Andrew Neil with the latest political stories including shadow health minister Liz Kendall and Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives.
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Daily Politics. As evidence grows that the Syrian regime is using
chemical weapons against its own people, so does pressure on Britain
and the West to help the rebels. We'll talk to one MP urging the
Prime Minister to seek Parliamentary approval before we do. Who's right
about A&E in England? Ed Miliband or David Cameron? After their spat at
Prime Minister's Questions we'll try to establish the facts. After a big
week for the two Eds, is Labour on the road to economic credibility or
has it just stopped digging the hole it's in? We'll put that to rising
Labour star Liz Kendall. Take a look at this little beauty. Top speed?
49mph! Fast! But what's happened to Government plans to raise the limit
Queen might have visited New Broadcasting House this morning but
here in Millbank. We've got Fleet Street royalty. Polly Toynbee of The
Guardian. And Anne McElvoy, of The Economist. Welcome to you both.
Let's start with the lobbying scandal. The BBC Panorama
investigation that started it all was finally broadcast last night.
Controversy has raged all week with one MP and three peers alleged to be
implicated in wrong-doing. And the announcement that the government
would introduce a long-awaited lobbying register. Conservative MP
Patrick Mercer resigned the Tory whip after claims that he broke
Parliament's lobbying rules. Here's a clip of Mr Mercer, talking to a
fake lobbyist, in the BBC sting. mention something about getting
traction with the FCO? Well it all could do for what he thought was a
lobbyist. I mean, what is guilty of, no doubt, will come out in time, but
shouldn't he really be charged under that the trades description act for
making out that all-party groups of MPs matter at all? That is possibly
true, but it's still an unpleasant and greasy site to see that.
Basically, hawking his wares. Whether or not they are as he
describes, he put his hand up to his ear when the guy says it's not that
easy when clearly he's not sure what is talking about but, nonetheless,
the appearance you are trading favours is bad enough, and the
preparedness to do so is certainly contravention of his duties as an
MP. Whether he could bring home the bacon would've been a problem for
him. He would have had the money in the bank by then. And that's the
problem. I think he should be done for crass stupidity. Anybody that
stupid should not be allowed to enter the Commons. That's a high bar
there. For 20 years now, any lobbyist going into the Commons with
loads of money is certainly from the Sunday Times. Certainly. A fake
somebody from somewhere. Wouldn't you say that coming from 1 million
miles away? He had not even bothered to look it up to see if it existed
or not? That would be the real purpose of a register. If you had a
register and somebody approached you, you could check it on the
register. That's the reason why the register never get off the ground
because it really helps people trying to do a deal. It doesn't help
the rest of us very much. government, which is do nothing
about the register for three years, now Russia is one outcome and then,
from its own point of, quite cleverly links to bashing union
financing of the Labour Party. Extraordinary because when Labour
was in partly dashed party, Jack Straw and others were determined
this would be done fairly in a cross-party agreement and it never
happened because they could not get that and now suddenly, this
government says, let's wallop labour and leave it at that. It is at the
unfair. If we are going to have a fair and decent and clean system of
party financing, it ought to be state funded. It is the lesser of
many evils. I think we have to go for that and a great between the
parties. I'm told Mr Clegg is happy to go along with this bit of union
bashing because he's fed up when he goes back to Sheffield being
constantly verbally beaten up by the local government public sector
unions there. It's turned into a kind of anti-unionist. It's amazing
what too much contact with the trade unions can do to the left. I'm not a
fan of state funding and I think it has a lot of head and looks and
crannies of its own which can become problematic, but I'm not sure the
register as it is conceived will stop this thing happening again.
Let's see what happens. I suspect people are disappointed Mr Mercer
gets to stay in the House of Commons for another two years. And does not
have to resign his seat straightaway and can carry on doing its own
expenses. Last month the EU lifted its arms embargo on Syria with
Britain and France making the case that they should open up the
possibility of arming Syrian rebels. And the argument for that is growing
stronger as more evidence emerges that the Assad regime has used
chemical weapons against its own people. But MPs from all parties who
fear the consequences of any such intervention are putting pressure on
the Government to commit to a vote in the House of Commons before a
decision is taken. Here's one of them, Conservative Julian Lewis,
asking David Cameron about the issue at Prime Minister's Questions on
Can the Prime Minister confirmed that he will recall Parliament
before any action is taken to arm the Syrian opposition during the
recess? I have never been someone who is wanted a stand against the
house having to say on any of these issues, and I've always been someone
early on to make sure that Parliament is recalled to discuss
important issues, let me stress, as I did on Monday, no decision has
been taken to arm the rebels, so I don't think this issue arises, but,
as I say, I support holding that vote on Iraq. In my premiership,
Wenger was the issue of Libya, I recall the issue of Libya, I
recalled as soon as I possibly could and I know it has to have a vote,
but this issue does not arise at present because we have made no
decision to arm the rebels. Well, that the Minister yesterday
answering Julian Lewis who joins us now. Andrew Lansley added a bit.
Tell us, Julian, as we sit here this morning, on the issue of arming the
rebels, what have you got? I am wholly opposed to arm in the rebels
and that is for the same reason I was in favour of previous military
intervention. I didn't mean on the subject but what have you got in
Parliamentary terms? Do you believe the government cannot do it unless
it puts it before the house and gets a vote? I believe the government
could proceed without a vote but they would be unwise to do so and I
also believe that if they put it to a vote, the portability if they
would lose. What did you get from the leader of the house yesterday?
The implication from David Cameron was I will recall the house if we
are in the summer recess. Andrew Lansley, the leader of the house,
suggesting there would be a vote. How bankable are these commitments?
I don't know, I wasn't at that session yesterday. But my
understanding is we are slowly decreasing the wriggle room of the
government. If the government thought they were going to be able
to get this through behind Parliament 's back, during the
recess, they will have to think again. The implication is that the
government could still have some wriggle room? I think they could
proceed to give the arms to the rebels and then seek Parliamentary
approval after it was a say to complete -- once it was done.
this becomes a major issue in the summer recess, when Parliament is
down, should Parliament be recalled before the government proceeds to
arm the rebels? Yes, that was the point of my question to the Prime
Minister on Wednesday. But you don't think you have a clear answer to
that? He is moving closer to the position I want to take wishes to
say the rebels will not be sent arms by the British unless and until
Parliament has voted in favour of it. But he has not said it
explicitly yet. Why should Parliament be called for arming the
rebels? It's in a different category from Britain sending troops to Iraq
or Afghanistan or even troops to Syria. I think on the president of
what happened in Libya, you can see what was presented parliament them,
as a no-fly zone, turned out in reality to be an active air to
ground campaign on behalf of one side in a civil war and we had a
vote on that. No one so far is suggesting that the British armed
forces get involved in Syria either from the air or on the ground.
that case, the government is dammed if it does or doesn't. If it
proposes simply to hand over arms without having any sort of presence
as to how the people will be instructed to use them, how they
will be used in conflict, and who will get their hands on them, if
they simply say, we are going to parachute a great supply of lethal
military equipment and let them get on with it, I think you would
typically find it didn't work out like that. This would be the foot in
the door towards military intervention or otherwise it's even
more stupid than I think the government's declared policy at the
moment is. A lot of people wouldn't argument that a lot of people would
not argue, if we went to war, they need arms, but I'm sure the Foreign
Office sees it this way, that this is the commons trying to determine
foreign policy. I think they need to express a view and have an
opportunity to express it on a proposal to assist one side in a
Civil War where our deadliest enemies, Al-Qaeda, are fighting on
the side we are proposing to assist and the people who they are trying
to overthrow, have got a stock of deadly nerve gases, which would more
likely than not, fall into the hands of Al-Qaeda. A lot of Conservative
backbenchers agree with you? Definitely. You could join the
labour this came to a vote. If you join Labour and some Liberal
Democrats, too, the government may not get this policy through
Commons. That is exactly my view. I believe what is going to happen is
that Labour, if the government is unwise enough to try and circumvent
Parliament, Labour will probably make some of its opposition day time
available and then we could have a debate on the basis that this should
not proceed without Parliament being recalled first and what's more, I,
and I know plenty of other people in the Conservative and Liberal
Democrat parties, would be happy to co-sponsor a motion of that sort.
Brought by the Labour Party and before the summer recess? On a
cross-party basis, simply that the Labour Party would facilitate it as
having the time to have the debate, which Parliament should certainly
have anyway and which I'm sure the government would want to do if it
thought Parliament was on its side. It seems to me that the Prime
Minister is room for manoeuvre is getting more confined. Events have
made it so it's hard to avoid bringing this before Parliament,
even in a recess and it's by no means clear he could win a vote if
it did go before the Commons. think you properly wouldn't and what
he said in the Commons was merely a pledge. It's interesting because it
opens up a whole lot of questions which you suggested. Should we have
a vote in Parliament every time we sell weapons to anybody? We sell
weapons to everybody, Saudi Arabia. If we had a proper open discussion
about that, I think a lot of our arms sales would come a stop. What's
being proposed now, I totally understand and I completely
sympathise with Cameron's feelings. We must do something when we see
appalling things happen and go in there and support the good guys but
I agree with Julian, it's not practical. This is an interesting
Parliamentary technicality. It's important but does not answer the
question which is really the vital one, which is what to do about
Syria, the situation with President Assad. Coming from the American
perspective, the leaders in all this, Barack Obama is looking like
Clinton in Bosnia, allowing a budget on a massive scale, and the rise of
Al-Qaeda and this it seems to me, seems to be the more important
point. I'm worried about binding the hands of the executive and
Parliament is not staffed with experts on this and related issues.
Like these Arabian experts who told us about the Arab Spring. And a
great game in Afghanistan. OK, we have to leave it there. This issue
will obviously be important. It remains unresolved, Syria, and I
reserve the argument. Will you come back and tell us of development?
Yes, of course I will. I'd be happy to do that but I want to make this
one thing clear, in the case of a rock, the whole point was to keep
chemical weapons away from Al-Qaeda. If we assist them to take over in
Syria, we will be bringing them closer to having chemical weapons.
That worked in a block because they did not have any. Thank you. Too
many of us find ourselves cruising along the motorway over the speed
limit. The government announced in 2011 it would consider setting a
limit at 80. Since then, they have gone very quiet about it. We have
been finding out if history can tell us why that might be.
There was a time when going for a drive was an expensive luxury, done
for the sheer hell and fun of it. An age when life wasn't about traffic
wardens and congestion. What hasn't changed almost from the start of
motoring is our habit of driving fast and the political rows about
controlling our need for speed. This is a 114-year-old speeding ticket
issued for the crime of clocking over four miles an hour. By 1903,
cars were more powerful and 14 mile an hour limit was raised to 20.
There was a terrific fight. The fight was an interesting one, a
class fight. These rich aristocrats, for the first time, came into
conflict with the police who were their natural allies. Suddenly they
were breaking the law. The police were imposing speed traps.
This conflict wasn't just between motorists and the law, but between
motorists who have always been split over speed.
I divide it into, on the one hand, the Jeromy Clarkson s of the world
who want to go as fast as they can. And, those who believe that, yes,
indeed, they are drivers and with light the road to suit them, but
they also realise they are citizens and they do not want to mow down
children. They feel responsible. This 1901 French car can go a
surprising lack, 49 miles an hour. When it was in use, what kept the
speed gun wasn't the law as the state of the road. Today, that is
still true, despite ever more powerful cars, congestion on
overloaded roads and motorways is a bigger deterrent to speeding down
the law. Politicians today are no more inclined to enter the speeding
debate than in 1903. Being the Minister of death is the
last thing any politician wants to do. You have to be a bold or foolish
position to advocate raising the speed limit on motorways -- foolish
politician. There could be an appalling crash by large numbers of
people will be killed and you will be in the firing line.
Coming up hard against facts like that, you can see why ministers and
the motorist might rather hanker for driving along at 20 in the sunshine.
Joining us in the studio is former Top Gear presenter and motoring
journalist Sue Baker. Welcome. Should the speed limit to be raised
to 80? It is sensible it should be. Any law which is disregarded by 50%
of the population is bad law. It would bring us into line with most
of the rest of Europe where 81 mph is the permitted speed limit on
motorways. But wouldn't more people die?
There is the fear of that. The reason cars crash is because they
are too close to one another, speed in itself is not dangerous. Cars in
close books imitate, that is dangerous. We need to enforce the
suggested new law. Correction-macro cars in close proximity, that is
dangerous. We need to get more discipline in lanes.
You say speed doesn't cause crashes. But 1.4% of all crashes in Britain
result in a fatality, but 2% on the motorways. I would suggest that is
because cars are going faster. Faster, but in close proximity.
You don't want people tailgating, holding lanes, getting other drivers
frustrated. I like the nanny state. When did
that happen? The petrol heads are libertarians, seat belts and speed
limits are dreadful. Very few politicians who have made an impact,
they have brought in speed limits and seat belts which have saved
lives and made a real difference to huge numbers of people. Anyone who
wants to be the Minister of death, I don't recommend it.
I am sceptical. People ignoring driving at 80 when there is a 70
speed limit. Then if you raise the speed limit, people will chance it,
that is what behavioural psychology tells us. In Germany where there is
a higher speed limit, this is a regulated general society. The
modern car can go very fast and people will do that. The idea you
can enforce people not driving in the middle lane sufficient to offset
this is a dream. We are better off where we are.
The difference in Germany is many motorways have no top speed limit.
The speed differential between people doing a comfortable speed of
80 miles an hour, and 150 in supercars, that is the problem.
Most of the crashes are around the 80 mph.
A lot of people drive between 70 and 80 on the motorways because they
have a feeling the police will let them do it. That you have to be
above 80 before the police will call you over. What is to stop the idea,
if AT is the official limit, then 80-90 is acceptable.
Let us enforce a sensible law. We are cutting police numbers now.
The report today is talking about speed cameras. The libertarian press
were against speed cameras but they have done very well. The RAC says
the king at data, crashes were cut by more than a quarter after cameras
were put in place. Those 20 -- but those figures, in
those counties, accident rates have gone up. You can draw what you like
from those statistics. I am sure if it was 80... I would
try not to exceed the limit. I don't use the car very much, I nearly
always go by train. What about you? My worry is with a higher speed
limit, I would want to go slower. I must confess I have gone over the 70
speed limit. Why aren't you on Top Gear? Because I am not Jeromy
Clarkson! We had better leave it there.
Now, no question which party has dominated politics this week. For
the last seven days, it's been all about Labour. This week was a double
"Edder" as we were treated to big speeches from Balls and Miliband,
with the same broad underlying message: Labour won't be lax with
your tax. On Monday, the Shadow Chancellor talked about the need for
"an iron discipline" on spending control and hinted that Labour's
would not be radically alter George Osborne's "very tough spending plans
from this year's Spending Review". Adding: "They will be our starting
point." On welfare, Mr Balls stated that wealthy pensioners should no
longer receive the winter fuel allowance, which critics saw as a
move away from the principle of universal benefits.
On Wednesday, it emerged that Labour would not reverse the Government's
decision to means test child benefit.
Yesterday, it was his leader's turn to sell the tough message announcing
a three-year cap on structural welfare spending.
Exactly how the cap will work in practice, its level, and who might
be directly affected, remains to be seen.
What do we make of this? Is this a significant week for Labour? Has it
moved in a different direction or has it done some major U-turns? It
is a pretty significant week for Labour.
We can see from your headlines, cat welfare spending. Universal
benefits, no longer in favour of those, after resistance to George
Osborne and getting rid of child benefits for higher earners. We can
see repositioning here. At launching his weakness particularly on
benefits, the welfare system and spending. Whatever he said, he has
not been able to address. He is moving in a different direction. How
far can he take his own party? And make it coherent?
How significant? Very significant they have accepted what was
inevitable, on spending. Within that, they can move plenty of things
around, they can put more into benefits, whatever they want within
that year. Also, it is important to remember, it doesn't include
investment. Gordon Brown is important role on that.
Borrow for capital investment. I am sure they will come in with
something like 1 million new homes over the period of the parliament,
still less than Harold Macmillan built. Huge investment for growth,
jobs, apprenticeships. You worry about the chipping away of
the universal benefit principle. The winter fuel allowance was never
universal. The idea of giving someone like me in winter fuel
allowance is plainly daft. As for child benefit, for better off
families. If you were coming in now, what government in its right mind
would say, the first �2.3 billion I spent would be giving it to a
handful of the richest families. It is straightforward.
Not just the richest families but the middle.
The top 10%. In London and the south-east, it
affects a lot of people who are on �50,000 a year.
They are still the top 10%. Because we live in the bubble we do, we
forget the medium is now 21,000 -- the median.
How much do you think this was focus group driven? The polls show Labour
consistently ahead, but not kind to welfare, benefits, which tend to get
people going in the run-up to elections, people were not sure
about what Ed Miliband's position worth. It's interesting that Polly
says he has room for manoeuvre on benefits. I think it leaders
manoeuvre too much, he's back where he started. If he says, I'd take
this on board and I will put a cap on things but I want to move things
around and raise benefits, I think he loses the political edge of this
message which is, I am realistic about public finances. Housing
benefit is the one benefit... needs to build a lot more homes.
He's not going to bring in rent control, is he? They probably will
have to do. I think you could say, no rent can rise for a few years
above inflation. And that, over time, would bring down housing
benefit. And then you would stop building builder to let. No one has
ever managed to get the money out of pension funds to do that. It never
happens. But to building?The government. As shoot a social
programme, not directly, directly, authorities, housing associations.
They are the people... There will have to be a rise in the housing
stock. Labour and the Tories can come up with different ways but that
seems to be the only way to get out of the housing shortage. It's one of
the things people will cast their vote. Probably not the last
election. Even though Labour's record is poor. This government
managed to build even fewer. That's extraordinary. Public opinion is in
favour of borrowing for growth. They are in favour of borrowing for
growth in housing. This week, a poll says Labour are only 4% behind on
who is best to manage the economy. When Tony Blair went into the 1987
election, he was 7% behind. Also 30 points ahead in the polls. Lots of
other compensatory policies. Are you clear that, hasn't Labour actually
said that they will accept the 2015 current spending tax? I'm pretty
sure about it. I have not seen it in black-and-white. They don't know
what they're going to get. We have got Ed Balls on the Sunday Politics.
On your behalf, all will be crystal clear. No doubletalk of there.A
sense of irony there, I don't know. I think he was clear this week on
more than it has been in the past. was hoping to interview Liz Kendall
today. The up-and-coming Labour star, but it doesn't look like we
have her, but we will continue because economic policy was not Ed
Miliband's argument of choice at Prime Minister's Questions this
week. I wonder why? Instead, the Labour leader went on the attack
over waiting times in Accident and Emergency departments in England
which hit a nine-year high in the first quarter of this year. Here's a
reminder of Wednesday's argument about the issue.
Two years ago, during the Prime Minister's listening exercise on
health service he said this, "I refuse to go back to the days when
people had to wait for hours on end to be seen in A&E, so let me be
absolutely clear, we won't. " what is gone wrong? We are now meeting
targets for accident and emergency. There was a problem in the first
quarter this year which is why the medical director of the NHS will be
holding an investigation. The crucial factor is this. Over the
last three years, there is 1 million more people walking into accident
and emergency unit every year. independent King 's fund says the
number of people waiting more than four ours is higher than at any time
for nine years. Can he explain to the countrywide A&E waiting times
fell under Labour and have gone up under his watch? The fact is, we are
now meeting our targets. That's what happened in the House of Commons
over A&E. We are joined now by someone who can shed a light on all
of this. Ruth Dalby, a senior fellow at the Nuffield trust who knows a
thing about this. Welcome to the programme. Ed Miliband has talked
about a crisis in A&E. Is there one? I think the A&E department across
the country are under severe pressure. We know that they have
been struggling to meet their four-hour A&E waiting times since
last summer, so it's to the same that this peaked between January and
March this year and they failed to meet the target. They went from 5%
of people waiting longer than five hours and went up to 6%. It's true
to say that since the 12th of May, it has improved dramatically so the
big question is, can this be sustained? Would it be fair to say
it was a cold winter? Wintertime, more people use A&E. And as
stretched into spring, winter, and there's been a seasonal problem but
now the seasonal problem seems to be largely over? That is possibly true.
I think the underlying factor is that, over time, more people have
been gradually using A&E for a whole variety of reasons. It is not true
to say that this is simply down to the GP contract which was
renegotiated in 2004. Some have claimed this meant out-of-hours care
suddenly collapsed and everybody poured into A&Es but it's not true.
Out of hours in some areas have been a problem and people feel at easier
to get A&E departments, but it's a whole complex set of reasons behind
this. Including factors like older people who inevitably have more
health problems who can't have it sold in primary care. A lot of young
children come into A&E and that's because parents are worried and need
reassurance and also 30-year-olds coming in for all sorts of reasons
as well. The underlying trend is more people are coming in and the
real challenge is they are having to be treated with flat budgets.
Another explanation is immigration, a lot of immigrants to this country
who come from countries where they don't have a doctor, and they
haven't arranged their own GPs, so when something goes wrong with them
and their families, the natural place for them to go is A&E. Is that
a factor? There's no evidence to suggest not happening on a major
scale in the NHS. Locally, in some areas, it could be a problem where
people are not registered with GPs or may find it hard and, in some
hospitals, in areas, they will put GP services inside A&E departments
to improve it but on the whole, it's just not true. The Prime Minister
has made a great deal of how bad things are in Wales on waiting times
and so on. Wales is run by Labour, obviously, and hasn't done most of
the reforms the English health services gone through. Are things
bad in Wales? It's under pressure, it's also got financial problems,
and problems in its A&E departments. It's difficult to make
direct comparisons. They have an older population, more deprived
population, and in many parts of Wales, it's quite rural, so they
have different problems but whether you can pin it on a specific flavour
of government, I'm not sure. Thank you very much for marking our card
on that. We have sold the technical problem, partly and let's have a
look at Liz Kendall in Leicester. There has been a sound problem.
She's having to hold an earpiece to her ear. Can you hear me? I can, as
long as I held it like this. Let me begin on the waiting times. It was a
cold winter, more people went to the A&E departments, breaching of the
targets, but it's back on track again for some it has come down
again to the target, so it's not a crisis, is it? A&E is a barometer as
to how the rest of the NHS is doing and if you listen to independent
experts like the Nuffield trust and the NHS Confederation, they say
there are real stresses and strains on the system which has been caused
a lot by the pressures on social care, so elder people who could be
capped at home healthy and independent, are ending up in
hospital. Real problems with the new 111 number and issues around
staffing cuts, specifically nurses. In Leicester we've had real problems
in A&E. My local clinical commissioning groups say those are
the reasons for those problems and my concern has been that we were
warned the government back in January about the pressures on it
and it was only on the 9th of May that the government wrote to people
saying, where are your action plans? It's too little too late. But it's
back on target now. Well, we will see. We have been speaking to people
and we'll see. We will see whether those improvements are sustained and
also when we come to the next winter, whether the real changes we
need, to put much more support in the community under home, joining a
social care, has been done. Do you have any evidence anybody died?
have not talked about people who may have suffered from the A&E crisis,
but what we do know is waiting in A&E are at their highest for nine
years, cancelled operations and trolley waits are the highest for
nine years. Given that the A&E target is only 5% of people should
have to wait more than four hours, what happened at the worst period
was 5.9%, it increased, you say no one died but as the party presided
over the mid-Staffs tragedy, don't you do more humble on this matter?
300,000 people are waiting more than four hours in A&E and that is not
acceptable. How many died mid-Staffs? What happened in
mid-Staffs was utterly appalling and unacceptable and we need to learn
lessons from that. I think there were things from there which are
also relevant to the A&E crisis. You need enough properly trained staff
but ultimately, what you need is to transform the system so we have more
support for elderly and vulnerable people at home and if the government
has spent the last three years focused on proper forms instead of
this wasteful talk down reorganisation, we would be in a
better place now. What is different for Labour's policy position today
than it was last weekend? I think we have set out some really fundamental
reforms to the Social Security system. It will help people work, to
reform housing benefit, to tackle issues in incapacity benefit, and
encourage more parents of young children to get work ready before
their children are aged five. We are really looking at the root causes of
the increase in the welfare bill. And trying to set forward some
proper reforms that will make it better for people to work and have
the opportunities to have a good living standard for their families
and to tackle low pay. I think Ed sent out some really... Give me an
example of where you are different last weekend. Housing is a real
issue. Ed said before we came too late to the housing issue in
government and we have set forward some strong proposals about how we
can start shifting spending money on housing benefit into house-building.
Investing in the future rather than... I don't know what that means
in terms of policy. What it means is, we want to get new powers to
local councils to negotiate better deals of landlords, see proper
affordable housing for people, I also think we have put forward some
clear proposals on it. Something the government has failed to do. We also
want to look at reforming incapacity benefit and the tests that there are
for people with disabilities who can work and we have said we want to
take action on low pay. That's what the government is doing.
government is never done that. talking about incapacity benefit.
Their tests are not working. When 40% of people who repeal those
decisions are people with disabilities and they are being
repealed and they are upheld, the system is not working. We want to
work with disability groups to focus on the people who can work and what
skills they can offer and having a proper work programme. Here in
Leicester, we had a great work programme which was scrapped. The
new work programme here is not working for people locally. It's a
big change. Can you clarify something for me because it's not
quite clear. Will Labour accept current spending plans for 2015-16?
They have got to be our starting point. So you will accept them?They
have got to be our starting point. Will you accept them? They're 30
colonic policy means they are borrowing much more than they
originally planned. We have got to take difficult decisions and they
will be our starting point. interested in this phrase, "
starting point". So will you accept the 2015-16 spending plans you will
inherit? It's got to be our starting point. As the shadow... Can't you
say the word accept? Why can't you say the word accept? Maybe you
don't? You seem to have picked on a formulation of words to try and get
you off the hook of saying you actually accept the spending plans.
You will understand, Andrew, what the government predicted what would
happen to the economy two years ago is fundamentally different to what
we have now. What they predict in June could be the reality of the
economy in two years time but as a shadow health minister for older
people, we have to do take what the government said as a starting point
and look at how we make different decisions about priorities and
spending within those limits and that's what we have said and that's
what we'll to do. You have now accepted the winter fuel payment
should be means tested, and child benefit should be means tested.
Anything else you have in mind which should be means tested?
I really agree, further 5% of the that. We will come forward with more
detailed Persaud 's goals -- proposals but this shows if you had
to make a decision, in terms of the winter fuel payment, with all the
other pressures in the system, payment to the richest 5%, is an
indication of our approach. I don't think you are in a position
to tell me. If you promise to come back to tell us first, we promise to
get you a proper sound system! So, lots going on this week. In case
you missed any of it, here's a reminder of the week in just 60
seconds. The week began with allegations of
three lords lobbying. Claims of wrongdoing were denied but to be on
the safe side the government announced plans to introduce a new
register. And they thought it was time to look at union membership and
political donations. Again. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls sketched out
some new ideas on the economy. The idea of axing winter fuel payments
for pensioners. And ruling out bringing back child benefit for the
better. The House of Lords that the government gave marriage plans.
There will be increased pressures for polygamy.
There were tantrums after Nick Clegg through his plans to relax rules on
child out. Nick Clegg got his way on childcare,
is that a surprise? That is a surprise in one. The
deregulation of childcare did run a very long time. In the end, it has
been batted out of court. What does it tell us about the state
of the coalition? It shows you the Lib Dems are good at putting a brake
on bonkers ideas. The idea one childminder could look
after six under two-year-old children.
There is a real problem. All he has done, there is not another solution
for childcare. That wasn't a solution. The problem
has not been sold but one thing has been stopped.
It wasn't a solution. This will be a good battle ground at the next
Now, you might have thought that was your lot for this week, but no,
because there's more. You lucky people. This morning, the Prime
Minister has been to sunny Stirling. Hardly Ibiza but, by the look of it,
he'll still be topping up the tan. His companion this time, not Sam
Cam, but Ruth Davidson, the embattled leader of the Tories in
Scotland. Mr Cameron has been addressing the party this morning,
and here's what he had to say. Our United Kingdom 's history has
always been one of shared endeavour. Proud in our individual
identities but working together for a common good. We saw it when our
soldiers brought together under one flag on the beaches of Normandy.
When our doctors came together to build our NHS. In the scientific
breakthroughs we have made together, through television and
penicillin. And last summer as athletes around Britain, no matter
where they were from, draped themselves in one flag. There is so
much more still to come. Why wouldn't we want to face the future
together? There is no challenge we face together where breaking up
Britain is the right answer. David Cameron. I'm delighted to say
that Ruth Davidson, Tory leader in Scotland, joins us now from
Stirling. Why won't you give the party
faithful a debate on whether or not the Scottish Parliament should have
more powers? We have asked Lord Strathclyde to
bring forward proposals and asking the party to feed into. When those
proposals are brought forward, they can be the focus for debate.
Wouldn't he have liked to hear the party faithful with their views at
conference, so he could sweep up the mood of your party?
We have invited people within the party.
Why no debate? There is an open question Time
session so people can ask anything they like. Presumably the
constitution will come in that. In terms of a debate, you need emotion,
firm proposals. Tom Strathclyde has not completed his work. Those
proposals will be taken to our members.
Don't you owe it to the Scottish Conservative members? You won the
leadership of your party campaigning against further powers for Scottish
Parliament. You have now set up a commission to look at further
powers. You have changed your mind, shouldn't your members have their
say? They are having their say. Not a
debate. Are you afraid? Not at all. What is important to remember is,
between now and the referendum, we will have a report from Tom
Strathclyde, serious proposals brought forward to debate. We have
three conventions each year for our members to bring forward things.
have you changed your mind? In terms of, the last few years, we have seen
the constitutional debate live on. The stresses majority government has
put on. And in terms of someone in the Scottish Parliament every day,
we see where those stressors show the Parliamentary system are
wanting. In terms of Post a referendum, if we win it, we need to
have a constitutional settlement which people in Scotland are happy
with. Stable, devolved government. Sir Alex Salmond does not come back
in five years or ten years agitating for another referendum. We need to
make sure it is a settlement which meet the aspirations of people in
Scotland. A stable settlement. When your party voted your leader on the
visible you wouldn't draw a line in the sand on any more powers being
transferred to Scotland, it turned out that line was actually in the
sand and easily washed away. When people were voting in the
Parliamentary and leadership elections, it was a lot more on
other issues as much as the situation at issue. Correction-macro
constitutional issue. We saw the Prime Minister arguing for a United
Kingdom but without a united party. A lot of things were discussed will
stop a lively leadership campaign. What I am doing is bringing forward
a mechanism for people from different parts of the spectrum in
our party to feed into Tom Strathclyde. I look forward to the
work his commission is doing. You say you have kept the Scottish
Conservative party going. It has had some stability. The stability of the
graveyard. You are dead in the water.
When I took over, we had 19 years of decline, that is difficult to turn
around overnight. The party is in better shape to fight elections. We
are building a policy platform, with an energy review policy. Rural
policy. Bringing in all of the talents we have in the party. And
seeing improvements in terms of polling and research.
Let me give you the figures. 1997, you had 18% of the vote, lost every
seat in Scotland. 2005, 16%. 2010, 17%. The latest shows you around
16%. I repeat, you are dead in the water, this is the end.
I took over in November 2011. To build a strong policy platform to
take our message to the people of Scotland. In 2011, we got 12.9% in
the first, 13% in the second. worse than the 1997 general
election. As I say, when I took over, we wanted to build for the
future to change the face of the Scottish Conservatives. A third of
our councillors elected had never been involved in councils before. We
are bringing in new people, new candidates for future elections.
There is a lot of structural reform. I don't see any difference on the
ground. You have got no MPs in 1997. Since then, you have added one. In
other words, in 15 years, you have added one MP. Leading Tory
strategists here say you are only targeting three seats at the next
election in Scotland for Westminster and you have hopes of winning only
two. You have gone from zero, 21, Tattoo by 2015. At this rate you
will end up with an overall majority in Scotland by 21-80.
Correction-macro 2180. There hasn't been a UK general
election since I took over. We are laying the groundwork. How many
seats? I want to win as many as I possibly can. I have worked that one
out. We need to see what happens in the referendum, in terms of bringing
forward new faces in the party to fight the election for us, and to
bring this blog -- policy platform. So we have a party which is fit to
fight. Do you think you will face a
leadership challenge? That is up for someone else. I am the first given a
mandate by the members of our party, one member, one vote. A
lively leadership election. The people of my party wanted me to be
here. We are confident in the future.
Thank you for joining us. That's all for today. Thanks to our