27/02/2013 Daily Politics


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


Parliament in Brussels. Like Britain, the eurozone is mired


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


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


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


Spanish Foreign Minister in reaction to the Italian elections.


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


in the European Parliament. By voting strongly against EU imposed


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


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


Brussels. We will try to discover what happens next.


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


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


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


believes the way forward is more integration, not less.


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


good paying American jobs -- fair and free.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


former Foreign Office Europe Minister who famously whipped the


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


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


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


European Parliament. Bienvenue a vous deux.


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


whole Chris Rennard story. Vicki Young is our political


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


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


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


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


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


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


inappropriate behaviour towards women were in the background. He


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


By that, I think he meant Nick Clegg!


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


things more uncomfortable. Glenis Wilmott, One nation Labour clearly


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


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


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


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


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


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


faith in either coalition party, that means Eastleigh is precisely


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


midst of an unpopular coalition government with living standards


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Eastleigh candidates. The indecisive Italian election


result has led to fears that political gridlock in the third


largest eurozone economy could rekindle the European debt crisis.


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


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


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


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


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


European Commission has forecast a further 0.3% contraction across the


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


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


commission says the average unemployment rate will reach 27% in


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


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


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


strategist at Rabobank. People would argue that losing the AAA


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


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


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


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


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


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


factor is that credit rating companies are only really


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


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


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


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


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


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


the stalemate in the Italian elections, it has somewhat


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


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


eurozone crisis, foreign international investment point of


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


had anticipated that would happen anyway. These elections are


potentially really very significant. Most people, from an economist


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


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


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


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


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


elections that seriously, so consequently we have a stalemate


position meaning that more structural reform looks really


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


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


running still. Thank you, Jane Foley.


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


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


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


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


that bail out continue now that Italy has voted against austerity


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the ECB continue to support existing measures? These questions


are very interesting for journalists. This is not a


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


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


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


question is hypothetical because Italy has not decided to abandon


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


predecessor of mine who has been courageous in in taking these


measures and if you demonstrate that kind of courage in politics


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


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


say anything about whether his measures were right, his measures


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


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


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


colleagues and others here who said the eurozone crisis was effectively


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


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


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


everything necessary to keep the eurozone together. That has not


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


mood in that country and tells something about difficulties


democracy is in and the difficulties democracy is in tells


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Minister for agriculture is not negotiating in the European


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


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


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


problem with the American agriculture. I understand that, but


the American Agriculture Minister has said that everything in their


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


European authorities respond to attempts at renegotiating our


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


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


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


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


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


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


any treaty change in the foreseeable future. Even though


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


There's difference between treaty negotiations, treaty change


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the European Union about our our relationship which would require


treaty change. Very fundamental parts would require treaty change.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


committed European and in any referendum would vote yes to keep


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


congratulations because we are starting with negotiations with US


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


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


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


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


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


glorious gong, revered across the continent, that our European


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


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


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


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


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


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


not all, our political correspondent Iain Watson is here


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


standards and people are hurting. Absolutely. The wider Labour


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


policy to address excessive borrowing by borrowing more.


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


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


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


economic model. And his manifesto published for the general election


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the UK government debt rating further in the event of reduced


political commitment to fiscal consolidation. On this side of the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


borrow more and not take responsibility for the mess they


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


down since the election, unemployment down since the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


economy will never convince, his credibility problem will only


become magnified as the general election progresses. That is the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


downgraded chance land are downgraded Prime Minister. --


downgraded Chancellor and a downgraded Prime Minister. If the


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


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


SHOUTING. In this Oscar week, perhaps the


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


Abraham Lincoln, and the right honourable gentleman is utterly


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


Andrew Jones! In 10 years running Harrogate


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


of debt left by the Liberal Democrats and have enabled a


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


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


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


recognising that when it comes to finding efficiencies and value for


money, local government has an excellent record and we should


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


debt, dealing with deficit and being refashioned. That reduces


your debt interest charges. -- and being efficient.


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


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


Does the Prime Minister have the same confidence in England winning


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


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


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


is a difficult record with prime ministers endorsing various rugby


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


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


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


the best team win. Has My right honourable friend


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


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


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


the importance of the ratings agencies, but the most important


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


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


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


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


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


an increased need for food banks in constituencies like mine brought


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ahead of public relations. This week, the generation that


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Caerphilly Borough, they are both registered blind and relied heavily


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


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


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


home for 26 years. What justification can there be for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


have 250,000 families in overcrowded accommodation and 1.8


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


surprising that the honourable gentleman on the front bench is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


been through difficult times, not least because we are recovering


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


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


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


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


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


families across the country have faced soaring energy bills, now


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


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


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


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


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


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


Minister withdraw the National Health Service procurement patient


choice and competition regulations that seem to contradict assurances


given in the other place that this coalition Government will not


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


closely at these regulations because I think what he will find


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


put in place and actually, the effect of withdrawing the


regulations would actually mean that you have more competition in


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


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


he seeks. The Energy Secretary, the Deputy


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


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


businesses NGOs and faith groups are among those who back the


inclusion of a target to decarbonise the power sector by


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


reports were suppressed by the Labour Government. Had they not


been suppressed thousands of lives could possibly have been saved.


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


who exactly was responsible for suppressing those reports? I know


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


regulations laid down on 13th February, the Government gave


assurances that GP Commissioners would not be forced to put health


service at competitive tendering. The regulations go completely


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


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


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


the decisions about whether they want to expand choice and diversity


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


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


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


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


Hamlets that provide an amazing service for wheurpb with --


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


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


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


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


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


Her parents have campaigned tirelessly for a criminal


investigation, improved standards and even funded witnesses to travel


to the Turkish courts but their efforts have been frustrated for


what appears to be bureaucratic reasons. Will the Prime Minister


work with the Turkish authorities to gain justice and help warn


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


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


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


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


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


in Turkey is monitoring the case and can approach the Turkish


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


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


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


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


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


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


now faces homelessness because he simply can't afford the


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


prioritised a tax cut for millionaires whilst devastating the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


all hugely inspired by the wonderful Paralympic Games in


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


for perceptions of disability. Will the Prime Minister welcome the


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


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


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


welcome the report my honourable friend mentioned. I thought the


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


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


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


people of this country and their enthusiasm for Paralympic sports.


The important thing is the change in perception about what disabled


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


encourage. The Prime Minister supports an exemption to the


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


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


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


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


addressed very specifically the point about armed forces' families


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Reeducation forms as pursued by this Government have been emgraced


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


reason. I would join her in strongly supporting the free


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


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


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


Education Secretary, was listening very closely about the specific


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


22 years since the landmark Medical Research Council report made a


direct link between - countries have fortified their basic food


stuffs but this policy is mired in bureaucracy between the Food


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


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


he will unblock this logjam to prevent the entirely preventable


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


disabled, wheelchair dependent, suffer from brittle bones, require


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


protected disabled benefits, specifically on the issue that he


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


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


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


will have access to discretionary housing payment scheme and it will


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


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


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


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


irresponsibility from the party opposite. Who would have thought


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


that the EU would now be interfering potentially in what


benefits we should be paying to Romanians and Bulgarians before


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


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


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


referendum, a Liberal or a Conservative MP for Eastleigh?


delighted my honourable friend managed to slip that point in at


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


already to make their way to Eastleigh this afternoon and


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


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


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


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


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


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


people who want to come and live here.


The Treasury was required to approve the settlement made with a


dismissed former chief executive of my local hospital Trust in February


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


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


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


been particular issues around foundation Trusts in the area which


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


him about this issue. Recently large numbers of my constituents


have taken a great interest in political campaigning in the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the question as to whether he will personally benefit from the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that when David Cameron stonewalls the questions by asking more which


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


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


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


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


from Rotherham says that neither Ed Miliband nor David Cameron have


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


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


the AAA rating, though largely insignificant economically, is


dynamite politically, which Ed Miliband exposed eloquently. And


this from Marjorie, petty squabbling in the House of Commons


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


trust in the Prime Minister, waving around the Conservative manifesto


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


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


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


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


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


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


arguments, the Conservatives not sticking to their own promises.


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


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


both sides. They mentioned Eastleigh but they did not spiral


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


much. This solution requires an austerity programme which is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


long will your backbench colleagues put up with current economic


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


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


start to think that some tax reductions are necessary in order


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


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


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


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


virtually every Western country. They are failing to resolve this


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


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


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


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


Are you as Shearer by George Osborne remaining Chancellor?


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


Osborne. We were meeting people last night


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


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


either! Should the European Parliament not consider a kind of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


You should have asked Margaret Thatcher that question! You think


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


appease people like David Davis. Thank you very much.


The Budget was coming up in a few weeks.


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


Peter? Back to the issue of Europe and


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


out referendum after the next election, we should remember that


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


are a globalised economy, the challenges our energy, the


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


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


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


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


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


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


together, diplomats from different countries negotiating and having an


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


fledged political union where citizens actually give a mandate to


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


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


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


nothing short of a revolution comparable to the Industrial


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


strong currency that also provides protection against external shocks,


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


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


in mind the euro is in such a crisis and many in Britain say it's


a relief we are not part of the euro. How do you think it would


benefit stphus. The euro is not in a crisis. The euro has proven to be


remarkably stable and resill kwrept. We have a crisis of a different


nature, an economic crisis, a political crisis. It turned out we


didn't have the political, the governance instruments to reply to


respond to the economic turbulence coming at us a. But the euro is


very stable. I don't think we have a euro crisis. I think we are too


focused on internal matters. We are fairly obsessed with our belly


buttons and seem to forget the euro is not only an exchange instrument


between European countries, it's also a global currency, a reserve


currency. What do you say to that. I don't think Sophie is living in


the real world. We have had the euro crisis running like some


perverse soap opera for the last three years or so. We have large


parts of southern Europe in utter crisis. We lost the Bulgarian Prime


Minister recently, we all know about Greece. We have seen what's


happened in the Italian elections, which are mainly motivated by


unhappiness with austerity imposed from Brussels. The thing is a


crisis, no argument about it. The British people know that. The


British people would absolutely not contemplate joining the euro.


Haven't the Italians stuck two fingers up to austerity, austerity


imposed by Brussels? They may not be saying no to the euro but


they've said in a sense, no more, thank you very much. I fully


understand but you have to distinguish what is the cause and


what is the consequence. I think any country, including my own


country, we could not escape austerity even if we were outside


the eurozone. It's very simple maths. You cannot systematically


spend more than you earn. At some point you have to cut back or you


have to earn more, one way or the other. You have a 35% gap in


competitive... Let me finish, please. There are several ways out


of the debt crisis and economic crisis. Is further integration and


closer fiscal union one? If we have a shared currency, which we have,


then we also need to have the governance instruments to go with


it. Or we should choose not to have the currency. One or the other.


are halfway to a solution. You would need to make the euro work,


you would need fiscal integration, that would mean Germany sending


billions of euros to Greece and Italy and Spain, not on the odd ad


hoc bail out, but every year. The The German voters won't stand for


it. That solution will not and cannot work. The only solution,


actually, is to break up the euro, the question is when, how, and what


pattern we get afterwards. Further integration, is that what Labour


MEPs would like to see actually Britain encouraging more


integration with Britain part of it? Absolutely not. That's a


Liberal point of view. Our view is that we want strong member states,


working together on those areas where it's obvious that it's


helpful, like the environment, security. All of those, a single


market. There's lots of areas we should work together. We are not


federalists, we don't believe in that model. In order for there to


be prosperity again in Europe that's what has to happen,


otherwise this will continue. are two issues. One is what do you


with the eurozone countries that have obviously got to make changes


about how they manage their economies. I think it's a different


issue about Europe altogether. not a referendum, why is Labour


standing on the fence in terms of offering the British people a


referendum saying not now, it will create uncertainty but we are not


ruling it out, which also creates uncertainty? It Does create create


uncertainty to say in X number of years we will have a referendum.


British businesses will tell you that. I had a meeting with an


ambassador, it caused uncertainty for American companies. It's not


the right time. We have more things to do, getting the economy working.


Will a Conservative Prime Minister take us out of the EU? Depends what


the referendum says. What he won't do is take us no the euro. When it


was first founded we didn't join and opposed it for two reasons. One


was because it would amplify the shocks, the problems, the economic


problems that we had. Secondly, it would take away democratic


accountability from the nation states. You have seen that in Spain,


in Greece, in Italy, today, in Spain, in Portugal. We don't want


it. What do you make of the British position? I don't know what the


British position is, frankly. There are many different positions in


Britain. I think there is one very positive outcome of all this and -


of the whole crisis situation, never before have we debated so


much about the purposes, the merits or not of European integration and


how we want Europe to integrate. When European integration started


in the 50s, Europe was about 20% of the world population of then 2.5


billion. Now the population is 7 billion and we are about 7%. We are


shrinking and ageing. If we want to preserve the position of Europe in


the world, we need to do it together. But we need to do it in a


democratic way. We have to stop there. Do you think Britain will


still be in the EU after the next election? I very much hope so.


Tkoeu think that we belong -- I do think that we belong together.


I bring us back to the Eastleigh by-election. Reports cominging out


there is a head of steam behind UKIP, what say you? I can endorse


that, I was there at the weekend. I am not going to make predictions,


it's a mug's game. People may well be surprised by the outcome and I


think we are we are doing very well, having said I won't make a predicts,


one I would make is I think we are going to get a record share of the


vote for UKIP in a by-election. number of your colleagues, senior


UKIP people, were telling us in private, that they thought you


would win Eastleigh. If we do, I shall drink a great deal of


champagne. I got that bit! Do you think you will win? We are in with


a chance. We know that, but do you think you will win? I am not


venturing... A strong word in private, why don't you say it in


public? If I believe we were going to win I would say we are going to


win. You know what it's like in politics, you make a prediction and


everybody holds you to it. I don't know whether we are going to win. I


hope we will. I have worked to that objective. We are in with a good


chance. People won't vote Labour, they know Labour's not going


anywhere. If they want to give the coalition a knock... We don't need


to go around the whole course! You sound like the football manager who


said I don't make predictions and I never will! Profound.


Now, the 754 MEPs who come here each week represent the second


largest democratic electorate in the world, after India. In order to


house all those MEPs you need a pretty big building. We sent Adam


on a little tour. Welcome to the European Parliament,


half a million square metres. The most exciting bit is where


parliament meets when it's not at its other seat in the French city


of Strasbourg. Sadly, we will not be seeing it today, because it's


closed for the foreseeable future after enormous cracks appeared in


the ceiling. Come with me on a search for alternative interesting


things in this findishly complicated building.


-- fiendishly. Every MEP gets their own peupblgial hole where -- pigeon


hole where papers are delivered. The only thing there's more of is


art. The walls of this place are covered in it.


The biggest piece is this one, by a Belgian sculptor. It's a sort of


hymn to European togetherness in stainless steel and runs through


the middle of the building. Then there is the fact there is


weird stuff just dotted around all over the place. Like this grand


piano donated by the people of Estonia to mark their country's


90th anniversary. Now, how does the Estonian national anthem go?


No. No, I have no idea what that sign means.


Running the various parliament buildings costs about a 10th of 1%


of the total EU budget. Around 190 million euros a year. It's also a


very open place. They'll let you film pretty much everywhere,


annoyingly, the only thing off limits are the bars and restaurants.


I can tell that you one of them is the Mickey Mouse bar. The chairs in


it are reminiscent of a certain Disney character. Sadly, they've


got rid of most of them now and these are museum pieces.


Talking of museums, there's one here called The Parliamentarian.


It's amazingly hi-tech. You can't come to a tourist


attraction without going to a gift shop. Giant chocolate euro, Andrew?


Jo, how about teabags in the shape of world leaders? A euro-shaped


money box. And a giant euro clock. He is good with the presents! Just


before we go, it's time to put you out of your misery and give you the


answer to Guess The Year. It was 2007. The winner is Sue Renyard


from Fareham in Hampshire. Well done, Sue. That's it for today.


Thanks to our guests - especially David Davis and Glenis Willmott for


being our guests of the day. The news is starting over on BBC One


now. We'll be back in Westminster again tomorrow with all the big


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