22/04/2013 Daily Politics


22/04/2013

Jo Coburn has the top political stories of the day and is joined by transport commentator Christian Wolmar.


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Transcript


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Good afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics. Business goes into

:00:47.:00:52.

battle over Britain's future in Europe as a new group of corporate

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bosses calls for a renegotiation and launches a fightback against

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pro-European businessmen. It is another big week for the

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economy. Will it be a return to growth or a triple dip recession?

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How many Romanians and Bulgarians will come to Britain next year?

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And a senior politician says it feels like MPs are hardly working.

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We will ask our Westminster columnist if that is right.

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With us for the first half of the programme is the transport

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commentated Christian Wolmar. If you have any thoughts or comments

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:01:41.:01:43.

on anything we are discussing, you can send them to ask. Let's start

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with immigration. Surveys commissioned by BBC Newsnight in

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Bulgaria and Romania suggest the removing of the work restrictions

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in 2013 has not yet had an impact on numbers of people planning to

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move to the UK or do you. However, over 70% of the Romanians intending

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to come to Britain said their decisions would be affected by the

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toughening up of benefit rules. We are joined by Stuart Jackson,

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Conservative MPs. Are these scare stories not over-egging the issue?

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No, I do not think the legitimate concerns of many people, and my

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organisation has generally got the statistics right, I do not think

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the Conservatives, my colleagues and others such as migration what

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have been over-egging it. We have had three years since this

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Government took office to look seriously at the democratic changes,

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the welfare benefits, health and housing and those issues. It feels

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like we are playing catch-up. I agree the Government are tougher,

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but I still challenge the methodology used by these surveys.

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We simply do not know. If we do not know, surely talking about it and

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talking in terms of huge numbers or the risk of huge numbers coming in

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are scare stories. The Government does not want to make any estimates

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because they cannot make accurate estimates. That is a problem of our

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politics and our governments. We do not have to look to the teacher and

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guests, we can look at the past. The LSE's said they were going to

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be 13,000 workers coming in 2004 and well over 1 million came and

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they put big strains on the public services on housing and health and

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on education. We need to be mindful of that when we are talking about

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scare stories. Although the economy was booming and many people want to

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those workers to fill posts that could not be filled by people

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already living here. Labour also opted out of the moratorium which

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they conceded was wrong. Are you worried about the lifting of work

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restrictions? No, clearly this survey says not many Romanians and

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Bulgarians are going to come here. That is hardly surprising because

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they know there are very few jobs. Those who are intending to come are

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mostly well educated people who will take the sort of jobs that

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need to be filled. I think politicians have a responsibility.

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There is a lot of scaremongering and there is an undertone in this

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debate which I do not find very What will these people do? They

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will do jobs. What about the 2 million East Europeans who came in

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2000? It is not about people coming for benefits. It is not about

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people coming for housing. It is about people coming for jobs.

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Department for Work and Pensions says 17% of working you -- age UK

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nationals claimed benefit. This has not been based on fact. I do not

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agree. We have never had a proper, holistic, comprehensive review of

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the impact of eastern European workers from 2004 of to the UK

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economy. Whether people say we have, it is not true. The Government when

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academics have looked at this. The nearest we have come in 2008 is the

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house of Lords economic committee. I do not really wish to be

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reproached by the sort of liberal intelligentsia who say you cannot

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talk about immigration because there is an underlying issue of

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xenophobia. It is not a question of that. It is not racist. It is about

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pressure on public services at a very difficult time of financial

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strain. Labour has wanted to apologise for this. It has quite

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rightly said they allowed too many people him by not enforcing the

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rules. Do you agree? Are you the liberal intelligentsia? I would not

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like to be cast like that. You have to enforce the rules - no doubt

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about that the study have to look at the benefits which immigration

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brings to this country. -- at about that. You have to look. These

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people will take jobs and council homes. They are not take council

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homes away from people. The jobs they take will be created largely

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by them. They fill a need. whole business of politics is not

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just about reality, it is also about people's perceptions. People

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who are not that well educated or highly skilled in low-paid jobs,

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their perception is, often when they are competing for scarce

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public resources, people that are coming in are taking scarce

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resources. I think we have a duty - unless we are going to open the

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door to the BNP and other extremists - to debate this in a

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rational way. That is right. Some right-wing papers get hold of these

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issues and put it in a way that is not short of xenophobia. I accept

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you are not but, I think you have a responsibility, as publisher, to

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say you have done a lot of good as well. They have transformed Britain

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in a lot of ways. I was a local councillor in the London borough of

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Ealing. It has the largest population of Polish people in the

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UK. They are fantastic people and hard-working. We need to say to the

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European Union will decide who comes to our country. That is a

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different issue. At the moment they can come under EU rules. They have

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freedom of movement ran as you know. To pick up on your point about

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perception, is it just a perception rather than a reality? Is it only a

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reality in certain pockets of the country? You have hit the nail on

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the head. In certain parts of the country you have pinch points,

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because of the demographic and economic profile. We have had their

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to 4500 nasha insurance -- national insurance claimants. It does not

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happen often in many parts of the wealthy South of England. There are

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pockets where there are serious legitimate concerns. To you accept

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that London is an exception? some extent, it is an exception. I

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accept there are concerns about it. I think we have got the job to

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explain to people that immigrants to a lot of very big jobs and have

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been helpful to the economy. would agree with that. Nice to get

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a bit of agreement early on in the show. By the one making light bulbs

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in Liverpool or tea bags in Totnes, the question remains the same. What

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is best for British business? Is the continuing strong links with

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Europe of renegotiating a new relationship? Businesses are

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calling for the UK to take back powers from the Continent. David

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Cameron has already pledged to renegotiate some powers and offer

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voters a referendum on Europe if returned to para. In his speech

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earlier this year, he said that British people must have their say.

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It was not universally welcomed. Richard Branson warned that the UK

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must not become peripheral country on the edge of Europe. Now, pro-

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European business is becoming increasingly worried. Roland Rat

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has condemned the calls from today's new campaigners as very

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dangerous. He has said we should be pushing for multilateral reforms.

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The new group, business for Britain, has the backing of Stuart Rose and

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Lord Wolfson. They are determined that David Cameron holds firm on

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his pledges. They have said it is right to seek a new deal for the EU

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and the bomb of the UK in Europe. - - and the whole -- and the role of

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the UK in Europe. The European market accounts for half of the

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UK's overall trade and foreign investments. 3.5 million UK jobs

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are linked to goods and services to the EU. You have been set up to

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loosen those ties. Why? I am a businessman. I have not been

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involved in politics. Where we come from is, we feel to renegotiate and

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hat looser ties. The Prime Minister said in his speech in January that

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he was talking about more flexibility, more accountability,

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more democracy back to the parliament. All of that is

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something we are in favour of. We want to renegotiate. We want to

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insure it is the case that the message from businesses get over.

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There is a renegotiation that is needed. We do not believe there

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will cause uncertainty that summer that opponents to save. We believe

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it is very important -- uncertainty that some of our opponents do say.

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We believe it is very important. Why do you think what the group is

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promoting his dangerous? I am delighted the group wants to remain

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in the European Union and would vote Yes in the event of a

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referendum. Which you? We are not making that argument at all. We are

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saying it would depend entirely on how the renegotiation went. That is

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a hypothetical question. The key point is, how do we get a reformed

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Europe? To me get a reformed Europe through unilateral renegotiation

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and repatriation - trying to do that on our own? -- do we get? Are

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we going to get a reformed Europe by working with allies and talking

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about multilateral renegotiation? The reform agenda in terms of

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extending the single market - you have to remember that, as you

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rightly said, 400 million of our trade is done with Europe. It is

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worth almost 40 billion a year. One of his member said today that the

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costs of the single market away the benefits. Most businessmen do not

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believe that. They believe the benefits outweigh the costs but

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would like to see a more reformed Europe. That is what we should

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focus efforts on. We can come back to the issue of your natural

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against Malta at reform. Give me two examples of where you think the

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relationship has stultified business growth. I am in business.

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I manufacture prams. We were trying to export into Europe over the last

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10, 15 years. France has stopped us exporting prams to France because

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of safety laws in France. It is not theoretical. Rowland does not run a

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business similar to the manufacturing business. We suffered

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as a result of the French additional laws on safety so we

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could not export prams to France. Surely we need a better Europe that

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is well regulated. They are sort of breaching this single market notion

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in order to protect French interests. That is only an example.

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We had been in Europe for a long time. We keep saying we need better

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negotiation. We are suggesting we have better negotiation. How many

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years have we been in Europe that we still have these issues?

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single market has changed dramatically. It is not the way

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people envisaged initially. It has been transformed and is holding

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Business back in his view. I do not know about that. When Margaret

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Thatcher pushed through the single market, she gave up the veto for us

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on that particular issue. She was 100% right. We need to strengthen

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and deepen it. When Allen talks about the specific issue he has in

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manufacturing prams, I have total sympathy for him. We want more - we

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want the Commission to take more people to the European Court when

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these things are breached. That is happening. Got us to have proper

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trade and to boost growth, we need to have more reform extend the

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similar -- extend the market and a new agreement worth 60 billion a

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year. We want to see a slimmed down a European Union, all of which we

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can achieve fighting within with our allies. Are we in a position

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now to renegotiate in the way that he wants? Isn't now the best

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opportunity for Britain to say, we are not doing this any more - you

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are going to do it away? It is right that this is the time to put

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forward the reform agenda. I noticed on the website for the

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policies yet because you are going to consult with your members. We

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had been around for a while and we have ideas now in terms of the

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reform process. You have to start this process now, working with

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people like Germany and the Netherlands and there are a lot of

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allies of hours in European Union. The problem is the sort of rhetoric

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that you have been outlining and some of the Euro-sceptic rhetoric

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from the Government has meant that actually those allies are alienated.

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You are not going to be able to renegotiate from a position where

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Germany and France are saying, I am sorry, you cannot have it your own

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way. I have found over the years that it is better than you are

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negotiating to start off in a stronger position that you can have.

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To threaten to pull out if you do not get your own way? We are giving

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the Government the issues that business has. Roland represent

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large businesses. I understand that and have no problem with it. There

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are a lot of businesses out there, small businesses, medium-sized

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businesses and we suffer a great deal. It is no good talking about,

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it can be dealt with by the Commission, dealt with by legal

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matters. We do not have the money to do that. My problem in France,

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what was I meant to do? All we are asking is, when the Government -

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the coalition government or any other government - is renegotiating,

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they have the views of business people. That is all we like. I am

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worried about both the pupils do you approve talking their

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renegotiation as accepted that it will happen. -- about both of you.

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:17:59.:18:05.

You are both talking about I want it extended to telecoms and

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I want to see a free-trade agreement with America. The

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working-time directive and the part-time working directive need

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reforming. Do you want people to opt out quite Denmark I mean

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reforming in the sense of you should be able to have part-time

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workers not on full-time benefits because otherwise you would

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decimate the part-time working for us. But you get these things

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working with our allies commit you do not get them as saying, this is

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what we want or are we will pull out. If we by that argument and

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worked with our partners, we would be in the euro by now? Absolutely

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not. That is a completely separate issue. I think if you look at what

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Rowland has supported in the past he has supported the Euro-campaign.

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As did large business people. We set up a referendum, business for

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Sterling. That is completely in the past. We did not campaign. Had

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there been a referendum, I would have voted in favour of it.

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would have been a good thing? would not have been a good thing.

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They have got huge problems and it is in our interest that it succeeds,

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but it is better we are out, but it is also in our interest to be at

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the heart of Europe fighting for the reforms. Is there anything

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specifically you would like to see renegotiated? The whole point of

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our group is week I going to be talking to business between now and

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the end of this year to hear what they have to save. If there was a

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referendum today, right now, in or out, what would you opt for? It is

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a hypothetical question. If that was the question... If nothing

:20:07.:20:14.

changed, my personal position would be very difficult to advise people

:20:14.:20:19.

to stay in the EU if nothing changed. But we are absolutely

:20:19.:20:25.

hoping for a change of policy, a renegotiation of. We are in a

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modern world and we are competing in China, Asia and South America.

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How do you best achieve that? There are two ways of achieving that. You

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can make lots of noise from the outside, or you go in there and try

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and dig in. The Tory party is torn by that. It has been very

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interesting. Sunday's marathons saw some great efforts for charities

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across the country and a contingent from Westminster made a

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contribution as well. Jim Murphy, the shadow Defence Secretary, was

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first across the line. Ed Balls joked he worried about flatlining

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during the race, but the Shadow Chancellor finished at a

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respectable five hours and 14 minutes. Too far, but not too fast.

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Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP for Loughborough, last of the

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Conservative runners. Very impressive by all of them. Jim

:21:32.:21:35.

Murphy and Nicky Morgan spoke to us last week before the race and today

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they have managed to hobble to College Green to speak to Robin

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Brant. I am recovering and I just watched it. Nicky Morgan and Jim

:21:46.:21:56.
:21:56.:21:56.

Murphy, how are you both the Labour Stimac source. Great. You were the

:21:56.:22:02.

first Conservative MP to do the race, what was the regime like?

:22:02.:22:07.

little bit off the booze towards the end, a lot of pasta last week.

:22:07.:22:13.

I was the first female Conservative MP to do the marathon. It has been

:22:13.:22:19.

hard to try and find time for the long runs. A lot of Popple talk

:22:19.:22:24.

about it at a lot of people dream about it, but why did you do it?

:22:24.:22:28.

had always looked enviously at the television when I saw other people

:22:28.:22:33.

doing it and I thought, when is going to be the next opportunity?

:22:33.:22:39.

It was also a great opportunity to raise money for mental illness.

:22:39.:22:44.

raise a couple of 1000 pounds. Does it make you a better

:22:44.:22:51.

politician? Or is it just a personal journey? A lot of people

:22:51.:22:54.

say the marathon is as much mental as physical and that is certainly

:22:54.:22:58.

true. There are a couple of miles in the middle when you have to dig

:22:59.:23:04.

deep and say, I am going to do this. Sometimes politics is like that.

:23:04.:23:09.

There is a bit of a long haul and you have to dig in for the long

:23:09.:23:15.

haul. You crossed the line ahead of Ed Balls, what was it like between

:23:16.:23:20.

you two in terms of the build-up and the training. We had a bit of a

:23:20.:23:25.

rivalry. I joked I would beat him and I would carry him on my back,

:23:25.:23:31.

but that was provider in my part. I had never run a marathon before, so

:23:31.:23:38.

I had no idea what to expect. The crowd put in a huge amount of

:23:38.:23:45.

effort. The last 17 miles onwards it is such a lonely experience, and

:23:45.:23:49.

that sounds strange when you have loads of people cheering you on,

:23:49.:23:54.

but it is basically a competition between your body and your brain

:23:54.:23:58.

and your body is saying stop and your brain is saying, you have got

:23:58.:24:04.

to keep going. You did not realise you had finish? There were

:24:04.:24:07.

thousands of people here at parliament yesterday and it is the

:24:07.:24:14.

only time nobody has Budde meet near Parliament. That was lovely. I

:24:14.:24:18.

ran around Buckingham Palace and there is no sign saying, finished,

:24:18.:24:26.

and I just kept going. -- nobody booed me. What did you think about

:24:26.:24:33.

when you were going around? Did you have an iPod on? Everyone is

:24:33.:24:43.

different, but I think about other experiences and people get

:24:43.:24:46.

strengths are from a different experiences in life and I thought,

:24:46.:24:54.

do not stop, do not let yourself down. I met somebody before who had

:24:54.:24:58.

done 18 marathons and she said, keep one foot in front of the other

:24:58.:25:03.

and it will soon be over. advice for colleagues facing uphill

:25:03.:25:10.

battles? David Cameron and Nick Clegg, it is tough for them. The

:25:10.:25:13.

marathon advise is if you see a hill, work hard into it and

:25:13.:25:19.

downhill relax through it. Will you do it next year? I well have to

:25:19.:25:26.

think about it. I will do it tomorrow. I am thinking about it.

:25:27.:25:31.

Are you going to do it? I will wait and see what you do

:25:31.:25:35.

first, otherwise I feel like a lie- down after that will stop you have

:25:35.:25:43.

run half were Athens a Stimac yes, but not hole marathons. If it is

:25:43.:25:47.

not the weather, we like rambling about the trains. Since then its

:25:47.:25:51.

90s services have been largely in the hands of private companies with

:25:51.:25:57.

varying degrees of success and failure. Both the East Coast and

:25:57.:26:02.

the West Coast main lines have given MPs a headache. Despite that

:26:02.:26:08.

they swear by the privatisation of rail, but is it working? A row over

:26:08.:26:13.

the right to run trains along the west coast, lost by Virgin, awarded

:26:13.:26:16.

to first group and then given back to Virgin for two years longer than

:26:16.:26:22.

originally intended. It left the taxpayer holding a �40 million a

:26:22.:26:27.

pill and embarrassed ministers. What has happened is acceptable and

:26:27.:26:31.

is deeply regrettable and I apologise. Making the trains run on

:26:31.:26:35.

time, always controversial and never easy. Privatisation was meant

:26:35.:26:40.

to take the strain off the taxpayer, but has it been a triumph or has it

:26:40.:26:46.

led to confusion and delay? When it occurred in the mid- 1990s, the

:26:47.:26:51.

rail industry was at the end of a long period of decline and it was

:26:51.:26:55.

expected it would be another managed decline of the rail system

:26:55.:26:58.

when other modes of transport took over, but that has not been the

:26:59.:27:05.

case. There has been a renaissance in railways and the biggest

:27:05.:27:09.

building investment programme since Victorian times. That said,

:27:09.:27:15.

privatisation has not worked out quite as planned. Railtrack was

:27:15.:27:20.

taken back under public ownership in 2001 and became Network Rail.

:27:20.:27:29.

The East Coast main line was in public hands by 2009. It made �600

:27:29.:27:32.

million for the taxpayer over the past three years, so what is not to

:27:32.:27:37.

like about public ownership? Public opinion is beginning to favour

:27:37.:27:41.

public ownership. The public ownership of the East Coast main

:27:41.:27:45.

line has been quite popular, following the failure of the

:27:45.:27:50.

private sector to run the franchise effectively. It has been in public

:27:50.:27:54.

ownership for a number of years. For the betterment of the whole

:27:54.:27:59.

economy we have got to have a more efficient, cheaper and possibly

:27:59.:28:04.

publicly subsidised rail service. Not much chance of that happening

:28:04.:28:08.

under this Government. It wants the East Coast main line back in

:28:08.:28:13.

private hands by 2015, or the election year. 10 of the 15

:28:14.:28:17.

franchises are due for review, but ministers are keen to avoid a

:28:17.:28:22.

repeat of the West Coast fiasco and a number of franchises have been

:28:22.:28:27.

extended. The public sector has been successful in operating the

:28:27.:28:31.

East Coast main line after two private sector operators failed,

:28:31.:28:34.

yet the Government seemed to have undue haste in wanting to get it

:28:35.:28:43.

back into the private sector. not think it is ideological. I have

:28:43.:28:48.

spoken at length with Patrick McLoughlin and the other ministers.

:28:48.:28:51.

I think you go back to the principles of franchising the

:28:51.:28:56.

competition and the inhibition of ideas and their work. The basic

:28:56.:29:01.

model of franchising is not thought. Labour's position is officially

:29:02.:29:07.

under review, but do not expect Ed Miliband to get his stationmaster's

:29:07.:29:12.

unit -- uniform on any time soon. Privatisation has delivered

:29:12.:29:17.

increased numbers of passengers, although they have increased

:29:17.:29:21.

because of the growth in the economy, but that has come as a

:29:21.:29:27.

cost. There will always have to see how they can keep growing at a cost

:29:27.:29:32.

that is affordable for the taxpayer and the passengers. This really

:29:32.:29:39.

could be the age of the train. Joining us now is Tony Lodge from

:29:39.:29:45.

the Centre for Policy Studies and Christian Wolmar a commentator on

:29:45.:29:55.
:29:55.:30:03.

The big problem with privatisation is the increase in subsidy which

:30:03.:30:10.

has resulted from it. We saw last week there was �4 billion of

:30:10.:30:15.

government subsidy going into the railways. It was less under British

:30:15.:30:20.

Rail. Batters a lot of money. One could argue they have only done

:30:20.:30:26.

well as a result of government money. A really important statistic,

:30:26.:30:32.

the East Coast Main Line franchise is paying the highest premium of

:30:32.:30:35.

any long distance of their weight operator. That means the Government

:30:35.:30:45.
:30:45.:30:45.

is not having to put much subsidy in. -- long-distance railway

:30:45.:30:51.

operator. It is the only one that is run by the state. I agree with

:30:51.:30:56.

that. That is likely be relevant. National Express had to hand the

:30:56.:31:01.

keys back when they got the figures wrong. The competition east coast

:31:01.:31:07.

has to face is making it better - lower fares, more passengers, more

:31:07.:31:13.

routes and greater revenue. That is an important test case. Do you

:31:13.:31:18.

disagree with the Government that, at some point, they should reopen

:31:18.:31:22.

the franchising of that line? Shouldn't they keep it with public

:31:22.:31:29.

ownership? To be honest with you, be directly operated railways, as

:31:29.:31:34.

far as I am concerned, they have had a very good run because they

:31:34.:31:38.

have had to face competition. The great thing about the East Coast

:31:38.:31:42.

Main Line is it was modernised in the 80s and has been electrified in

:31:42.:31:49.

the 80s. It will do well in private hands but it must face competition.

:31:49.:31:52.

The West Coast Main Line, a white card Richard Branson face

:31:52.:31:57.

competition as well? The problem with competition is that we always

:31:57.:32:01.

have a limited number of tracks and it is very difficult to organise

:32:01.:32:06.

competition. When the railways were first privatise, the Tory idea was

:32:06.:32:10.

that there would be a plethora of rail companies coming along and

:32:10.:32:15.

running services. They realised if they allowed that, together with

:32:15.:32:21.

the franchising of the railways, it would provide more subsidy. The

:32:21.:32:26.

private, open-access operators would grab the easy customers and

:32:26.:32:30.

the poor of franchisee would end up with services at 10pm in the

:32:30.:32:36.

evening which did not make money. That is why they are limited

:32:36.:32:42.

competition. I remember you writing in the Lee Marsh, 2011 issue of the

:32:42.:32:49.

Railway Magazine, they face competition at Doncaster at York,

:32:49.:32:59.

Northallerton and Wakefield. -- March, 2011. Why can't they have

:32:59.:33:03.

competition from other companies on the West Coast Main Line? It would

:33:03.:33:10.

end up costing taxpayers more money. Why? Private operators would

:33:10.:33:16.

cherry-pick the best services. is disprove and on the east coast.

:33:16.:33:21.

There are 20,000 rail services a day and 30 open-access trains a day.

:33:21.:33:27.

It is an irrelevant number. Can I move on to franchising? It has not

:33:27.:33:33.

been a curious success. That was a very dark hour for the deity. I

:33:33.:33:41.

would go back to the initial point. -- Department of Transport. I want

:33:41.:33:51.

to see none franchised open-access competition along size -- alongside

:33:51.:33:57.

franchises. How do you bring down train fares? Will they just go up?

:33:58.:34:03.

You introduce competition. Statistics show that on the East

:34:03.:34:06.

Coast main line where there was competition between East Coast and

:34:06.:34:10.

rail access operators, the average fare increase was 11% with

:34:11.:34:17.

competition, without it, it was 17%. That is still quite high. The point

:34:17.:34:21.

I am making is competition can hold fares down. I do not think

:34:21.:34:26.

competition will do that, it is government policy. There's have

:34:26.:34:31.

gone up by above the rate of inflation because that has been

:34:31.:34:35.

government policy. That should change. It is becoming politically

:34:35.:34:42.

unpalatable to put up fares by too much, given that fuel tax rises are

:34:42.:34:48.

always scrapped. Open-access, I'm afraid, is an irrelevance. What

:34:48.:34:52.

about public ownership where it has been said the East Coast company

:34:52.:34:58.

has run out of steam? In order to get more investment, you would have

:34:58.:35:04.

to have a private company running it? Train operators actually do not

:35:04.:35:08.

invest. It is Network Rail that invests in improvement in the

:35:08.:35:12.

railways. Customers would agree with that because they say there is

:35:12.:35:16.

overcrowding and train extensions take too long to happen. There is

:35:16.:35:21.

evidence of this. If you want to see more rolling stock and cheaper

:35:21.:35:26.

rolling-stock - cheaper fares for the passenger - open up. Let's have

:35:26.:35:32.

new services to serve new locations alongside the franchise. What about

:35:32.:35:38.

taking away the subsidy in keeping it in public ownership? There is a

:35:38.:35:43.

lot written about the old British Rail. It is slightly before my time

:35:43.:35:47.

the Tour de Geste record it. I will say, British Rail is not coming

:35:47.:35:57.
:35:57.:36:00.

back. -- but I do record it. I will just make one point. Safety on the

:36:00.:36:05.

railways has never been higher. British Rail did not have the great

:36:05.:36:11.

safety record. Airplane safety has improved as well. That is largely

:36:11.:36:15.

technology. It is difficult to recreate British Rail. Network Rail

:36:15.:36:25.
:36:25.:36:25.

is state owned. My contention would be, why not keep Directly Operated

:36:25.:36:29.

Railways on the east coast and then we will know how much it costs to

:36:29.:36:39.
:36:39.:36:39.

run away? -- run a railway. They say a week in politics is a long

:36:39.:36:42.

time, so let's have a look at the stories which could be making the

:36:42.:36:45.

headlines this week The authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher will

:36:45.:36:48.

be published on Tuesday. The book is called Not for Turning and was

:36:48.:36:51.

only to be released after the death of Britain's first female Prime

:36:51.:36:53.

Minister. Also on Tuesday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt goes before

:36:53.:36:56.

the health committee to discuss the report which looked into the

:36:56.:36:58.

failings at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital Trust. On Wednesday, Prime

:36:58.:37:01.

Minister David Cameron will answer questions from the despatch box for

:37:01.:37:04.

the first time since the Easter recess On Thursday, the office of

:37:04.:37:06.

National Statistics will publish their preliminary figures for the

:37:06.:37:10.

first quarter of 2013, if they show negative growth it will mean the UK

:37:10.:37:20.

is in a so-called triple-dip recession. Joining me now is The

:37:20.:37:22.

Metro's political editor, John Higginson, and New Statesman's

:37:22.:37:32.
:37:32.:37:32.

Helen Lewis. Welcome to both of you. Helen, do you agree with Labour MP

:37:32.:37:36.

Jim Murphy's line yesterday that blanket coverage of the death of

:37:36.:37:39.

Baroness Thatcher was the reason for the decline in Labour's poll

:37:39.:37:44.

ratings? It was not seem to be appropriate bike Ed Miliband to

:37:44.:37:49.

contest the legacy. You had a week when you were hearing a lot about

:37:49.:37:54.

Conservative achievements and conservative values. I think it

:37:54.:37:59.

definitely paid into it. What is not being said is there is a lot of

:37:59.:38:03.

rumbling inside Labour at the moment. A lot of discontent for its

:38:03.:38:09.

butt off by an article by Tony Blair in the New Statesman. --

:38:10.:38:15.

sparked off. Does Ed Miliband need to outline a vision two years on

:38:15.:38:21.

from the election? What about the growth figures? To agree that

:38:22.:38:27.

figures this week can dictate what happened in the 2015 election?

:38:27.:38:31.

will matter in 2015 is what is happening then. Two years from now,

:38:31.:38:36.

when people are coming into an election, they will look back and

:38:36.:38:40.

think, were being a double dip recession or a triple dip

:38:40.:38:47.

recession? -- where we in? We are a long way away from an election. If

:38:47.:38:53.

we come in just below on Thursday were just about buy 0.1%, I do not

:38:53.:39:03.
:39:03.:39:04.

think it will have a major effect. -- or just about I 0.1%. Was he

:39:04.:39:09.

right that in economic terms with him and raised a contraction or a

:39:09.:39:18.

tiny increase in gross, it is going to be completely irrelevant? -- if

:39:18.:39:23.

there is a contraction. A triple dip recession is catastrophic for

:39:23.:39:28.

George Osborne. He will face briefings from his own side. There

:39:28.:39:34.

will be rumblings in the Tory Party. The best he can hope for is a weak

:39:34.:39:38.

and anaemic growth. We'd bump along the bottom alternating between

:39:38.:39:44.

positive and negative growth. That is bad for people's incomes. In

:39:44.:39:51.

that sense, it probably will affect the 2015 election. What about the

:39:51.:39:57.

reputation of George Osborne? did state his reputation on the

:39:57.:40:02.

economy, on getting the deficit cut by 2015. He has admitted that will

:40:02.:40:09.

not happen. Yet again, he might have to face - David Cameron might

:40:09.:40:16.

have to phase in Prime Minister's Questions a hand signal signifying

:40:16.:40:21.

bumping along the bottom, in and out of recession. For a party that

:40:21.:40:25.

staked everything on, the get everything else, we need to sort

:40:25.:40:31.

out the economy, its economy is not sorted out, that will be the issue

:40:31.:40:41.
:40:41.:40:43.

in 2015. -- if the economy. I think there are two problems for Labour.

:40:43.:40:46.

The first is whether Ed Miliband has real name recognition and

:40:46.:40:51.

people know him as a politician and a person. They have not been able

:40:52.:40:57.

to land killer blows. With the downgradings from the ratings

:40:57.:41:02.

agencies, George Osborne said it would be humiliating. They have not

:41:02.:41:07.

been able to turn that into a punch that has been landed on him.

:41:07.:41:14.

some extent they have been factored in? People are not very optimistic

:41:14.:41:17.

about growth. In the local elections you mentioned, how

:41:17.:41:21.

difficult would be for coalition partners on the doorstep with the

:41:21.:41:26.

economy in the state it is? As you have just said, a lot of people

:41:26.:41:30.

will be thinking, OK, we're not doing too well but would Labour

:41:30.:41:35.

have done any better? As the polls have shown, they do not think they

:41:35.:41:39.

would. Even if someone says, I wish we had gross, I do not think

:41:39.:41:43.

they're looking to Labour and sane, they're the ones that would have

:41:43.:41:52.

provided to us. -- and saying. With the Thatcher pounds, we might see a

:41:52.:41:56.

bit of that in local elections. David Cameron should not be taking

:41:56.:42:03.

a whole load of... He should not think it is great. It is a bounce

:42:03.:42:11.

based on a party 30 years ago. has most to lose? Everyone. -- who

:42:11.:42:18.

has most? What we will see it in Cornwall and Cambridgeshire, if you

:42:18.:42:23.

want to make a protest vote, who do you hold most responsible for the

:42:23.:42:29.

mess? That is the idea. That is what I will really be watching.

:42:29.:42:33.

have been joined by three MPs. Labour's Andy Sawford, Conservative

:42:33.:42:36.

Shailesh Vara and Liberal Democrat Mark Hunter for the rest of the

:42:36.:42:41.

show. As we've been hearing, it's a big week for the economy - and for

:42:41.:42:47.

politics - with the latest GDP figure announced on Thursday. A

:42:47.:42:52.

triple dip recession for the first time in recent economic history. It

:42:52.:42:55.

would be a disaster for the reputation of George Osborne,

:42:55.:43:02.

wouldn't it? I'm not going to speculate. Would it be a disaster?

:43:02.:43:07.

The fact is we have reduced the deficit by a third. If we look

:43:07.:43:14.

outside into the big, wide world, many private sector jobs have been

:43:14.:43:18.

created. There is record employment. People will say, what is happening

:43:18.:43:28.

in the real world rather than George Osborne and his reputation.

:43:28.:43:32.

He has staked so much on a deficit reduction plan which the OBR is

:43:32.:43:36.

saying is stalling and a return to growth. If there is a triple dip,

:43:36.:43:41.

even if it is only a very small contraction, what effect would it

:43:42.:43:46.

have on his personal reputation? His reputation will be judged on

:43:46.:43:50.

what he has achieved. Over 1 million people are in private

:43:50.:43:59.

sector jobs. many people have had tax cuts and some had been taken

:43:59.:44:07.

out of tax altogether. When �24 million you have 24 million people

:44:07.:44:15.

having a tax cut, that is a benefit. -- when you have 24 million people.

:44:15.:44:21.

A report out today sets in the year to February, it was zero. Times are

:44:21.:44:24.

difficult. We're in the worst economic position we have been in

:44:24.:44:31.

since the 30s. None of that is down to government policies? It is down

:44:31.:44:37.

to a legacy of debt which has built over a decade by the previous

:44:37.:44:40.

administration. Let's say there is a tiny bit of growth but the

:44:41.:44:45.

British economy continues to flat line. Still no growth. We still

:44:45.:44:50.

have faith in the Government's economic policy? You have to

:44:50.:44:55.

recognise this country was on the brink of bankruptcy mummy came into

:44:55.:45:01.

control. We're taking it out of that desperate condition. Labour

:45:01.:45:09.

are saying give us control of the economy to finish the job we tried

:45:09.:45:14.

to do before in bankrupting the economy. Are the Liberal Democrats

:45:14.:45:19.

still signed up to this? Signed up to the deficit reduction strategy.

:45:19.:45:23.

That is one of the key reasons why the coalition was formed in the

:45:23.:45:27.

first place. We came into the coalition government at a time when

:45:27.:45:33.

UK plc was spending �4 for every �3 we actually had and the deficit

:45:33.:45:38.

problem was massive at that stage in time. We have made progress with

:45:38.:45:42.

that and cut the deficit by a third. 1 million people are in

:45:42.:45:45.

apprenticeships over the last couple of years. Plenty of good

:45:45.:45:49.

things happening in the economy and we must be careful not to talk it

:45:49.:45:54.

down. It is a difficult economic climate. Glamorgan's and about the

:45:54.:45:57.

impact on people - the kind of voters I'm privileged to represent

:45:57.:46:01.

in Parliament and the triple dip recession and the three-star rating

:46:01.:46:07.

and so on. That does not mean much out to folk in communities. What

:46:07.:46:10.

does mean a lot to them is whether or not they can afford to pay the

:46:10.:46:14.

mortgage and we have record low interest rates. Whether or not they

:46:14.:46:18.

are in a job, we have created over a million private sector jobs since

:46:18.:46:23.

the Government was formed. Plenty positive things. It is still a

:46:23.:46:27.

difficult time. No-one in the coalition has the answers or that

:46:27.:46:31.

there is a silver bullet solution. We have to tackle the benefit --

:46:31.:46:41.
:46:41.:46:54.

Most of us accept the Government will be judged by the end of their

:46:55.:47:02.

term. I am optimistic we will continue to make progress on the

:47:02.:47:07.

deficit reduction strategy, but it is important to have a plan. You

:47:07.:47:10.

only have to look at what is happening in other European

:47:10.:47:13.

countries to see the kind of difficulties they get into if they

:47:13.:47:18.

do not have a plausible plan to tackle the deficit. That is why

:47:18.:47:23.

there is a lot of focus on the Labour Party, although they are

:47:23.:47:26.

posing the cuts we are making, they are not saying what they are going

:47:26.:47:34.

to do. How much more is going to be cut? We could speculate endlessly.

:47:34.:47:40.

How much more has got to be cut? Nobody comes into politics, least

:47:40.:47:44.

of all any political party, to want to make cuts in public expenditure,

:47:44.:47:51.

but it accounts for 25% of all central Government funding and it

:47:51.:47:55.

is not credible to pretend that somehow public sector can be exempt

:47:55.:48:00.

from the kind of savings and cats that have had to be made across the

:48:00.:48:06.

board. The exception is the NHS where we have committed more money

:48:06.:48:11.

than the Labour Party said they would. Did you think that the cuts

:48:11.:48:17.

up until now, only 20% so far, would have sparked growth? I think

:48:17.:48:21.

nobody appreciated just how long and how difficult the current

:48:21.:48:25.

recession is going to be. Most external commentators would agree

:48:25.:48:32.

with that. But still no change in the policy? It is important to

:48:32.:48:37.

retain an open mind, but what we are not seeing in Parliament and in

:48:37.:48:41.

the domestic political debate is a credible, alternative proposition.

:48:41.:48:45.

When I speak to people in my constituency most people understand

:48:45.:48:53.

that. They knew whoever won the general election, we would be in

:48:53.:48:59.

far a difficult time. I have to ask what Labour's policy is going to be

:48:59.:49:05.

because there is confusion in terms of what Labour's plans are. Labour

:49:05.:49:09.

said the coalition has cut too far and too fast, but we did not quite

:49:09.:49:15.

get to the bottom of how much work is to come. Only 20% has been cut.

:49:15.:49:20.

If you think the British economy has not grown is because they have

:49:21.:49:25.

cut too far and too fast, the logic is Labour will spend and borrow

:49:25.:49:30.

more going into the 2015 Election. You have asked two questions. The

:49:30.:49:35.

first is about the current situation. It is important to say

:49:35.:49:40.

we do care about the current position of the economy. This is

:49:40.:49:43.

not about the electoral calculations of the Tories and the

:49:43.:49:48.

Liberal Democrats, I care about people in my constituency right now.

:49:48.:49:52.

Unemployment is higher than when this Government came to office,

:49:52.:49:57.

that debt is going up, we are borrowing more. So you think the

:49:57.:50:02.

solution would be in order to improve the lives of people you

:50:02.:50:09.

would want to borrow more? I was coming to that. We have set out an

:50:09.:50:13.

alternative plan, which was to half the deficit over the course of this

:50:13.:50:18.

Parliament, so we would be spending �13 billion more on infrastructure

:50:18.:50:23.

this year which would be important to get our economies growing. The

:50:23.:50:28.

IMF, the CBI and even Lord Heseltine are encouraging George

:50:28.:50:34.

Osborne to look at that. But they will not listen. Into the next

:50:34.:50:39.

election is Labour going to pledge to borrow even more to get growth?

:50:39.:50:44.

That will be a decision for Ed Balls and Ed Miliband. You have

:50:44.:50:49.

just said... The responsible thing to do is to look at the

:50:49.:50:52.

Government's spending plans which have not been announced. We know

:50:52.:50:59.

the total amount of spending in 2015-2016, but we do not know where

:50:59.:51:05.

the cuts are going to come. Labour can say now we used it to the

:51:05.:51:08.

Government's current spending plans? We cannot trust from one

:51:09.:51:13.

year to the next that the figures that George Osborne gives us. The

:51:13.:51:18.

figures get worse year on year. We do not know this situation the

:51:19.:51:27.

economy is going to be in 2015. We would spend the money and we would

:51:27.:51:35.

have a tax on bankers' bonuses. These are not unimportant things.

:51:35.:51:40.

What we want to know and what the viewers want to know it is you have

:51:40.:51:46.

criticised the coalition policies... They would not want us to set out

:51:46.:51:52.

plans when we do not know the real situation. But after the spending

:51:52.:51:57.

review you well. Of course, and week-by-week we will have a clearer

:51:57.:52:03.

picture of what we might note in 2015 and we will continue to set

:52:03.:52:06.

out our policies, but we cannot tell you right now what the

:52:06.:52:11.

spending review is going to be and how dire the economy might be by

:52:11.:52:19.

2015. Employment has gone up. There are 850,000 people more in

:52:19.:52:25.

employment now than after the general election. As far as the

:52:25.:52:29.

budget deficit is concerned, Fitch who do their ratings they

:52:29.:52:35.

themselves have said it is because of this Government's commitment to

:52:35.:52:39.

reducing the underlying budget deficit that the UK debt has a

:52:39.:52:46.

stable outlook. They downgraded us, but that is what they said. The UK

:52:46.:52:51.

debt has a stable outlook. As far as the other issue is concerned,

:52:51.:52:55.

why is it that Ed Miliband is able to say if there is a Labour

:52:55.:53:05.

Government he would reduce taxes to 10%? His crystal ball allows him to

:53:05.:53:08.

make tax commitments, but on the other hand when we talk about

:53:09.:53:16.

spending commitments they are being terribly shy. The reality is the

:53:16.:53:20.

Labour Government borrowed, spent and created debt and what they are

:53:20.:53:24.

offering the country again is to offer more and to spend more and to

:53:24.:53:30.

create more debt as well. Why is it that the population does not trust

:53:30.:53:37.

Labour? Why have the polls narrowed? Why is Ed Miliband and Ed

:53:37.:53:43.

Balls' policy under pressure? incredibly important to labour to

:53:43.:53:46.

build trust and we have got a long way to go and I am under no

:53:46.:53:51.

illusion about that. We had the worst election result we have for

:53:51.:53:57.

80 years in 2010 and we have got a big job to do. But when we go out

:53:57.:54:02.

and talk to people and we have a real result, we can see that people

:54:02.:54:06.

do not trust this Government and they can see that their policies

:54:06.:54:10.

are taking us in the wrong direction. It is not just the

:54:10.:54:16.

economy, Bano in the health service we have 5000 fewer nurses and

:54:16.:54:20.

15,000 fewer police officers, so this Government is not doing what

:54:20.:54:27.

they said they would do. Is Labour a soft touch on welfare? Absolutely

:54:27.:54:33.

not. Let's contrast really clearly... You opposed the benefit

:54:33.:54:40.

cap. You are spending 13 billion more on out-of-work benefits and 13

:54:40.:54:44.

billion less on infrastructure. the doorstep in the local elections

:54:44.:54:47.

are you going to be happy talking to people whose real pay has not

:54:47.:54:52.

risen, no prospect of a rising, the rest of people still losing their

:54:52.:54:57.

jobs, and they will say, please change your policy and they will

:54:57.:55:03.

say -- and you will say? There is a realisation amongst the population

:55:03.:55:07.

that we are in a difficult financial times. He would have been

:55:07.:55:13.

saying that since 2010. It was true then and it is true now and we have

:55:13.:55:20.

got a plan to tackle it. Why has the IMF lost faith? I know there

:55:20.:55:25.

have been some concerns expressed by the IMF, and it is important we

:55:25.:55:30.

listen to them. But at the end of the day, you cannot spend more than

:55:30.:55:34.

you earn. That is what was happening with the previous

:55:34.:55:37.

administration and that is what this Government is going to put a

:55:37.:55:42.

stop to it. We often hear from MPs that they work long, anti-social

:55:42.:55:48.

hours, but Margaret Hodge thinks otherwise. She says MPs risk being

:55:48.:55:52.

called lazy because the number of hours they work in Westminster are

:55:52.:56:02.
:56:02.:56:13.

What do our MPs make of that? Are you lazy? I do not think my family

:56:13.:56:17.

would agree with that caricature, they do not see enough of me as it

:56:17.:56:24.

is. The mistake is to assume that recess equals holiday. Whilst it is

:56:24.:56:28.

true to say it is a generous allocation of time, for most MPs

:56:28.:56:33.

like me who live in a constituency, that is an important part of our

:56:34.:56:39.

job. It is equally important that the constituency MPs are out and

:56:39.:56:41.

about in the local community listening to what people have got

:56:41.:56:46.

to say and that is why I think the argument is very weak. There is

:56:46.:56:51.

nothing to stop her if she wants her Select Committee to join the

:56:51.:56:58.

recess. We will suggest that to her. What do you do in the recess? Do

:56:58.:57:02.

you have some sort of schedule during the recess to do the

:57:02.:57:10.

constituency work? Absolutely. are very new. It is an incredibly

:57:10.:57:15.

busy job and the other MPs would seem very busy from other parties

:57:15.:57:21.

as well. The thing I have been most surprised by his how little

:57:21.:57:24.

activity there is from the Government in parliament. That is

:57:24.:57:29.

why there are not many sitting days and they do not want to be

:57:29.:57:36.

scrutinised either. Margaret Hodge has got an issue. How many prime

:57:36.:57:39.

minister's questions are there between now and the start of June?

:57:40.:57:48.

I do not know. Only two. But since we came into Government we have

:57:48.:57:51.

restored the September sittings and the House of Commons sits longer

:57:51.:57:57.

than most legislature's throughout the world. An MP's job is not only

:57:57.:58:02.

to be a legislator and come to the House of Commons. You have to hold

:58:02.:58:08.

the executive to account. But with people like you on 24 hour news you

:58:08.:58:13.

ensure we do keep the executive to account and we can be on television

:58:13.:58:19.

in an instant. But it is important to recognise that in my

:58:19.:58:23.

constituency I have a hospital that has a deficit problem. There is

:58:23.:58:28.

also a development of 5500 homes which will have massive

:58:28.:58:33.

infrastructure issues. Those issues cannot be forgotten and if I am

:58:33.:58:38.

legislating constantly in the House of Commons, then I have to make

:58:38.:58:42.

sure that I somehow find the time to look after my constituents. The

:58:42.:58:50.

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