11/07/2013 Daily Politics


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Daily Politics. Don't expect it to go down a storm. MPs have been


falling over each other do say they don't want it. The regulator in


charge of their paces they should get a rise of about ten grand a


year. Ian Kennedy, the regulator, says refusing the increase could


create another expenses style scandal. We sent Giles out with his


moodbox to get your views. They don't do nothing. They promised


us everything. They say they are going to do this and that, and then


they make it worse. The Communities Secretary will tell


us why all immigrants should learn English.


And we will be taking a look at the man all politicians fear. The


loudest man in Westminster. No, it's not Andrew Neil!


It is debatable. All of that in the next hour. With us is Labour MP and


chair of the Public Accounts Committee, one of the most powerful


in Parliament, Margaret Hodge. Welcome. Let's talk first about the


warning that the NHS faces a �30 billion funding gap by the end of


the decade if current spending levels are maintained. The


solution? Mass hospital closures and the creation of huge GP centres. You


would think he would have told us all of that before he left? Indeed.


I accept the analysis. We have been looking at NHS finances over the


past few years. I've always said the most fragile of our public services


is the NHS. Whatever the government said about giving it the same amount


of money, which is questionable, I think people think they have had


less. Every year since the NHS was funded -- founded, there's been a 4%


increase in its expenditure. What is really the point is that if we carry


on at this budget level and those changes in medicine, there's going


to be a gap. Doesn't this mean that if it is decided that in Britain,


the state has to make up the �30 billion gap down the political


parties, in their own ways or together, need to sit down and work,


what is the state not going to do now so that we can afford the 30


billion we believe the state should up the NHS by? I don't think we have


got to that point yet. Let me go through. I think the reorganisation


has been a waste of money. We could have saved billions by not doing


that. It doesn't address the pub of funding. Secondly, what does he talk


about? He talks about putting much more money into prevention rather


than acute services. I couldn't agree more. We looked the other day


at diabetes. If everybody who had diabetes had the checks they need to


make sure that the heart and cholesterol was all right, if they


had that, you would save 20,000, I think the figure was, 20,000 lives


per year, and you would stop people from getting the conditions they get


from it not being treated. So, early intervention, I agree. No other


meant as ever done it. -- no government. When you look at the


NHS, the only way they have managed to get the efficiencies they have so


far is by freezing pay. That's not sustainable over time. You need


efficiencies. If they bought more cleverly, they would save billions.


We found that in looking at something like 60 trusts, we found


there were hundreds of different gloves that were being bought,


hundreds of different kinds of paper. So, cleverer procurement


could save millions. Then you go to... I have got to stop you. Thank


you for that. It's time for our daily quiz. The


question is what our Conservative MPs planning to do at next week 's


PMQs to protest against John Bercow? The mind boggles. Not turn


up? Wear a badge? Defaces coat of arms? Or tweet about his wife? At


the end of the show, Margaret will give us the correct answer.


You've got an innocent face? ! Should MPs get more money? Don't all


shot that once! -- don't all shout. Independent Parliamentary Standards


Authority things they should. It's things a backbencher 's page


and rise from just over �66,000 per year to �74,000. -- Independent


Parliamentary Standards Authority thinks. An 11% increase. It would be


controversial at any time, but especially when public page rises


are capped. MPs used to be able to vote down any proposed pay rises


that proved unpopular with the public. That will be all of them,


then. Following the expenses scandal, Independent Parliamentary


Standards Authority took over how to set pay. They say that pay has


fallen behind other top jobs and they get less than civil servants,


police and headteachers. They also paid less than representatives in


France, Germany, the US and Japan. The package does include some


significant savings. It includes an end to golden goodbyes for MPs


losing their seats. The �15 even in meal allowance for late sittings


will also go. -- evening meal. But it's likely to be the rate --


writing the basic salary that will be the focus of public attention and


leaves Westminster in a tight spot. We wanted to gauge public opinion in


the most scientific way possible. As it wasn't possible, we dispatched


Giles with the moodbox. Should MPs get a pay rise? Maybe


they will have one imposed upon them. What do the public think about


that? We can guess the answer, but you never can tell with these


No pay rise. Why not? I don't think it's necessary when there's loads of


people who are already struggling to for it.


I thought we might get a bit of that. They should get a pay rise


because you want people of high calibre and quality. Why do you


think that's a reasonable? You've got to attract talent. Plus, you


want to make sure they are not looking for alternative methods of


income. I think there are more people voting


yes than I thought. Maybe because people who work in Parliament are


walking past. Why absolutely not? Most of us haven't had a pay rise


for three years. They have made cuts to people with disabilities and


everybody else is struggling. We are supposed to be in it together.


more a gut instinct. There's something to be said for them being


paid enough for them not to do anything corrupt. Ultimately, at the


moment, they haven't done enough to deserve it. I know I won't make many


friends, but if this is what Independent Parliamentary Standards


Authority once, this is what everybody should get. Brave man.


At the end of the day, they promise of everything, they say they are


going to do this and that, and when came out on top. No to a pay rise.


There were some arguments. But this moodbox is very clear. No, you don't


get a pay rise, MPs. Those are the views of the great


British public. At least, some of them. Earlier, the head of the


Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority had this to say.


Body after body, organisation after organisation, over the past 15


years, has recommended that there should be appropriate pay rises for


MPs. Governments of the day have not followed those and looked -- not


implement them. They chose always to say that there is a good political


reason why they shouldn't, and at the same time, of course, we know


what happened - allowances grew and grew, came more bloated. That ended


in tears in 2009. Enter Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority,


with a remit to put things right. are joined by a businessman who was


a board member. Michael Brown used to be a Conservative MP. Margaret


Hodge is still with us. Michael Brown is our most loyal viewer. In


fact, he's our only loyal viewer. There's never a good time to


introduce a pay rise for MPs, is that? No, but this is a bad time.


It's such a difficult issue. At when you ask all public servants to take


a 1% pay increase, it just seems inappropriate. -- but when you ask.


But it's a difficult issue. It's difficult to have a grown-up debate


on what we should get paid, how we should get selected, how political


parties should be funded. That whole process and the way in which we run


our politics, which is hugely important for society... You should


have done it in the era of no more boom and bust. Remember that?


always better in the past. I know, I know. But these are such hard times.


I think it's difficult. This pay rise doesn't come in until after the


next election, meaning the election will be partly people like me asking


MPs or people standing for election, if elected, will you


accept the pay rise? The people who say yes, the local paper we go for


them. People will feel obliged to say no. It is a nonsense time.


real issue is there is never a good time. Look at what's happening this


time. The public is being consulted. The document today is a


consultation, not a decision. If the vast majority of the public have an


Aga and for not increasing MPs' pay. -- an argument for not increasing


MPs' pay, I am sure the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority


will have something to say to that. If people were told what MPs did,


they thought they should get paid more. If the public are educated in


the issues, which is what this paper does, I think they will come to the


right conclusion. That they should get a pay rise? They will come to


the right conclusion. It is the wisdom of crowds. No, it's


democracy. Democracy doesn't mean the right conclusion, it means a


democratic conclusion. They answer the severally the same thing. -- the


aren't necessarily the same thing. Margaret Hodge is saying we are into


the third year of a 1% pay rise freeze. If you are in the private


sector, average pay rises in the private sector are about 1% as well.


So you must have a whole package, not just pay. One of the biggest


problems was the so-called gold-plated MPs' pensions. It would


be unfair to say we are going to take away your pension rights and


not compensate you. The net result of these recommendations is that it


is broadly neutral. I'm told it adds half a million overall. He is


rounding. If you were standing for election and you asked them if


elected, will you accept this 9% pay rise? What would your answer be?


Yes. I was put in that position in almost every general election. When


I got elected to Parliament in 1979, the salary was �6,700. When I sought


pre-election in 1983, it had doubled �14,000. During that time, 20% of my


constituents were made redundant. I had to bite the bullet. The reason I


did that was because if you get into an auction, a member of Parliament


being forced to say they will do it for less than another politician...


Margaret is worth every penny. But seriously, the doctor in her


constituency, the headmaster in her constituency, in one of the


secondary schools, the borough commander of the police force, they


are all paid 6-figure salaries. Margaret, are you standing in the


next election? And will you accept the pay rise?


This is where I agree with Michael. It is dangerous. Our leaders should


not enter into a Dutch auction, because you end up with people


putting themselves forward for 20,000. But you could afford to. I


am in a lucky position. But then you end up with the rotten boroughs we


had in the past. So would you take the pay rise? I would do what all


MPs do. I don't want a Dutch auction between MPs. But your leader says he


will not accept it. I don't agree with him or Cameron or Clegg.


Cameron and Mr Clegg. The Right Honourable members. If David Cameron


doesn't want this pay increase, he can do what Margaret Thatcher used


to do and put legislation before the House of Commons and their members


of Parliament to accept or reject it. Is there not a risk that


political leaders like Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron will instruct their


candidates not to accept the pay rise? I hope that doesn't arise. But


is there a risk? Let's wait and see. At this point in time, we are never


going to win. We did it ourselves, and everybody thought we did it


badly. We set up an independent organisation over which we have no


control. But I really think the Dutch auction point is so important.


We don't want to end up with politics where you can choose what


your salary is. We will come back to rotten boroughs. It is strange that


the people regulating MPs' pay, and MPs earn �66,000 at the moment, Ian


Kennedy gets �72,000 a year for a two-day week. How does that work?


The director of communications on a never seems to communicate with


anybody, we can't get him on the programme, is on 85,000. So a PR


person gets way more than an MP. are not talking about the salaries


of the regulators. That is a matter of public record. It fits with the


market. Why do you need a director of communications? Because we have


to deal with programmes like you. You don't. You are not with them any


more. I happily came on this programme when I was with IPSA, and


there is an enormous communication job to do with the public. I agree.


There are question marks on why on earth we have such an expensive


hobby. A lot of people feel unhappy about the cost of the regulator. It


is less than it was before, and our accounts were not qualified by the


National Audit Office. We have reduced pay a 7 million a year, so


the costs are down. I will give you the final word. Remember, many


members of Parliament don't do the job until the day of their


retirement. They are retired by their voters. I hope Margaret is


therefore ever. He is a big fan! But they are getting rid of the big


redundancy payment. Do you agree with that? I got six months' pay


when I got kicked out. Not as high as some of the BBC. If you want to


encourage people into politics and you don't remunerate them, you will


just get research assistants becoming MPs. Speaking of the BBC,


that is what we are going to move on to. Seamless!


Now, our guest of the day, Margaret Hodge, was busy laying into BBC


bosses yesterday, metaphorically, when they gave evidence to the


committee over severance pay. He was a flavour of that debate.


Could you explain why, in your professional judgement, it was value


for money to pay Roly Keating beyond his contractual term? Because if we


didn't pay him money to go, you would stay. We would then be making


him redundant when that will closed 12 months later, and therefore the


cost would be, in addition to what we paid him, �500,000. But with all


your experience, you have not come from an easy organisation, why did


you not just put your foot down? are head of HR. The overwhelming


focus was to get numbers out of the door as quickly as possible. But it


is licence fee payers' money. It is our money. I understand that, and


the BBC has accented many of the criticisms within the National Audit


Office report that we were too generous. Culturally, as Lucy Adams


and others have said, I think we lost the way. We got bedevilled by


zeros on various salaries. One of the issues was that there was not


enough grit at the centre of the organisation. There has not been a


senior remuneration committee. Things were devolved. I will be


bringing that back to a proper level at the heart of the organisation.


We did ask someone from BBC management to come onto the show,


but they declined. So we are delighted to have the media


commentator Steve Hewlett with us. Before we come to you, Margaret


Hodge, we saw you grappling with the senior executives. Overall, what was


your impression as to why some senior BBC executives were given


such high severance payments? I think there was just a cosy culture


at the top. They had known each other all their working lives, and


they rubbed each other's backs and thought somehow, they were


entitled, although as I said on that clip, it is not their money, it is


the licence fee payer's money. thought they were entitled to the


biggest deal they could get, and it was outrageous. The most outrageous


thing was probably G3 who got hundreds of thousands and then went


straight out of the door into other well-paid jobs, and think they are


entitled to it? Please! We will come back to the issue of the culture and


how this sort of thing arose. want to come back to the issue of


how severance payments were made beyond people's contracts. Not only


were they high, but they went well beyond what was due. Mark Thompson,


the former director-general, was the head of the BBC at the time. I


understand you have his statement? do. There is no doubt that people's


payments went beyond their entitlements. That has been


established beyond doubt. In the most high-profile case, the deputy


director general, Mark Byford, who was the one who departed with close


to �1 million, they decided to make him redundant in October 2010. He


then left in August 2011 and was then paid, in addition to his


redundancy entitlement, he was paid for 12 months in lieu of notice. So


the National Audit Office said Hang on, you decided to make him


redundant in October. He then works for eight months and you pay him 12


months' notice. Shouldn't you have started the notice period and the


clock ticking? In other words, he gets 20 months' pay when he was only


entitled to 12. How did that happen? The issue yesterday was, were the


trust aware of what was going on? They claimed they did not know and


that Mark Thompson had not informed them fully. They invited Margaret


Hodge to ask Mark Thompson to come to the committee and spill all. When


Margaret said, has Mark Thompson live? They said, we are not saying


he has lied, but there is an inconsistency. Mark Thompson is now


president of a big New York company, and he said today in a statement, I


look forward to laying the facts in front of the committee. I would like


to clear up firstly that the BBC trust was fully informed in advance,


in writing as well as orally, about the proposed severance packages for


Mark Byford. They were told it was proposed that formal notice would


not be served immediately, but in the following year. An e-mail from


my office to the head of the trust unit makes this clear. I made sure


the trust were aware of all potentially contentious issues,


including the fact that formal notice would not be served at once.


I have a copy of the e-mail here. This is significant because if the


trust were aware that the Byford lied. They lied? They said they were


not aware. Precisely was aware of what, goodness only knows, and the


best of luck to you when you get down to finding out. But Mark


Thompson says they were informed, and they are saying, he misled us.


These two cannot both be right. It could not be worse that the BBC. It


is the most unedifying spectacle. It is almost down to name-calling. That


statement is electrifying in the light of what you were told in front


of the committee, because the BBC trust member Anthony Fry was


questioned about a letter from Mark Thompson, the former


director-general, to the trust, which said the payoff to Mr Byford


was within contractual arrangements, when it was not. They can't both be


right? We are in a really difficult position. Either Mark Thompson did


or did not tell the trust, and if, as he alleges, he did tell the


trust, the trust, in their evidence yesterday, asserted that they were


not told. We have another issue with the BBC, which is the digital media


initiative, this attempt to use archive material, where 100 million


has been spent and nothing gained. That was also on Mark Thompson's


watch, so we want to bring him back about that. He has agreed to come


back. I was not going to return to this until we have the relevant


reports for the digital media initiative but given what Steve


Hewlett has uncovered this morning, we will have to return to this more


quickly. I want all the players in front of us so that we try to


uncover the truth. You want Mark Thompson sitting next to members of


the trust. And also the nonexecutive members of the executive committee.


Marcus aegis, the ex-chairman of Barclays bank, is said to have


signed off all these deals. He would think these deals were peanuts. I


would like to hear his side of the story. It would also be important to


hear from Michael Rylands, the director-general at the time.


does this do to public trust in the BBC? Margaret has hit the nail on


the head. If you put together the digital media initiative, �100


million written off, as time goes on, we may see that slightly more


benefit has accrued, but nevertheless, it is the


mismanagement of �100 million. The trust have to say they are sorry.


Then just six weeks later, they are there again because it appears,


following another NAL enquiry, that the BBC have paid executives more


than they were titled to. It looks like a structural, systemic


failings. And that is the problem. I was talking to somebody who is big


in the world of politics, a journalist, who says the damage that


has been done to the BBC by the combination of factors is not


insignificant. When staff pay has been all but frozen for the last few


years. When arguing about who knew what, the big picture is that too


much was paid to senior executives in their severance packages, more


than they needed. To give the context, it was �25 million over a


three-year period to 150 senior executives. That is the same as half


the total expenditure on Radio 4 programming. We believe that figure


hanging in the air. Now we know we are doing this programme for three


and sixpence and a Lucky Bag! Leonardo DiCaprio uses them a lot.


MPs use them. So the 1.3 million people in the UK. They are supposed


to be an aid to quitting smoking. Now the EU is trying to pacify


electric cigarettes as medicines. -- classifier. Let's remind ourselves


of Laurie Penny 's appearance on the Daily Politics last year, electronic


cigarette in hand. This is not a real cigarette. If any


of you are calling the police it a fake cigarette. It's the future. I'm


on a 1-person mission to make them popular. What's your vision on


this? I'm in the same position. I hate to do agree with George on


anything... That might not be a real cigarette but it ain't doing you any


good! Oh, it's in the! Joining me now is


Stephen Williams and the director of a small business selling Ellington


cigarette. Why do people smoke the cigarettes? -- selling eggs Tronic


cigarettes. There's a lot of stigma with traditional cigarettes. A lot


of people try the traditional chewing tobacco or chewing gum,


medicinal spray and things like that. They find it doesn't do the


trick. Electronic cigarettes brings another sensation to smoking.


just clarify, do people smoke these cigarettes to get off smoking the


traditional cigarettes, or as an alternative? There's two sides to


the coin. We sell ours as an alternative to smoking. We don't say


it will help you to quit smoking, because we don't think it will. It's


an alternative. Are they health consequences? None have been proven.


They are potentially a good thing if they help people to wean themselves


off the real thing. We know that tobacco, if consumed as the


manufacturer intends, if the only product that will shorten your life


span. -- is the only product. The tobacco companies are busily buying


up all of the manufacturers of these products. They are only doing that


because they believe it is in their interests. They want to normalise


the experience of smoking again. Last week, when I got home from


Westminster, I saw a big advert of somebody who, superficially, it


looks like they were smoking. It was an electronic cigarette.


You can smoke them indoors? Correct. There is no damage to passive


smokers? There's no evidence so far. We would support them being


classified as a medicinal product. Our products are an alternative is


to smoking. We don't make any claims that the product will help you to


quit smoking. The majority of our customers don't feel that way.


you think there are any health dangers? That's what we need to look


at. There has been a review of all iniquity in products, -- nicotine


products. You would only get them by prescription? I'm not sure I would


go that far. This is something none of us had heard of two years ago. I


certainly think the advertising needs to be looked at. I wouldn't


want them to get a back door way of normalising the appearance of


smoking, or, for instant, targeting them at children. At the moment,


these can be advertised in children 's magazines.


I was a cigarette smoker. I gave up, oh, God, 30 years ago, and I still


think of myself as an addict. I worry would be just that cash that


you go back to the feel -- that you go back to the feel of having a


cigarette. I have seen people in restaurants complaining because they


think somebody is smoking, but in fact they are vaping. For us, we


think that overregulation would make it difficult for us to obtain a


license. It would price us out of the market. The price of electricity


cigarettes, getting the licence, the price would move on to the


consumers. -- electronic cigarettes. And you smoke them? And you feel all


right? Yes, and I feel fine. haven't. I've seen other MPs doing


it. I'm not trying it. Are you? I don't think we will have them in the


studio. Should English MPs have a veto legislation applying only to


England? According to reports, that is what the government is


considering. They say it's unfair that other MPs can determine laws


affecting England. But English MPs have no say on devolved matters and


are looking for ways to redress the balance. Tom Harris and Conservative


MP Harriett Baldwin are on College Green to debate the proposals.


Welcome to both of you. Harriett Baldwin, these proposals would


create two tiers of MPs in Parliament. You would reduce MPs


from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland to one day per week MPs.


haven't see the -- seen the proposals. But we think they did not


propose creating categories of MPs. A proposed changes to the order in


the House of Commons. Let's call this the English question. Let's


make sure that any legislation in Westminster that applies only to


England is carried by a majority from English MPs. That sounds


sensible, Tom Harris? It's more complicated than that. Take the Same


Sex Marriage Bill, which applied only to England and Wales. There


were another -- number of technical aspects regarding Scotland. It is


difficult to get a bill that only applies to England. I can think of


lots! There are plenty of these bills for England on health and


education, for example. And the last health Bill, which only apply to


Ian, had technical provisions applying to Scotland. It included


the training of certain professionals. Let's go back to


Isaac principles. The Scottish Parliament was introduced to


address... England does not suffer, never has suffered, will never


suffer, a democratic deficit. The only time that English teeth -- MPs


could be before the -- defeated would be if every single non-English


MP plus 209 image MPs got together and voted against it. It is unfair.


Labour MPs, wouldn't it? This is about fairness for England. It has


rarely been an issue in the past. I would expect it to be rarely an


issue in the future. But when it is, it should be highlighted. It is a


cost that usual crisis that is waiting to happen. It is something


that needs to be dealt with in this Parliament. It's also more and more


the case that with more devolution but just as Scotland but, as the


silk commission recommends, Wales, there will be more legislation that


refers to England only. All sorts of things apply to England only. It's


important that we tackle this thorny question now. Well done for shouting


over that motorbike. Tom Harris, isn't this, on the other hand,


disastrous for Labour? They rely on their MPs in Scotland and Wales. You


would find it difficult to get a majority in England of English MPs.


I'm sure that's the case. Let's go back to another first principle. The


Prime Minister is known as a first among equals. They have the same


voting rights as other members. If you lose that, you lose the


functionality of the House of Commons. We have been here before.


For 50 years, a devolved Northern Ireland Parliament had its own


primers do but still sent MPs to Westminster and nobody ever raised a


question about old stuff. Why was that? Was it because the Ulster


Unionist MPs to the Conservative whip? -- took the Conservative


whip? It's been raised for 100 years.


There's never been a Labour majority without a majority of Labour MPs in


England. Thank you both very much. Lunch is on the way. Not clear the


Australians will make it to lunch, however. They have one wicket to


fall. The Coalition have a target to get net migration down by the tens


of thousands by 2015. They are making progress. But what about


those who decide to move here? Should they be forced to learn


English? Should they be helped to integrate into the community? Eric


Pickles thinks so. This is his soapbox.


Speaking English is essential to living and working in Britain. It is


a passport to prosperity, and without it, people are very limited


in what they can do. In some communities, learning English


doesn't happen. This is not right. I believe that if you want to live


here, you must learn to speak the east of London, which is there to


help people to learning which. It runs a number of courses, including


mental ring services, and some specifically to help mothers who


have migrated to this country and have virtually knowingly should.


-- no English. Learning the language is important. When you come to a


country, one of the things to get to grips with first and foremost is the


language. There are a lot of other areas. What we provided a range of


life skills to help the women to integrate.


Looking at the bigger picture, the census of two years ago showed that


a crossing in and Wales, 2% of the population can't speak English or


speak it poorly. When you look across London, the figure jumps to


9%. That is 150,000 people who can't speak English, can't communicate


with their fellow citizens. That is going to create difficulties for


people even going to the shops. They are going to have difficulty talking


to their neighbours. It's important for me. I come from a


different country, different background, different language. This


country is new for me. I want to know about this country, about the


transport, about the shopping, and other things. I want to make


friends. It's also good for the wider


community. I want people to live together and work together, to


integrate and form friendships and get along with each other. How can


you interact with people from other cultures and countries if you can't


talk to them? There are also financial benefits. Translation


services are very expensive. Independent research shows that


local authorities alone spends nearly �20 million per year


translating a variety of documents from English to 75 languages. This


money will be better directed to help all residents and all


communities. But it isn't just about the money. It's about making Britain


a better place to live. That is what centres like this are doing.


Eric Pickles joins us now. Is it that migrants are refusing to learn


English, or is there not enough provision? We need encouragement. It


is perfectly possible to survive in this country, to be able to shop in


this country, to receive entertainment without speaking


English. But it does mean that their life chances are so much more


narrow. And it means their children's life chances are


narrowed. George Osborne wants to encourage them with the stick rather


than the current. He says if you are not prepared to learn English, your


benefits will be cut. That is not encouragement, that is from marching


you to the English classes, isn't it? That is tough love. It is about


getting people to understand the reality. Encouragement will be


there, but they should not see this in the way of getting a benefit. It


is a way to become a full citizen. I don't want people to forget where


they come from all their own language. I want them to be a


vibrant part of British society and have an equal chance. How would you


judge if someone's English was not adequate enough that they did not


deserve their benefits? Well, I am not a linguist, but I think being


able to have sufficient English to be able to do the job you are


employed for. For example, for your job, I would expect them to be very


fluent. He is still taking classes! And showing enormous progress.


have been arguing for a long time that it is really important for


migrants who settle here, and I am one myself, that you learn the


language. But let me say two things to Eric that I have argued for a


long time. For women, it is a sensitive issue, because they don't


get a job. They are often at home. If they are good mums, it is


important for them to talk to teachers. How would you get them to


learn? Let me tell you how we have tried to do it and the problems we


have faced. We had a lot of English provision in our children's centres,


where the mums were encouraged to come when the babies were born, and


start learning English. That provision has been cut because local


authorities have faced bigger cuts than anybody else. And it is not


because I have an inefficient council that is spending money


elsewhere. We are looking at different ways of trying to get


English across. I launched a competition at the beginning of the


year to find unique ways to get English going. The young lady that


was interviewed, she was, up to 18 months ago, a newsreader on


Pakistani television. She came to this country with not much English,


and it demonstrates what is possible. You are avoiding the


issue. Margaret, you see everything in this narrow political way. That


was a local choice. We are making a difference. If it is all going to be


about the wicked cuts, we will not make progress. I have been doing


this work for a long time, so frankly, we should be encouraging


this and not blaming everything on economic circumstances. I doing


courage this. -- I do encourage this. I think it is essential for


community go huge on, but the reality on the ground, Eric, in the


children's centre I visited recently, is that when you really


cut local authority expenditure so badly, they are forced back to their


statutory duties and they cut out all this provision which is


non-statutory. That is a very old-fashioned view. Let me ask you,


is there not at least a chance, at a time when cuts are all over the


place, and when local government has had its grant frozen, that some


councils may decide, one way to save a few bob is by not doing English


classes? Then they are very foolish councils, because it is important


that we don't find ourselves with a subclass where people of enormous


talent can't get jobs. They are not foolish. It is wrong to say


everything has to be done by local authorities. We are looking at


different ways of doing it, and it is a very old-fashioned view that


Margaret is expressing. Don't talk over me. You and I used to talk


about this issue is a lot. I am not saying local authorities should


deliver it. It is important for voluntary organisations to be


involved. I am just saying that the reality on the ground in my


community is that they are being forced back to only funding


statutory services. You have both had to say. Very interesting.


Now, onto a pressing constitutional matter. How do we hold our


politicians to account? As we saw earlier, our guest today, Margaret


Hodge, head up the Public Accounts Committee, who rigorous Lee


interrogate officials and ministers. But there is another essential part


of the British political system that keeps MPs in check. He is usually


found loitering outside government departments, or waiting at sunrise


on cabinet ministers' doorsteps. And he is armed with nothing more than


the simple ray mac of truth and a trusty foghorn voice fair play. Very


poetic! Rarely seen, but always heard, he is the BBC's Chief


Parliamentary Stalker, Gobby. You have heard him. Now meet him,


BBC producer Paul Lambert, known in the Westminster village as Gobby. I


wonder why? Has George looked after you? Are the children happy? Are the


soldiers happy? His shout outs are as much a part of TV news here as


pictures of Big Ben. The point is to fill in the pieces in a TV bulletin


piece that you have not got pictures to fill in. You know someone will


not say anything, but you just need something. That will be the office.


It does involve a lot of standing around, though, which means there is


plenty of time to hear some of Gobby's famous war stories. During


Blair's last conference, he walked across after the speech and I


shouted across, oi, Bill, are you going to miss Tony? But sometimes it


is very physical, like this hilarious attempts to get pictures


of David Cameron jogging. Jogging, boys! Or dangerous. Watch the wall.


Let's see that again. Although sometimes it is painful in other


ways. We are going live to Downing Street in a few minutes' time,


because the prime minister will be holding a news conference. He is


setting up, with a BBC producer standing whether Spanish prime


minister will be standing. Now here's where the British prime


minister will be standing. He has ideas above his station.


Frequently, it is very newsworthy, like the time Gobby cornered sharia


Blair at the height of speculation that her husband was standing down.


Darling, that is a long way in the future. That quote made the front


page of most national papers the next day, but can anyone do this?


Why did it take you so long to settle? How was that? Very good.


Well, that is Cabinet over for today. What is next, a press


conference, a stakeout at a government department or home of an


MP? Actually, it is a bacon sandwich.


Well, you need sustenance for these jobs. Adam Fleming, you need to


practice more with the shouting. We are joined now by the BBC's IPD


political editor, James Landale. Gobby, as he is affectionately


known, is something of a legend in the West Mr bubble, but he is also


respected by the politicians? Yes, he is a legend because they have all


had him on their doorstep at some point, and they know that all he


will do is ask a question. He gets on with everybody. He has more brass


than anybody in Westminster. He has a better new sense than many people


in Westminster. If there is any flaw in this perfect human being, he is


possibly got a pathological obsession with his mobile phone and


injurious reluctance to work on some Fridays. But apart from that, he is


amazing. Moving on to the issue of MPs' pay, which we talked about at


the start of the programme, is there a sense that there is now a growing


division between what party leaders are saying, and they are saying it


is not the right time for a pay rise, and backbenchers, who are paid


considerably less, and think it is long overdue? It is not a clear-cut


division. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have said they will turn down this


pay rise. David Cameron's spokesman has said he opposes it and thinks it


is the wrong time for a pay rise, but will not specify whether Mr


Cameron will hand this back. Education Secretary Michael Gove has


been far more rude. In the last few minutes, he has said MPs should


absolutely not receive these pay rises. MPs are well paid anyway.


IPSA is a bit of a silly organisation, and that pay rise,


they can stick it. Charming! It is not clear whether Mr Gove speaks on


behalf of the government, but he certainly speaks for himself.


are loads of MPs who think this is the wrong time and IPSA are putting


them in an invidious position. will reduce public trust in them,


and they have no control over it. But he quickly, privately a lot of


them say there is clearly an issue about pay that has to be resolved.


But publicly, we are scarring Westminster to find someone who will


defend this, and we are not succeeding, for obvious reasons. The


risk is that if you do get into a bit of a Dutch auction, as Margaret


says, where does it stop? What about the package, that there are other


things which will be reduced as part of this proposal to increase MPs'


pay? There was some encouragement from government to see if IPSA could


come up with a package that overall reduces the cost to the public


purse. They have not managed that. They are over that by �3.5 million,


which in the grand scheme of things might be a modest proportion of the


whole, but it is still above the line, which makes it harder for the


government to support this. There will be no immediate decision on


this. So it will be interesting to see if the party leaders can find a


way of finessing this further down the road. This is not a policy, it


is a proposal. We have just had some other news from the Justice


Secretary, Chris Grayling, who has asked the serious fraud office to


consider investigating gene for us after the government was left with


bills worth millions of pounds for electronic tags that were not used.


Sounds like a scandal. Yes. It is something we look that not long


ago. There is a general point here about how more private providers are


providing public services, and the government has to be better with its


openness. I want the National Audit Office to go and see how they spend


taxpayers' money when they provide a public service. I am glad he has


called in the serious fraud office. Very quickly with the quiz, the


question was, what are Conservative MPs planning to do at next week's


PMQs to protest against John Bercow 's do you know? IR may John Bercow


fan. James, the answer is? They are going to start wearing badges with


the letters BBB. The first letter refers to a ticking off that begins


with B. Ticked off by John Bercow, but in slightly more fruity


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