09/10/2013 Daily Politics


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


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


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


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


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


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


bout of prime ministers questions since conference. Has the government


border scheme been an expensive farce? The Chief Inspector of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


jobs in the recent reshuffle probably because the leaders


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


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


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


designed to prevent suspected criminals and terrorists travelling


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


found that fewer than two thirds of passenger journeys were actually


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


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


duplicating effort at the border and they have not been applied


consistency between Heathrow and they have not been applied


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


terms of the original business benefits, I have identified that


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


significant tripwire that stops dangerous criminal people coming


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


advertising standards authority, but the agency cleared the campaign of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that things are happening on the immigration system that did not


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the things about coalition government is we are two parties and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


year as part of a series of announcements that the government


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


conservatives turn and the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLaughlin,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Labour are trying to capture the public mood with their populist


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


political correspondence Norman Smith. This is going to be the


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


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


succeeded in dragging the debate away from economic confidence, onto


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


there will be a series of announcements to ease keep pressure


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


energy bills. This train fair announcement, all it


energy bills. means is instead of going up by


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


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


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


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


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


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


is an announcement about those prices the train companies were


allowed to put up outside inflation. The increase will be


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


outside inflation was far bigger than currently proposing. No it


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


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


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


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


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


wages. The difference is that the British Government can control


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


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


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


time limited freeze, you get a massive spike beforehand and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


next year. They are still suggesting we should bring forward


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


is outperforming most other economies. The British economy is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


who predicted there will be a resignation in the Home Office


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


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


Conservatives who want to put Nick Clegg in his box.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


world leading universities where the research was carried out. Mr


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


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


today. Can I associate myself and constituency entirely with the


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


Duncan, and to offer my congratulations to Professor Higgs.


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


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


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


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


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


institution and I think we should be supporting marriage, including


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


the minimum practice income guarantee many doctors surgeries


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


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


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


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


into neighbouring Clitheroe. Will he investigate this issue and ensure


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


go to GP surgeries rather than accident and emergency services if


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


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


to the friends and families of the British nationals murdered in


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


act of terrorism and reminds us of the importance of combating


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


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


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


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


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


celebrating the tremendous achievement of Peter Higgs in


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


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


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


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


while the Chancellor said in his conference speech that it was


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


price increase, that sounds like every Labour government since the


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


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


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


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


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


energy prices doubled under Labour and electricity prices went up by


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


cannot control, and that is the international wholesale price of


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


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


economics. Perhaps he should remember what the Labour industry


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


money for 27 million households and 2.4 million businesses across the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


which is the shadow chancellor yesterday revealing their election


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


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


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


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


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


Millions of people have chosen to collect their benefits and pension


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


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


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


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


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


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


particularly older people having access to those accounts and I will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


honourable gentleman does as well. Industrial chemicals, herbicides and


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


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


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


urgently taken to prevent the importation of the substances in


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


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


people in particular suffering from extremely serious cases of young


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


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


legislative or regulatory action that can be taken in order to


protect people from substances that might be safe in other circumstances


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


yesterday that showed that after a lifetime in education under Labour


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


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


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


Imperial College about the detrimental health effects of


aircraft noise, and could he make detrimental health effects of


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


report that health and environmental and look at the Davis commission


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that services provided by local government are better. Does this


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


what the tax relief on childcare that this government will be


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


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


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


area has signed a petition calling for those who drive while


disqualified to receive tougher sentences. Does he believe the law


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


petty Socialist campaign against successful business. That is wrong


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


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


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


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


Administration's system, but the local growth Cabinet committee


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


he aware that the Department of Health are consulting on changing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Shadow Cabinet, has said that increasing health spending is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


standards have been reduced under his watch. What personal sacrifice


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


in this subject, given that the county council education portfolio


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


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


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


there is greater opportunities for schools to gain their independence


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


introducing proper tax relief on childcare so that people who work


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


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


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


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


calls. Can my right honourable friend commits the government to


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


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


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


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


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


time for greater diplomatic discussions to take place over Syria


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


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


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


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


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


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


government were to increase borrowing by 27.9 billion as the


opposition have called for since promising iron discipline? One of


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


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


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


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


Families across the country understand that and understand you


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


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


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


constituent was brutally murdered and his girlfriend gang raped whilst


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


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


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


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


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


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


believers in the Commonwealth at making that organisation work for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


think it is worth supporting marriage through the income tax


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


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


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


everybody. Does the Prime Minister believes that when the European


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Boris Johnson admitting that his Thames Estuary airport plan has no


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


statement that some plans will not even past first base


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


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


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


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


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


come out. Order. The first prime ministers questions


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


dominated the conference and it dominated questions again today.


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


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


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


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


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


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


Popular and very welcome for millions of households. Ray Newton


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


as they increase prices to prevent a possible future retail price


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


energy secretary, but also the inconsistency with the


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


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


mortgage market because the mortgage market was functioning properly.


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


intervening in the mortgage market because it wasn't functioning


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


distinguish between the issue and the Labour policy. The Prime


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


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


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


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


inappropriate in this instance because the British government does


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


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


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


proposing. Labour is proposing an energy market that is widely


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


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


the Labour policy would be more coherent than anything Ed Miliband


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


energy for households and businesses, while we have a


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


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


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


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


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


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


obscene amounts. And they want to regulate matters with mortgage


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


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


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


Clearly train companies have monopoly franchises, and because of


their particular power than the government can and does regulate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would not be imposing prices on individual companies. We are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


scaremongers stories bore fruit. But there have been huge under


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


should not make his announcements for him.


Tony Blair called himself a naive, foolish nincompoop for introducing


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


provides access to information held by public authorities, could stop


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


Information went further and applied to private companies who provide


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


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


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


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


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


complex web of private contracts will reduce accountability because


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


This could increase waste and the chances that the taxpayer gets


ripped off. Despite delivering millions of pounds worth of public


service contracts, and sourcing companies get to dock the public


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


Freedom of Information. The Freedom of Information Act allows citizens


to ask public bodies like the council about any information they


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


government and not the new generation of private companies


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


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


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


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


is a fundamental safeguard for the taxpayer, especially when every


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


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


contracts. Theo Blackwell joins us now.


Is the biggest problem when it comes to scrutinising outsourced companies


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


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


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


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


number of cuts to public sector organisations. Camden are visiting


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


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


questions about the relationship and information on citizens can access.


The government say they have not done that because information pics


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


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


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


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


across Freedom of Information and safeguards encouraging


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


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


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


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


just taken through legislation with the Independent Police Complaints


Commission that when companies like G4S are providing police services,


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


contracts signed by the public sector should ensure that the


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


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


are not. They should be. The Ministry of Justice said it was


overcharged by G4S and circle. The case has been looked at by the


Serious Fraud Office but clearly they cannot scrutinise in the way


that you say they should. I think the Freedom of Information Act


should be extended. I can get information about restraint


policies. The private companies will give us manuals, but the public


companies will not even know they are doing a public job. Why should


some rules apply to them but not these guys. Some of the health


service, education, councils, justice, the Home Office is being


privatised. As normal citizens need access to no higher taxes are being


spent. There needs to be distinction between private work and work for


the public sector. We need to know that the public sector work can be


brought under question with Freedom of Information. I tried that and it


did not work. You could not get the information? That is what needs to


be thought about. There is a question about the use of that.


Private sector companies will be creating profits from this


information. You cannot request information on a private prison but


you can on a public one. What has that got to do with legislation? The


next Labour Justice Secretary will bring in this act. Please be patient


X Mac -- please be patient -- please be patient. Could this be


terror the private sector -- geek are the private sector from bidding


for public contracts? The private sector seems to have a culture that


reflects public service. There is no point in doing something on the


cheap if we find out that fraud or waste or ripping off customers


happens five years down the line. Hold the front page! Politicians and


journalists disagree. Oh, yes, big news. This time, the matter of


Britain's free press and how it should be neglected. The Culture


Secretary confirmed the government had rejected the present history's


plans for regulation designed to toughen up what they do at the


moment. The Privy Council meets today to discuss which Royal Charter


will win out in this battle. It is very, graded. The scent has already


begun, with the newspapers promising they will go to judicial review,


even Europe, if the government proceeds in the way it plans.


You cannot have a voluntary system where volunteers do not want to


volunteer. So, you won't? I think there is the possibility of a


judicial review. We could go and see there is the possibility of a


what Europe has to say. The idea that papers will roll over and do


something that they really passionately do not believe in is


unlikely. I would hope that we do not.


What do you do if you go ahead with this statutory regulation and no one


turns up? It is a Royal Charter, that is different. If it is the law


of the land, Royal Charter, in the end one assumes respectable people


obey the law. That is not what Roger Alton is saying and he is from The


Times. It feels like we are in a negotiation phase. What the editors


want to do is use the Human Rights Act to judicially review this and


then possibly go to the court of human rights, but others want to


abolish the Human Rights Act. But on human rights, but others want to


the issue itself, has the judiciary had legal advice on whether its


policy, which is to broadly support the statutory Royal Charter, is


their legal advice that it would pass muster? It is independent


regulation. Have you had legal advice? I am not privy to the advice


any party might have had but we are trying to reach a cross-party


consensus by this Friday. There is a Westminster consensus. What Maria


Miller and Harriet Harman said yesterday was that they have got to


try and reach consensus on Friday. I cannot give a running commentary.


Let me come to you, has the government taken legal advice that


what it proposes would stand judicial review and the European


Court in Strasbourg? Is there the right to a free press in the


European articles? We have not got to the stage of proposals. Table are


wondering why it is taking so long. Maria Miller was saying that there


are still negotiations between parties. Article ten of the Human


Rights Act, freedom of expression, the mischief the police are worried


about is paying exam through damage. It would not be in breach of Article


ten because a balancing exercise says freedom of expression trumps


privacy. That is not the legal advice that the papers have. One of


the leading QCs in the country says, by supporting Parliament's


Royal Charter for press regulation to be agreed by the Privy Council,


my party is turning its back on a genuinely free press. What is the


biggest complaint? That we cannot agree on anything. There is a


situation where the three leaders have agreed on the Royal Charter.


You journalists are not happy. I know you agree on that. We are


trying to find out, what do you do if the press say they will not play


with it and they will fight it all the way to Strasbourg? In my view,


they are not one homogenous group. There are differences of opinion and


I hope by this Friday we will have an agreement. You seldom get the


most enlightening part of a public debate in the last few days before


agreement is reached. Of course, you all agreed we should invade Iraq as


well! Let's give you the answer. The year was 1992. Press your red


button. The winner is...


Thank you for being with us today. I hope you enjoyed it. The one o'clock


News is starting on BBC One. We are back tomorrow at noon with the Daily


Politics. The clue is in the name.


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