10/06/2013 Daily Politics


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


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


will be making a commons statement later today over allegations that


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


American agencies to get information on UK citizens.


Disability campaigners are warning that hundreds of thousands of people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


earlier. The challenge before us is clear. We


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


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


abroad, ambitious about pursuing our national interests and standing up


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


what brings together our foreign and domestic agendas into a complete


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


happier about themselves in reduced circumstances will stop we have lost


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


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


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


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


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


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


would be natural Conservative voters under normal circumstances. In the


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


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


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


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


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


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


leaked information about how US intelligence agencies have been


collecting personal internet data. Yesterday they released an interview


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


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


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


Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald how they operated.


The NSA specifically targets the community occasions of everyone, it


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


targets the communications of everyone. Findlay because that is


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


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


foreign government or a terror suspect, they are collecting your


communications to do so. Questions have also been raised


about the involvement of British intelligence agencies, in particular


whether GCHQ has been using intelligence gathered by the


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


asked about it yesterday on the Andrew Marr Show.


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


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


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


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


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


Conservative MP Dominic Raab. Give people that assurance. Dominic


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


think we need to hear more information from him in his


statement today. We understand intelligence agencies do port and


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


Americans involved in surveillance on British citizens that they would


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


intelligence, three years running defence intelligence, three years as


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


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


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


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


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


intelligence agencies over information cooperation in the


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


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


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


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


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


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


of the reasons the Communications Data Bill is so important.


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


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


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


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


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


extraordinary that we have a paranoia about our own people.


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


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


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


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


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


the catchment area. RIPA was introduced because there was no


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


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


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


sort of fishing expedition into what you would call ordinary peoples


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Before we get onto the Communications Data Bill, the


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


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


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


CIA or somebody is looking at potentially very, very nasty


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


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


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


criminal offence. But most people understand who the agencies are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


they need to deal with national security concerns, but the


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


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


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


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


someone working independently, on what ministers knew what was


happening, in terms of taking information from US spy programmes


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


looked fairly confident. Do you think these revelations have brought


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


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


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


concern. And there is a big distinction between national


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


attack on our elected representatives?


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 64 seconds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


opposed the interest journalism using subterfuge. The editors code


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the accepted. I thought it was the wrong judgement.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


carrying out these stings because actually they find that the reader


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


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


register for lobbyists. Whether it would have done anything


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


bogus... But it does trigger interest.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


public interest journalism needs to be nurtured.


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


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


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


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


Rupert Murdoch has not received the biggest bucketload...


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


News International. All of these newspapers claim they need the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


actually. The point is that we do rely on the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


The Sun newsletter argued -- newspaper argued there should have


been a public interest defence. We agree, actually.


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


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


something of a week event for conspiracy theorists as this


lucrative Bilderburg group of politicians and business leaders met


in Watford. Among the attendants worthy Prime Minister and Lord


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


Jones. He got more that he bargained for.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Republic! I couldn't work out if he was


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


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


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


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


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


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


politicians look straightforward. But it does occasionally make


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Otherwise people will start believing. But how many people out


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


being replaced by the personal independence payment.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


disability campaigners are warning that hundreds of thousands could


lose out under renew system of benefit payments being rolled out


today. It is clear that a significant number of people


receiving disability living allowance will lose that benefit?


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


public faith already cost of the test which went before for


incapacity benefit. The work capability assessment is another


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of thing that ministers should do. If disability campaigners say


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


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


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


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


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


insisted that the state pension might be included within this


policy. That would be enormous, because traditionally David Cameron


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


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


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


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


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


Conservatives. If Ed Balls is looking at bringing the state


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


is potentially incredibly inflammatory. They could offset the


need to increase pension contributions with other things, but


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the whips office getting to grips with bad behaviour. Backbenchers


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


government changes could result in disabled people being ghettoised and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that fair, why are we already having leading disability campaigners


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


my own constituency people with mental health problems are


particularly worried, because small things can really knock them off


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


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


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


people affected in my constituency is the plethora of changes that


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


changes coming at people with disabilities and their carers and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


many can be targeted more effectively? I think people should


listen to the chair of the select committee and her contributions


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


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


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


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


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


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


that will mean disabled people face a plethora of challengers putting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


evidence shows that around about a quarter of people still have


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


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


in terms of making assessments around the economy and on welfare


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


amount that people getting pension or increase the retirement age?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


economy. Let's talk about that 10 billion


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


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


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


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


opposition, opposing everything. you agree with including pensions in


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


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


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


understand the idea of cutting the state pension.


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


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


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


Parliamentary Group on Migration says the government should consider


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


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


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


teaching contract starting in September and his wife has to give


birth overseas because the government are saying the contract


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


according to members of that committee, many families have


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


to take some serious decisions. Conservatives have cut net


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


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


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


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


On immigration, I would also question whether the government have


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


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


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


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


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


they share is that they all have small majorities in their


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


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


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


Giles. Welcome to election night, 2015.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


going to be a nailbiter for three of them.


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


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


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


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


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


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


have to do that. You are a brave man.


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


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


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


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


overturn. Despite the fact the Conservatives threw everything at


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


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


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


appreciate that. Are you saying that Labour does not


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pressure. How do you deal with the threat?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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