09/10/2013 Daily Politics


09/10/2013

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are joined Damian Green and Sadiq Khan to discuss the news stories of the day. The programme includes Prime Minister's Questions live and Guess the Year.


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Transcript


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The parties have reshuffled their teams, and the battle lines are

:00:44.:00:50.

beginning to take shape. The government says it plans to limit

:00:50.:00:54.

the increase in rail fares for hard-pressed commuters. It's the

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latest salvo in this hard-fought battle over who can do most to

:00:57.:01:02.

improve living standards. It is likely to be the divided line

:01:02.:01:07.

between David and Ed Miliband when they go toe to toe for the first

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bout of prime ministers questions since conference. Has the government

:01:10.:01:17.

border scheme been an expensive farce? The Chief Inspector of

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Borders seems to think so. We get reaction from the Home Office

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minister. Happy birthday, David Cameron. The Prime Minister is 47

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today but it doesn't mean he gets special favours when it comes to

:01:29.:01:33.

getting his hands on a Daily Politics mug. Stay tuned to see if

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you can. All that in the next 90 minutes of pure television gold. It

:01:40.:01:46.

is worth the licence fee in its own right as the director-general told

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me last week. Join us for this televisual extravaganza, including

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two of Westminster 's hottest screen stars. Damian Green, from the Home

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Office, and Shadow Justice Secretary Siddique Khan. They both kept their

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jobs in the recent reshuffle probably because the leaders

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couldn't find their telephone numbers! First we will talk about

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the British borders, and more specifically, the lack of electronic

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borders. A report today says the multi-million pound E borders system

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designed to prevent suspected criminals and terrorists travelling

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into the UK has a serious failings. The independent chief us of Borders

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found that fewer than two thirds of passenger journeys were actually

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monsters -- monitored. We found only 65% of advanced passenger

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information was on the system. We found that the alerts had been

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duplicating effort at the border and they have not been applied

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consistency between Heathrow and they have not been applied

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other ports. So the interception of people who has been -- have been

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wanted, these people have been intercepted at the gates of Heathrow

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but not at other ports. We found up to 650,000 alerts for individuals

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who might be smuggling drugs or tobacco into the country but they

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have not been acted upon or deleted without action. We also found that

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people who were deported or excluded from Britain have not been prevented

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from boarding flights to come back to Britain, which was one of the

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main benefit of the original plan. So it has generally been a failure?

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Not for the police, because they have benefited enormously. But in

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terms of the original business benefits, I have identified that

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only one out of eight has been delivered. The Immigration Minister,

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Mark Harper, says the figure that you have used in terms of the system

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is up to 78% rather than the 65% you have found. What do you say to that?

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Well, this inspection finished in the spring and summer of this year

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and it was that figure at the time of the inspection, and that is the

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data we got from the Home Office at that time. The bottom line is, for

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this to be an effective system, we need a very high percentage of data

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to be on the system. It was intended that this would be achieved by now,

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but what was not, or underestimated, is the fact that EU

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law prevents a lot of information about passengers on EU flights being

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put on the database. That is still a legal barrier to the completion of

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the date on the system. John Vine, thank you. That is what the

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inspector has to say. Damian Green, an expensive farce? It was chaos

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when we took over in 2010 and we reset the contract so the snapshot

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shows that we are probably five or six years further back than we ought

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to be, and I think the interesting figures there were about six months

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ago it was only 65% of journeys being counted, and now we have got

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it up to 78%, and that is 90% of flights. When we came in in May 2010

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it was meant to be 90% by 2010, and we discovered that it just wasn't

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working at all. You are getting the blame. This is month 40 as a

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coalition government, and you sacked the contractors in 2010, your first

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act, so in the fourth year 600,000 records have been deleted and in

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2012 they were deleted, you were running the show them. Did you leave

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a Horlicks behind? That is what Damian says. I am asking you. You

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are saying now he's been in charge this time it should be up and

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running. But do you accept that? Do you accept you left a mess behind?

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The idea was to export the borders to have good information of

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passengers coming in and going out. to have good information of

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That only came about in 2003 and towards the end of the time in

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That only came about in 2003 and government we had it up and running

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and had invested in it. Remember that John Reid said the Home Office

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was not fit for purpose in 2005. We set up the UK BAe and we are doing

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really good work on the borders. These guys come and get rid of the

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contractors that sued the government for half £1 billion. In the fourth

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contractors that sued the government year, there is a failure, and to

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contractors that sued the government blame us. It is a joke. What it is,

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it is a system that was getting better and it was a shambles and is

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now up to 90% of flights. John Vine is right that there are legal

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problems which were not recognised back ten years ago when it was set

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up, that there are theologians in the European Commission means that

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free movement of Borders means you cannot even check people, that and

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-- and we disagree with it. What we have done is we have got 78%

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coverage. He says 65%. Yes, that he says that the six months ago, and in

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that six months we have improved, and that is what we have done over

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three and a half years. It is interesting, almost the worst kind

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of party politics, that you leave behind a shambles, you blame it all

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on the shambles, then you say it has been put right, and then you say you

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haven't done it fast enough after you took seven years to create a

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shambles for both of you. Not one person who had previously been

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excluded or deported from the UK, and therefore you might think would

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be on a watchlist they've previously been excluded, has been prevented

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from getting on a plane. Not through this, but there are the watch lists

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available in the indexing system. What is the point of this if it

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can't do it? If you've been excluded or deported from the UK you would

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think on any system you would show up? The purpose of this has been

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extremely useful, particularly for policing. We have arrested 10,000

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people at the border in the past three years. The border is a

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significant tripwire that stops dangerous criminal people coming

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into this country, and that, I think, is generally attributable to

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the system. The purpose is advanced information. You have to make sure

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in advance of stopping them getting on a plane, and you fail. Lipstick

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with the Home Office. A Home Office campaign emerging illegal immigrants

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to go home has been banned for using misleading arrest statistics. --

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let's stick with the Home Office. It involved poster vans driving through

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six London boroughs in July and drew over 200 complaints to the

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advertising standards authority, but the agency cleared the campaign of

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being offensive or irresponsible. Was it a mistake, Damian? We are

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evaluating the full effect, but it wasn't a mistake. It lets people

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know that the traditional view is if you have been here illegally nothing

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will happen to you, and that is now not the case. We are now actually

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tracking people down who have no right to be here and removing them.

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So you are comfortable with the idea of vans coming round with inaccurate

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information, saying there was 106 arrests in your area, which is not

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true in every area. I take the point from the ASA, but I'm glad they said

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it was not irresponsible or offensive. It is hard-hitting. But

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this is the kind of thing that helps restore com -- public confidence

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that things are happening on the immigration system that did not

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happen in the past. Does it restore confidence, or do you think they are

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offensive? We had a report saying the board is not working, a big

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failure, and this kind of gimmick to restore confidence. It was cleared

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of being offensive though. Has been banned. But not being offensive, for

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inaccuracy. The reality is it been banned. I am pleased the ASA banned

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it. Good. Should be banned? We are all bold enough to remember when the

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words go home were used in certain parts of our city -- old enough. I

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had a conversation with my mum and my brother and we still remember

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what that phrase meant in the 1970s and 80s. It might not be unlawful,

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but a government in touch with ordinary people, especially in those

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six boroughs, we all understand we want illegal immigration to come

:10:44.:10:47.

down and we think that those who are here unlawfully should go back to

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the country of origin, but saying go home in the six most ethnically

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diverse boroughs in London shows you do not understand what people feel

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in the city. The fact you have that figure, 106 arrests, which means

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those of us who you think should have confidence in you won't because

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you have a misleading figure. Many people think immigration is out of

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control and the people are here illegally in the UK should be going.

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But picking up on the point that it does evoke a time that many people

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in those borrowers thought had gone. I don't think it does. In the top

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left-hand corner is, in the UK illegally. People can quite make the

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difference between people who are here illegally or legally. One of

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the things about coalition government is we are two parties and

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we don't agree on everything. Those things we don't agree on, we can put

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to the electorate. So you are proud of that? Are you proud of that

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poster? I think it is a useful contribution to letting people know

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that unlike under your gum, things are happening. Diane Abbott, who

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just left the Labour front bench, she said Labour was not tough

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enough, no loud voices of protest from Labour, it was the Liberal

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Democrats. I was on the Andrew Marr show that Sunday protesting loudly.

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I didn't see it. I will not be lectured by you in your party about

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racism, Damian. Are you saying the party is racist? I'm not saying the

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party 's races. Diameter -- Diane Abbott said you are too strong on

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immigration and you are moving to the right. Is she the Labour Party

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or are you the Labour Party? We will find out what she said when we get

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her on the TV at some time. Now, the government has fired the latest

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salvo in the cost of living debate that looks set to be a least one of

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the major battle grounds in the next election. The Transport Secretary

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has announced this morning a plan to cap increases in rail fares next

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year as part of a series of announcements that the government

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will make in the run-up to the Autumn statement, coming, we think,

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in early December of this year but we don't know yet. It is all

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designed to show us humble voters that politicians really get it when

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it comes to paying the bills. David Cameron even acknowledge this week

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that Ed Miliband had struck a chord with his pledge to freeze energy

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prices. So, who has the more appealing message? I couldn't

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possibly comment, but I'll try. All of the main parties have been trying

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to persuade voters that they are going to do the most to tackle the

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cost of living crisis and reduce household bills. Today it is the

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conservatives turn and the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLaughlin,

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announces a cap on rail fare increases. Some rail fares could

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have increased by 9.1% in 2014, but the government will limit the

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maximum increase to 6.1%. This is what the Transport Secretary had to

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say this morning. What we are announcing is a reduction on the

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amount which the train operators can put up the cost of rail tickets, so

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for all commuters it will mean that they will be much more assured as to

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what the cost will be and there will not be the variance in rail fare

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increases. Quite often there has been a lot of criticism that we said

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that the increase would be plus 1% and then they have seen the rise of

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10%. We have reduced the Flex to make it a lot clearer over what

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people will pay. The government hopes to build on announcements like

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George Osborne's conference pledge to try to find the cash to freeze

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fuel duty until 2015. They argue that the best way to tackle the cost

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of living is through growth and have been buoyed by new figures out from

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the IMF which suggest that the UK economic recovery is gaining pace.

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But wage increases are still failing to keep pace with inflation, and

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Labour are trying to capture the public mood with their populist

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promise to freeze energy prices until 2017. Let's speak to achieve

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political correspondence Norman Smith. This is going to be the

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battle ground between the government Smith. This is going to be the

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and the opposition, isn't it? It will show how far Labour has

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succeeded in dragging the debate away from economic confidence, onto

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who benefits from the recovery. We are told to expect that week by week

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there will be a series of announcements to ease keep pressure

:15:35.:15:39.

points on family budgets. We are told to expect something on energy

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prices, on water bills, on bank charges, on landlord fees. We got

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trains today. The caveat is, do not assume that financial woes will be

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taken away. There are two reasons. One is money. There was the offer of

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the petrol duty frees, which may or may not be possible. Perhaps more

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problematic is the politics. It is very hard to criticise labour for

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sticking plaster politics if you do exactly the same. -- decides Labour.

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The other difficulty is, what do you do? It is not clear how you ease the

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pressure in these key areas. We know that because we have seen repeated

:16:25.:16:28.

efforts by the government to do something about energy bills. We

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have had re-writing energy bills, energy summits, we have been up and

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down 100 times and I suspect most people feel we are getting huge

:16:37.:16:47.

energy bills. This train fair announcement, all it

:16:47.:16:49.

energy bills. means is instead of going up by

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three times the rate of inflation, they will go up by two times the

:16:54.:16:58.

rate of inflation. Why is that progress? It will save the people

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using these fares 30 or 40 pounds, and every little helps. So, it will

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be a lower increase than they originally thought that they will be

:17:19.:17:24.

paying up to twice the rate of inflation. There are races -- their

:17:24.:17:31.

wages are going up by one or 2%, train fares are going up by 6%. This

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is an announcement about those prices the train companies were

:17:45.:17:50.

allowed to put up outside inflation. The increase will be

:17:50.:17:54.

less. But their living standards will go down because the increase is

:17:54.:17:58.

going up more than their pay. By definition, they will be worse off.

:17:58.:18:10.

You are taking averages. On average, rail fares in this particular

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category are going to go up by at least twice as much as people's pay

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packets. I disagree with Norman's analysis where he says the debate

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has been wrenched away from growth analysis where he says the debate

:18:21.:18:25.

and economic confidence to the cost of living. The biggest help to cost

:18:25.:18:31.

of living is having a job. Because of the growth coming into the

:18:31.:18:35.

economy we have created 1.4 million private sector jobs over the last

:18:35.:18:38.

couple of years and those people, clearly that helps them deal with

:18:38.:18:45.

daily life. Under the last government, the ability to increase

:18:45.:18:51.

outside inflation was far bigger than currently proposing. No it

:18:51.:18:58.

wasn't. I was in the department. Up until 2003, it was minus fares. From

:18:58.:19:10.

2009 onwards, we reduced it. What these guys did was they abolished or

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stop on the Flex, brought it in up to 5%. It is possible for the guv

:19:18.:19:28.

regulate prices -- the government to regulate prices. Today I am pleased

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to see the government recognised you can readily. But prices go up of

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wages. The difference is that the British Government can control

:19:44.:19:49.

British Rail fares. What it cannot do is control the world or the price

:19:49.:19:55.

-- world oil price. To say there is a 20 month freeze... But it is not

:19:55.:20:10.

generated by oil. Historic experience tells us if you have a

:20:10.:20:15.

time limited freeze, you get a massive spike beforehand and

:20:15.:20:19.

afterwards. In any case, as Ed has had to admit honestly, it is not

:20:19.:20:28.

scaremongering to say that the price bounces up and down and if it goes

:20:28.:20:32.

up you will have to suspend it. Why do you think the British economy is

:20:32.:20:36.

growing more quickly than any other major economy in the G7? Are we

:20:36.:20:51.

growing quickly? The forecast has changed today. The IMF have changed

:20:51.:20:58.

their forecast for this year and the year after. They have not said that

:20:58.:21:04.

things are hunky-dory. They change their forecast for this year and

:21:04.:21:08.

next year. They are still suggesting we should bring forward

:21:08.:21:15.

infrastructure spend. But when they said the British economy needed a

:21:15.:21:19.

boost, they had not realised that the economy had already turned. They

:21:19.:21:23.

did not see the turn last April and have had to double their forecast.

:21:23.:21:28.

Many people in the city think that even that is not enough. The answer

:21:28.:21:35.

is, why do you think we are the fastest-growing economy in the G7?

:21:36.:21:40.

If you do not know the answer I am not sure that I do! I will tell you

:21:40.:21:50.

this... What about George Osborne? George Osborne broadcast in 2010. He

:21:50.:22:00.

was wrong! The OBR and the IMF got it wrong. What I do say, let me

:22:00.:22:08.

finish, when George Osborne became Chancellor and we were coming out of

:22:08.:22:12.

recession, we were on the path of recovery and that stopped. Nobody

:22:12.:22:20.

knows if that was a dead cat bounce. Nobody knows what would have

:22:21.:22:23.

happened had we invested earlier than we did. Why are we growing

:22:23.:22:29.

faster than the German economy? I am not sure of the answer to that. Tell

:22:29.:22:36.

me what you think it is. What is interesting about the IMF report is

:22:36.:22:42.

that they were saying we needed to spend in the way that Ed Balls has

:22:42.:22:49.

been advocating. They have had to say, it appears the British economy

:22:49.:22:52.

is outperforming most other economies. The British economy is

:22:52.:23:01.

getting better at the same time as they are downgrading their forecasts

:23:01.:23:04.

for the world economy. Relatively we are doing even better than that. Why

:23:04.:23:06.

do either of you give the IMF the are doing even better than that. Why

:23:06.:23:14.

time of day? Because they are an independent body... Where did they

:23:14.:23:20.

last get something right? When did any economist? Humour Letty forbids

:23:20.:23:26.

me from saying anything! -- humility. The IMF did not see the

:23:26.:23:31.

financial crisis, did not see the British economy turning in April of

:23:31.:23:35.

this year. Its growth forecasts have had to double in the space of months

:23:35.:23:40.

and change not just reddish, but others. -- change not just British

:23:40.:23:45.

ones. Why would you give them the time of day? They can trust us.

:23:45.:23:56.

History tells us that they get it wrong more often than they get it

:23:56.:24:00.

right. I hope we are coming out of it, I hope they are right. I think

:24:00.:24:07.

there is a consensus that the economy is doing better than it was

:24:07.:24:13.

a year ago. I am going to move into economic forecasting. Could this be

:24:13.:24:18.

the day when David Cameron's birthday dreams come true, as he

:24:18.:24:24.

turns 47? I bet there is just one thing on his mind. He does not want

:24:24.:24:30.

a Mickey Mouse towel or a six-pack of real ale. He is after only one

:24:30.:24:35.

thing - you tried to get ahead of the game following the Daily

:24:35.:24:39.

Politics on Twitter. Hello, I minister! -- hello, Prime Minister!

:24:39.:24:51.

He wants a Daily Politics mug. You might think following us on Twitter

:24:51.:24:55.

is the way to get your hands on one. Even if it is your birthday, do not

:24:55.:24:59.

expect special favours. There is only one way to get your hands on

:24:59.:25:03.

expect special favours. There is one and we will tell you how.

:25:03.:25:16.

Can you remember when this happened? I have got a little list of benefit

:25:16.:25:21.

offenders who I will soon be rooting out and who never would be missed.

:25:21.:25:23.

They never would be missed! To be in with a chance of winning a

:25:23.:27:00.

Daily Politics mug, I minister, send your answer to the e-mail address

:27:00.:27:04.

and you can see the full terms and conditions and guess the year on our

:27:04.:27:15.

website. Or ask Andrew, he knows! Let's take a look at Big Ben, there

:27:15.:27:21.

it is. Prime Minister's Questions is on its way. We have not had one

:27:21.:27:27.

since the second week in September. It means James Landale is here,

:27:27.:27:34.

welcome. A third book on you copy a -- a great assortment of things

:27:34.:27:41.

today to choose from. Ed Miliband is criticised for making speeches and

:27:41.:27:45.

not following it up. Earlier it was the cost of living and energy

:27:45.:27:49.

prices. This is his first big moment to reinforce the message. If you

:27:49.:27:54.

look at the alternatives, they are not attractive. He does not want to

:27:54.:27:59.

make the Leveson Report re-apolitical foot all, literacy and

:27:59.:28:04.

numerous is also part of Labour's record, there is not much ground

:28:04.:28:11.

that he might want to get on. I would expect him to stay in his

:28:11.:28:17.

rift. He wants to occupy his own political territory. David Cameron

:28:17.:28:21.

will obviously talk about train fares. I think that is right when

:28:21.:28:31.

you look at the others. In the Home Office, if you see somebody looking

:28:31.:28:33.

through your wastebasket, it is not Office, if you see somebody looking

:28:33.:28:38.

a Russian spy, it is your new ministerial colleague! We have had

:28:38.:28:44.

our first meeting with Norman, we had the crime commissioners in, and

:28:44.:28:47.

Norman listened to the Home Secretary speak and that is always a

:28:47.:28:53.

good way to go through meetings, I find. Very sensible! HD Cam down?

:28:53.:29:08.

She is always calm. I bumped into a senior Liberal Democrat this morning

:29:08.:29:11.

who predicted there will be a resignation in the Home Office

:29:11.:29:13.

who predicted there will be a within six months over a row. They

:29:13.:29:18.

think he is going to be dangerous as a minister. I spoke to some

:29:18.:29:30.

Conservatives who want to put Nick Clegg in his box.

:29:30.:29:48.

Sure the people worn to join me in offering condolences about the

:29:48.:29:54.

people who lost their lives in Nairobi, and it shows how we must do

:29:54.:29:58.

all we can to defeat international terrorism. I am sure the house will

:29:58.:30:02.

want to join me in paying tribute to PC Andrew Duncan who died on the

:30:03.:30:07.

21st of September while on duty, a reminder of the sacrifices that

:30:07.:30:10.

police officers make on our behalf, every day of every year. On a

:30:10.:30:15.

happier note, the house will wish to congratulate Professor Peter Higgs

:30:15.:30:20.

who is sharing this year 's Nobel Prize for physics, a richly deserved

:30:20.:30:24.

recognition of his lifetime of research and a tribute to the UK's

:30:24.:30:27.

world leading universities where the research was carried out. Mr

:30:27.:30:31.

Speaker, this morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and in

:30:31.:30:35.

addition to my duties with the house I will have further meetings later

:30:35.:30:43.

today. Can I associate myself and constituency entirely with the

:30:43.:30:46.

victims of terrorism in Nairobi and to PC Andrew Junction -- Andrew

:30:46.:30:52.

Duncan, and to offer my congratulations to Professor Higgs.

:30:52.:30:55.

Can the Prime Minister confirm that less than one third of families in

:30:55.:31:00.

Britain will benefit from his marriage tax break? What I can

:31:00.:31:04.

confirm is that all married couples paying basic rate tax will benefit

:31:04.:31:08.

from this move, and I tell you why I think it's important, it's not about

:31:08.:31:12.

the money, it is about the message. I think marriage is a great

:31:12.:31:16.

institution and I think we should be supporting marriage, including

:31:16.:31:22.

through the income tax system. Prime Minister, with the disappearance of

:31:23.:31:26.

the minimum practice income guarantee many doctors surgeries

:31:26.:31:32.

serving remote, rural areas like the one in my constituency faced death

:31:32.:31:36.

not by a thousand cuts, but maybe death by one cut. They self -- serve

:31:36.:31:41.

a lot of elderly residents and a number of children who do not have

:31:41.:31:44.

a lot of elderly residents and a access to public transport to go

:31:44.:31:49.

into neighbouring Clitheroe. Will he investigate this issue and ensure

:31:49.:31:54.

that my constituents will not be isolated and they will continue to

:31:54.:31:57.

receive the excellent service that they do from their doctor 's

:31:57.:32:01.

surgery? I will look carefully at the Casey makes. I also read present

:32:01.:32:04.

a large rural constituency where the Casey makes. I also read present

:32:04.:32:07.

there are small practices -- the case he makes. But many more

:32:07.:32:15.

surgeries are offering many more options given to patients, and we

:32:15.:32:18.

want to see a growth of that, not least to make sure that people can

:32:18.:32:22.

go to GP surgeries rather than accident and emergency services if

:32:22.:32:25.

it is a GP that they may, but I will look at the specific point he makes.

:32:25.:32:31.

Mr Speaker, I join the Prime Minister in sending my condolences

:32:31.:32:35.

to the friends and families of the British nationals murdered in

:32:35.:32:38.

Nairobi and all of those killed in that cowardly act. It was a heinous

:32:38.:32:43.

act of terrorism and reminds us of the importance of combating

:32:43.:32:45.

terrorism at home and around the world. I also join him in paying

:32:45.:32:51.

tribute to PC Andrew Duncan. His death is a terrible tragedy and is a

:32:51.:32:56.

reminder of the bravery shown by our brave policemen and women, day in,

:32:56.:33:11.

day out, on our behalf. I send my condolences to his family and

:33:11.:33:13.

friends. On a completely different note, Mr Speaker, I join him in

:33:13.:33:15.

celebrating the tremendous achievement of Peter Higgs in

:33:15.:33:17.

winning the Nobel Prize for physics. He is a great British scientist.

:33:17.:33:20.

While we're on about it, happy birthday to the minister. -- to the

:33:20.:33:26.

Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, on Monday, the Prime Minister said, and

:33:26.:33:31.

I quote, there is a certain amount you can do freezing energy prices,

:33:31.:33:35.

while the Chancellor said in his conference speech that it was

:33:35.:33:39.

something out of, and I quote, -- L. Can he tell us if freezing energy

:33:39.:33:48.

prices are good idea, or a communist plot -- Das Kapital. I will leave

:33:48.:33:56.

the communist plots to him. First of all, can I thank him for his kind

:33:56.:34:00.

remarks. There is nothing I would rather be doing on my birthday than

:34:00.:34:04.

this. What this government is doing is legislating to put people on to

:34:04.:34:08.

the lowest energy tariffs. I think that's a real step forward. I have

:34:08.:34:13.

to say on this issue, just promising a freeze, it is a classic case of

:34:13.:34:18.

him saying one thing and doing another. Month after month, he has

:34:18.:34:21.

stood at this dispatch box as energy another. Month after month, he has

:34:21.:34:25.

secretary and pollution -- produced policy of the policy, regulation of

:34:25.:34:29.

that regulation, target after target, all of which has seen energy

:34:29.:34:35.

prices go up. What is clear from the answer is that he has no answer on

:34:35.:34:40.

the Labour energy price freeze. What is clear is that it will not happen

:34:40.:34:44.

under him, but it would happen under a Labour government. He mentions his

:34:44.:34:51.

policy on tariffs, and he says his policy will put everybody on the

:34:51.:34:56.

cheapest energy tariff. Can he explain why at least 90% of the

:34:56.:35:01.

country will get no benefit from his policy? First of all, let's deal

:35:01.:35:05.

with the new Labour energy policy. Let's spend some time on it. First

:35:05.:35:10.

of all, let's examine the fact that he has committed to a new

:35:10.:35:16.

decarbonisation target that would add £125 to everybody's bill in the

:35:16.:35:20.

country. Perhaps he would like to mention that when he gets to his

:35:20.:35:24.

feet. He also didn't mention that just 12 hours after making his

:35:24.:35:29.

pledge, he said he might not be able to fulfil it because of

:35:29.:35:32.

international wholesale gas prices. And isn't that the case, that what

:35:32.:35:35.

international wholesale gas prices. he is promising is a price increase

:35:35.:35:39.

before a promise, a broken promise, and then a price increase after the

:35:39.:35:45.

promise. One price increase, one price -- broken promise, another

:35:45.:35:48.

price increase, that sounds like every Labour government since the

:35:48.:35:54.

war. What is clear is that he is floundering around and has no answer

:35:54.:36:00.

to Labour's energy price freeze. He did not even defend his own policy,

:36:00.:36:04.

which won't benefit to 90% of the country. He has no idea. He says he

:36:04.:36:09.

wants to bring energy prices down. Can he confirm that energy prices

:36:09.:36:14.

have gone up by £300 since he became prime minister? I can tell you that

:36:15.:36:19.

energy prices doubled under Labour and electricity prices went up by

:36:19.:36:24.

50%. Let me make this point to him. There is one thing governments

:36:24.:36:28.

cannot control, and that is the international wholesale price of

:36:28.:36:38.

gas. I know he would like to live in some sort of Marxist universe where

:36:38.:36:40.

you can control all of these things, but he needs a basic lesson in

:36:40.:36:43.

economics. Perhaps he should remember what the Labour industry

:36:43.:36:46.

minister said, he sat in the government with him in the last

:36:46.:36:50.

government, and in an effort to appeal to tribal socialism and the

:36:50.:36:54.

minority in the country he has put at risk millions of jobs, putting up

:36:54.:36:57.

a sign over the country, don't invest here. That is the new

:36:57.:37:07.

left-wing Labour Party. Mr Speaker, I do suggest that he goes away after

:37:07.:37:13.

Prime Minister 's questions and tries to work out his position on

:37:13.:37:17.

the energy price freeze, because initially he said the policy was in

:37:17.:37:19.

knots, then he said on Monday that initially he said the policy was in

:37:19.:37:26.

it struck a chord and that it could make a difference, so he has no idea

:37:26.:37:31.

about the policy. Why are energy prices so high? Once again he did

:37:31.:37:35.

not answer the question. I want to remind him of the words of the

:37:35.:37:38.

previous leader of the opposition, who said this, when the gas prices

:37:38.:37:42.

go up they rush to pass on costs onto us, but when they are coming

:37:42.:37:47.

down, we wait a very long time before we see anything coming

:37:47.:37:51.

through on our bills. Mr Speaker, that was him that said that. Why has

:37:51.:37:58.

he changed his mind? What we need is a more competitive energy market so

:37:58.:38:03.

the consumer benefits. What he seems to be suffering from is complete

:38:03.:38:08.

amnesia that he was the energy secretary. Let me remind him of one

:38:08.:38:12.

of the first acts this government took. We inherited an energy policy

:38:12.:38:19.

from him that would have put £179 on every single bill because of his

:38:19.:38:24.

renewable heat initiative. And we cancel it. That was his policy.

:38:24.:38:28.

While we are dealing with quotes, let's have a guess who said this. To

:38:28.:38:33.

deal with the problems of climate change, energy bills are likely to

:38:33.:38:38.

rise. Who said that? Anyone? The last energy secretary who is still

:38:38.:38:44.

here and he pushed up prices again and again. Everybody wants low

:38:44.:38:47.

prices, but we will get them by dealing with the cause of the low

:38:47.:38:50.

price instead of a gimmick that collapsed after 12 hours. Mr

:38:50.:38:57.

Speaker, he says he wants low prices, but prices are going up on

:38:57.:39:01.

his watch. That is the reality. Can he confirm that while his energy

:39:01.:39:07.

policy, the so-called cheapest tariff policy, benefits almost

:39:07.:39:14.

nobody, a fact he didn't deny, and a 20 month freezing bills would save

:39:14.:39:18.

money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses across the

:39:18.:39:23.

country. The problem is that 12 hours later he said he might not be

:39:23.:39:27.

able to keep his promise. It's not a policy, it's a gimmick. And the

:39:27.:39:31.

reason it is a gimmick is it occurs he is in favour of a decarbonisation

:39:31.:39:36.

target that would add £125 of everybody's bail. It is obvious why

:39:36.:39:38.

he wants to talk about the cost of everybody's bail. It is obvious why

:39:38.:39:41.

living, because he hasn't got an economic policy any more. He told us

:39:41.:39:47.

over and over again that if you cut spending, you damage public

:39:47.:39:51.

services. Now even the BBC disagree with that. He told us over and over

:39:51.:39:56.

again that if you cut spending, the economy will not grow. The shadow

:39:56.:40:00.

chancellor says keep going. Let me tell you the best birthday present I

:40:00.:40:04.

could have, the shadow chancellor staying in the shadow cabinet.

:40:04.:40:16.

Mr Speaker, he said something very interesting. He said he did not want

:40:16.:40:23.

to talk about an economic policy, he wants to talk about the cost of

:40:23.:40:27.

living. Now doesn't that say it all? He doesn't realise that an

:40:27.:40:32.

economic policy is about the cost of living and what hundreds of

:40:32.:40:35.

thousands and millions of families are facing in this country. Whatever

:40:35.:40:39.

you say about him, he is true to form. We have a cost of living

:40:39.:40:43.

crisis in this country, energy bills Arkwright -- rising, and he supports

:40:44.:40:47.

the energy companies, not the consumer. We have a Prime Minister

:40:47.:40:51.

who always stands up for the wrong people. Well, we know what is cost

:40:51.:40:56.

of living policy is, more spending, more borrowing, and more debt. That

:40:56.:41:01.

would lead to higher taxes and higher mortgage rates. That is the

:41:01.:41:04.

double whammy that would hit every family in the country. But not only

:41:04.:41:08.

have I got the birthday present of the shadow chancellor staying in

:41:08.:41:12.

post, and incidentally, the birthday present of the Shadow Health

:41:12.:41:16.

Secretary staying in post, I also have this special birthday treat

:41:16.:41:20.

which is the shadow chancellor yesterday revealing their election

:41:20.:41:32.

campaign. He said it all depended on the two of them together because,

:41:32.:41:35.

and I quote, I'm not making this up, they would win because of their

:41:35.:41:36.

and I quote, I'm not making this up, experience and track record and

:41:37.:41:39.

their credibility. I have to say, Mr Speaker, that is like the captain of

:41:39.:41:43.

the Titanic running on his safety record. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

:41:43.:41:52.

Millions of people have chosen to collect their benefits and pension

:41:53.:41:56.

at the post office using a post office current account. This

:41:56.:41:58.

contract is due to expire in 18 months time. It is vital that these

:41:58.:42:02.

people and the future of rural post offices at either the post office

:42:02.:42:09.

continues after 2015, or a similar product. I hope the government --

:42:09.:42:13.

government insures it does. The Post Office card account has been a great

:42:13.:42:17.

benefit for many people and has not only helped the post offices but

:42:17.:42:19.

particularly older people having access to those accounts and I will

:42:19.:42:24.

look very carefully at what he says. Why is market intervention by the

:42:24.:42:29.

state in mortgage is OK, but market intervention in the energy market is

:42:29.:42:35.

not? We are intervening in the mortgage market because banks are

:42:35.:42:38.

failing to provide mortgages so that young people can get on the housing

:42:39.:42:48.

ladder. We are also intervening by putting everybody on the lowest

:42:48.:42:52.

energy tariff. Not the leader of the opposition cannot control, although

:42:52.:42:56.

he would like to, is international gas prices. He needs a basic lesson

:42:56.:42:58.

in economics and it sounds like the gas prices. He needs a basic lesson

:42:58.:43:04.

honourable gentleman does as well. Industrial chemicals, herbicides and

:43:04.:43:09.

plant food are used in a variety of diet pills which are banned for

:43:09.:43:13.

human use but widely advertised on the Internet for consumption. Does

:43:13.:43:15.

my right honourable friend agree with me that action needs to be

:43:16.:43:20.

urgently taken to prevent the importation of the substances in

:43:20.:43:23.

Capshaw form, where they can only be planned for human consumption --

:43:23.:43:29.

capsule form. There have been some extremely serious cases of young

:43:29.:43:31.

people in particular suffering from extremely serious cases of young

:43:31.:43:34.

these sorts of medication that you are able to order on the Internet. I

:43:34.:43:37.

will look carefully at what she says about whether there is further

:43:37.:43:41.

legislative or regulatory action that can be taken in order to

:43:41.:43:44.

protect people from substances that might be safe in other circumstances

:43:44.:43:47.

but should not be marketed in this way. Why is the Prime Minister

:43:47.:43:54.

taking away £7 billion a year of support to children until 2015? We

:43:54.:44:03.

are putting in more support for children. We are providing the

:44:03.:44:08.

childcare offer not just for four-year-olds and three-year-olds,

:44:08.:44:11.

but also for two-year-olds. We have introduced for the first time a

:44:11.:44:15.

pupil premium so children from the poorest homes are actually going to

:44:15.:44:19.

get more money following them into school. He shakes his head, but

:44:19.:44:24.

frankly he should sit in shame at the OECD report that came out

:44:24.:44:28.

yesterday that showed that after a lifetime in education under Labour

:44:28.:44:31.

ally young people are bottom of the league in terms of results. That is

:44:31.:44:37.

what he should focus on. It is time the house heard from John Randall.

:44:37.:44:48.

Can I draw my honourable friend 's attention to the recent report by

:44:48.:44:53.

Imperial College about the detrimental health effects of

:44:53.:44:55.

aircraft noise, and could he make detrimental health effects of

:44:55.:45:00.

sure that when the government decide and look at the Davis commission

:45:00.:45:04.

report that health and environmental and look at the Davis commission

:45:04.:45:15.

considerations are paramount? He has not had the chance to speak from the

:45:15.:45:18.

backbenches in the way he just has and I look forward to hearing other

:45:18.:45:22.

contributions from him. He brings a huge amount to the House and

:45:22.:45:30.

environmental law will be included in the report and there will be a

:45:30.:45:35.

speech about the issue soon. Does the Prime Minister think it is

:45:36.:45:40.

acceptable that since he came to office the number of people claiming

:45:40.:45:44.

jobseeker's allowance from more than two years has increased by 390%?

:45:44.:45:51.

What has happened is that the number of workless households has gone down

:45:51.:45:53.

to its lowest level. The number of of workless households has gone down

:45:53.:45:57.

households claiming benefit has gone down. And why we are at it, if she

:45:57.:46:01.

looks at what is happening in the north-west, since the election,

:46:01.:46:09.

18,000 people more in employment, more people employed in the private

:46:09.:46:15.

sector, unemployment has fallen by 7000 since the election in the

:46:15.:46:20.

north-west and workless households down by 26,000. She should be

:46:20.:46:26.

talking up her region. I wonder if the Prime Minister has seen today's

:46:26.:46:32.

BBCi CM report showing that despite reductions in spending, people think

:46:32.:46:38.

that services provided by local government are better. Does this

:46:38.:46:44.

show you can get more for less? When I woke up this morning and heard the

:46:44.:46:49.

BBC was reporting that you can cut public spending and make public

:46:49.:46:52.

services that I thought I had died and gone to happen for a moment. --

:46:52.:46:59.

want to heaven. It is one of the many pillars of Labour's policy that

:46:59.:47:04.

has collapsed today. The IMF have shown them they were wrong. They pop

:47:04.:47:07.

has collapsed today. The IMF have the public spending cuts would lead

:47:07.:47:12.

to worse services and the BBC have told them that is wrong. That is

:47:12.:47:20.

what has happened today. Labour's childcare guarantee will be great

:47:20.:47:24.

for working parents, so says Boris Johnson. Does the Prime Minister

:47:24.:47:30.

agree? We are helping working parents with childcare and that is

:47:30.:47:34.

what the tax relief on childcare that this government will be

:47:34.:47:40.

introducing the be about. -- will be about. In 2nd January of my

:47:40.:47:51.

constituents -- in January, two of my constituents were killed by a

:47:51.:47:53.

driver who received just over ten years for his crime. People in the

:47:53.:48:02.

area has signed a petition calling for those who drive while

:48:02.:48:08.

disqualified to receive tougher sentences. Does he believe the law

:48:08.:48:12.

should be looked at in this area? On a Mac ever look at the petition and

:48:12.:48:19.

I will like to offer -- I will look at the petition and I offer my

:48:19.:48:24.

condolences to the men's families. Someone with ten previous

:48:24.:48:27.

convictions, disqualified at the time, killing two people, the

:48:27.:48:32.

sentence was ten years and as I understand the maximum available is

:48:32.:48:38.

14 years. The government has introduced legislation, so we are

:48:38.:48:44.

looking at this area. The Justice Secretary has asked the sentencing

:48:44.:48:48.

council to review the sentencing guidelines. We should look at this

:48:48.:48:54.

specific case in the light of that. A family in my constituency owning

:48:54.:49:05.

£18,000 per year are paying 3200 and £76 -- £3276 in energy bills. Why is

:49:05.:49:16.

he siding with energy bosses? I want to see people's Energy Bill is

:49:16.:49:20.

coming down. That is why we are legislating to see people on the

:49:20.:49:25.

lowest tariffs and we are looking at the rules put in place by the Leader

:49:25.:49:33.

of the Opposition when he was energy secretary, and we are looking at the

:49:33.:49:45.

promises that cannot be met. Does the Prime Minister agree with the

:49:45.:49:48.

director-general of the CBI that whether you are a small, medium or

:49:48.:49:52.

large business you have to grow and invest as a business and higher

:49:52.:49:58.

taxes just do not do that? My honourable friend is entirely right.

:49:58.:50:02.

What we heard at Labour's conference was that they were going to put up

:50:02.:50:06.

taxes on some of Britain's biggest and most successful businesses.

:50:06.:50:12.

Labour's message to business is, go somewhere else. They want to fight a

:50:12.:50:18.

petty Socialist campaign against successful business. That is wrong

:50:18.:50:24.

for the economy. Question eight, closed question. My original letter

:50:24.:50:36.

was about economic development. Local growth is a priority and we

:50:36.:50:41.

are helping to create 66,000 jobs with investment specifically in the

:50:41.:50:45.

north-east of £330 million. We do not want to go back to the previous

:50:45.:50:49.

Administration's system, but the local growth Cabinet committee

:50:49.:50:55.

brings together the secretaries of state from the key departments. Is

:50:55.:50:59.

he aware that the Department of Health are consulting on changing

:50:59.:51:02.

the funding formula for health care in the north-east and Cumbria

:51:02.:51:08.

because the effect of taking £230 million out of the health care

:51:08.:51:16.

budget for the region, who stands up for the North of England? The whole

:51:16.:51:19.

government stands up for the north-east of England. If you want

:51:19.:51:27.

news, you have got Hitachi building a trade that, Nissan expanding in

:51:27.:51:34.

sunny land, -- Sunderland, there is plenty of expansion. Demi answer his

:51:34.:51:42.

question. This year's funding is going up for £170 million, a 2.3%

:51:42.:51:51.

increase. Under the Labour plans, health spending would be cut. The

:51:51.:51:55.

Shadow Health Secretary, the man they have decided to keep in the

:51:55.:52:00.

Shadow Cabinet, has said that increasing health spending is

:52:00.:52:05.

irresponsible. We do not agree with that and that is why we are spending

:52:05.:52:16.

more money. Can I congratulate the government on ending the unfairness

:52:16.:52:20.

in free school meals? By the Prime Minister look to ending similar

:52:20.:52:25.

unfairness or six form -- were sixth form colleges have to pay VAT but

:52:25.:52:33.

schools or academies with six forms do not. I think it is good we will

:52:33.:52:35.

schools or academies with six forms have the same system. I think it is

:52:35.:52:42.

good that children in infants school will not be having to pay for school

:52:42.:52:46.

meals as well. I will look carefully at his VAT point. The Prime Minister

:52:47.:52:57.

will know from his script that I am an extremely proud member of a trade

:52:57.:53:01.

union movement which seeks to stand up for workers, who is living

:53:01.:53:05.

standards have been reduced under his watch. What personal sacrifice

:53:05.:53:11.

him and his family -- have he and his family had to make in these

:53:11.:53:17.

times? I am glad that he stands up as a trade unionist. Just as I

:53:17.:53:22.

welcome the reshuffle I am sure he is delighted with it. Probably they

:53:22.:53:30.

would not call it a reshuffle, but rather a purge. He asked for the

:53:30.:53:34.

Blairites to be purged and they have gone. It has been difficult because

:53:34.:53:41.

of the appalling deficit and that his party left in government. In my

:53:41.:53:50.

constituency there is a school that his party left in government. In my

:53:50.:53:54.

is at threat of being closed down by the county council. I have spoken to

:53:54.:54:00.

the Education Secretary and it has been generic over four years. With

:54:00.:54:04.

the Prime Minister assure me that his office will look into fair play

:54:04.:54:09.

in this subject, given that the county council education portfolio

:54:09.:54:11.

holder has said that in his opinion the school should close, but the

:54:12.:54:16.

first part of the consultation has only just been completed a few

:54:16.:54:22.

months ago. I will look at the case but under our education reforms

:54:22.:54:26.

there is greater opportunities for schools to gain their independence

:54:26.:54:29.

and for new schools to establish themselves. I hope he will look at

:54:29.:54:32.

and for new schools to establish the structural changes we made to

:54:32.:54:35.

education, because they may help in this case. Under this government,

:54:35.:54:41.

the cost of childcare is rocketing while wages have stagnated. Families

:54:42.:54:46.

are facing nursery costs rising fast than wages -- faster than wages.

:54:46.:54:54.

When is he going to extend free nursery provision to 25 hours? We

:54:54.:54:59.

have extended the hours that people get when they have four-year-olds,

:54:59.:55:05.

when they have three roads, and for the first time introduced childcare

:55:05.:55:09.

assistance when they have two-year-olds. We are also

:55:09.:55:14.

introducing proper tax relief on childcare so that people who work

:55:14.:55:18.

hard and do the right thing can get help. I hope when it comes to vote,

:55:18.:55:24.

the party opposite will support us. One month ago I installed call

:55:24.:55:28.

blocking technology in a partially deaf constituent's home. In the last

:55:28.:55:34.

month, 65% of the calls Mrs Moffat received have been using -- nuisance

:55:34.:55:42.

calls. Can my right honourable friend commits the government to

:55:43.:55:47.

doing all it can to remove this menace, including making telephone

:55:47.:55:55.

companies responsible for treating these calls? I am sure he advised

:55:55.:56:00.

his constituent about the Telephone preference service? It is a bane in

:56:00.:56:06.

some people's lives. I am sure we can look further at what else can be

:56:06.:56:12.

done. On reflection, does the Prime Minister agree that allowing greater

:56:12.:56:16.

time for greater diplomatic discussions to take place over Syria

:56:16.:56:23.

was preferable to rushing in and bombing a country? The fact that

:56:23.:56:26.

America was so clear that it would take action was what brought about a

:56:26.:56:31.

change of heart on behalf of the Syrian government and that is the

:56:31.:56:38.

lesson we should learn. One of the biggest factors for many young

:56:38.:56:42.

people's budgets is the cost of their mortgage. Can the Prime

:56:42.:56:46.

Minister tell us what will be the effect on mortgage rates if the

:56:46.:56:48.

government were to increase borrowing by 27.9 billion as the

:56:48.:56:55.

opposition have called for since promising iron discipline? One of

:56:55.:57:02.

the most important aspects of people's bills is the mortgage

:57:02.:57:05.

payments they have to make and the Shadow Chancellor is shouting it is

:57:05.:57:09.

not true, but he is committed to increasing borrowing and if you

:57:10.:57:13.

borrow more you risk interest rates and mortgage rates going up.

:57:13.:57:16.

Families across the country understand that and understand you

:57:16.:57:22.

only get to grips with the cost of living and living standards if you

:57:22.:57:26.

have a proper economic plan for getting the deficit down, getting

:57:26.:57:30.

growth and cutting taxes. That is what this committee is doing. My

:57:30.:57:38.

constituent was brutally murdered and his girlfriend gang raped whilst

:57:38.:57:43.

on holiday in Sri Lanka two years ago. Justice continues to be denied

:57:43.:57:47.

on holiday in Sri Lanka two years and the key suspect is a close ally

:57:47.:57:52.

of the Sri Lankan president. Is the Prime Minister, double meeting the

:57:52.:57:57.

President at the Commonwealth heads of government summit next month, and

:57:57.:58:02.

what will he say to him? I think it is right for the British Prime

:58:02.:58:05.

Minister to go to the Commonwealth conference, because we are big

:58:05.:58:10.

believers in the Commonwealth at making that organisation work for

:58:10.:58:14.

us. It is right in going to the Commonwealth conference, we should

:58:15.:58:18.

not hold back in being clear about those aspects of human rights record

:58:18.:58:21.

in July, we are not happy with. If gives me the retail, I will make

:58:21.:58:29.

sure those points are properly made. You cannot make those points if you

:58:29.:58:35.

do not go. Will the Prime Minister welcome the scrap metal dealers act

:58:35.:58:41.

which came into force last week? It has got the support of the Church,

:58:41.:58:45.

extra taxes will boost Treasury revenues and it will make the trains

:58:45.:58:51.

run on time. Can he say that about any other piece of legislation? Can

:58:51.:58:58.

I say to the honourable gentleman what pleasure it gives me today to

:58:58.:59:03.

refer to him as my right honourable friend. I welcome the effect of the

:59:03.:59:09.

Scrap Metal Bill, which brings revenue to the Treasury. It also

:59:09.:59:15.

helps deal with this crime, particularly because of the price of

:59:15.:59:22.

metals. I know this will help make sure that lead is not stolen from

:59:22.:59:30.

churches again. 83% of the beneficiaries of the government's

:59:30.:59:34.

proposed marriage tax break will be men. Just 17% will be women. Why

:59:34.:59:39.

does the Prime Minister have such a blind spot when it comes to women? I

:59:39.:59:45.

think it is worth supporting marriage through the income tax

:59:45.:59:49.

system. Let me make this challenge to the party opposite - in

:59:49.:59:54.

government, they gave a marriage tax break through the inheritance tax

:59:54.:59:59.

system. They get a married tax break to the rich. I want to give it to

:59:59.:00:10.

everybody. Does the Prime Minister believes that when the European

:00:10.:00:14.

Union forces my constituents to buy 20 cigarettes at a time rather than

:00:14.:00:18.

their current ten it will reduce the number they smoke? It does not, on

:00:18.:00:25.

the face of it, sounds sensible. I was not aware of this issue. Let me

:00:25.:00:33.

get back to him. Why has he told members of his party behind closed

:00:33.:00:37.

doors that forcing through same-sex marriage legislation was a turbo

:00:37.:00:44.

mistake? I have not and I am proud that we passed same-sex marriage in

:00:44.:00:47.

this parliament and proud of the road I played in bringing it

:00:47.:00:51.

forward. I think marriage is a wonderful thing and that goes

:00:51.:00:56.

whether you are a man and a woman or a man and a man or a woman and a

:00:56.:00:59.

woman. It makes the country fairer and I hope that is clear. With even

:01:00.:01:11.

Boris Johnson admitting that his Thames Estuary airport plan has no

:01:11.:01:15.

support, does the Prime Minister welcome Sir Howard Davies's

:01:15.:01:19.

statement that some plans will not even past first base

:01:19.:01:22.

environmentally? I do not want in any way to interfere with what

:01:22.:01:28.

Howard Davies is doing. He is the right person to carry out this

:01:28.:01:33.

report. It is important we try and build cross-party consensus on the

:01:33.:01:36.

basis that it is a therapy process and so that all parties will be able

:01:36.:01:38.

to endorse it when the conclusions and so that all parties will be able

:01:38.:01:40.

come out. Order. The first prime ministers questions

:01:40.:01:55.

and is the end of the conference season. The freezing energy prices

:01:55.:01:59.

dominated the conference and it dominated questions again today.

:01:59.:02:03.

That is what the argument was about, back and forth between the front

:02:03.:02:07.

benches. We will argue the toss over the substance of the policy and also

:02:07.:02:11.

the politics in a minute. First let's hear what you thought of the

:02:11.:02:18.

questions. Lots of e-mails, almost all about cost of living and the

:02:18.:02:24.

debate on energy. Diane says it was a commanding return for Ed Miliband

:02:24.:02:28.

who won hands down on a specific issue, the energy price freeze.

:02:28.:02:33.

Popular and very welcome for millions of households. Ray Newton

:02:33.:02:36.

says we will pay more for the energy as between now and the next election

:02:36.:02:45.

as they increase prices to prevent a possible future retail price

:02:45.:02:48.

freeze. Jacqueline says it sounds like neither the Labour Party or the

:02:48.:02:53.

Tories have a clue on how to rein in the vast profit making machines

:02:53.:02:56.

known as energy companies. Both are rich and not to care about the bills

:02:56.:03:01.

like the rest of this. John in Leeds says David Cameron wants to talk

:03:01.:03:04.

about everybody's policies but their own, and Ed Miliband wants to talk

:03:04.:03:08.

about anything but Labour's past polities. The energy companies would

:03:08.:03:13.

do well to generate the hot air in the palaces of Westminster 's every

:03:13.:03:19.

Wednesday. It's interesting that in the debate they are moving away from

:03:19.:03:27.

the macroeconomic matters, growth figures, inflation, employment, to a

:03:27.:03:31.

language where they are trying to get ordinary households to engage,

:03:31.:03:34.

talking about things that matter, energy prices, rail prices. This

:03:34.:03:38.

will be the nature of the debate between now and Christmas, I would

:03:38.:03:42.

suggest. It's the nature of the debate Ed Miliband wants to have. I

:03:42.:03:45.

don't think it's the nature of the debate David Cameron wants to have.

:03:45.:03:49.

We saw some of the uncertainty in the response from David Cameron.

:03:49.:03:53.

Sometimes the energy price freeze was a Marxist plot, sometimes it was

:03:53.:03:58.

a gimmick, sometimes it was something he wanted to match. We are

:03:58.:04:01.

sure that the Conservatives will have their own offer, but that is

:04:01.:04:05.

because the Conservative position is uncertain. They have do have some

:04:05.:04:09.

retail offers to match this kind of thing, and it is a concern to the

:04:09.:04:13.

electorate and they want those votes may have to do something. But

:04:13.:04:17.

equally, David Cameron does not want this to be the debate at the

:04:17.:04:20.

election. He does not want it to be about which is the best party to

:04:20.:04:24.

help people now the cost of living. He wanted to be about the economy

:04:24.:04:29.

and the future, almost a question of timing about who has the best for

:04:29.:04:33.

the future. You saw some attempt by the Prime Minister to say the real

:04:33.:04:36.

debate was about the economy not the cost of living, but quite an

:04:36.:04:40.

undeveloped argument. We saw some of the flaws in Ed Miliband's position,

:04:40.:04:44.

that David Cameron pointed out with his own record in government as

:04:44.:04:49.

energy secretary, but also the inconsistency with the

:04:49.:04:52.

decarbonisation plans. A mixed message I think is what we got.

:04:52.:04:57.

Damian Green, the Prime Minister said he was intervening in the

:04:57.:05:03.

mortgage market because the mortgage market was functioning properly.

:05:03.:05:08.

Does that mean the energy market is functioning properly? He said he was

:05:08.:05:12.

intervening in the mortgage market because it wasn't functioning

:05:12.:05:15.

properly particularly for young, first-time buyers. We understand

:05:15.:05:19.

that. So does he think the energy market is functioning? He also said

:05:19.:05:22.

he had intervened in the energy market with the move to put people

:05:22.:05:29.

on lower tariffs. Which won't affect 90% of those who pay bills. It

:05:29.:05:35.

depends on what you are paying now. If everybody is on the lowest

:05:36.:05:40.

tariff, it's not the lowest tariff, it's the only tariff. And how will

:05:40.:05:44.

you therefore know if it is the lowest? Markets will operate. We

:05:44.:05:51.

know that the energy market is at least as dysfunctional as the

:05:51.:05:55.

mortgage market. So why is it wrong to say that we can take a price

:05:55.:06:01.

freeze, and interregnum price freeze, not forever, while we get

:06:01.:06:04.

the market to function properly? What's wrong with that? You have to

:06:04.:06:08.

distinguish between the issue and the Labour policy. The Prime

:06:08.:06:14.

Minister said there was resident in the issue, but not the particular

:06:14.:06:18.

policy. As already discussed, the idea at a time specific price

:06:18.:06:21.

freeze, we know from way back in the 1970s when the government used to

:06:21.:06:26.

try it, it doesn't work. You get spikes either side. It is peculiarly

:06:26.:06:30.

inappropriate in this instance because the British government does

:06:30.:06:34.

not control the world price of oil. In the 1970s Roy Hattersley was

:06:34.:06:37.

sitting in the office down the right in thinking he could control the

:06:37.:06:42.

price of sugar and bread. That is not what the Labour Party are

:06:42.:06:47.

proposing. Labour is proposing an energy market that is widely

:06:47.:06:51.

regarded as dysfunctional, and we need to sort it out, and while we

:06:51.:06:57.

sort it out, over 20 months, we will freeze the price. Your version of

:06:57.:07:00.

the Labour policy would be more coherent than anything Ed Miliband

:07:00.:07:04.

said. He did not say he would sort the energy market out. He has. He

:07:04.:07:11.

has got form. As energy secretary, he did lots of things to put prices

:07:11.:07:16.

up, so it will be interesting to know which of his previous act as

:07:16.:07:19.

energy secretary he is prepared to disavow. Did I describe your party

:07:19.:07:26.

policy wrongly? You must have read the same script is me this morning.

:07:26.:07:32.

We don't believe that about the BBC, I'll say that out loud. Tony Blair

:07:32.:07:36.

and Gordon Brown said they would have a windfall on utilities, and

:07:36.:07:39.

these guys said they would hike up the prices, go overseas, there will

:07:39.:07:41.

these guys said they would hike up be chaos, and it didn't happen. We

:07:41.:07:45.

used the windfall tax to have the new Deal which had young people

:07:45.:07:49.

getting jobs. In the 20 months it takes to have a new regulator with

:07:49.:07:54.

teeth to have the six energy companies who control 97% of the

:07:54.:07:59.

energy for households and businesses, while we have a

:07:59.:08:02.

situation where they can group their energy into one common pool which

:08:02.:08:04.

situation where they can group their can be given out to households and

:08:04.:08:09.

businesses, then we can separate it out and for 20 months we would have

:08:09.:08:14.

a freeze on energy prices. Your government wanted to regulate the

:08:14.:08:20.

price of alcohol, because of abuse, they announced today that they want

:08:20.:08:25.

to regulate the price on the train operating companies who are charging

:08:25.:08:29.

obscene amounts. And they want to regulate matters with mortgage

:08:29.:08:32.

companies. So it is possible when there is a market system that is not

:08:32.:08:37.

functioning, that is not working properly, for us to step in and sort

:08:37.:08:42.

it out. Damian Green? I think the training sample is interesting.

:08:42.:08:46.

Clearly train companies have monopoly franchises, and because of

:08:46.:08:51.

their particular power than the government can and does regulate

:08:51.:08:57.

that. The simple practical point, not even an economic point, is that

:08:57.:09:01.

the British government does not control the price of oil and gas.

:09:01.:09:05.

They are internationally set. So what do you do? Why have energy

:09:05.:09:12.

companies after Ed Miliband's Beach, a couple of them, volunteered to

:09:13.:09:16.

freeze their prices. They were already in place. They had this low

:09:16.:09:24.

tariff coming. It's only the new customers. It goes to Damian's point

:09:24.:09:33.

that you can freeze prices. Energy prices have been rising everywhere

:09:33.:09:39.

because of the increased demand for natural gas as our own natural gas

:09:39.:09:42.

has been running out, and there has been a huge demand across the

:09:42.:09:45.

world, and that has pushed up energy prices. But at the same time, you,

:09:45.:09:50.

both of you, have done more to push up prices by pricing the climate

:09:50.:09:58.

change act in 2008 under David -- Ed Miliband, supported by the

:09:58.:10:01.

Conservatives, so I don't understand why the premise that -- by Minister

:10:01.:10:05.

is ganging up on him because he voted for it as well. That was at a

:10:05.:10:10.

time of rising energy prices and it has added another £112 to the

:10:10.:10:14.

average household bill. So you are both guilty, I would suggest. We

:10:14.:10:20.

have a decarbonising strategy that will reduce the carbon from fuel by

:10:20.:10:24.

2013. These guys don't want to do it. The jewel adding to the bill in

:10:24.:10:29.

the process. We are talking about the current cost of living crisis.

:10:29.:10:33.

It is a separate issue about reducing the carbon in the fuel.

:10:33.:10:37.

Will here is what you can do. At the moment, on your green taxes, you are

:10:37.:10:40.

making the average household pay, moment, on your green taxes, you are

:10:40.:10:44.

and it did happen under you, because moment, on your green taxes, you are

:10:44.:10:50.

there was Westminster consensus, you are making people on average incomes

:10:50.:10:56.

pay for the electricity subsidies to poorer people because there is part

:10:56.:11:03.

of the green tax is a subsidy to poorer people, so if you really want

:11:03.:11:06.

to do it, pay it out of general taxation which would be more

:11:06.:11:10.

progressive and poorer people's bills would not be so high? It is a

:11:10.:11:14.

combination of taxation and bills would not be so high? It is a

:11:14.:11:16.

individuals having a slight price increase. That is why we said we

:11:16.:11:24.

would sort it out with a bill from 2015 until the beginning of 2017 to

:11:24.:11:27.

sort out the prices people are paying. Hold on a minute. First of

:11:27.:11:32.

all you want to introduce a tougher carbon target than this government,

:11:32.:11:38.

and at the same time you will cut the green taxes? We want to

:11:38.:11:40.

and at the same time you will cut decarbonise by 2013. In the short

:11:40.:11:46.

term, we will bring the bills down by 2017 and we will have a regulator

:11:46.:11:55.

that will be brought in with teeth between 2015 and 2017. At the same

:11:55.:11:58.

time we will sort out the market. But you cannot have a tougher green

:11:58.:12:06.

target and say you are going to cut the green subsidies in the

:12:06.:12:11.

electricity bills. We are though. Since 2009, to give you an example,

:12:11.:12:16.

the amount of money the energy company -- companies have invested

:12:16.:12:23.

in clean energy to 2.9 billion. They are not investing. If they invested

:12:23.:12:27.

in clean energy that is one way the bill can come down. That is an

:12:27.:12:30.

example of holding the energy companies to runs -- ransom. But

:12:30.:12:38.

it's not the same as a price freeze. The company making the biggest

:12:38.:12:42.

profit has invested the lease. The idea that profit leads to investment

:12:42.:12:48.

is not true. -- invested the least. James, you looked puzzled. At some

:12:48.:12:52.

point in the next few months it is clear that the government will

:12:52.:12:56.

promise to reduce energy taxes. At some point that is going to happen.

:12:56.:13:00.

There will be a coalition row over it, but they will achieve it at some

:13:00.:13:06.

point. Would Labour match that? We would have to wait and see. You just

:13:06.:13:13.

said you would. The point is this, you have a situation in the last

:13:13.:13:16.

four years while you guys have been in power, the average household bill

:13:16.:13:20.

has gone up by £300 per year for families and for businesses £1800

:13:20.:13:26.

per year. We would say we would freeze it from 2015 to 2017 and in

:13:26.:13:30.

that period we would have a regulator with teeth and pass a bill

:13:30.:13:34.

to sort out the energy companies. But if you were to reduce green

:13:34.:13:38.

taxes you can do it in a way that distorts the market less because you

:13:38.:13:41.

would not be imposing prices on individual companies. We are

:13:41.:13:47.

committed to having clean energy. We are going to take out the carbon

:13:47.:13:52.

from the energy. You are committed to the green taxes. We are committed

:13:52.:13:59.

to the realistic target. Why would companies invest during a price

:13:59.:14:02.

freeze when they are by your own standard not investing in the way

:14:02.:14:07.

you suggest for clean energy? We were told that companies would leave

:14:07.:14:14.

because of the windfall tax. We were told before 1997 that having the

:14:14.:14:19.

minimum wage would lead to companies going down. None of these

:14:19.:14:25.

scaremongers stories bore fruit. But there have been huge under

:14:25.:14:32.

investment in energy for over 20 years in this country. It has been

:14:32.:14:41.

bad in the both of you. We have not invested in new gas plans. There is

:14:42.:14:45.

no investment going on. That is why we need a fundamental change. You

:14:45.:14:50.

guys are in consensus and do nothing but sit on your hands. Is the

:14:50.:14:56.

Chancellor, because we know James is right, we know what he wants to do,

:14:56.:15:00.

he wants to shoot their fox by saying they will take the green cap

:15:00.:15:04.

taxes away and the bill will fall. It won't just be frozen, it will

:15:04.:15:09.

fall. Can he get them to agree to that? I am sure the Chancellor is

:15:09.:15:13.

persuasive but I should not make his announcement is persuasive but I

:15:13.:15:15.

should not make his announcements for him.

:15:15.:15:25.

Tony Blair called himself a naive, foolish nincompoop for introducing

:15:25.:15:27.

the Freedom of Information Act 13 years ago. He thought the act, which

:15:28.:15:35.

provides access to information held by public authorities, could stop

:15:35.:15:39.

discussion of sensitive issues. Some say it is time Freedom of

:15:39.:15:42.

Information went further and applied to private companies who provide

:15:42.:15:48.

public services. We hear why in this week's Soapbox.

:15:48.:16:04.

I am the Cabinet member for finance in the London Borough of Camden and

:16:04.:16:10.

like all public services across the country we are having to make cuts

:16:10.:16:17.

because of storage. Here in Camden we spend over £400 million buying

:16:17.:16:22.

goods and services from outside the public sector. My fear is that this

:16:22.:16:28.

complex web of private contracts will reduce accountability because

:16:28.:16:32.

it will be less transparent to the taxpayer how this money is spent.

:16:32.:16:36.

This could increase waste and the chances that the taxpayer gets

:16:36.:16:43.

ripped off. Despite delivering millions of pounds worth of public

:16:43.:16:45.

service contracts, and sourcing companies get to dock the public

:16:46.:16:51.

scrutiny we expect, all because private companies are not covered by

:16:51.:16:57.

Freedom of Information. The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens

:16:57.:17:01.

to ask public bodies like the council about any information they

:17:01.:17:08.

hold on any subject. But the Freedom of Information Act only applies to

:17:08.:17:10.

government and not the new generation of private companies

:17:10.:17:14.

delivering public services and that is a big problem. So, it is vital

:17:14.:17:34.

that the Freedom of Information Act is a big problem. So, it is vital

:17:34.:17:37.

is updated to include any funded by the taxpayer, whether it is a

:17:37.:17:43.

private firm, public sector body or a voluntary organisation. Openness

:17:43.:17:48.

is a fundamental safeguard for the taxpayer, especially when every

:17:48.:17:52.

pound has to work as hard as it can. That is why it is time for the

:17:52.:17:55.

private sector to work by public sector rules if they want our

:17:55.:18:00.

contracts. Theo Blackwell joins us now.

:18:00.:18:04.

Is the biggest problem when it comes to scrutinising outsourced companies

:18:04.:18:08.

providing services, particularly if you are a council? There is not a

:18:08.:18:12.

level playing field at the moment between the council, the NHS and

:18:12.:18:15.

level playing field at the moment private providers. What we are

:18:15.:18:19.

asking for is some safeguards. In 2015, there are going to be a large

:18:19.:18:24.

number of cuts to public sector organisations. Camden are visiting

:18:24.:18:28.

between 60 and £70 million. There are changes to the NHS which involve

:18:28.:18:32.

private sector companies. All of these will ask private sector --

:18:32.:18:40.

questions about the relationship and information on citizens can access.

:18:40.:18:50.

The government say they have not done that because information pics

:18:51.:18:57.

closure -- this clover should -- disclosure should be part of their

:18:57.:19:01.

contracts, and it is not. public bodies will be working with each

:19:01.:19:04.

other and we do not want a piecemeal way of dealing with it. We want a

:19:04.:19:09.

standard across the country. In the United States there are clear rules

:19:09.:19:14.

across Freedom of Information and safeguards encouraging

:19:14.:19:22.

whistle-blowing by the public. They get a return in the United States.

:19:22.:19:29.

Why shouldn't private companies, under the same scrutiny? The just a

:19:29.:19:39.

select committee and the Gulf might have looked at it. Everyone agrees

:19:39.:19:45.

that when you look at it, that bit up to be under scrutiny. We have

:19:45.:19:54.

just taken through legislation with the Independent Police Complaints

:19:54.:20:00.

Commission that when companies like G4S are providing police services,

:20:00.:20:05.

they can be investigated by the IPCC. This is different because the

:20:05.:20:09.

contracts signed by the public sector should ensure that the

:20:09.:20:15.

provider provides the information so that the public sector body can be

:20:15.:20:17.

problem held to account. But they that the public sector body can be

:20:17.:20:25.

are not. They should be. The Ministry of Justice said it was

:20:26.:20:29.

overcharged by G4S and circle. The case has been looked at by the

:20:29.:20:33.

Serious Fraud Office but clearly they cannot scrutinise in the way

:20:33.:20:48.

that you say they should. I think the Freedom of Information Act

:20:48.:20:53.

should be extended. I can get information about restraint

:20:53.:21:01.

policies. The private companies will give us manuals, but the public

:21:01.:21:06.

companies will not even know they are doing a public job. Why should

:21:06.:21:11.

some rules apply to them but not these guys. Some of the health

:21:11.:21:16.

service, education, councils, justice, the Home Office is being

:21:16.:21:26.

privatised. As normal citizens need access to no higher taxes are being

:21:26.:21:34.

spent. There needs to be distinction between private work and work for

:21:34.:21:39.

the public sector. We need to know that the public sector work can be

:21:39.:21:45.

brought under question with Freedom of Information. I tried that and it

:21:45.:21:52.

did not work. You could not get the information? That is what needs to

:21:52.:21:58.

be thought about. There is a question about the use of that.

:21:58.:22:05.

Private sector companies will be creating profits from this

:22:05.:22:14.

information. You cannot request information on a private prison but

:22:14.:22:23.

you can on a public one. What has that got to do with legislation? The

:22:23.:22:27.

next Labour Justice Secretary will bring in this act. Please be patient

:22:27.:22:34.

X Mac -- please be patient -- please be patient. Could this be

:22:34.:22:53.

terror the private sector -- geek are the private sector from bidding

:22:53.:22:59.

for public contracts? The private sector seems to have a culture that

:22:59.:23:04.

reflects public service. There is no point in doing something on the

:23:04.:23:08.

cheap if we find out that fraud or waste or ripping off customers

:23:08.:23:14.

happens five years down the line. Hold the front page! Politicians and

:23:14.:23:23.

journalists disagree. Oh, yes, big news. This time, the matter of

:23:24.:23:30.

Britain's free press and how it should be neglected. The Culture

:23:30.:23:34.

Secretary confirmed the government had rejected the present history's

:23:34.:23:38.

plans for regulation designed to toughen up what they do at the

:23:38.:23:42.

moment. The Privy Council meets today to discuss which Royal Charter

:23:42.:23:46.

will win out in this battle. It is very, graded. The scent has already

:23:46.:23:53.

begun, with the newspapers promising they will go to judicial review,

:23:54.:23:59.

even Europe, if the government proceeds in the way it plans.

:23:59.:24:04.

You cannot have a voluntary system where volunteers do not want to

:24:04.:24:09.

volunteer. So, you won't? I think there is the possibility of a

:24:09.:24:13.

judicial review. We could go and see there is the possibility of a

:24:13.:24:19.

what Europe has to say. The idea that papers will roll over and do

:24:19.:24:22.

something that they really passionately do not believe in is

:24:22.:24:26.

unlikely. I would hope that we do not.

:24:26.:24:31.

What do you do if you go ahead with this statutory regulation and no one

:24:32.:24:40.

turns up? It is a Royal Charter, that is different. If it is the law

:24:40.:24:46.

of the land, Royal Charter, in the end one assumes respectable people

:24:46.:24:52.

obey the law. That is not what Roger Alton is saying and he is from The

:24:52.:24:58.

Times. It feels like we are in a negotiation phase. What the editors

:24:58.:25:05.

want to do is use the Human Rights Act to judicially review this and

:25:05.:25:14.

then possibly go to the court of human rights, but others want to

:25:14.:25:16.

abolish the Human Rights Act. But on human rights, but others want to

:25:17.:25:26.

the issue itself, has the judiciary had legal advice on whether its

:25:26.:25:34.

policy, which is to broadly support the statutory Royal Charter, is

:25:34.:25:38.

their legal advice that it would pass muster? It is independent

:25:38.:25:47.

regulation. Have you had legal advice? I am not privy to the advice

:25:47.:25:53.

any party might have had but we are trying to reach a cross-party

:25:53.:26:00.

consensus by this Friday. There is a Westminster consensus. What Maria

:26:00.:26:07.

Miller and Harriet Harman said yesterday was that they have got to

:26:07.:26:11.

try and reach consensus on Friday. I cannot give a running commentary.

:26:11.:26:20.

Let me come to you, has the government taken legal advice that

:26:20.:26:24.

what it proposes would stand judicial review and the European

:26:24.:26:32.

Court in Strasbourg? Is there the right to a free press in the

:26:32.:26:38.

European articles? We have not got to the stage of proposals. Table are

:26:38.:26:42.

wondering why it is taking so long. Maria Miller was saying that there

:26:42.:26:47.

are still negotiations between parties. Article ten of the Human

:26:47.:26:54.

Rights Act, freedom of expression, the mischief the police are worried

:26:54.:27:01.

about is paying exam through damage. It would not be in breach of Article

:27:01.:27:06.

ten because a balancing exercise says freedom of expression trumps

:27:06.:27:13.

privacy. That is not the legal advice that the papers have. One of

:27:13.:27:20.

the leading QCs in the country says, by supporting Parliament's

:27:20.:27:24.

Royal Charter for press regulation to be agreed by the Privy Council,

:27:24.:27:33.

my party is turning its back on a genuinely free press. What is the

:27:33.:27:38.

biggest complaint? That we cannot agree on anything. There is a

:27:38.:27:43.

situation where the three leaders have agreed on the Royal Charter.

:27:43.:27:50.

You journalists are not happy. I know you agree on that. We are

:27:50.:27:55.

trying to find out, what do you do if the press say they will not play

:27:55.:28:00.

with it and they will fight it all the way to Strasbourg? In my view,

:28:00.:28:06.

they are not one homogenous group. There are differences of opinion and

:28:06.:28:10.

I hope by this Friday we will have an agreement. You seldom get the

:28:10.:28:15.

most enlightening part of a public debate in the last few days before

:28:15.:28:21.

agreement is reached. Of course, you all agreed we should invade Iraq as

:28:21.:28:29.

well! Let's give you the answer. The year was 1992. Press your red

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button. The winner is...

:28:36.:28:45.

Thank you for being with us today. I hope you enjoyed it. The one o'clock

:28:45.:28:53.

News is starting on BBC One. We are back tomorrow at noon with the Daily

:28:53.:28:57.

Politics. The clue is in the name.

:28:57.:29:01.

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are joined by policing and justice minister Damian Green and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan to discuss all the main news stories of the day. The programme includes Prime Minister's Questions and the Guess the Year competition.

The Guess the Year competition closes at 12.30pm during the live broadcast of this programme.


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