07/06/2013 Daily Politics


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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


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