02/07/2013 Daily Politics


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government leaders meet in Manchester today for their annual


shindig, and their leader thinks the way the government allocates and


spends taxpayers' money is a load of rubbish. In fact, Sir Merrick


Cockell thinks the current system should be completely overhauled, and


he wants the PM to create a brand new department. We'll be talking to


him later. Should adverts like these be banned?


You tell us how much you want, how long you wanted for, we tell you how


much it will cost. The Government says it wants to do something about


payday loans, but does it know what? The man rumoured to want David


Cameron's job tell us why big profits are brilliant. I think


politicians need to celebrate when businesses, small and large, are


making big profits. The bigger the profits, the more we should cheer.


And we'll be serving up some fast food as we put three MPs to the


burger test. All that in the next hour, and we'll


even be putting MPs and burgers to the test. And with us for the whole


programme today is former Home Secretary, former Education


Secretary and former Work and Pensions Secretary -Labour MP David


Blunkett. You could say he's a jack of all trades. Anyway, welcome to


the Daily Politics. And welcome to First this morning, lets talk about


Labour. Your dog, Cosby. How concerned are you about the goings


on over the candidate selection process? I think the Labour Party


have taken the right step by having an investigation. I hope the


executive committee will deal with it decisively. It is 20 years since


the late John Smith, then leader of the party, change the rules, so it


was one member one vote. Previously, we had a collegiate system and the


trade unions had a big chunk of the vote and the membership were pretty


well squeezed out. All of that change. Now we have to make sure


that when it is one member, they are a legitimate member. It wasn't


correct, allegations that Unite have been buying for people to join the


Labour Party? I don't know. It is not in our rules that other people


can pay your fee and therefore join you up. You have to apply, be


approved and pay the admittance the. That is how it should be. We have to


make sure that those rules apply. Are Unite two influential and


powerful in today's Labour Party? Trade unions, since the formation of


the Labour Party, have been crucial to funding and broadening the input


and the activity, because they represent very large numbers. When


they are affiliated, members pay an affiliation fee, which they can opt


out of if they want. We have to make sure their rings winces positive,


not negative. Is it positive at the moment, where there are allegations


of rigging entry? You have to reach them out in whatever party. We have


had all sorts with the Lib Dems and Tories as well. It is not throwing


stones at glasshouses. We have a bigger problem, because trade unions


have amalgamated and much larger -- much larger. The influence is bound


to be greater. With the trade unions, we need to say that it is in


no one peers best interest to have this kind of row and the sort of


allegations going on under the surface. As part of the clearing up,


do you think the internal report into Falkirk, which is sitting on Ed


Miliband's desk, should be published? I would. Just be as


transparent as possible with a clear focus, if that is needed. There was


intervention, the Scottish part of our party dealt with this


decisively, as it should be. worry is that the public see Unite


as backing Ed Miliband, personally, that he needs Unite because of the


funding and because many people believe he was put there by them. Is


that dangerous? He was not put there by Unite. The trade union


movement's vote up their members was very decisively... Public


perception. Perception matters, I would be daft to suggest it does


not. We can't have a go at the vested interests of the Tory party


if we don't clear our own house. That is a fact of life. We have done


over the years, and must do now. McCluskey has called for Blairite


members of the Shadow Cabinet to be sacked. How frustration --


frustrating was that for you? frustrating for Ed Miliband. It is


not his role to be talking about Shadow Cabinet members in that way,


and we don't go -- don't want to go back to diversions of this sort. We


are broad church, we should be able to welcome, engage with and have a


proper dialogue with a whole range of people and we should not be


afraid of ideas and policy. At the moment, we are frayed. The idea of


looking to the future and being radical, it will then be the party


of the graveyard, nobody wants that. Len McCluskey claiming that the


Blairites, as he calls them, will lose Labour the next election


because they are adopting austerity lite. They are not a proper


alternative to the coalition. interesting article this week said


that that misses the point altogether. The issue is people


being convinced they can trust us, that we have a clear direction not


purely based on whether the next billion pounds here or there makes


socialism. When I was a very young councillor in Sheffield, back in the


old many days, this shows how old I am, we have the most enormous


arguments in the first two years about an extra penny, and old penny,


on the rates, as though socialism would be brought about by increasing


spending in that way. It didn't, it wasn't, it can't be. We need ideas


that don't cost a lot, that are radical. Perspectives on the Laois


and ship during government -- on the relationships between government and


the people. And local government, which you will deal with in a


moment, has a role not just as an institution but in mobilising people


to delivering services. If you look at the polls, which are narrowing


despite the difficulties with the economy, a five point lead, you


could argue, is negligible at this stage in a Parliamentary term. Whose


fault is that? 5% to 10%, depending on which Sunday newspaper poll you


read. But it had been consistently around 10%, it is now sliding.


you have a big presentation, as the government did on the Spending


Review, and the chief secretary saying how much they would spend...


Much of it was about cuts. Here is the contradiction. People don't like


the idea of not being able to afford social care or decent health.


Labour not doing better? People quite like the idea of government


cuts. We have to have a perspective which actually deals with that


elephant trap, that is what it is. The government is constantly setting


traps for us. We have to avoid stepping into them whilst remaining


focused entirely on a radical perspective for the future. My view


is we need to reach out to people and say, we will not pretend that


this will do everything for you we will help you, alongside you, doing


things in your life. The fair chance, Ed Miliband talked about


that last year. Giving people the ability to earn a decent league and


look after family and the wider community. Let's move on to a policy


area which you will know plenty about in your role as the former


Home Secretary, stop and search powers. Theresa May says they should


be used more carefully, and the figures that only one in ten only


lead to an and arrest. They have reduced stop and search, because it


needs to be intelligence led and focused. It had got out of hand.


They had already confined it. You need stop and search. Do you


remember -- Drummer Lee Rigby was killed by people carrying weapons,


if they'd been stopped and searched it would not have led to his death.


Those are the real dilemmas that a Home Secretary has to deal with when


making a gesture about Civil Liberties. If there had been better


intelligence, or perhaps the intelligence had been acted on, that


might have prevented the tragedy as well? Exactly, which is why


intelligence led, well thought through and properly implemented


with the support of local communities, because without that


the police are left exposed. Thank you. Something slightly different.


Now it's time for our daily quiz. The question for today is which


world leader, alleged to be a dictator, said yesterday that he'd


vote for David Cameron if he could? Was it Kim Jong-un of North Korea,


Nursultan Nazarbayev from Kazakhstan, Teodoro Obiang Nguema


Mbasogo from Equatorial Guinea, or Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of


Turkmenistan? I can't quite pronounce that last one! I can spell


it because it is written, I cannot pronounce it! At the end of the


show, David will give us the correct answer.


Now, council leaders from across England are gathering in Manchester


today for Local Government Association conference, the biggest


event on the local government calendar. Council bosses meet


following the 10% cut to local government funding announced in last


week's Spending Review. This cut comes on top of the 33% real terms


reduction in council funding which is being made from 2011/12 to


2014/15. The LGA believes the current funding model is inefficient


and unsustainable. They want the Government to create a single


England Office by merging six government departments - Communities


and Local Government, Transport, Environment, Energy, Culture, Media


and Sport, and relevant parts of the Home Office. The LGA say this would


give English local authorities better representation in government.


They also want to scrap the Barnett formula, which calculates public


spending for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as they say the


three nations have endured proportionally less severe cuts in


public spending than England. Well, joining me from Salford is the chair


of the LGA, Sir Merrick Cockell. Welcome to the programme. Why do you


say the current funding model is unsustainable? Just because it is


being cut? You have clearly said there will be less money, tempers


sensing a year cut. We just can't carry like that, the idea that we


could become more efficient and share services to deal with the


problem is not realistic. We have to look at how public services


overall, those provided not only by local government and national


government and its agencies, we need to look at the whole picture and


find a way of spending that money more effectively and also looking at


the democracy, reconnecting people to the democratic process at a local


level. People vote for MPs but they vote for local government


councillors. We think that more trust is shown in local government.


We have a rising satisfaction rate which the Chancellor referred to


last week, even though we are making substantial savings and some cuts.


But you have said yourself the money needs to be spent more effectively,


so not necessarily more money, just spent more wisely, which suggests


there is still waste, or it is being used for purposes which are no


longer relevant? But the waste is not simply in the local government


area. We are the most efficient bit of public services, we are told that


endlessly by government. A lot of it is, frankly, badly spent by


Whitehall, by the system, by having a multitude of different competing


forces. We need to focus the money on areas and spend it wisely.


Government letting go, trusting areas to make the right decisions,


including taxation, the level of council tax and all those areas, and


being held accountable and responsible at a local level, we


think this is the way ahead. You draw more value from public money.


Rather than thinking one part can cut another and it will have no


effect. Is this the backlash, pointing the figure at central


government and say they are wasting money that you could spend better?


For instance, would you like them to say you can put council tax up?


are talking about overall public services in a particular area, which


is most public services, universal services, that people experience day


in, day out. We have people who could be held accountable for the


range of local public services. We are saying, trust them. The


government -- we are making the savings we have been required to do,


we have balanced budgets and making savings. There is a way through


this. We have worked with the government on its community budgets.


What happened last week will may have been missed by many, it was a


game changer. We have had cooperation with the Department of


Health in looking at adult care and health costs and saying, actually,


by joining that up, we can save money. Frankly, we look after people


better when they are in their homes, in early intervention, rather


than letting them get into hospital, which costs a lot and is bad for


them. The Government is running local government badly? The


Government shouldn't be running local government, because we are


local government. It should not be for Ministers to tell us, as they


have done today, that we should simply be sharing more services, and


that would deal with the problem. This isn't an ask of this


Government. This is putting matters for the, particularly English


matters, where is England in devolution, where are the powers


given to other parts of the United Kingdom. That's at the core of that.


We should trust local areas. David, what's your reaction, do you agree


it is time now for central Government to let go? They always


say they are going to but they never do. We all say it in theory but then


get central ieftzed mad when we are in. Why does that happen?There must


be a Sod's law somewhere that instead of recognising that we've


got enough on our plates from the centre, we want to interfere. The


classic is, as just described, and incidentally I agree with a great


deal of what's been said from a Conservative councillor, is that we


say let's have a cap on the local council tax. Now, there is no


logical reason for that. It doesn't affect the economy. It should be


down to local people, but we think we are able to make a big gesture -


this Government thinks it is able to make a business gesture, and frozen


the council tax, but it will make it even more difficult for local


government to balance the books. We encourage privatisation, both


parties have encouraged local government to outsource. What's


happened now of course is those contracts are bound in for years and


years and the cuts that are being made, and they are absolutely eye


watering have to take place on that bit of local government that's still


left in local hands. You were the leader of a council weren't you?


Yes, for seven years, and it wasn't as bad as it is now. It is


interesting for your viewers to know this is much, much worse for local


people and local services and those trying to run local government than


it was in the 1980s. We have the local government Minister on


regularly saying more can be cut and more efficiencies made. One of the


suggestions you've made, Sir Merrick Cockell, is abolishing six


Government departments to improve representation in Government. How


would that work? It is a logical consequence of the English question


I was talking about. If England is going to have a solution to the


powers that have been given to Scotland, Wales and Northern


Ireland, then I think, we think, and this is cross-party, across the


local government sector, that that is trusting areas, not single


councils but areas working together. If Government backs that, and says


we are going to pass far more decision taking to a local level and


let those be accountable, you don't need the enormous structure of


different departments, all with permanent secretaries and budgets


being signed off from Whitehall to our neighbours in those


single-absolutely o budgets. -- in those single-silo budgets. To get


rid of six Government departments, including parts of the Home Office,


to serve what Sir Merrick Cockell is saying? If they carry on demolishing


the Civil Service and the role of government in general we might just


get there by attrition. I can't envisage the Home Office being


lumped together with Communities and Local Government or culture, media


and support. I would put the Home Office back with the Department of


Justice, which is where it was when I was Home Secretary. I would look


to human resource, accountancy and policy and research being


amalgamated between deficits. -- between departments. The Local


Government Association have hit on a really important debate here.


Practise what you preach. They are preaching that local government


should not only link up inside the local authority but between local


authorities I think a bit of example from central Government wouldn't be


amiss. Sir Merrick Cockell, if you think back to Jen John Prescott ran


that super-department, Secretary of State for the environment, transport


and the regions, it was that a golden era for success in local


government? No, it wasn't. I'm not suggesting that we have a super


Government department. I'm suggesting that power is transferred


from the centre to a variety of local levels and from the local


level down to people. If you do that, you don't need that great


rigmarole created in a Victorian era, and it is already bust.


anyone listening to your proposal s? Proposals? Has given Eric Pickles


give an response? These are carefully thought through


cross-party policies. But has they? He is here tomorrow. I am looking


forward to having a round table discussion. Give him a meagre salad


for his lunch. I'm about too have an Eccles cake. Enjoy the conference,


Sir Merrick Cockell, thank you. Payday lending was the subject of a


summit led by Consumer Minister Jo Swinson yesterday. Among other


suggestions for regulating the �2 billion industry some have advocated


curbing advertising for these companies. Adverts possibly like


this one: Explain the Wonga.com sliders. That's how we, you tell us


how much you want, how much you want it for and we tell you how much it


is going to covments You think it is important to give people control.


See, it is now her turn on the music player. Turn it off! Wonga.com,


straight-talking money. See, adverts on the programme too. With me to


discuss this are Labour MP Stella Creasy and payday lender Julio


Martino in Newcastle. Welcome to both of you. Is limiting the


advertising on pay day lending enough? No. And frankly it is a


little bit ridiculous, because it is like saying as long as these


companies haven't discovered the internet or mobile phone


advertising, and anybody watching this programme using iPlayer will


tell you these adverts are everywhere. We need to cap the cost


of credit. It stops these loans being so tox nick the first place.


would be in favour of capping the cost of credit. I would like to know


where that limit would be. I suspect my business would fall much below


the barrier, maybe it wouldn't, but it is a broad idea. I'm not against


it. What's your APR?296%. APR is a complicated formula. However, that


is I think lower than most other companies in the country. You say


it's a complicated formula but some people will make a sharp intake of


breath. I want to borrow �90. How much time do I have to pay that back


and when does the 296% kick in? borrow �90 and you pay me back


�10020 days later. In an annual percentage rate that's around 130%.


APR is a calculation designed to calculate mortgages, very long term


loans. Over a year, the percentage rate would work out as around


something like 130%. But over 28 days you pay back �10 if you borrow


�90. Put like, that Stella Creasy, you are shaking your head, does it


perform a legitimate function, particularly for people who cannot


go to their high street bank and have a cash flow problem and need to


plug that gap? Not everybody who borrows from pay day lenders gets


into financial difficulties but enough of them do that there is a


problem. Julio's model only works when people pay back on time. A


third of people have to keep rolling over, because they can't afford to


pay it back at the end of the month. Most other countries have capped. In


Japan the cap is 15%. They have a pay day lending industry, so


companies still make money. Ethey have lower levels of illegal lending


and they have lower levels of personal debt. It's a win-win for


everyone. Is that 15% APR?That's set in partnership with the industry


and consumer groups. I worked out today that on �90, 20% APR, after 20


days someone will pay me 1. 26 psmtdsly lend �90, and at 20% my


profit would be 1. . 26. I promised you I worked that out. If I'm wrong


I'm perfectly happy to admit I'm wrong, but I don't think I can make


my loan any cheaper, and I promise you this, without actually not


making enough of a profit. Is that really the case that you wouldn't


make enough profit? You said you agree with a cap. Where would you


have that cap set? I couldn't possibly suggest. I think and I'm


willing to be corrected, I'm among the cheapest of pay day lend ers in


the country. I would ask that... Wonga's current APR is around


5,000%. Between 296 and 5,000%, although it's a bad calculation


there is a massive gulf. For example if you borrowed the same terms with


one of these bigger pay day lenders would would be paying back �1229


after -- paying back �129. I am willing to sit down and agree a cap.


The banks would have to be involved presumably. This is one of the


problems, because yesterday the Government refused to talk even


about capping, even though it works in most other countries, there


wasn't anybody else in the room apart from Martin Lewis who is able


to raise the issue. I'm pleased to hear a pay day lender saying that


capping is a good idea. That cap in Japan was set in partnership with


the industry and consumers based on the Japanese credit market. What's


frustrating to me is we know this is what makes the most difference.


There are now 5 million people borrowing in this way and it is


going to get worse in the next couple of months. Why the Government


can't even talk about such an effective solution sin excusable


when people are suffering. Let's talk about your clients. Who are the


sort of people that come to you? They are people that can't can get


credit cards, on the whole. People that can't getover drafts. Maybe


they are students that made a mistake 15 years ago or defaulted on


a mobile phone bill. They can't get credit anywhere else. Because I run


a personal service, I meet all my customers face to face. I know all


of them by name. Do you turn any of them down because they are too


vulnerable and have no chance of paying that money back? Yes, because


I can't make money. We don't lend to people on benefits. That would be


crazy and wrong. If people are in work and get a tax credit, yes we


will lend to them. Generally if someone is earning less than �1,000


a month we will not lend. We want 60 days of bank statements. We turn


away either on the phone, we don't do loans over the phones, people who


can't pay us back. Put like that... This is a different payday loan


system to the ones we are talking about. This gentleman wouldn't be on


actually if he hadn't got a good defence of what he was trying to do.


Let's not beat about the bush. Stella should have been at the


meeting yesterday. A colleague of mind from Sheffield Central has a


private member's bill. We nearly got this right six years ago. The most


important thing is we need a cap on the cost of credit. We need that in


legislation, we are going to keep campaigning for a cap on the cost of


credit. When so many are struggling to not do the one thing that makes


these loans affordable, Julio you are not eptive of the industry. The


OFT research tells us that there are widespread malpractices. Poor


affordability tests, the marketing techniques, pushing people to


borrow. One company doesn't make the entire industry acceptable.


banks are trying to take my account away. In two years I have had to


change my account twice. HSBC will fund rams dens and people like that


but not give me a bank account. I won't around in a bit. Good luck.


We nearly cracked it six years ago, we then had the global meltdown. We


nearly got a scheme where you would get 25% credit backed by the


Government. If that had gone through it would've been an entirely


different ball game. Thank you. Big business gets a pretty press a


lot of the time - think of recent stories about corporate tax


avoidance. But should we really complain when companies make big


profits? One MP, Adam Afriyie, says that we should celebrate when firms


do well, and that we should be teaching business skills in schools


as the best way to improve social mobility. Here's why.


This is my area. I guess you'd call it my patch. This is Pekan in


south-east London, where I grew up. -- this is Peckham. I went to school


here. I had a good start in life, I got an education. By trial and error


and, yes, I made some mistakes, I then made my way into business. I


want every young person to recognise their business skills early. It is a


great chance to take control of your life and determine your own


direction and, more than that, it is a great opportunity for social


mobility, to improve your chances in life.


Geographically, Peckham is not that far from the City of London. And nor


should it be in terms of opportunity for our young people. They should be


inspired and passionate about doing business in the UK, whether that be


in manufacturing, retail, banking or technology. We need them to grow


successful and profitable British businesses. Why? Because enterprise


and competition are the only way we will get Britain back on its feet.


We love it when small businesses like this are doing well, but I


think politicians need to celebrate one businesses, small and large, are


making big profits. The bigger the profits, the more we should cheer.


It is creating jobs, putting money in people 's pockets and creating a


greater level of social mobility for the next generation.


I'm on the side of business, because I come from a tough background in


Peckham. I made the journey from social housing whilst starting my


business and working hard. I know that business is a force for good.


Now I am in Westminster and for the sake of today's disadvantaged kids,


I want everyone else to celebrate what business can bring to the


country. That was an amazing shot at the end of that piece. Adam Afriyie


a is here now. Should education really be about learning about


business skills? I don't think the core curriculum, no, that


organisations like Young Enterprise and allow children to set up a


business and workout about whether they are chewed to being an


entrepreneur leading it, or somebody who supports it as an accountant or


product designer. One of the great ways you can control your life is if


you start a business. You can make your own way in life. If you do


well, profits are made, you decorate your house and employ people, you


invest more in that business. Governments do not bring economic


growth, businesses do. widespread is Young enterprise in


schools. Should it be brought in, particularly, perhaps, for


A-levels, that people should have that experience in school? I think


everyone must recognise the importance that business can bring.


Young Enterprise is a charitable organisation spread across the


country, and the wider they can promote, the better. You say the


bigger the profits, the more we should cheer... I knew that would


make you cringe! But I just think that people will think about the


banking crisis, we allow these institutions to make more and more


profits, and look what happened. need a competitive market, lots of


businesses competing in order to make a profit. Why can't it be just


making some money and being a success? Because the bigger the


profits, the more tax goes to the Exchequer, the more money is


reinvested to create more jobs and the greater levels of social


mobility. If you are business with a very busy job market, you cannot


discriminate on terms of background or heritage, you have to take the


best person. The exact opposite, David Blunkett, that Ed Miliband has


been saying when talking about predators and irresponsible


capitalism? You would go out of business if you don't make a profit.


It is the small businesses that seem to be paying the tax, they pay


corporation tax, and Amazon and now, we discover, Apple and all these


others do not. You'd be surprised about this and add a scale, but Adam


and Gordon Brown have a lot in common. Gordon Brown was really in


the drastic about getting enterprise into the curriculum -- you may be


surprised, and Adam might scowl. When they give youngsters �10 and


say, see what you can make on that, I think it is really interesting.


Big, big, big profits depend on who you are making a profit from.


Doesn't that limit the profit? to manageable proportions. The


problem with using the tax system is that businesses go on strike. I


wrote a paper about this at University God knows how long ago.


The politicians need to say that if there are tax loopholes and people


are not paying the right amount of tax legally, it is for politicians


and governments to put that right? We should be speaking on behalf of


working and acting on behalf of the public.


Incidentally, money management and dealing with these matters has been


agreed as part of the new citizenship curriculum. We now need


to encourage economic sand enterprise. But perhaps, as Adam


says, politicians have not cheered enough about big business and big


profits? We got into an era where my only the ship were criticised very


heavily, were they not, as Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and the like


would say. Adam has done very well from his background. People do well


in all sorts of other ways than making a big profit, but there is


nothing wrong with a profit, if it has been made ethically and we get


our hands on a bit of it. profits, big organisations. Coming


back to the financial crisis, that was one of the biggest problems,


they were too big to fail. The Professor of business and risk that


we had the pleasure of meeting talked about big corporations being


inherently unstable, that small is beautiful. There is something in


that, but you can have big businesses in competition with each


other. The failure of the banking system was systemic where there was


not enough competition in the market. I am not a fan of bullying


or overpowering. There is nothing worse than a private monopoly. The


challenge is not how big a businesses, but whether the market


is in competition and innovation is taking place. The point I wanted to


make is that this is not just about economic growth or tax to the


Exchequer, it is about social mobility. As people get into


business they can make their way through the social strata, as well


as economic. You think that is more successful? What about the idea of


companies running schools for profit? This has just come up. I am


not sure if it is a policy commitment at the moment. If it


would bring about better school standards, of course it is a good


idea, but I think the Jewry is out at the moment. Berry is no evidence


that it does. -- there is no evidence that it does. We seem to


think that everything in Sweden works really well and everything


else works badly, it is bunkum. I was education secretary for four


years. We can reform and modernise without people creaming off. When is


profit reinvestment when you just call it a surplus? They're all sorts


of ways of cutting the cake, than being ideological. -- there are all


sorts of ways. What would you do if you offered a pay rise? Book a


holiday, or say this? MPs are public servants paid by taxpayers, and I


think it would be impossible to explain to the public why MPs should


be treated at this time so very differently to their constituents.


Everybody remembers the expenses scandal, an independent body was set


up so that MPs had nothing to do with it at all. I think that the


cost of politics in this country is too high. When we are cutting public


sector pay, when the private sector is coming under huge pressure, this


is barking mad. If ever I needed to be persuaded that IPSA was out of


touch, it would be now. I think everybody will understand the wider


context and the attitude of the people, which I think will be very


hostile if the political class puts its own interest first.


Joining us to discuss the public reaction to a proposed �10,000 pay


rise is the pollster, Andrew Hawkins, from ComRos. Should MPs get


�10,000 more? Not immediately. I am in a better position than many,


because I write and so on. The common-sense view, in my opinion,


would be to agree that for IPSA to put forward their proposal... I was


just about to say... Sorry.And say, but, we can't possibly implemented


now or in 2015, because there is a public sector pay cap. But why not


consider in 2016, 2017, this could be phased-in? People can despise


us, they can believe we don't do a days work, but in comparison with


the head of a school with 13 weeks holiday or, for that matter, those


working in the civil service, it is an absolute nonsense. Andrew, should


they be paid more now? It does not take Mystic Meg to seek that this


will be an explosive issue over the next few weeks. We did a big study


for IPSA in the middle of last year, asking the public what they thought


about how much MPs were paid. The range of knowledge about what MPs


are paid is colossal, ranging from under �20,000 to more than


�150,000. The averages �88,000, that is what people think they are paid.


Backbenchers are paid �66,000. People think they should be paid


�55,000. IPSA is proposing that within the region of expectation for


a lot of people, the problem is that the expenses scandal still looms


very large and public consciousness. I am not here to defend whether MPs


should get a pay rise, but for years there has never been a good time to


pay MPs more, and some might have argued that was the reason, in part,


that the expenses scandal came about. It needs tackling. But at a


time when we are meant to be in this together, is this the right moment?


Maybe there are better times. the job of an MPB compared to a


headteacher, a police constable, somebody in the civil service? Is


that the range you would put the job of an MP together? That is what the


public expect the comparison to be. When you line up MPs alongside some


mother public sector workers, the pay is broadly comparable. I am not


here to defend the pay levels of MPs, but when you look at their


overall lifestyle, you have to ask whether the pay is commensurate with


the hassle of the job, the job insecurity. It is a tough, tough


job. The other question is whether money motivates the sort of people


who go into politics. Does money motivates, or will it be a


disincentive in the next five or ten years if the paid stays broadly the


same? A third of those who came in in 2010 were earning �30,000 more


than the current backbencher's salary. It's never was an incentive


all those years ago when I entered. We need to reward people sensibly,


demand a great deal of them, expect them to be ethical and then hold


them to account. If you have been a Cabinet minister and you drop back


to a backbencher's salary, we should not expect you to leave Parliament.


You should be able to be there, bringing some experience and


knowledge and, hopefully, learning some of the lessons you have learned


rather than getting out. At the moment, the system almost says, get


out. Part of the challenge is there's been a call for MPs to do


fewer outside jobs as well. If we are consistent in our approach to


this, we ought to be replacing the income we don't want them to have


from outside interests by paying them properly, but that is clearly


going to come with a high political price. Maybe the answer is to ease


off on the restrictions on outside earnings and maybe that would ease


the pressure to put pay up. Would you prefer that or would it be


better to pay them 9 90,000 and say no outside interest interests


fine. For young people coming in, they can't do the outside stuff.


It's the old couragers who've the experience and the added value. I


would in favour of, in due course, paying a decent rate for the job.


Don't poke a stick into a tiger's cage. That's what's happened at the


moment, because we are Prime Minister in hysteria. In 2009 we


were and we are running around like headless chickens all again. We love


that. Thank you very much. In last week's Spending Review,


George Osborne announced a series of changes to welfare rules. Claimants


who can't speak English will have to attend classes or see their benefits


cut. Pensioners living in warm countries will lose their winter


fuel payments. And then there was this on jobseeker's allowance.


we are going to introduce a new seven-day wait before people can


claim their benefits. Those first few days should be spent look for


work, not looking to sign on. After George Osborne's statement, Ed


Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, was asked by Andrew what Labour would do


about the proposal. Here's what he had to say. We need to look at the


detail obviously. On the welfare things, I think English language for


incoming migrants definitely. I think for the Sendai, we have it


three days at the moment. Seven-day, is it going to be a blank cheque for


Wonga? Let's look at the detail. If it works and saves money, fine.


This somewhat supportive stance of Labour's has led to heated


discussion on Twitter. The Independent's Owen Jones sent a


message out on the twittersphere: "Ed Balls refusing to condemn the


Tories imposing a further wait on claiming benefits a policy that


benefits only loans sharks and food banks." Prompting Labour's Simon


Danczuk to respond: "No, it will benefit tax payers as well." "Good


grief," was Owen's retort. Simon Danczuk felt the wrath of Twitter


types afterwards, so we thought the best course of action was to get


them in a room to thrash it out. Joining me now are Owen Jones and


Simon Danczuk. Welcome to you both. If Ed Balls has said the measures


will save money, or if it is proven it will save money, he is


supportive, what's wrong with that? Well, it is a tiny fraction that


will save the the. The average wait for people waiting for benefits is


already over three weeks. These are people who pay in all their lives -


binmen, nurses, teachers, who lose their jobs and get no benefits


whatsoever. As a civilised society I would hope we would have a situation


where when people lose their jobs they get those benefits. Otherwise


500,000 people are already dependent on food banks in the seventh richest


country on earth. Charities say that's because of the delays to


benefit payments. And it will benefit legal loan sharks, which 1


million families now depend on. The idea of the Labour Party not


sticking up for people thrown out of work and have scrabbling around to


support their families without support from the state is grotesque.


There is no doubt that welfare has limitations, hate to be limitation


as. We have to build self reliance among people. That's important.


What's also important is to say we are where we are, because this is


what the Government's doing. We are coming to 2015 and if we have a


Labour Government this policy will be many place. What Owen does is


speak about the benefits of being on benefits. What I want to do is speak


about the benefits of getting people into work. That has what the Labour


Party has to do. It is what the Labour Party is about. It's the


party of work. It is about building self reline, getting people into


employment. The Tories have failed miserably to turn the economy around


over the last three years. Labour will change that. It is about


providing a jobs guarantee to get people into employment. Simon as


ever caricature caricatures me. Housing benefit is now up to �23


billion, subsidising landlords charging rip-off rents, because


previous Government, Labour included... I readily accept the


housing benefit bill is out of control. There are a lot of


accidental landlords, people who've properties that are in negative


equity and they are renting them out. You can't just bring everybody


together. You have an idealistic view of the world I don't.The


problem is you sound like a 1980s alternative comedian. It is


hilarious in many respects but taking on the mantle of Ben Elton...


You sound like a Tory MP. The grotesque sight of a Labour MP


scuttling around TV studios to back Tory attacks on some of the poorest


people in society. What is it supposed to be about? It is


priority. And the priority has to be creating jobs for people, creating


wealth and jobs. David Blunkett, who is right in this debate? I'm just


glad I'm on the other side of the table! Don't worry, I will protect


you Die have my dog. Deep breath. If people are entitled to redundancy


payments, there isn't an immediate crises for them. If they are not,


for everyone made redundant has the right to one week's additional pay


on top of the pay that they had end and were entitled to? And we then


change the system so that we actually go for flexibility. We are


in a labour market now where people are in and out of work. They may


have a job for six months, be out of work for six weeks and back in


again. Do you agree with George Osborne extending it from three to


seven days? I don't agree with the way he's done it. It was an elephant


trap thrown up to cause the kind of row where Owen and my good friend


Simon could actually fight it out in the corridor, and the world wouldn't


be any better for it. Is it true to say these policies, including this


one from three to seven days for benefit payments, is popular with


Labour voters? There was a poll in January that showed the more people


were aware of the reality of social security the less likely they were


to support Government attacks. You talk to Simon about self reliance,


as he puts it. Most people living in poverty in this country are in work.


In a country where many people choose between heating hair home or


feeding their kids, it is easy for Simon to say, he is in the top 5% of


earners. This ewill never suffer as a result of these policies.


Conservatives are just keen to push people into poverty. I won't take


lectures from somebody like Owen who has had a privileged background, a


privileged education which compares very well to the one I experienced.


I went from a comprehensive school to University, I'm proud of that.


You lived in one of the poshest parts of Stockport. No I didn't!The


reality is that people like Owen have an idealistic view of the


world. If his manifesto is keen and enthusiastic, stand for election and


ask the electorate to vote for you. The reality is, never mind the


opinion polling, because that shows a majority of people are concerned


about how the welfare state is run. But the polling will show he will


lose the election. Gentlemen, I have to stop it there, but the two of you


can carry on outside, as well as on Twitter. Thank you.


Now, before Mr Osborne announced his Spending Review last week, he


released this picture of himself, hard at work and eating a burger.


But his "man of the people" image took something of a battering when


it was revealed that it was a "posh burger" costing �9.70. Is this a


fair jibe, or don't we give a burger? We've got Giles down on


College Green with three MPs. He's putting their taste buds to the test


to see whether posh is best. Jo, this is the real meat of politics.


We are going to do some testing the, so we've got three different types


of processed meat, and some burg bankers. The MPs, sorry folks, you


can turn around. The reason they are fairing the other way is because


they tonight know which burger is which. I want you to rattle through


this. Take the number one, take a chunks and tell us what you think.


Get the feel of it. Experimental television. I haven't tasted this, I


don't know what it tastes like. What do you think? Big! A bit too big.


Too much? Yes. Horrible. Interesting. Number two.


They did ask me earlier, can you guarantee they are not horse? I'm


not sure we can guarantee what's in any of our burgers these days.


That's my type of burger. A bit dry. You used to run a restaurant and


apparently burgers are big sellers. The last one. Why do they always put


this in it? I have no idea. That's the best of the lot. By a long way.


Peter, you like this one, why do you like that? That's the type I


normally eat. That's like a Mackie D. He might be right. You said that


was the best of the lot. Why is it the best? Really juicy, lots of


flavour. I would agree. It is a nice burg banker. Number three gets the


vote. Which do you think is the most expensive? That one.And you are


absolutely right. Why do you think that is the most expensive? It is


the biggest. Just on size? I think it is good quality beef. There is an


ingredient in there. Can you tell what it is? Horse?Possibly. I


wouldn't be able to tell. But no is seafood. That's a beef and...


Lobster. That retails at around? �20. This one you liked most of you


is the one the Chancellor had. Your Byron burger. That's why I didn't


like it! No prizes for guessing, don't say on television where that


came from, a large multinational. They make the buns in Lancashire.


which case you liked the bun but not the burger? It wasn't bad.Are you


burger eaters? Yes. Yes. Only home-made ones. Get that! The big


best seller you ever had? Restaurants can make their own,


because people like them. They really do. When George was


photographed with the burger that you don't like, was it a bit of a


stunt? Did at this time backfire a bit? Yes. I don't care what burger


he eats, he is doing a good job. Mrs Bone's rest rarncts when she had


one, with she wouldn't have done those. It wasn't a restaurant, it


was a tea room. Actually I'm being a bit posh. It was a caff! Shall we


know more about what MPs eat? Keep ate secret? Transparency. It is what


this negotiation Governments believes in. The hard politics done


on the day with meat thrown in. You won't believe how many people behind


the scenes are waiting to polish these off. Do you like burgers?


really. That was short and sweet. Moving on from burgers and what


George Osborne eats before a Spending Review. The answer to our


quiz. I'm not going through all these names again.


Which world leader and dictator said he would vote for David Cameron?


The guy from North Korea, Kazakhstan, or New Guinea, or the


one from Turkmenistan I presume it was where David Cameron was being


hosted. It was Kazakhstan. That's it for today. That's all for today.


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