05/09/2013 Daily Politics


05/09/2013

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn present the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. Universal credit is

:00:37.:00:42.

slammed as over-ambitious and suffering from poor management. Will

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the government still be able to deliver its flagship welfare reform?

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David Cameron arrives at the G20 summit in Russia. They still sent a

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car for him, but after last week's vote on Syria has Britain lost its

:00:57.:01:02.

place at the top table? The man who helped deliver the Olympics says it

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is time to take the politics out of building big infrastructure. We'll

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ask him why. And can local councils cope with more cuts or are there

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still too many foreign jollies and town hall fat cats?

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We do not deal in caricature in this programme! All that coming up in the

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next hour. With us for the duration Merrick

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Cockell. He assures me he is no fat cat but he used to run Kensington

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and Chelsea Council, the richest and poshest borough in the country, and

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is now the chairman of the Local Government Association, which

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represents councils in England and Wales. Welcome. Before we move on,

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thousands of children have been starting at school this week but

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there's been a warning that half of school districts will not have

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enough primary school places in just two years' time. That warning has

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come from the Local Government Association, the organisation that

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Merrick chairs. Let's ask him. We are in a population bubble. There

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has been a boom of children, babies turning into children about to go to

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primary school, and that will work through the whole education system

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so twice the demand is placed. Hardly a surprise. We saw it

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coming. Why have we not allowed for it since it was obviously

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predictable? We have been seen it coming through but have been waiting

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for data. In the end it comes down to places. You know the population

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overall is in this country but where will it be exactly? Then it is

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parents applying for children in places and that is choice as well.

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People do not always want to send their children to school where they

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live. We have to work with the government to meet the demand. With

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two years to go, is there time? A lot of councils and schools have

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been taking action already. They lot of councils and schools have

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have been converting play space and parts of buildings. Not necessarily

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things they want to lose but they have been turning them into

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classrooms. We are in a complicated world of education. The councils are

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no longer responsible day to day for schools. There is a lot of freedom

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for schools with free schools and academies, and as a result of that

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we are seeing a problem of a lack of forward planning. That needs all of

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us, particularly as the children move into primary, they will move

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into secondary and we need a lot more secondary schools to deal with

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that. Wasn't it you will party, the Conservative party, who took the

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power away from local authorities? Yes, and the view of the Local

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Government Association is we have a democratic mandate to represent

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people locally and to understand the conditions locally. We need to be

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able to work effectively with new schools and those that currently

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exist. Michael Gove accepted our report very clearly yesterday I

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think. As things stand at the moment, in two years time, if

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nothing else was done, how many places would we be short of?

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Theoretically, there will be half the number of places for new pupils

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so it is significant. That bad.We saw a similar problem in London five

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or six years ago and we dealt with it effectively. We will keep an eye

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on it. Over-ambitious. Weak management.

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Poor governance. These are just some of the charges facing Iain Duncan

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Smith and the Department for Work and Pensions over the roll-out of

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the new universal credit, or lack of it, in a highly critical report by

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the National Audit Office. Labour is enjoying the government's problems.

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They are calling it a Titanic sized IT disaster. Well, they know about

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them. The universal credit is designed to combine six individual

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benefits, including housing benefit, income support and working tax

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credit, into one single monthly payment. Crucially it is meant to

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encourage people to take up work by ensuring that they will always be

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better off having a job than staying on benefits. The government wants to

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see all claimants receiving the universal credit by 2017, and it had

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originally planned to introduce it for all new claimants from next

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month. But that has been dramatically scaled back to a series

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of trials, and so far only about 1,000 people are receiving the

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credit. The government has written off more than £34 million on new IT

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systems for the project and big questions remain about how it will

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be delivered. But the National Audit Office also said that universal

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credit could well go on to achieve considerable benefits if the

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department learns form these early setbacks. -- learns from these early

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setbacks. Earlier Labour were granted an urgent question in the

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Commons. Let's listen to what Iain Duncan Smith had to say. Every

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National Audit Office recommendation has already been made. The key

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lesson I take from this is this: That unlike the previous

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government, who went and crashed one IT programme after another, no

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government minister ever intervened to change them early so they

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delivered on time, we are not doing that. I have taken action on this

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particular programme. This programme will deliver on time and in budget.

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We're joined now by Max Chay, director of the National Audit

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Office. The Secretary of State says he recognises the criticisms in your

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report but they are kind of historic now. He has dealt with them. He is

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on track. The Department for Work and Pensions is revising its plans.

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I don't think they have been finalised, checked over or approved.

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We still think there are significant issues. What is the most significant

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issue the government needs to address? We were concerned of the

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lack of a detailed plan as to how universal credit would work.

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Although there were clear objectives, it was not clear exactly

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what services would be offered online, how online security would be

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developed and the systems they would need. Didn't that surprise you? This

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could be regarded as the biggest single change in welfare since this

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country established the welfare state at the end of the Second World

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War, that there is a lack of a plan? Certainly we found it very

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surprising given the priority of this programme. We felt and over

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ambitious timetable set at the beginning contributed to a lack of

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clarity about the requirements needed. They had to develop the

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policy requirements and some of the systems in tandem. Is it your

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assessment that this can still be in place and universal by 2017? We

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haven't seen the latest plans. In our report we raised very clearly

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that there is a risk, by keeping the 2017 date but starting later, that

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the roll-out will have to be quicker and that raises risks for claimants

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and the administration. Thank and that raises risks for claimants

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for joining us on the Daily Politics.

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We invited a minister on to the programme - but our very polite

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request was declined. He even said please! Instead we are joined by

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Conservative MP, Charlie Elphicke, he sits on the Olympic Delivery

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Authority. With us too, is the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary,

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Liam Byrne. He follows all this for Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary,

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the Labour Party. The most important change in welfare in 60 years and

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the NAS that you do not have a plan. -- the National audit of the. Iain

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Duncan Smith thinks it is on time and budget and he has the man who

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brought in the Olympics on time and on budget as well. But he has just

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brought him in. Because a lot of things have not been done properly.

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We have a Secretary of State that is clearly on the ball. As soon as he

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realised there were problems, he did not allow the disaster to unfold,

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hands on, change in management. We have just heard from the National

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Audit Office that they have yet to be convinced that it will be on time

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and on budget. I think events will be convinced that it will be on time

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speak for themselves. The Secretary of State is very hands-on and

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confident. I am confident he will achieve his goal. You might be in

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power by 2017. Because we have an election in between. Will you

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continue to attempt to meet the 2017 deadline? We do not have enough

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information on the table. On the table? We don't know frankly what is

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going on inside universal credit because the Secretary of State has

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led parliament up the garden path for most of the last two years. In

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March he told us it is entirely on track. A month before, his own

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appointee reset the project. Four track. A month before, his own

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months before that they downgraded the number of people going on the

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system next year by 80%. The quiet man has become the cover-up man and

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what we saw this morning was one of the most invasive performances I

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have ever seen from a minister in the House of Commons. We want this

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to go well and that is why I said in the summer, let's have cross-party

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talks so we can answer these questions. We will have to come to a

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view on this for our manifesto. So as things stand is you do not know

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if a Labour government would continue with a universal credit

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reform? We want to but right now we cannot promise an answer to the

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question you rightly ask because we have had cover-up after cover-up.

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The question in Duncan Smith has been giving this morning is that

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despite the National Audit Office report, he says it is all going

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swimmingly, but the fact is, from next month, every new claimant was

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meant to go on universal credit. They are not. And you only have 1000

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on a pilot programme with the simplest of claims that do not even

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need any IT. Iain Duncan Smith thinks it is on track. But it is not

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on track if new claimants are not going to participate as of next

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month, which was the track! You are off that track. Iain Duncan Smith is

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right to ensure this roll-out is successful. It is a big reform. The

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right to ensure this roll-out is Labour Party has opposed universal

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credit... He says he is in favour of it. We offered cross-party talks in

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the summer. They voted against it in the Commons. They have opposed every

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welfare reform, that's why they are the welfare party. Given that

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universal credit is something that if it is to proceed will survive

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many governments, why not sit down with the Labour Party and explain

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the problems and how you intend to address them and they can then

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inform themselves over how they would handle it if they come to

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power? What would be wrong with that? Labour have opposed every

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single welfare reform we have proposed. We supported universal

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credit and you know that. This system right now is broken, it needs

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fixing. Universal credit could be part of that answer. It is too big

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to fail. But today the Secretary of State dropped the target of a

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million people on the system by next year. He could not tell us how many

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people would be on the system by the election. He is keeping the 2017

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date back to hit that he would have to move a quarter of a million

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people every single month onto the system. That is a city almost the

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size of Derby. Anyone as experienced as you are in the ways of Whitehall

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knows that is a pretty tall order. It is but one that Iain Duncan Smith

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is confident about. It had plenty of experiences from the disasters in IT

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from the previous government. He did not close his eyes and hope it would

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all be all right on the night. He has been hands on. He did close his

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eyes because he told parliament in March it was all on track when he

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knew himself that it wasn't because he had just appointed someone to

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reset the project, in the words of the National Audit Office. Given

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that you think this is the way forward and you would like it to

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happen, assume whoever wins the next election, wouldn't there be an

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interest in sitting down with Liam Byrne and going over what the

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problems are and what you intend to do about them so he can inform

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himself? together and talk these things

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through from time to time. I rode together and talk these things

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to Iain Duncan-Smith and said, I am worried about this. I had a

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petulant letter back saying, get lost. We have had briefings on the

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design and the principles. When we ask for basic information, like the

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business case, we have to go through freedom of information

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procedures to try and get it. At the end of the day they said, you

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cannot have anything. That is not good enough. So far they have had

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to write off 34 million in IT. That good enough. So far they have had

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is the figure we know at the moment. They still claim it is on time and

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on budget. Given that Labour managed to waste 13 billion on the

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NHS IT system, why would anyone managed to waste 13 billion on the

:16:21.:16:25.

have more confidence that you can do any better? We should establish

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a degree of consensus across all sides of the house. As you say,

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odds on there will be a change of Government at the next election. No,

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you are saying that. I read the odds, just like you. We have got to

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make sure that we go into the next parliament with our eyes wide open

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and with a plan people can vote on. What is wrong with putting before

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the British people a realistic, it What is wrong with putting before

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informed plan for change? A petulant dismissal at cross-party

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talks is not appropriate. Do you have a local Government view on

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this. Yes, this is absolutely crucial. We have been talking about

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our concerns about the over ambition of it. This is not just an

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IT project. Part of the overt ambition was thinking people would

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be able to go online themselves and access universal credit. We have

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seen a change at the beginning of the year. We have seen the pilot

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areas working with local authorities and they have to go

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through the practicalities. That caution is wise because the chances

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are that we have to make it work, because it is too important, but we

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have to learn from the pilot areas and those 1000 people. Have you

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learnt anything yet? Literally every day we see the figures and on

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how it is working, so it has got to get working, but it has to happen

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at a local level with partnerships between Government and the local

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authorities. Come the election, the Government will have to be in

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position to have convincing evidence it is on track. By then

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they will be on a much better position. If you have only wrote it

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out to a few other places, it will not happen in 2017. E Ian Duncan

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Smith is confident it will. He has a team who knows what they are

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doing. He his hands on. David Freud has also been on the ball working

:18:44.:18:49.

with local authorities. We have got the right leadership team to see it

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through. If it does look as if it is on track, we support it? Yes, if

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it is on track. But we have not got that information on the table.

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Charlie is more confident than I am. If the leadership of the Secretary

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of State was so great, how has he ended up with a report like this

:19:11.:19:19.

that is so damaging. You said something seems to be very wrong in

:19:19.:19:25.

the mind Of the man at the helm of the Department of Work and Pensions.

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What did you mean? What I said, I quoted a great delivery grew, Sir

:19:31.:19:37.

Michael Barber, and he had a great phrase which is delivery is not a

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set of activities, but a state of mind. I do not think it is a state

:19:44.:19:49.

of mind at the Department of Work and Pensions and what they are

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doing today is proof of that. Thank you both for being with us this

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morning. The Prime Minister arrived you both for being with us this

:19:55.:20:01.

an hour ago in Russia for the G20 summit. It will be dominated by

:20:01.:20:08.

discussions of Syria. The host, Vladimir Putin, is opposed against

:20:08.:20:14.

any military action against Bashar al-Assad. Mr Cameron may have am

:20:14.:20:22.

meeting with him, but there will be no bilateral meeting with President

:20:22.:20:26.

Obama. He will be meeting with the President of France who has

:20:26.:20:31.

supported military action. Are we making too much of this? We always

:20:31.:20:38.

like to pour over everything, the President is not seeing the Prime

:20:38.:20:41.

Minister, is there a significance in this or not? So far as the

:20:41.:20:47.

British-American relations are concerned, it will be disappointing

:20:47.:20:52.

for David Cameron he is not having a separate meeting with President

:20:52.:20:56.

Obama. But it is not as if they do not speak a lot on the telephone.

:20:56.:21:01.

They have discussed things a lot, certainly in the build-up to the

:21:01.:21:06.

parliamentary vote. That is disappointing and bad for him in

:21:06.:21:09.

terms of how the British press will react well stocked inevitably it

:21:09.:21:13.

looks like a snub if it is not intended as such. It is worse for

:21:13.:21:19.

David Cameron, really because he he is at a summit which is supposed to

:21:19.:21:24.

be about the economy, but will be dominated by discussions over Syria,

:21:24.:21:28.

yet he is completely removed from the argument. His officials on the

:21:28.:21:34.

plane were saying, we are going to be concentrating on banking and the

:21:34.:21:38.

economy. He will not be a part of the big discussion about what

:21:38.:21:43.

happens next in Syria. He is not here yet. The discussions will be

:21:43.:21:52.

taking in the palace in the next half-an-hour or so in St Petersburg.

:21:52.:21:58.

I glad -- I am glad you got there before him. OK, the British do not

:21:58.:22:06.

matter that much on Syria. Are we clear what the American strategy

:22:06.:22:10.

will be? President Obama is there to make friends and influence

:22:10.:22:15.

people as he tears up to get Congress to back some kind of

:22:15.:22:19.

attack on Syria. He will not get Vladimir Putin, so what does he

:22:19.:22:24.

hoped to achieve at the G20 about Syria? It is about winning the

:22:24.:22:31.

argument. Whether he wins an argument, and it is not going to be

:22:31.:22:36.

a vote at the end of the G20 and people will make their views known,

:22:36.:22:39.

but it is about winning an argument internationally. The Mexican

:22:39.:22:44.

President was talking to the BBC recently and he had President Obama

:22:44.:22:50.

on the telephone and he was apologising for what they had done

:22:50.:22:54.

to the Mexicans. It is important for President Obama to do things

:22:54.:22:58.

like this, to build relations with all the leaders here, so he now can

:22:58.:23:01.

sit down and talk about Syria and say, are you on my side or are you

:23:02.:23:09.

on Bashar al-Assad's side? Vladimir Putin will be saying the opposite.

:23:09.:23:16.

We are joined by the former Defence Secretary Liam Fox and the four

:23:16.:23:20.

Middle East secretary for the last Labour Government, Peter Hain.

:23:20.:23:25.

Paddy Ashdown said last week's events had a profound implications

:23:25.:23:29.

for our country and they diminish our Kapri hugely. Do you agree with

:23:29.:23:35.

that? I do. Certainly in the short term the decision last week has

:23:35.:23:39.

left the prime minister sidelined in any discussions about Syria at

:23:39.:23:45.

the G20. It has given some pause for thought amongst our allies

:23:45.:23:50.

about being able to deliver any promise that future British Prime

:23:50.:23:55.

Ministers might make. There are serious questions week in

:23:55.:23:57.

Parliament have to reflect upon about how the events of last week

:23:57.:24:02.

are interpreted internationally. How did you vote? I voted in favour

:24:02.:24:08.

of intervention. Do you agree with Paddy Ashdown? I agreed that the

:24:08.:24:13.

Prime Minister should never put himself in a position where he can

:24:13.:24:17.

be humiliated on a fundamental policy matter. He tried to bounce

:24:17.:24:21.

Parliament and they would not be bounced. Should he have foreseen

:24:21.:24:28.

that? We had a debate and I was part of moving the motion on 11th

:24:28.:24:34.

July when the House voted on a backbench motion on a Thursday

:24:34.:24:41.

afternoon by 114-1 with 39 Tory MPs saying effectively the Government's

:24:41.:24:45.

policy was wrong. At the root of this I believe this is one of the

:24:45.:24:50.

most monumental policy failures in recent times. What we should have

:24:50.:24:55.

been doing is making sure we had negotiations on track, instead of

:24:55.:24:59.

posture rising over regime change and arming the rebels and finally

:24:59.:25:05.

military strikes. How did you vote? By was not there, I could not get

:25:05.:25:11.

back on time. I would have voted for the Labour amendment. Is it in

:25:11.:25:19.

our power to get negotiations? As I have been following this there have

:25:19.:25:22.

been huge attempts to get negotiations and they have failed

:25:22.:25:26.

because neither the Russians Bernard President Assad have much

:25:26.:25:32.

interest in negotiation. President Assad thinks he is winning. We have

:25:32.:25:36.

to get perspective about what we can actually do in the internal

:25:36.:25:41.

dynamics in the civil war in Syria. There is a limit to what we can do

:25:41.:25:46.

diplomatically. We have put a lot of effort into trying to get

:25:46.:25:52.

diplomatic activity going. But if all the parties involved in the

:25:52.:25:56.

civil war do not want to negotiate with one another, what chance is

:25:56.:26:02.

there? It is always the opposition, whether it is his or yours, we must

:26:02.:26:09.

try and get more negotiating, but sometimes when you are in power you

:26:09.:26:13.

cannot get it. You try to negotiate the Iranians out of a nuclear bomb.

:26:14.:26:20.

That did not happen. What makes you think that President Assad will

:26:20.:26:25.

negotiate at all? First of all, I am not a pacifist. I was behind the

:26:25.:26:31.

action in Kosovo. I was behind intervention in Syria and I was in

:26:31.:26:34.

the Cabinet that took the decision to invade Iraq. This is a civil war.

:26:34.:26:44.

It is Sunni versa Shea, Russia versus America, and President Assad,

:26:44.:26:50.

like it or not, is backed by nearly 40% of the population. They do not

:26:50.:27:00.

like him, but fear the alternative. This is a very complex civil war

:27:00.:27:05.

and I do not accept negotiations have been pursued vigorously by

:27:05.:27:10.

either side. The do not think it has been pursued? Obviously they

:27:10.:27:15.

have not been pursued by either side in the civil war, but your

:27:15.:27:18.

criticism is the British Government has not done that? I think it has

:27:18.:27:23.

been pursuing the wrong policy, first regime change and then arming

:27:23.:27:29.

the rebels. What has it not done? We should have said to the

:27:29.:27:31.

opposition, we are not going to are We should have said to the

:27:31.:27:35.

me and we are not going to demand regime change, we should have said

:27:35.:27:40.

you come to the table and come with a plan for a local negotiated

:27:40.:27:44.

ceasefire, a nominating ministers you want to serve in the new

:27:44.:27:48.

Government, and accept that President Assad's ministers will

:27:48.:27:52.

also serve in that Government. We have not been doing that. It is

:27:52.:27:57.

incredibly difficult, but we know from Northern Ireland and other

:27:57.:28:01.

parts of the world weather have been conflicts like this, it is the

:28:01.:28:09.

only way forward. The last time I was in Northern Ireland it was

:28:09.:28:13.

British sovereign territory. Why should the Islamic side of the

:28:13.:28:17.

rebels listened to us? We are members of the Security Council and

:28:17.:28:22.

we are members of a number of other international institutions,

:28:22.:28:26.

including NATO. It would be a disaster if last Thursday's vote

:28:26.:28:30.

was taken as a sign of British isolation. We should be more active

:28:31.:28:36.

on the international agenda. If you look around the world, in America

:28:36.:28:41.

this issue has been used as a partisan issue. Government against

:28:41.:28:46.

opposition. The same seemed to be happening yesterday in France and

:28:46.:28:51.

it is happening in the UK. It is very dangerous in a deeply

:28:51.:28:55.

interconnected world where the security problems over there can be

:28:55.:28:58.

here very quickly, for politicians to use these issues as party

:28:58.:29:03.

political footballs. One of the reasons Parliament voted the way it

:29:04.:29:08.

did and why public opinion is that as it is in Britain, is that people

:29:08.:29:10.

have yet to be convinced of as it is in Britain, is that people

:29:10.:29:14.

supporting what seems like a futile gesture. The debate in Washington

:29:14.:29:20.

at the moment is about how few missiles President Obama needs to

:29:20.:29:24.

send. This is not a debate about regime changed or about invasion or

:29:24.:29:29.

about bringing people to the table. It is a debate about, I said a red

:29:29.:29:34.

line should not be crossed, so I should do something about it. Why

:29:34.:29:38.

should we not support the Americans? There is a big issue

:29:39.:29:41.

about the use of chemical weapons. Americans? There is a big issue

:29:41.:29:46.

We were all horrified by the pictures on our television screens.

:29:46.:29:51.

The difficulty is getting the judgment right in terms of military

:29:51.:29:55.

action between sending a signal to the regime about our ability to

:29:55.:30:00.

degrade its command and control, and doing it to an extent that it

:30:00.:30:03.

changes the dynamic of the civil war. No-one in Washington is

:30:04.:30:11.

talking about that. President Obama is digging up what he might do, to

:30:11.:30:16.

try and get more people to back him. When he talks about this it is

:30:16.:30:22.

limited, narrow, targeted, a futile gesture if you won to use the old

:30:22.:30:28.

Peter Cook Joe, time for a futile gesture, or it is no more than a

:30:28.:30:31.

slap on the wrist. The difficulty, and where Parliament

:30:31.:30:52.

wanted more debate, is what happens if we sent a signal and they do it

:30:52.:31:02.

again. That is a genuine worry. The problem of this approach all along

:31:02.:31:07.

and I fear it is the problem of President Obama's posturing is what

:31:07.:31:13.

comes next? With there be retaliation and escalation? Yes,

:31:13.:31:19.

chemical weapons are abhorrent, but they account for only 1% of all the

:31:19.:31:25.

casualties in this war for Syrian conflict, so you are not dealing

:31:25.:31:40.

with the 99%. If the international community sends out a signal that it

:31:40.:31:45.

is not willing to act in the face of what was a blatant use of chemical

:31:45.:31:49.

weapons against a civilian population, surely the risk is that

:31:49.:31:53.

others will do it again and that will be on our conscience. The

:31:53.:31:59.

Labour Party cheer led the election of President Obama and his

:31:59.:32:10.

re-election. You were huge supporters of the victory of

:32:10.:32:18.

Francois Hollande in France. And yet if you had a vote in Congress next

:32:18.:32:23.

week on the existing motion, you would be voting against President

:32:23.:32:30.

Obama. I would and that is very disappointing but I think he and the

:32:30.:32:33.

French president have gone down the wrong track. The opposition leader,

:32:33.:32:39.

the president of the opposition last year in Syria, resigned because he

:32:39.:32:43.

could not get agreement about the different groups, to pursue exactly

:32:43.:32:49.

the negotiating strategy that I am suggesting could make progress in

:32:49.:32:53.

this negotiation, so that is where we should be focusing. Do the Local

:32:53.:32:58.

Government Association have a policy on Serie A? We do not, the views are

:32:58.:33:15.

mine! -- policy on Serie -- Syria. The case was not made effectively in

:33:15.:33:19.

Parliament and in a wider every year. What surprised me, Peter

:33:19.:33:27.

referred to being one of the five members permanently of the UN

:33:28.:33:31.

security council and a world leadership role that comes with that

:33:31.:33:36.

was hardly mentioned at all. If there is further action, maybe that

:33:36.:33:41.

argument, that we have a responsibility that goes with being

:33:41.:33:45.

at the centre of the UN, might be part of a further debate. He was

:33:45.:33:50.

from Scotland have just joined us from Holyrood's questions. I had

:33:50.:34:03.

better give you the first reply. Hang on, my grandfather was

:34:03.:34:08.

Scottish! But you can't do the accent! A lot of people said that Mr

:34:08.:34:14.

Cameron just didn't make the case. Even if that were true, there was a

:34:14.:34:19.

promise of a second vote. We could have taken the time. We would have

:34:19.:34:24.

then have the announcement of President Obama going to Congress,

:34:24.:34:28.

we would have then seen what the French are doing. Now the Prime

:34:28.:34:32.

Minister has been sent into negotiations with no hand to play

:34:32.:34:36.

and that is bad for the United Kingdom. We will see how it goes.

:34:36.:34:41.

Thank you. Traffic jams, airport delays, now power cuts are being

:34:41.:34:45.

talked about. Britain has been rated just 24th in the world for the state

:34:45.:34:49.

of its infrastructure and a report today suggests it is partly

:34:49.:34:52.

short-term thinking by politicians that's to blame. Labour commissioned

:34:52.:34:57.

John Armitt, who chaired the Olympic Delivery Authority, to look at

:34:57.:35:00.

what's going wrong and he's published his report today. This

:35:00.:35:05.

morning he joined Ed Balls touring the Crossrail site in central

:35:05.:35:07.

London, Europe's largest construction project, which is

:35:07.:35:10.

delivering a new railway for London and the South East. The Shadow

:35:10.:35:19.

Chancellor said that for decades successive governments had been at

:35:19.:35:26.

fault. We can't let the future down. The Olympics shows we can make

:35:26.:35:31.

these decisions and deliver them and I hope that all parties will work

:35:31.:35:36.

together to implement this important report and make sure that we can do

:35:36.:35:40.

the big infrastructure projects, which will deliver the jobs,

:35:40.:35:44.

infrastructure and prosperity that our economy needs in decades to

:35:44.:35:49.

come. And the chair of Labour's infrastructure review, John Armitt,

:35:49.:35:54.

is here with me now. A 10-year plan? ! Why not a great leap forward? It

:35:54.:36:01.

is actually a 25 to 30 year plan. What I have said is that it is

:36:02.:36:04.

is actually a 25 to 30 year plan. absolutely critical that we address

:36:04.:36:11.

the long-term. Our infrastructure is the bedrock of our society. It is

:36:11.:36:16.

what enables all of us to lead a civilised life, it is what underpins

:36:16.:36:19.

business in this country and it is civilised life, it is what underpins

:36:19.:36:23.

critical we get it right but we can't get it right if we

:36:23.:36:27.

flip-flopped backwards and forwards. But we still may get it wrong in a

:36:27.:36:32.

long-term view because politicians and their advisers are notoriously

:36:32.:36:34.

bad at predicting the future. For and their advisers are notoriously

:36:34.:36:41.

example, many people think the case for the HS2 line, the second

:36:41.:36:47.

high-speed line, is a 20th century one. That high-speed trains were

:36:47.:36:53.

20th century technology. The French and Spanish and German state it but

:36:53.:36:58.

in the 21st-century of holograph communications, it is totally out of

:36:58.:37:05.

date! -- the French and Spanish and Germans did it. There is a greater

:37:05.:37:12.

growth of high-speed rail across the world than there has ever been so

:37:12.:37:17.

the world is not abandoning it. The French and Spanish have cut it back.

:37:17.:37:22.

Because they have built a lot. It is not about speed, it is about

:37:22.:37:27.

capacity. The whole idea of what I am suggesting is that we give

:37:28.:37:34.

politicians the very best analysed evidence, which is the role of the

:37:34.:37:38.

commission. The commission does not make the decision, the commission

:37:38.:37:41.

gives the politicians the evidence on which Parliament can vote, in

:37:41.:37:47.

principle for 25 years. We then take a central view. You bring those

:37:47.:37:52.

plans back to parliament and a vote on them and then you have a

:37:52.:37:57.

coalition of political support to go forward and do things. What about

:37:57.:38:01.

those who would be opposed to some of the big infrastructure things?

:38:01.:38:05.

There is always opposition to something big. A lot of people are

:38:05.:38:12.

against a third runway at Heathrow and another airport in east London,

:38:12.:38:17.

and fracking. Where would they fit in? Their voices would be heard by

:38:17.:38:24.

the commission when it pulled together its evidence and made its

:38:24.:38:28.

assessments on the options and solutions. I am not proposing that

:38:28.:38:33.

we ignore our climate change obligations. I am not proposing we

:38:33.:38:36.

ignore the voice of local government, the voice of the people

:38:37.:38:43.

with alternative views, but at the end somebody has to make a decision.

:38:43.:38:47.

You cannot say we will not make a decision because we do have

:38:47.:38:55.

opposition. We had half of Kent in uproar when we did the first

:38:55.:39:00.

high-speed line. But after debating it and talking to everybody, the

:39:00.:39:06.

decision was made. Everybody had the opportunity to talk about different

:39:06.:39:07.

decision was made. Everybody had the routes but at the end of the day, we

:39:07.:39:13.

have to choose one. We need to speed up infrastructure and we need, I

:39:13.:39:18.

think in your report, John, you talk about a succession of large projects

:39:18.:39:27.

so investors can see a succession of good returning schemes coming in.

:39:27.:39:32.

But it is absolutely right that we cannot lose the voice of local

:39:32.:39:40.

people. Some may call them nimbies but they have a right to be heard

:39:40.:39:46.

and to be taken seriously. Even with HS2, the campaigns against it have

:39:46.:39:52.

improved the project already, so there is a positive role, not just a

:39:52.:39:56.

representational role, for a voice at a local level.

:39:56.:40:12.

wise people taking decisions for the longer term up of which the

:40:12.:40:13.

politicians will rubber-stamp or longer term up of which the

:40:13.:40:19.

vote against it? I do not. If people object and they take the wrong

:40:19.:40:20.

decisions, people put them out of object and they take the wrong

:40:20.:40:25.

office. Wise men and women in white will not the answer to this. I am

:40:25.:40:32.

trying to get the best evidence in front of politicians. This is not

:40:32.:40:37.

taking democratic debate out of the process but it is making sure that

:40:37.:40:42.

process takes place against a very balanced and well thought through

:40:42.:40:46.

set of assessments. That is what politicians need. Good evidence to

:40:46.:40:52.

make decisions on. Politicians on the left and the right already love

:40:52.:40:55.

make decisions on. Politicians on big projects. Whereas smaller things

:40:55.:41:03.

that need to be down, improving some of our secondary roads, improving

:41:03.:41:09.

some of our existing railway lines, improving some of our existing

:41:09.:41:14.

airports, that is in danger of being crowded out for the big prestige

:41:14.:41:19.

project that people like Tony Blair and David Cameron and Ed Miliband

:41:19.:41:23.

can put their names too. Successful infrastructure is not just about the

:41:23.:41:28.

projects, it is about making the best out of what we have got. It is

:41:28.:41:35.

about encouraging you and me to use less electricity, not just to keep

:41:35.:41:39.

using more. Could prices are going all the time! If you are now in

:41:39.:41:49.

charge of it, should we build HS2? My personal opinion I believe we

:41:49.:42:00.

should. Should we build a third runway at Heathrow? I am on the

:42:00.:42:04.

commission so I cannot comment on that but it has been fascinating

:42:04.:42:09.

listening to the different arguments for and against, about capacity, and

:42:09.:42:12.

different airlines even have different views. That depends on

:42:12.:42:18.

whether or not you have a lot of slots at Heathrow! When will you

:42:18.:42:23.

report on that? Preliminary report is this December. The final report

:42:23.:42:28.

is after the next election. Should we be having a dash for gas,

:42:28.:42:34.

fracking? We should understand the potential for fracking and then make

:42:34.:42:38.

judgements about what it can do for this country and the impacts before

:42:38.:42:44.

making a final decision. Although people are right to be sceptical

:42:44.:42:50.

about politicians decisions -- their ability to take long-term decisions,

:42:50.:42:55.

people will think there is sense to sit down and identify what the big

:42:55.:43:00.

infrastructure things we will need in the next decade? Absolutely, we

:43:00.:43:09.

are beginning to see problems with insufficient power in parts of the

:43:09.:43:13.

country outside London and that cannot be done overnight. Fracking

:43:14.:43:21.

is another way of generating energy. These are long-term problems that

:43:21.:43:24.

need to be solved. If we turn our back on this now we will have very

:43:24.:43:29.

serious problems in 20 years that will undermine the economy

:43:29.:43:32.

potentially. There is an understanding we have to work

:43:32.:43:36.

together to work out the priorities and take some of these decisions and

:43:36.:43:41.

get a move on. I have seen it done at Hinkley point and other places

:43:41.:43:46.

like that, where whether those decisions are right and wrong, if we

:43:46.:43:51.

do not take them, our capital city would and major cities will have a

:43:51.:43:59.

real problem. Can you do a bit more because you have lots of land that

:43:59.:44:05.

is not currently being used? We have lots of land on which we are

:44:05.:44:09.

building. We build as fast as the planning regime will allow us to

:44:09.:44:14.

build. You telling me for every piece of land you have planning

:44:14.:44:17.

permission you are building on? I piece of land you have planning

:44:17.:44:23.

certainly am. Planning consent drives us to construction and that

:44:23.:44:27.

is the problem with housing and supply in this country. We need more

:44:27.:44:32.

opportunity for supply. You have done this for Ed Miliband and Ed

:44:32.:44:37.

Balls, but would it not be worth also at least going to the

:44:37.:44:44.

government to get their reaction? I rang Paul Dighton yesterday and told

:44:44.:44:47.

him what I would be sailing and I would be delighted if the government

:44:47.:44:51.

showed some interest in this -- what I would be saying. Credit to

:44:51.:44:56.

Berkeley homes, they continued building through the recession, but

:44:56.:45:01.

there are 400,000 homes with planning permission with no shovels

:45:01.:45:06.

on the ground yet. In the end it is down to money. Shall we give you a

:45:06.:45:10.

shovel on the way out? Thank you very much.

:45:10.:45:21.

Town and city halls are looking at how they will manage funding

:45:21.:45:25.

Town and city halls are looking at because of cuts from the Government.

:45:25.:45:29.

They all say they have had to shoulder an unfair share of the

:45:29.:45:35.

austerity budget. Has local Government been shaken out of

:45:35.:45:39.

financial complacency or has it been squeezed until the pips

:45:39.:45:44.

squeak? In the offices of Hammersmith and

:45:44.:45:46.

squeak? Fulham Council in London they offer

:45:46.:45:49.

the services we come to expect from local Government. But unusually in

:45:49.:45:56.

the face of cuts to their grant from central Government, up

:45:56.:46:00.

residence in neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea and in

:46:00.:46:03.

Westminster are very often dealing with the same staff in a server

:46:03.:46:07.

sharing plan they call the tri- borough partnership. It has been a

:46:07.:46:13.

success. Sharing back-office services and training departments

:46:13.:46:18.

together makes a considerable contribution to the overall target

:46:18.:46:21.

without it becoming apparent on the streets. Three wealthy, a

:46:21.:46:26.

neighbouring, all Conservative councils. A unique partnership or

:46:26.:46:31.

one that could work elsewhere? Other councils are looking at

:46:31.:46:36.

policies of this kind. Some of them have got joint chief executives and

:46:36.:46:39.

many more could work together in this way. Radical ideas on how

:46:39.:46:45.

council's empty our bins and how they provide health and social care

:46:45.:46:49.

for adults and the elderly, have been the order of the day across

:46:49.:46:54.

the UK as the Government tries to tidy the nation's finances. But

:46:54.:46:59.

there is a growing sense councils of all political colours have cut

:46:59.:47:03.

as much as they can. We cannot continue to make efficiency savings

:47:04.:47:09.

because that will not go the way of meeting the savings in finance we

:47:09.:47:15.

have to make. We are going to have to stop doing things and that is

:47:15.:47:20.

the reality that is going to be faced by local Government. Local

:47:20.:47:24.

Government has made more than its fair share a contribution towards

:47:24.:47:29.

the reductions. But that cannot go on for ever and it cannot go on in

:47:29.:47:34.

a sort of cheese-paring fashion that we have become used to. People

:47:34.:47:40.

in white or know that deep in their hearts. You cannot go on doing this

:47:40.:47:44.

for ever, but for the moment they cannot think of a way of stopping

:47:44.:47:48.

it. What makes it more difficult is it is not just about the money from

:47:48.:47:51.

central Government that affects it is not just about the money from

:47:51.:47:56.

local Government costs. We looked at Eric Pickles's' 50 suggested

:47:56.:48:00.

savings and there is nothing in that for us at all. Much of it we

:48:00.:48:06.

had in place. But our costs keep going up and here in Birmingham the

:48:06.:48:10.

demographics are that we have a growing elderly population. It is

:48:10.:48:17.

an increased demand on adult care services and those adult care

:48:17.:48:21.

services have to be paid for and Government are not recognising that.

:48:21.:48:26.

There are two things local authorities seem to agree on. They

:48:26.:48:30.

dislike lectures or deficiency from a Whitehall that struggles to do it

:48:30.:48:35.

themselves and the solution is one the Government will not like, and

:48:35.:48:41.

greater local tax-raising powers. Do not expect that in any national

:48:41.:48:48.

manifesto soon. We have got Sir Merrick Cockell, of

:48:48.:48:51.

manifesto soon. the Local Government Association.

:48:51.:48:57.

Are you expecting local authorities to make more cuts and savings?

:48:57.:49:02.

Local Government makes up a huge part of the Public Sector spend. We

:49:02.:49:07.

think local Government has done it really well so far, but there is

:49:07.:49:13.

more a work we can do. The work of the tri-borough partnership is a

:49:13.:49:18.

good example. There is more that we can save and more areas can learn

:49:18.:49:23.

great lessons. Great councils are doing it and being innovative for

:49:23.:49:27.

the benefit of residence and the taxpayer. You are asking local

:49:27.:49:31.

Government to make more savings than you are demanded of your own

:49:31.:49:37.

central Government? We have saved around 40% ourselves, so we

:49:37.:49:42.

practise what we preach. Local Government makes up around 25% of

:49:42.:49:47.

Government spending. It is not about savings, it is about

:49:47.:49:52.

efficiency. It is about making sure we collect all the council tax will

:49:52.:49:57.

stop it is cracking down on that as well as being innovative. You have

:49:57.:50:00.

got so many departments and so many well as being innovative. You have

:50:00.:50:05.

ministers that the Cabinet table has had to be extended so they can

:50:05.:50:11.

sit around it. We have practised what we preach, we have cut our

:50:11.:50:16.

costs by 40% and we will be continuing to make sure that local

:50:16.:50:18.

costs by 40% and we will be councils have the tools to make

:50:18.:50:24.

innovations and savings. Next year there will be £100 million a year

:50:24.:50:31.

to encourage councils, to share management and share services, to

:50:31.:50:34.

bring the public sector together and have a better service for

:50:34.:50:39.

residents. He has mentioned the three boroughs in London,

:50:39.:50:43.

Hammersmith, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster, who came together

:50:43.:50:48.

to share back-office functions. Far more than back office. Has that

:50:48.:50:54.

resulted in substantial savings? Yes, we are still on target to save

:50:54.:51:01.

about £50 million a year by the end of the year 2015-2016. So he is

:51:01.:51:08.

right? The difficulty is we have already taken 42% cut in our grant

:51:08.:51:12.

from central Government. We have already taken 42% cut in our grant

:51:12.:51:17.

had a one-year 10% reduction implemented, in a couple of years'

:51:17.:51:23.

time, which turns out to be about 15%. I have looked at the tri-

:51:23.:51:28.

borough figures. They will have to save another 50 million. Simply

:51:28.:51:35.

being at the very forefront of integration and working together is

:51:35.:51:39.

not sufficient. The fact is we have run out of money and the system is

:51:39.:51:44.

bust. I think we run this country a bit like we did when we had an

:51:44.:51:51.

empire. We have a Government department budgets run in silos

:51:51.:51:56.

right the way down to almost local level decisions being taken and

:51:56.:52:01.

signed off by permanent secretaries will stop we have to change the

:52:01.:52:06.

system. We have got a lot of change to do, but Government has got a lot

:52:06.:52:12.

of change to do. We have to move it from the parent-child relationship

:52:12.:52:14.

of Government. We get our figures a from the parent-child relationship

:52:14.:52:19.

few months before each financial year. We have to move to a more

:52:19.:52:25.

mature grown-up way. We should be negotiating the full term of

:52:25.:52:29.

funding for that Government and ministers should say, you have

:52:29.:52:33.

agreed the bottom line, you sort out the differentiation between the

:52:33.:52:36.

growth areas of London and the other parts of the country and the

:52:37.:52:41.

most needy parts. It is not our problem any more. But we have all

:52:41.:52:46.

got to make a big change, we cannot carry on as we are. We are simply

:52:46.:52:51.

running out of money. What do you say to that? He is right, try

:52:51.:52:58.

borough has shown what can be done by integrating local authorities.

:52:58.:53:03.

We are now rolling it out around the country. Independent reports

:53:03.:53:08.

say that will save 20 billion and give better service. But when local

:53:08.:53:13.

Government says they are running out of money, that is when they

:53:13.:53:20.

have had money added to their reserves, so they have got money

:53:20.:53:24.

there. They need to use it to their ability to encourage businesses

:53:24.:53:29.

into the areas and then we can see a flourishing economy and a strong

:53:29.:53:32.

into the areas and then we can see future for local Government as well.

:53:32.:53:36.

If you are claiming to have no money, why do you have £19 billion

:53:36.:53:42.

of reserves? I have never understood when central Government

:53:42.:53:45.

has money available that is a success and when local Government

:53:46.:53:50.

has, it is surplus money. Part of the problem is because we are am

:53:50.:53:55.

clear about our future funding system. A cut of 15% Leeds to

:53:55.:54:03.

uncertainty. We do not know how much money we will have. We do not

:54:03.:54:10.

have a choice of borrowing money. Uncertainty leads to caution and

:54:10.:54:14.

caution leads to holding money in reserves because you do not know

:54:14.:54:18.

whether there is money available. Why are you adding to Europe

:54:18.:54:23.

reserves? Because it is even more uncertain. The cut of 10% has

:54:24.:54:31.

turned into 15%. It is unnecessary. If we had the relationship I talked

:54:31.:54:35.

about earlier, we would be less cautious and we would have less

:54:35.:54:40.

reserves. The local governments are adding to their reserves because

:54:40.:54:45.

they are prudent. He blamed the last Government for not building

:54:45.:54:48.

the Rupert when the sun was shining. You are blaming them for not

:54:48.:54:52.

building the roof even when it is raining. It is not sensible and I

:54:52.:54:58.

do not think viewers today will understand the council saying, we

:54:59.:55:03.

are short of money and why they are putting away 19 billion N1 region.

:55:03.:55:14.

The main thing is to be more innovative, to be more effective

:55:14.:55:20.

and for residents to change their councils and to challenge them and

:55:20.:55:24.

asked them why they are not being more innovative. They have to look

:55:24.:55:30.

at other councils who are working across the public sector and making

:55:30.:55:36.

savings and giving better services for all of us to enjoy. There is no

:55:36.:55:41.

chance this Government will agree to local authorities having new

:55:41.:55:45.

revenue-raising powers? We have worked very hard to freeze the

:55:45.:55:50.

council tax in the last few years and that this time we want to make

:55:50.:55:53.

sure residence understand this Government wants to do what they

:55:54.:55:59.

can for hard-working, council tax payers and keep it low and get good

:55:59.:56:04.

services. He wanted a municipal bond market of the type they had in

:56:04.:56:08.

the United States. You are not going to get that either a. It

:56:08.:56:13.

these bonds were defaulted, the Government would have to step in.

:56:13.:56:18.

We have been operating under Prudential borrowing for a long

:56:18.:56:23.

time. We have been looking at the Scandinavian model. There is a

:56:23.:56:28.

market out there that the city once that we at a local level could use.

:56:28.:56:34.

But if Liverpool or Manchester or Glasgow defaults...? Where is the

:56:34.:56:41.

record of default? Local councils meet their budget every year. We

:56:41.:56:44.

would not be allowed to borrow on highly risky projects. We want the

:56:44.:56:49.

same sort of freedom that is perfectly normal in other countries.

:56:49.:56:54.

We do not require a change in the law. We are going ahead to offer

:56:54.:57:02.

some competition to the Treasury. The would you like to see a

:57:02.:57:07.

municipal bond market? Our tax payers, the residents who elect the

:57:07.:57:12.

councils, want to see councils providing the goods services they

:57:12.:57:18.

do. We want to make sure we keep council tax low. Residents do not

:57:18.:57:21.

want to see any kind of local tax that puts the council tax up.

:57:21.:57:28.

Municipal bonds, not council tax. Have we got news for you? Cancer

:57:28.:57:34.

and used to be precise. We are talking local politics. We all like

:57:34.:57:40.

to moan about our local council. Bins, pot holes, foxes, and if we

:57:40.:57:45.

could we would blame them about the weather. Here are some local

:57:45.:57:51.

headlines and we are going to put Sir Merrick Cockell to the test.

:57:51.:58:03.

Is it double yellow lines? Yes, over a dead hedgehog. John Humphrys

:58:03.:58:31.

has had his what ruin? A double yellow line? You are one of my

:58:31.:58:45.

residence. I was trying to work out whether John Humphrys was as well.

:58:45.:58:50.

Thank you to all of our guests. The One o'clock News is starting over

:58:50.:58:55.

on BBC One. I will be here at noon tomorrow with all the big,

:58:55.:59:00.

political stories of the day. Join me then. Goodbye.

:59:00.:59:02.

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