

everybody holds you to it. I don't know whether we are going to win. I

:24:47.:24:50.

hope we will. I have worked to that objective. We are in with a good

:24:50.:24:53.

chance. People won't vote Labour, they know Labour's not going

:24:53.:24:57.

anywhere. If they want to give the coalition a knock... We don't need

:24:57.:25:02.

to go around the whole course! You sound like the football manager who

:25:02.:25:12.

said I don't make predictions and I never will! Profound.

:25:12.:25:15.

Now, the 754 MEPs who come here each week represent the second

:25:15.:25:17.

largest democratic electorate in the world, after India. In order to

:25:17.:25:21.

house all those MEPs you need a pretty big building. We sent Adam

:25:21.:25:23.

on a little tour. Welcome to the European Parliament,

:25:23.:25:27.

half a million square metres. The most exciting bit is where

:25:27.:25:30.

parliament meets when it's not at its other seat in the French city

:25:30.:25:35.

of Strasbourg. Sadly, we will not be seeing it today, because it's

:25:35.:25:39.

closed for the foreseeable future after enormous cracks appeared in

:25:39.:25:45.

the ceiling. Come with me on a search for alternative interesting

:25:45.:25:52.

things in this findishly complicated building.

:25:52.:25:58.

-- fiendishly. Every MEP gets their own peupblgial hole where -- pigeon

:25:59.:26:05.

hole where papers are delivered. The only thing there's more of is

:26:05.:26:10.

art. The walls of this place are covered in it.

:26:10.:26:18.

The biggest piece is this one, by a Belgian sculptor. It's a sort of

:26:18.:26:21.

hymn to European togetherness in stainless steel and runs through

:26:21.:26:26.

the middle of the building. Then there is the fact there is

:26:26.:26:29.

weird stuff just dotted around all over the place. Like this grand

:26:29.:26:34.

piano donated by the people of Estonia to mark their country's

:26:34.:26:44.

90th anniversary. Now, how does the Estonian national anthem go?

:26:44.:26:49.

No. No, I have no idea what that sign means.

:26:49.:26:53.

Running the various parliament buildings costs about a 10th of 1%

:26:53.:26:59.

of the total EU budget. Around 190 million euros a year. It's also a

:26:59.:27:04.

very open place. They'll let you film pretty much everywhere,

:27:04.:27:07.

annoyingly, the only thing off limits are the bars and restaurants.

:27:07.:27:13.

I can tell that you one of them is the Mickey Mouse bar. The chairs in

:27:13.:27:17.

it are reminiscent of a certain Disney character. Sadly, they've

:27:17.:27:22.

got rid of most of them now and these are museum pieces.

:27:22.:27:30.

Talking of museums, there's one here called The Parliamentarian.

:27:30.:27:37.

It's amazingly hi-tech. You can't come to a tourist

:27:37.:27:42.

attraction without going to a gift shop. Giant chocolate euro, Andrew?

:27:42.:27:51.

Jo, how about teabags in the shape of world leaders? A euro-shaped

:27:51.:28:00.

money box. And a giant euro clock. He is good with the presents! Just

:28:00.:28:04.

before we go, it's time to put you out of your misery and give you the

:28:04.:28:10.

answer to Guess The Year. It was 2007. The winner is Sue Renyard

:28:10.:28:20.
:28:20.:28:23.

from Fareham in Hampshire. Well done, Sue. That's it for today.

:28:23.:28:26.

Thanks to our guests - especially David Davis and Glenis Willmott for

:28:26.:28:30.

being our guests of the day. The news is starting over on BBC One

:28:30.:28:33.

now. We'll be back in Westminster again tomorrow with all the big

:28:33.:28:38.

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are live in Brussels for a Daily Politics Special, including an interview with Karel De Gucht, the EU Trade Commissioner. Plus full coverage of Prime Minister's Questions.

The Guess the Year competition closes at 12.30pm during the live broadcast of this programme.


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