10/06/2013 Daily Politics


10/06/2013

Jo Coburn is joined by Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun. There is also discussion about small majorities with MPs George Eustice, Lorely Burt and Alison McGovern.


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Welcome to the Daily Politics. Has Britain's eavesdropping agency GCHQ

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been eavesdropping a bit too much? The Foreign Secretary, William Hague

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will be making a commons statement later today over allegations that

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the government's so-called spy centre used intelliegence from

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American agencies to get information on UK citizens.

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Disability campaigners are warning that hundreds of thousands of people

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could lose out under a new system of benefits payments that come into

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effect today. This isn't a game! They can

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disappear people now. You have an arrest for public safety, life in

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prison. Yes, we're all a bunch of lizards,

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and every landing on the moon was a fake. We'll be talking good

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old-fashioned conspiracy theories. Are stings like this in the public

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interest or an unfair intrusion into All that in the next hour, and with

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us for the first half of the programme today is the former editor

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of the Sun Newspaper, Kelvin MacKenzie. Welcome to the Daily

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Politics. Now, first this morning, let's talk about the world, because

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that's exactly what David Cameron is doing today - or at least Britain's

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place in it. Here's what the Prime Minsiter had to say a little

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earlier. The challenge before us is clear. We

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are in a battle for Britain's future. It is a battle we've got to

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fight on two fronts. At home, really ambitious about competing, and

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abroad, ambitious about pursuing our national interests and standing up

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for our values. That is the approach this government is pursuing, that is

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what brings together our foreign and domestic agendas into a complete

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plan for national renewal, and that is what will lead to success in the

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modern world. Kelvin, in terms of Britain's place

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in the world, where is it? If you look down the education league, one

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of his sets of changes, we slipping further and further down. We are

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just a little country doing our best. Sometimes, I think, hampered

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by politicians rather than increasing our position. I don't

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dislike Cameron at all, but the things he talks about are basically

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in favour of apple pie and the like. We understand those issues. He has

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led the Conservative Party for eight years and run the country for three

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years, to tell us we are trying to reduce debt, increase education and

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Europe is at the heart of our future does not seem particularly an

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interesting thing to say. I look to my Prime Minister for leadership on

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these issues. And should Britain be punching above its weight? Should we

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just accept the reality of the world, Britain is a small country

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and surely our place in it will diminish and we should accept that?

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I totally accept that. I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I

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suspect we should spend more time trying to make our people feel

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happier about themselves in reduced circumstances will stop we have lost

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an empire, that was 60 years ago. Have we found a role? Not

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particularly. But I don't think it is helpful for Ray Prime Minister to

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talk about that. His job is to give us leadership and potential

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solutions. With Cameron, whether it ever comes from the heart, my sense

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is that it is all an intellectual challenge and on that basis

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unfortunately we now have UKIP taking 15% or 16% of what I think

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would be natural Conservative voters under normal circumstances. In the

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terms of the role in the world, it is time for our daily quiz. The

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question for today is, what group is worried that they may be virtually

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wiped out by a new bill to tackle anti-social behaviour? Soccer

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hooligans, naturists, newspaper hacks or morris dancers? We'll

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reveal all - that may or may not be a clue! - at the end of the show.

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For the last week the Guardian has been publishing stories based on

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leaked information about how US intelligence agencies have been

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collecting personal internet data. Yesterday they released an interview

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with the whistleblower behind the stories. He is former CIA employee

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Edward Snowden, who has been working as a contractor for the last four

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years for the American National Security Agency, or NSA. He told the

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Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald how they operated.

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The NSA specifically targets the community occasions of everyone, it

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ingests them by default, it analyses and measures them and stores them --

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targets the communications of everyone. Findlay because that is

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the easiest, most efficient and valuable way to achieve these ends.

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So while they may be intending to target someone associated with the

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foreign government or a terror suspect, they are collecting your

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communications to do so. Questions have also been raised

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about the involvement of British intelligence agencies, in particular

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whether GCHQ has been using intelligence gathered by the

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Americans and whether that's legal. Foreign Secretary William Hague was

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asked about it yesterday on the Andrew Marr Show.

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As someone who knows GCHQ very well, and I authorise operations most days

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of the week by GCHQ, I know how they work. The idea that in GCHQ people

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are sitting working out how to circumvent the UK law with another

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agency in another country is fanciful, nonsense. I think I can

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I'm now joined by the former Security Minister Lord West, and the

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Conservative MP Dominic Raab. Give people that assurance. Dominic

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Raab, are you assured that those sorts of allegations fanciful?

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think we need to hear more information from him in his

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statement today. We understand intelligence agencies do port and

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work for our national security. -- due important work. But we have

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Americans involved in surveillance on British citizens that they would

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not be able to do with their own, and the Brits taking advantage even

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though they could not conduct that type of surveillance. We will hear

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the options explained. One is that the Foreign Office was not aware, in

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which case there are huge questions to answer at GCHQ, or the foreign

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office and the oversight that that divides was nodding it through, in

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which case there is a breakdown of trust and accountability. That is

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the circle that needs to be squared. You believe the allegations are true

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in the sense that GCHQ has used information gathered by Prism, the

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US spy programme, without the consent of ministers? We need to

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hear about that at length and in detail. I agree with the Foreign

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Secretary, it is fanciful to think that in GCHQ they are working on

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ways of circumventing our laws. I had three years running naval

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intelligence, three years running defence intelligence, three years as

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a minister for security. I know GCHQ and the people who work in those

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agencies very well, they struggle very hard to make sure we do what is

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legal. I would be very surprised if there is any attempt to circumvent

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it, but I think we need to hear what the Foreign Secretary says. I agree

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that the law is often uncertain. I have experience working with the

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intelligence agencies over information cooperation in the

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Foreign Office. The idea of national security and the rule of law being

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tradable, I think, is wrong. We need a regime that the intelligence

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agencies work too, otherwise you undermine them, making them weaker,

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not stronger, as we saw in one particular case where the taxpayer

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is taking a hit of millions of pounds. I think the intelligence

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agencies need to get clear. Picking up the last point, a think it is one

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of the reasons the Communications Data Bill is so important.

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Snoopers' Charter, as it was renamed. I hate that name.I'm sure

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you do. What I find very funny about this chap who calls themselves a

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whistleblower, he is doing it in Hong Kong. Has he any idea of what

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the Chinese do in terms of crawling all over, I bet they have been in

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your e-mails, they will have been in there and read it. It is

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extraordinary that we have a paranoia about our own people.

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problem with the Snoopers' Charter is we all agree on national

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security, GCHQ and the CIA, but we struggle on the idea that those kind

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of intrusive powers get expanded to quangos and councils for all sorts

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of other things. Legislation was given on terrorism which was then

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used to follow the -- follow children home from school to check

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the catchment area. RIPA was introduced because there was no

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control what the weather. Sometimes it was used badly, but it was used

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to try to get some control. Do you understand people 's fears and

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concerns that the headline, national security, will be used to mask any

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sort of fishing expedition into what you would call ordinary peoples

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phone messages and e-mails? understand how people could get

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worried. Are you saying they are unfounded? I believe our agencies

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spend their lives trying to look after them. You can't go into any

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mail, you have to identify a specific person, give a cause and

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reason why things should be looked at, it has to go to the Foreign

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Secretary who will sign you off, having had legal advice. You limit

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the Snoopers' Charter to National Security Agency is, and of problem.

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Before we get onto the Communications Data Bill, the

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Snoopers' Charter, whatever you wish to call it, what would you like to

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hear from Foreign Secretary William Hague? Are you surprised by the

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story? Allah in some ways I am reassured, I like the idea that the

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CIA or somebody is looking at potentially very, very nasty

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people. It is only three weeks ago, Woolwich. Are they just potentially

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nasty? I don't care. If they looked at me, they would probably be

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surprised at the amount of times I go to Ladbrokes. That is not a

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criminal offence. But most people understand who the agencies are

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looking at and reassured that somebody is looking at them, even

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though they may be crossing some kind of rather intellect line. I,

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personally I'm delighted. You can't have 100% security and privacy being

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mutually exclude -- 100% security and privacy, they are mutually

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exclusive. And the idea of tackling loops and people looking at child

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pornography, you could note down the IP address. If you say, no, we can't

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possibly look at those, well then let them just get on with it because

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there is no other way of tracking them down. As these gentlemen here

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are saying, Dominic Raab, is it the case that people with nothing to

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hide have nothing to fear? That is crazy, if you look at the abuse of

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surveillance powers. I want the spooks to have all the information

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they need to deal with national security concerns, but the

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difference between us and Communist China is that we have a rule of law.

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If you break that, not only do you find innovations enalapril C and our

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daily lives, and also the government can be sued and I can be an erosion

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of public trust. Do you think there could have been a breach by GCHQ,

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someone working independently, on what ministers knew what was

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happening, in terms of taking information from US spy programmes

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or the CIA, where they may have broken the law even if Britain has

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not? That is why I am interested in what the Foreign Secretary says. To

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say nobody has ever done something off, there are almost 6000 people

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working there, multiple connections, so I couldn't really say that

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without knowing the details. But we have a rule of law which we apply.

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There is a huge effort put in, I know because I was involved, to make

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sure that we follow the law. I would be very surprised if there was

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abuse. 197 intercepts, we are not talking about a huge amount. You

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would have thought you would have had a processing issue with that

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number of requests which ought to have been done in an acceptable

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framework. We will hear more details from the Foreign Secretary. He

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looked fairly confident. Do you think these revelations have brought

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back, or could lead to, the dating communications bill being brought

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back through the back door? -- the Communications Data Bill being

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brought back into the back door? They are open to abuse, that is a

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concern. And there is a big distinction between national

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security and things used by councils and quangos. The best way to restore

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public trust is too limited to what we want to worry about, public

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safety. We need a new version of the bill. One committee was formed

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specially to look at this. They gave the huge number of recommendations

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in Parliament, they were all taken into the new draft and accepted, it

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was pulled by the Deputy Prime Minister out of the Queen's Speech.

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40 odd conservatives are very concerned about it. I don't think to

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polarise it in that political way is very fair. If the Lib Dems are

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against, I am in favour. Different phases each day but the pictures are

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familiar. MPs and peers all recorded by newspapers in apparent acts of

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wrongdoing, acts they deny. The latest to hit the headlines was this

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weekend. Tim Yeo was accused of abusing his position on a committee

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to help a private company influence Parliament. Are these stings shining

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examples of British journalism at its best or an unfair and intrusive

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attack on our elected representatives?

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:16:11.:16:11.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 64 seconds

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You mention getting traction with Well, I am joined by Evan Harris,

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the former lead MP and Hacked Off campaign, and Kelvin MacKenzie. Why

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do MPs and peers fall for this every time? If anybody comes to you

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offering money, you would think they would run a mile. I assume the only

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ones who fought for it are the ones who are publicised.

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I hope some people have engaged their brain and don't have the kind

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of motives that appear to be the case from at least some of these

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pictures. Some of them like to be flattered, I imagine. They feel they

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are wanted. My hope is that we are seeing a selection, not everybody

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that is attempted. In that vein, surely this is a fair way of, if you

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like, exposing people 's greed? is right. Hacked off has never

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:18:18.:18:21.

opposed the interest journalism using subterfuge. The editors code

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is clear that subterfuge should not be used unless there is a public

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interest. I think there is an interest in these issues of cash for

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questions, coaching of witnesses by a select committee chair who has a

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vested interest. The Vince Cable case was found not to be

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sufficiently in the pub it in to rest, even by the PCC. Ashman

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Republic interest. You can't just go into an MP 's surgery and record

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everything in the hope that something comes up. It is clear in

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the code that you have to have specific reasons. The editor has to

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believe there is a case that they will find out. Clearly, you could

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with Timmy -- Tim Yeo. I'm not sure I understand the comment on Vince

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Cable. Why is that different? It is certainly not because he is my

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colleagues. This is the PCC public view. They are run by a Conservative

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peer. -- the PCC 's of you. Firstly, they went to every Lib and Minister

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to hope they can find something. -- Lib Dem Minister. They did not

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expose wrongdoing. When you do that in a surgery as opposed to a

:19:42.:19:52.
:19:52.:19:53.

corporate dinner, you are pushing everything that the MP says to all

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of his or her constituents. You have to have a high level of suspicion.

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Aren't they all fishing expeditions, really? None of these MPs are chosen

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for these stings because there is already a suspicion about them. It

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is just crossing your fingers and hoping they fought for it. Let's

:20:11.:20:21.
:20:21.:20:24.

come back to Vince Cable. That was a serious issue. You agree with it. I

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did not agree with the PCC. I think if the PCC here's both sides

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of the argument and all of the facts and they make a ruling, since we and

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you believe in press regulation, that should, as the Telegraph did,

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the accepted. I thought it was the wrong judgement.

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Let's deal with the other issues that have come out. What is bizarre

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is that we can even have this debate, in one sense, that there are

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people out there that don't think this is right. The reality is these

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people are our elected present stings, and how on earth are we

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going to find out what is going on? -- elected representatives. We find

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out the most extraordinary things are happening. One of the other

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things that is beginning to happen, I lived in America for a while and I

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was astonished at the reaction to Senators, who they all saw as

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charlatans. 30 years later, I think these stings will run out of speed.

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I think that most of the electorate thinks they are all at it anyway and

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that newspapers and great shoes like Panorama, in the end, will not be

:21:47.:21:50.

carrying out these stings because actually they find that the reader

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or the viewer is now suffering from some kind of fatigue. I beg to

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differ in the sense that we now finally have this suggestion of a

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register for lobbyists. Whether it would have done anything

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except to help MPs to check that the company approaching them is

:22:10.:22:16.

bogus... But it does trigger interest.

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I don't think it is true that the more this is exposed, the less

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interesting it is. What is fascinating is that with all the

:22:27.:22:33.

things that happened on hacking, thousands of cases, not a single one

:22:33.:22:37.

by the press, was used to expose this sort of thing. This is the sort

:22:37.:22:42.

of thing that is a good use of journalistic subterfuge. The tragedy

:22:42.:22:49.

about hacking is, did they hack Jimmy Savile? No, they had to be

:22:49.:22:55.

found out by a TV company. Did they go for any politicians? No, they

:22:55.:23:01.

didn't. They use it for commercial reasons. That is why Leveson was

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right to set up interest journalism needs to be nurtured. -- to say that

:23:10.:23:13.

public interest journalism needs to be nurtured.

:23:13.:23:19.

If you are a Murdoch or a rather mere, you are a massive figure. --

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Lord rather mere. They would not end up saying the disgusting things you

:23:25.:23:34.

hear politicians say. I'm not sure. In business, do you wanted to your

:23:34.:23:40.

toast on both sides? You probably do. I you trying to tell me that

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Rupert Murdoch has not received the biggest bucketload...

:23:47.:23:55.

Proprietors had a pact not to attack each other and it was exposed.

:23:55.:24:04.

Newspapers do not like it up them. You did not like it. I make no

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complaints about it. Proprietors have what we used to referred to in

:24:07.:24:17.
:24:17.:24:19.

the old days as the NPP. It is powerful and corrupt. The press are

:24:19.:24:23.

hypocritical. Great work is done by the Sunday Times, Telegraph and

:24:23.:24:29.

Panorama in this area. But there is hypocrisy. There are some very

:24:29.:24:33.

powerful people in the media who are not exposed. It took the Guardian, I

:24:33.:24:36.

grant you, to do a lot of the exposure on what is happening at

:24:36.:24:41.

News International. All of these newspapers claim they need the

:24:41.:24:45.

freedom from Leveson in order to do this great work and they did not

:24:45.:24:49.

even cover it when the Guardian were doing it. There was a silence of the

:24:49.:24:56.

front pages of the newspapers. I don't know, I was not connected.

:24:56.:25:02.

At the same time, I would say you cannot suggest there is not they

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want enough media to poor ape bucket over everybody. -- a wide enough

:25:08.:25:16.

media to pour a bucket over everybody. You have even got a High

:25:16.:25:22.

Court judge on your side. We have got one bloke and his guide dog,

:25:22.:25:29.

actually. The point is that we do rely on the

:25:29.:25:35.

Panoramas, the ITV Exposes, journalism by the press, which is

:25:35.:25:41.

not cheap. Even tabloids do valuable work in the average interest. We,

:25:41.:25:48.

for example, want to see public interest defence is in law so that

:25:48.:25:52.

if Jimmy Savile 's phone had been hacked, there will be a defence in

:25:52.:26:02.
:26:02.:26:02.

law so that police would not start to arrest the journalists.

:26:02.:26:06.

We want to see Leveson implemented in order to curtail the non-public

:26:06.:26:16.

interest, unlawful and unethical conduct. Would you trade the public

:26:16.:26:26.

defence act of 1906? So if the police call up and find that a

:26:26.:26:31.

murderer has a sky sports package, and it should be exposed, and the

:26:31.:26:36.

policeman asks for 500 quid to expose it, where would you be?

:26:36.:26:43.

The Sun newsletter argued -- newspaper argued there should have

:26:43.:26:50.

been a public interest defence. We agree, actually.

:26:50.:26:54.

On that rare bit of agreement, we finish there. Do you ever get the

:26:54.:26:59.

feeling you are being watched? I do. Occasionally. This weekend was

:26:59.:27:03.

something of a week event for conspiracy theorists as this

:27:03.:27:09.

lucrative Bilderburg group of politicians and business leaders met

:27:09.:27:14.

in Watford. Among the attendants worthy Prime Minister and Lord

:27:14.:27:19.

Mandelson. Yesterday, Andrew Neil attempted to discuss it with Alex

:27:19.:27:25.

Jones. He got more that he bargained for.

:27:25.:27:34.

Let him finish. They turned back some of my reporters.

:27:34.:27:39.

Do you think the BBC is part of the Bilderburg group?

:27:39.:27:44.

Eric Blair worked here, George Orwell. He said it was. You guys

:27:44.:27:48.

think you can manage the whole thing. Now the information has

:27:48.:27:54.

gotten too big. I have 3 million radio listeners per day. I get 50

:27:54.:28:02.

million use she views per month. I make films that can be watched

:28:02.:28:10.

millions of time. All right, all right, all right.

:28:10.:28:20.
:28:20.:28:20.

Ten years ago, I would have said, listen to this stuff. We would have

:28:20.:28:25.

said, I would have said, that is kind of mad. It is an interesting

:28:25.:28:34.

psychological phenomenon. The problem is... I am here to warn

:28:34.:28:39.

people. You keep telling me to shut up. This is not a game. The US is

:28:39.:28:44.

building camps. They disappear people. You have this arrest for

:28:44.:28:48.

public safety, life in prison. You are the worst person I have ever

:28:48.:28:56.

interviewed. David, thank you for being with us. It is 11:30am. We

:28:56.:29:02.

have an idiot on the programme today. Enough. You will not stop the

:29:02.:29:09.

Republic! I couldn't work out if he was

:29:09.:29:15.

flossing his teeth there. It is rare for my wonderful colleague to be

:29:15.:29:20.

struggling to be heard. Entertaining though that was, are we at risk from

:29:20.:29:28.

a global conspiracy? There has been a lot of criticism about that. Even

:29:28.:29:33.

some TV producer described it as car crash TV. It was fascinating. That

:29:33.:29:40.

is great stuff. We should have more of that. There are 90 people out

:29:40.:29:50.

there who are managing to get on BBC1. -- natty. It makes our

:29:50.:29:55.

politicians look straightforward. But it does occasionally make

:29:55.:30:00.

fascinating TV. I like it. Does it occasionally have a point?

:30:00.:30:07.

You may not agree with the way it was put across, is there anything in

:30:07.:30:16.

what he says about the Bilderburg group? I didn't know anything about

:30:16.:30:20.

the Bilderberg group. My friend is a mortgage Roker and about five years

:30:20.:30:25.

ago he said to me, they are deciding the world, the Bilderberg group --

:30:25.:30:30.

my friend is a mortgage broker. He lives in deepest Surrey and he knows

:30:30.:30:37.

about the Bilderberg group. By the way, he votes for Labour. I try to

:30:37.:30:43.

avoid them, to be honest with you, apart from when they are selling me

:30:43.:30:47.

the Big Issue! I am sorry about that. But there is a sense of

:30:47.:30:50.

conspiracy about the Bilderberg group and, in the end, they will

:30:50.:30:55.

kill it. They will have to open it up to the TV cameras, otherwise

:30:55.:31:02.

people. Believing that 30 or 40 people are named the world.

:31:02.:31:06.

Otherwise people will start believing. But how many people out

:31:06.:31:09.

there believe there are little green men just about to walk down at high

:31:09.:31:16.

Street? What is your favourite conspiracy theory? In the Sunday

:31:16.:31:22.

sport when it said, bus found on the moon. I feel that is what we might

:31:22.:31:27.

be heading towards, someday we will land on some obscure planet and we

:31:27.:31:33.

will see a number 178 bus gently driving past. You will have to eat

:31:33.:31:41.

your words then! How often were you run up by conspiracy theorists when

:31:41.:31:44.

you are editing a newspaper, and did you ever run any of them? We fell

:31:45.:31:48.

for one elaborate hoax about somebody doing something, and if you

:31:48.:31:53.

followed them. We followed some bloke as a game, I presume, all over

:31:53.:32:01.

Europe, for about four months, costing is about 300,000 quid, and

:32:01.:32:05.

there was no story at the end of it. Deraa nutters out there, but rather

:32:05.:32:12.

clever nutters. Every so often, somebody says that the aliens have

:32:12.:32:16.

started putting out their rubbish on Wednesday at number 28, we didn't do

:32:16.:32:22.

that, but there are some clever people out there who are misleading.

:32:22.:32:27.

Thank you for being our guest of the day, or for the first half of the

:32:27.:32:31.

programme. Now it's time for a look at the week

:32:31.:32:33.

ahead. As we've been hearing, this afternoon the Foreign Secretary,

:32:33.:32:35.

William Hague, makes a statement to the House on GCHQs spying

:32:35.:32:38.

allegations. Also today, disability living allowance is no more! It's

:32:38.:32:40.

being replaced by the personal independence payment.

:32:40.:32:44.

Today and tomorrow the Supreme Court will be in session to discuss votes

:32:44.:32:46.

for prisoners. And they're at it again - it's the

:32:46.:32:49.

Lords versus the Commons, but this time it's a tug of war.

:32:49.:32:52.

On Wednesday we're hoping for good news as the ONS publishes the latest

:32:52.:32:54.

unemployment statistics. And on Sunday it's the start of the

:32:54.:33:04.
:33:04.:33:10.

G8 summit, which the UK will be And joining us from a cloudy College

:33:10.:33:13.

Green is Isabel Hardmen from the Spectator and Helen Lewis from the

:33:13.:33:22.

New Statesman. -- Isabel Hardman from the Spectator. Isabel,

:33:22.:33:26.

disability campaigners are warning that hundreds of thousands could

:33:26.:33:29.

lose out under renew system of benefit payments being rolled out

:33:29.:33:34.

today. It is clear that a significant number of people

:33:34.:33:36.

receiving disability living allowance will lose that benefit?

:33:36.:33:41.

Yes. One of the things about this test is there is not a great deal of

:33:41.:33:46.

public faith already cost of the test which went before for

:33:46.:33:49.

incapacity benefit. The work capability assessment is another

:33:49.:33:53.

government has not going that well at the moment, there is a real

:33:53.:33:58.

public faith issue with these new test. Helen, ministers have said

:33:59.:34:04.

that opponents of the change are being alarmist. Is that fair?

:34:04.:34:09.

utterly unfair. Disabled people in this country have been hit by a

:34:09.:34:14.

combination of benefit changes and it is very hard to see, even if you

:34:15.:34:20.

believe each individual one is fair, the same family can be hit by five

:34:20.:34:24.

or six changes. Let's look ahead and predict into the glass ball, what

:34:24.:34:32.

will happen to this new change, the personal independence payment? Will

:34:32.:34:37.

it be successful, Isabel? I don't think it is alarmist to scrutinise

:34:37.:34:41.

policy and make sure it is working, especially when it is so important

:34:41.:34:45.

and sensitive. I imagine it will have to be revised, that is the sort

:34:45.:34:49.

of thing that ministers should do. If disability campaigners say

:34:49.:34:54.

certain elements are not working, they should listen. Let's look at

:34:54.:34:57.

Labour, they made some fairly big announcements, maybe not in

:34:57.:35:03.

financial terms, but symbolically. Will it have the impact that Ed

:35:03.:35:09.

Balls and Ed Miliband hoped? I think so, because it was harder to paint

:35:09.:35:16.

them as a profligate party. On the Sunday Politics yesterday, Ed Balls

:35:16.:35:20.

insisted that the state pension might be included within this

:35:20.:35:23.

policy. That would be enormous, because traditionally David Cameron

:35:23.:35:32.

has protected benefits the pensioners in a way that he has not

:35:32.:35:36.

for disabled people, because the power of the pensioner vote is seen

:35:36.:35:38.

as Almighty. Where does that leave the Conservatives, Isabel Hardman?

:35:38.:35:44.

You seem to admit that the cap would include spending on pensions. Is it

:35:44.:35:51.

realistic policy? It is an important and -- opportunity for the

:35:51.:35:55.

Conservatives. If Ed Balls is looking at bringing the state

:35:55.:35:57.

pension into the spending cap, it is an opportunity for conservatives to

:35:57.:36:04.

argue for a welfare state which is not universal, it is a safety net.

:36:04.:36:08.

It is their version of the welfare state that they can push. In 2010,

:36:08.:36:12.

the Tories were protecting the Winter fuel payment and bus passes,

:36:12.:36:14.

they were bounced into it by Ed Balls and his colleagues. It is an

:36:14.:36:19.

opportunity for them to look at some things they have been scared off.

:36:19.:36:24.

Helen, is the interesting thing about a cup that include pensions,

:36:24.:36:28.

is it a bit more about whether Labour would have to raise the

:36:28.:36:33.

retirement age if the cap looked like it would go against the triple

:36:33.:36:39.

lock in place in terms of how pension spending will rise? Sources

:36:39.:36:43.

have already said they will protect the triple lock because they know it

:36:43.:36:46.

is potentially incredibly inflammatory. They could offset the

:36:46.:36:52.

need to increase pension contributions with other things, but

:36:52.:36:58.

the overall bill would have a cap. This is phenomenally interesting to

:36:58.:37:04.

people like us, because it has seen for so long that you couldn't attack

:37:05.:37:11.

or cut benefits for pensioners. Apparently there has been a letter

:37:11.:37:17.

of no confidence in the Prime Minister, is this significant?

:37:17.:37:20.

Conservative MPs sent those letters in, and estimates vary as to how

:37:20.:37:26.

many. He will have been talking to colleagues about the fact he has

:37:26.:37:29.

done this. There is a suspicion in the party that the whips have

:37:29.:37:37.

briefed the depression -- the press about this. There are signs about

:37:37.:37:42.

the whips office getting to grips with bad behaviour. Backbenchers

:37:42.:37:46.

dark -- can't just criticise the PM. It is not acceptable, they have

:37:46.:37:55.

to be seen to be clamping down on that. It is part 392 in the saga of

:37:55.:37:58.

people angry about gay marriage being seen to be prioritised, people

:37:58.:38:02.

angry about the EU referendum. It follows on from Lord Ashcroft, who

:38:02.:38:07.

was once the big Tory donor, he did polling showing that Cameron is less

:38:07.:38:12.

popular than the party. People will be saying, why do we have a leader

:38:12.:38:21.

less popular than others? Are you in the tug of war? Yes -- no.Are you

:38:21.:38:29.

upset? Not really my thing, videogames would be more my thing.

:38:29.:38:32.

And joining us for the rest of the programme we have three of

:38:32.:38:34.

Westminster's finest - the Conservative MP George Eustice. The

:38:34.:38:37.

Labour MP Alison McGovern and the Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt.

:38:37.:38:47.

Welcome to you all. Can I start with George Eustice, let's look at the

:38:47.:38:48.

disability living allowance. Taney Grey Thompson's view is that the

:38:48.:38:53.

government changes could result in disabled people being ghettoised and

:38:53.:38:58.

excluded from society. I think that is alarmist, because we are

:38:58.:39:02.

introducing an assessment which will make sure that the support given to

:39:02.:39:07.

disabled people is better targeted when it is needed. We are saying you

:39:07.:39:15.

have an assessment, then you can change the supporters they needed.

:39:15.:39:19.

For some it might mean they have increasing support, for others it

:39:19.:39:23.

might be a consistent condition and there may be somewhere the condition

:39:23.:39:30.

improves and they release -- reduce it. That is sensible. Why are so

:39:30.:39:33.

many disabled people worried? If people were reassured it would be

:39:33.:39:38.

that fair, why are we already having leading disability campaigners

:39:38.:39:47.

saying that making those sorts of comments and, as conservatives have

:39:47.:39:49.

admitted, far fewer people will get the new benefits than the current

:39:49.:39:55.

allowance. People just don't like change sometimes. We are looking at

:39:55.:39:59.

the budget that we inherited in 2010, around �12 billion, this

:39:59.:40:05.

increased exponentially since it was introduced in 1997. It will rise for

:40:05.:40:12.

a while, we are talking about significant cuts. -- we are not

:40:12.:40:17.

talking about significant cuts. is the estimate for the number of

:40:17.:40:21.

people that will reduce, in terms of claiming, this personal independence

:40:21.:40:27.

payment? I think it is in the region of around 100,000, far lower than

:40:27.:40:31.

the figure of 600,000 that has been put around. 450,000 has been put

:40:31.:40:38.

about. But it will be far lower than that. It is the right thing to do,

:40:38.:40:42.

to have a fair benefit system you need to target the support where it

:40:42.:40:48.

is needed. Some people will get an increase in support. Lorely Burt,

:40:48.:40:54.

are you happy? Yes. There have been a number of scare stories, and from

:40:54.:40:56.

my own constituency people with mental health problems are

:40:56.:41:00.

particularly worried, because small things can really knock them off

:41:00.:41:04.

balance. I think all these changes have to be fermented very

:41:04.:41:10.

sensitively, but I think the idea of putting more flexibility in is a

:41:10.:41:17.

good thing. So what is the problem? One of the problems I hear from

:41:17.:41:20.

people affected in my constituency is the plethora of changes that

:41:20.:41:25.

people are dealing with, that there is a cumulative impact of all these

:41:25.:41:28.

changes coming at people with disabilities and their carers and

:41:28.:41:33.

making it incredibly hard to cope at the moment. Frankly, the practice of

:41:34.:41:38.

what has gone on in terms of some of these assessments, I have seen my

:41:39.:41:42.

own constituents be treated not well and I don't think the government has

:41:42.:41:50.

got a grip on that. What sort of experiences are they talking about?

:41:50.:41:54.

Unfortunately I have had cases where there has been bad practice, people

:41:54.:41:58.

's needs not being attended to what they go through the assessment. We

:41:59.:42:01.

have had debates in Parliament about how the contract has been managed

:42:01.:42:05.

and I don't think anybody thinks it has worked well. The government

:42:05.:42:11.

really needs to get a grip. What do you mean by getting a grip? How else

:42:11.:42:17.

can you facilitate the change in the system whereby, as George has said,

:42:17.:42:21.

many can be targeted more effectively? I think people should

:42:21.:42:24.

listen to the chair of the select committee and her contributions

:42:24.:42:29.

about the manner in which this contract has been managed and the

:42:29.:42:35.

lessons that have to be learned. That sounds like no change, no

:42:35.:42:40.

reduction in the welfare bill? you can have the best policy

:42:40.:42:44.

possible, which I don't think the government has got, but if the way

:42:44.:42:47.

it is being carried out and all the evidence we have heard in

:42:47.:42:50.

Parliament, the manner in which it is being carried out does not work,

:42:50.:42:55.

that will mean disabled people face a plethora of challengers putting

:42:55.:43:02.

them in a very difficult position. Constituencies come to us with

:43:02.:43:06.

problems with ATOS. -- constituents come to us. The government is

:43:06.:43:13.

reviewing the way ATOS works. They have made some important changes to

:43:13.:43:19.

the way that ESA is assessed. about those people who have had a

:43:19.:43:22.

humiliating time when they have been reassessed in order to see whether

:43:22.:43:28.

they can claim this? First of all, the government is taking much

:43:28.:43:35.

greater account of evidence from the GP at the first round, which was not

:43:35.:43:39.

the case under Labour. We are also giving people the chance to have an

:43:39.:43:43.

immediate second opinion before even getting to appeal, so we reduce some

:43:43.:43:47.

of the bureaucratic process. There is an appeals process, and the

:43:47.:43:50.

evidence shows that around about a quarter of people still have

:43:51.:43:55.

appeals. We need to keep reforming and changing the ATOS assessment,

:43:55.:44:00.

but we have made improvements already. Labour had quite a big week

:44:00.:44:03.

in terms of making assessments around the economy and on welfare

:44:03.:44:08.

spending, let's hear what the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said about

:44:08.:44:12.

pensions. George Osborne will announce his cap in two weeks, I

:44:12.:44:16.

don't know whether he will exclude or include pension spending but our

:44:16.:44:20.

plan is to included. Pension spending would be included in the

:44:21.:44:26.

welfare cup? That is our plan.Are you happy that pension spending,

:44:26.:44:30.

which is the majority of welfare spending, would be included in a cap

:44:30.:44:39.

set by Labour? If you are looking over the long term as to how you can

:44:39.:44:42.

reshape social security so that it works well over the medium to

:44:42.:44:47.

long-term, of course it would not make sense to exclude what is a

:44:48.:44:54.

large part of it. We are committed to the triple lock. We protected

:44:54.:44:58.

pensioners, there are a lot of pensioners that I know in Merseyside

:44:58.:45:03.

who did really badly in the 1990s, there was real pensioner poverty.

:45:03.:45:07.

With the last Labour government they were supported. If you are committed

:45:07.:45:13.

to the triple lock and you are at risk of breaking the cup, what can

:45:13.:45:16.

you do to reduce spending on pensions? You'd have to cut the

:45:16.:45:25.

amount that people getting pension or increase the retirement age?

:45:25.:45:31.

whole of the contribution that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were making

:45:31.:45:38.

was we want to look over the long term and invest in the right things.

:45:38.:45:43.

You say it is hypothetical. As a real hypothetical, any party could

:45:43.:45:48.

easily breach a cap. You had got to say, how would we stop any breach

:45:48.:45:55.

happening? Would you increase the retirement age? Right now, we are

:45:55.:45:59.

daily -- dealing with economic failure. George Osborne is taking

:45:59.:46:04.

short-term decisions. It is the wrong way to look at it. We have got

:46:04.:46:13.

to address the crisis now but think of the long-term. That will help us.

:46:13.:46:17.

You could say it was a brave statement and a realistic one that

:46:17.:46:24.

Ed Balls made by including pensions which George Osborne has not done.

:46:24.:46:29.

He is being realistic when that is the bulk of spending.

:46:29.:46:32.

I am shocked at this. I would think any pensioner watching this

:46:32.:46:38.

programme today would never trust Labour again. The idea that there

:46:38.:46:43.

hard earned money that they have put by, all their lives, should suddenly

:46:43.:46:46.

be regarded as some kind of welfare benefit, I think it is just

:46:46.:46:53.

stunning. From the party that brought us the promise of an end to

:46:53.:47:02.

tuition fees... Let's talk about this subject in hand. For 13 years,

:47:02.:47:05.

Labour failed to reinstate the earnings link. We have now got a

:47:05.:47:12.

triple lock so that every pensioner will be better off. All right, so,

:47:12.:47:22.
:47:22.:47:25.

what would you cut? The Conservatives wanted to make �10

:47:25.:47:30.

million of cuts to square the budget. We insisted that only �3

:47:30.:47:36.

billion of that should be in welfare spending. What we think is there has

:47:36.:47:41.

got to be a balance. We have got to have a fairer society, as well as a

:47:41.:47:47.

stronger economy. That is our compromise. You still have not said

:47:47.:47:57.
:47:57.:48:01.

what you would cut. Nick Clegg has mentioned a few things. We can make

:48:01.:48:06.

additional cuts. Really, we are wanting to go forward and grow the

:48:06.:48:11.

economy. Let's talk about that 10 billion

:48:11.:48:17.

extra in terms of cuts to spending. In all honesty, you can't really cut

:48:17.:48:23.

any more from welfare unless you look at universal benefits. I am not

:48:23.:48:28.

sure. Ideas have been floated around restricting housing benefit for the

:48:28.:48:36.

under 25s, for instance. Labour have had three years of opportunistic

:48:36.:48:43.

opposition, opposing everything. you agree with including pensions in

:48:43.:48:52.

welfare? I do. They are talking about cutting the singlet -- single

:48:52.:49:02.

being mixed... I buy energy the idea that there is an issue of fairness.

:49:02.:49:07.

When people have paid into things, there should be benefits. I don't

:49:07.:49:12.

understand the idea of cutting the state pension.

:49:12.:49:19.

We have to move on, to immigration. A group of MPs and peers has

:49:19.:49:22.

criticised new immigration rules which, it says, have led to British

:49:22.:49:26.

people being separated from partners born overseas. The All-Party

:49:26.:49:30.

Parliamentary Group on Migration says the government should consider

:49:30.:49:33.

relaxing the regulations. Do you think they should be relaxed,

:49:33.:49:40.

Alison? They should be looked at. have got a case that is disturbing

:49:40.:49:43.

from our own constituency, where I have got somebody with eight

:49:43.:49:46.

teaching contract starting in September and his wife has to give

:49:46.:49:50.

birth overseas because the government are saying the contract

:49:50.:49:55.

is not good enough. Of course, we need to protect the public purse.

:49:55.:49:59.

But these rules have actually got to work. We raised concerns at the

:49:59.:50:09.
:50:09.:50:09.

time. Its 18,602 high as an income threshold for somebody who wants to

:50:09.:50:19.
:50:19.:50:21.

bring somebody to the UK? -- is �18,600 to high. It needs to be in

:50:21.:50:26.

fermented more flexibly. -- implemented. People who have got

:50:27.:50:30.

spouses who are earning money overseas, that money is not allowed

:50:30.:50:36.

to be counted in. That disadvantages women in particular. Anecdotally,

:50:37.:50:45.

according to members of that committee, many families have

:50:45.:50:48.

British children made to grow up without a parent here. Is that

:50:48.:50:56.

right? No system is going to be perfect. What we have got here is an

:50:56.:51:00.

improvement on what we had. We said we would reduce immigration. If you

:51:00.:51:05.

are serious about that, you have got to look at the way that you issue

:51:05.:51:09.

visas for spouses. You have to look at students, for instance. This is

:51:09.:51:13.

about making sure that people who come here do not end up being a

:51:13.:51:22.

verdant on the taxpayer, taking benefits. -- a burden. Savings are

:51:22.:51:27.

not included. Savings, property, and the spouse abroad but Mike earnings

:51:27.:51:35.

are not counted, either. -- the spouse abroad 's earnings. Is that

:51:35.:51:45.
:51:45.:51:46.

fair? As I said, the problem is if they have not had a job for the last

:51:46.:51:52.

12 months. People might start taking short-term jobs. No system is

:51:52.:51:56.

perfect. If you are serious about reducing immigration, you have got

:51:56.:52:01.

to take some serious decisions. Conservatives have cut net

:52:01.:52:08.

migration. Part of that is people leaving the country. Part of it is

:52:09.:52:14.

students. That has an impact on universities. The system has got to

:52:14.:52:19.

be looked at. Somebody could be earning lots and then lose their job

:52:19.:52:25.

tomorrow. How can you make a fair system? We have got to look at it.

:52:26.:52:28.

On immigration, I would also question whether the government have

:52:28.:52:33.

done enough on illegal immigration and making sure that is dealt with.

:52:33.:52:37.

That is the kind of problem that people really worry about.

:52:38.:52:42.

We have to move on. The three MPs on our panel today all have something

:52:42.:52:47.

in common. It is something they all wish was not true. No, they are not

:52:47.:52:53.

the latest politicians to be caught in a lobbying steam. The problem

:52:53.:52:56.

they share is that they all have small majorities in their

:52:56.:53:00.

constituencies, which means that at the next election they will all be

:53:00.:53:04.

working their socks off to make sure they are re-elected. Let's get out

:53:04.:53:07.

our crystal ball and imagine what we will be saying in 2015. Over to

:53:07.:53:13.

Giles. Welcome to election night, 2015.

:53:13.:53:23.
:53:23.:53:23.

These are the marginal seats. Let's see what it would take for our panel

:53:23.:53:30.

to be put out on their ears. First up, Alison McGovern. She is the

:53:30.:53:36.

Labour MP for Wirral South. She has a majority of 531, which would fall

:53:36.:53:42.

to the Tories on a swing of just 0.7%. This is just a bit of fun, but

:53:42.:53:47.

maybe not for our MPs. Next, Lorely Burt. Her majority is just 175,

:53:47.:53:54.

which needs a tiny 0.2% swing to go to the Tories and turned blue. Last

:53:54.:54:00.

of all, George Eustice. His majority is the smallest of the lot, just 66

:54:00.:54:08.

votes. 0.1% would do for him, with Labour picking up the seat. It is

:54:08.:54:13.

going to be a nailbiter for three of them.

:54:13.:54:18.

Don't you feel sorry for the three of them? Particularly you, George,

:54:18.:54:27.

with the smallest majority. Feeling good about job prospects for 2015?

:54:27.:54:32.

The truth is, there are two ways to think about it. You can either fret

:54:32.:54:42.
:54:42.:54:42.

about what your opponent is saying, or you can say, let's try to achieve

:54:43.:54:48.

something in the constituency and nationally. I have done the latter.

:54:48.:54:53.

It means taking some positions that people don't agree with. You just

:54:53.:55:00.

have to do that. You are a brave man.

:55:00.:55:04.

It is important to have something you can point to as a record.

:55:04.:55:08.

Are you jealous, Lorely Burt, of your colleagues with big

:55:08.:55:18.
:55:18.:55:19.

majorities? Yes and no. I do think there was a whopping majority in

:55:19.:55:23.

2005, and it was a Conservative majority, which I managed to

:55:23.:55:27.

overturn. Despite the fact the Conservatives threw everything at

:55:27.:55:31.

the seat that they could in 2010, they just failed to take the seat

:55:31.:55:40.

again. You are confident for 2015? Confident is an overstatement. Once

:55:40.:55:48.

we get into a seat, the Lib Dems at work like crazy. The locals

:55:48.:55:54.

appreciate that. Are you saying that Labour does not

:55:54.:55:59.

work as hard? Do you work harder in the constituency because you have

:55:59.:56:08.

got a majority? I work really hard. But before, as

:56:08.:56:15.

an MP, I was a councillor in Harriet Harman 's seat. I think she worried

:56:15.:56:24.

hard about her constituents' views. If you have got a big majority,

:56:24.:56:30.

there must be some complacency. it is about respect for the voters.

:56:30.:56:34.

You should always get out there and listen to people. I don't think many

:56:34.:56:37.

MPs who think you should not do that these days. You have got to listen

:56:37.:56:46.

to people, or you can do a good job. -- you can't do.

:56:46.:56:52.

Do you think the campaign will get dirty? I think the Tories thought

:56:52.:56:59.

they were home and save in 2010. I snuck under the radar and got in.

:56:59.:57:02.

You never know what is going to happen. I am very cautious about

:57:02.:57:10.

elections. Hopefully everybody would work harder. What about UKIP, George

:57:10.:57:15.

Eustice? You say you are not going to blow in the wind depending on

:57:15.:57:21.

pressure. How do you deal with the threat?

:57:21.:57:26.

I have always campaigned on the European issue. I even stood for

:57:26.:57:31.

UKIP in 1999. I am an authentic Euro-sceptic, although not of the

:57:31.:57:37.

UKIP can't any more. We have pledged a referendum on membership of the EU

:57:37.:57:46.

and we are going to negotiate. That is a small part of our agenda. There

:57:46.:57:53.

is a whole swathe of things around welfare reform, school reform,

:57:53.:57:57.

sorting out the economy, which are nothing to do with Europe. It is not

:57:57.:58:04.

as simple as your chart showed. All three parties have a chance. In the

:58:04.:58:08.

last two times that it has changed hands, it has gone from the

:58:08.:58:12.

candidate in third place going to first place. All kinds of dynamics

:58:12.:58:18.

happen in my constituency. Do any of you have another career

:58:18.:58:24.

lined up, just in case? What may she think we have got time for anything

:58:24.:58:34.
:58:34.:58:34.

like that? -- what makes you think. The answer to our quiz...

:58:34.:58:43.

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