16/10/2013 Daily Politics


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Good morning and welcome to The Daily Politics.


It's politicians versus the police, as chief constables refuse to


discipline officers after the independent watchdog questions their


honesty and integrity. House prices may be bouyant, but


house building isn't. But who has the remedy, the government or


Labour? Nick Clegg says it's time to think


more imaginatively on drugs. Does that mean contemplating


decriminalising some of the them? And the excitement builds. MPs are


voting now for a new deputy speaker, with the result expected within


hours. If you still fancy a flutter, we'll bring you the odds on the


runners and riders. Are you excited? Kind you feel it? Have you put any


money on it? All my savings! No, I haven't but a penny.


And joining us for the duration today, the newly appointed shadow


housing minister Emma Reynolds, and a man who stubbornly refuses to be


reshuffled - Pensions Minister Steve Webb. Welcome to the programme.


Now, if this is how the police treat a cabinet minister, what chance is


there for an ordinary member of the public? That was how to reason may


reflected on the behaviour of police officers whose honesty and integrity


is questioned in a report from the IPCC. Deborah Glass, deputy


chairwoman of the IPCC, said officers from the West Midlands,


West Mercia and Warwickshire forces had acted in pursuit of a political


agenda when they organised a meeting with former Chief Whip Andrew


Mitchell, who was trying to clear his name after being accused of


calling police at the Downing Street gates plebs, an accusation he has


always denied. This morning, the president of the Association of


Chief Police Officers insisted most police officers are doing a good


job. These events do damage confidence in policing, but I am


sure that thousands of officers day in day out are giving a good


service. They will be just as troubled by this. Joining me now,


begin server to MP David Davis, former Shadow Home Secretary and a


friend of Andrew Mitchell. And from Birmingham, we're joined by Ron Ball


who is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire.


The Home Secretary said yesterday that if this is how a politician is


treated, what hope does a member of the public have? Issue right? I


think the problem is the other way round. Because it is an ex-cabinet


member, I think the police officer would not be treated the same way.


These police officers totally misrepresented what happened at


their meeting and we would not have known that unless Mr Mr -- Mr


Mitchell taped the meeting. They were out to get him from the start.


There was a thorough investigation supervised by the IPCC which was


then put to three senior officers in three senior -- in three different


forces who came to a conclusion on the facts. That is a fair and open


process. At any time, the IPCC could've taken over. They decided


not to. They washed their hands of it and then made an inflammatory


statement. Well, the police investigated themselves as they


usually do. The IPCC looked at this and said, in the end, they had not


shown honesty or integrity. What is wrong with that conclusion? I don't


see where they have the evidence for that position. They were the


findings of three senior officers. So where is the evidence and the


legal action? The police came out of that meeting with Mr Mitchell and


said that they were -- said he wouldn't tell them the words he'd


actually used with police at the Downing Street gates. We now know


from a transcript of a recording exactly what Mr Mitchell had told


them. They totally misrepresented what Mr Mitchell had said. Well,


I've looked at the transcript and I cannot see where that misleading has


actually taken place. And that was what the investigation by the IPCC


bank. Those officers are now in a difficult position. The outcome of


the investigation is that no action will be taken. Now they are being


put on trial by the IPCC in the media and have basically been found


guilty and have no opportunity to clear their names. Some will think


they are lucky to have their jobs, since they are in positions of


public trust and they clearly abused that trust. Would you not elected to


represent as, the people? Isn't that your job? You are speaking out for


the Chief constables, you are representing them, not the people


who elected you. I think I'm very much representing the people who


elected me who want to see fairness and justice. We sacked three police


officers in the last month, mainly through the proactive work of our


anti-corruption teams. We take a hard line in the integrity, but it


is also about fairness. So these officers have not been treated with


fairness. Rubbish. It is unusual, because we actually have hard


evidence of what was said in the meeting and outside the meeting. We


also have the documents published by the Federation saying what they


intended to do, and they were setting out to bring down Andrew


Mitchell. So I'm afraid Mr Jones describes the process as their - it


was not fair, it wasn't intelligent, it wasn't justice. And


as a result, Deborah Glass was entirely right to criticise them.


What do you say to that, Mr Jones? I wish to point out yet again the


incompetence of the IPCC. I was only complaining about another incident


today about the way the IPCC operated. Clearly, we are seeing an


abuse of process by the deputy chair of the IPCC. Having supervised it,


let somebody else make the decision - if she'd have made the decision


she would've had the same facts and the same legal advice and would not


have been able to make a different decision. She is letting somebody


else carry the can for making the decision, and then giving her own


opinion, is grossly unfair. The IPCC should've taken a song from the


start, shouldn't it? Well, they have very few staff. There are three


types of investigation. One is a supervised one, which is what we


have here, where the IPCC keeps an eye on it but the police carry it


out. Implicitly, it trusts the police to do it properly. Then there


is a managed one, with more involvement. Then there is an


independent one, which they do themselves. Here, the IPCC trusted


the police, as the public do, and this demonstrates that unfortunately


the police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves. Senior


officers are trying to protect their own forces from embarrassment. It's


a disgrace. When you listen to Mr Jones, do you think your party's


plan for elected police commissioners is working? Well, I'm


afraid your implicit comment that he's been captured by the people he


is supposed to be keeping an eye on is absolutely right. Mr Jones, let


me come back to you. I sense this is the crux of this. At this meeting,


the police representatives there said, well, what did you say to the


police at Downing Street? And Mr Mitch still -- Mr Mitchell said he


had said something he should not have said, but I did not use the


word plan. -- the word "pleb". That is on record. Then they come out of


the meeting and said, he would not tell us what he said. They lied to


us. Correct? That was fully investigated and looked at in great


detail. Three senior police officers came to the view that there was


insufficient evidence to levy any charges. That was the process. I


have not looked at it myself. There is series of ways of interpreting


the comments that were made. Personally, in terms of the officer


of the West Midlands, I have not seen anything that would suggest he


misled in any comment here is made subsequent to the interview. This is


almost a unique circumflex stands where we have the exact facts on


video tape. There is a clear line here, it is also clearly


premeditated. And they did not know had -- they did not know the meeting


had been recorded. What you've got here is a real problem, because what


is the standard of probity we are applying? All three officers are


people who are trusted. They can arrest you, they can charge you.


They probably will after this! I drive very carefully bees days! They


go into court and give evidence against you. You require these


people to be intrinsically honest. You do not want them to be willing


to go out and mislead the public because it serves their political


interests in an explicit campaign to bring down an elected cabinet


minister. That makes this a very high profile issue. What terrifies


me is, what chance does a young 16-year-old who bases this on the


street on a Saturday evening have to get back? Bob Jones, thank you for


joining us. Emma, who do you think has been


treated unfairly year? I think Andrew Mitchell has had to wait too


long for the investigation. I think it is extremely worrying that the


IPCC has then said the investigation did not draw the proper conclusions.


I do think questions need to be asked about police investigating the


police. In this situation, that does not seem to have been affected. Last


October, Yvette Cooper called the Andrew Mitchell to be fined for the


incident. Was she wrong to do so? Well, there were things that we


bought at the time and we now think differently. Having seen the


transcript of what happened, it does change our understanding of the


event. I would say we have a different position in terms of what


we think happened. We haven't quite got to the bottom of everything. To


be fair, when the facts change, we change our mind. That is the


question, did you believe that he had used the word pleb? Do you think


they would try to fit a narrative? We thought he had sworn at a police


officer, and it appears that is the case. He did not swear at, you swore


in front of the police officer. -- he swore. The reason Andrew Mitchell


resigned - this is my understanding of what happened at the time - he


said at the time that he felt he lost the support of the Conservative


Party and that is why he resigned. Do you think they should apologise,


those police officers? I think they should seriously consider


apologising. I think the transcript is pretty clear about what was said


in the meeting. Bob Jones is wrong? This does demonstrate again that the


police should not be investigating the police. There is too much of a


conflict of interest there. What do you think of Bob Jones defending? He


says he has read the transcript and he has a different interpretation of


that meeting, despite the fact the officers we discussed said Andrew


Mitchell refused to say anything about what he said in the


altercation. What do you think? He has his position on this issue. I


think there are serious questions bees police officers now need to and


said, and I think, above all of this, the IPCC has to be the


superior body. That is what they are there for. What I worry about with


all of this is, not only have there been very serious allegations of


malpractice, but this is now a big argument, and what does the public


think? This is a labour Police Commissioner. I know Bob Jones


extremely well and I think he is doing very well across the West


Midlands on all sorts of issues. But on this? I'm not comfortable with


the position that the three police forces are taken.


Would you like to see Andrew Mitchell back in government? He is a


very good minister that he has lost his career. He has apologised for


the swearing and what happened and rightly so but it is a quarter of a


million quid we have spent and we are still going on about it. It


needs a line drawing under it. There are hundreds of officers. What you


think should happen to the officers involved? If they have misled... The


vast majority of officers are reliable and confident. Sometimes a


small number of people drag the whole thing down this is what seems


to be happening in this. Thank you. The average house price in the


United Kingdom is a culture of ?1 million. It is a new record. There


is a 3.8% increase over the year with huge regional variations. The


supply of new houses is still sluggish and it is taking young


people longer to get their own home. The opposition are battling it out


for the best policies to alleviate housing shortage.


Housing is becoming a political battlefield. What has been going on?


In the last full financial year, fewer than 108 thousand new homes


were completed in England. That is the lowest on record. The picture


has started to improve in recent months. House-building starts are up


7% compared with the year before but still well below pre-economic crisis


levels. Labour leader Ed Miliband presented his plans to deal with the


housing problems at the party conference last month. He promised


the Labour government would build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020.


And to achieve that he said developers would have to build on


any land they own with planning permission or risk having it


confiscated. The government hopes its help to buy scheme will


stimulate the housing market but Labour have criticised the policy


saying the government backed mortgages risk creating a bubble.


Andrew. Thank you. Mr Webb, when the


coalition came to power in the first financial year, 2010-11, there were


111 thousand housing starts in England. How many have there been in


the last financial year? You have just seen Jo has given you the


figures. There has been a decline and now the economy is picking up. A


year ago we had unemployed builders, we had land with planning


permission that builders were not willing to build on and we had


people who were desperate to buy houses. What we have done now is


made sure the developers have already got planning permission are


building. People are now starting to buy for the first time so we have


turned a corner but this is coming after decades of insufficient


house-building. The latest figures we have are up to June this year.


How many houses were started in the year to June? You tell me. 111,000,


110 to March. This is the latest official figures we have. Can you


remind viewers how may houses were started in your first year? What is


happening now is acceleration. The house-building industry is


accelerating. That is why the economic growth figures are picking


up. You need to define the word accelerate for me. In the first


financial year 111,000 houses were started. In the year up to June


2013, the latest figures we have, 111,000 houses were started. It is


the same number. Explain the definition of acceleration. There


was a dip and now it is starting to recover. What we need to see is


people able to buy new houses. The government's Help to Buy scheme is


in two bits. The first is to aim people to buy newly constructed


houses. Whereas across the country as a whole house prices in many


places are not rising very fast, London and the south-east are rising


fast. But there is not this great housing bubble going on. We are now


in the financial year 2013-14, what would be a healthy figure four


housing starts this year? It will be well up on 110,000. Pick a figure


out of the air. We are seeing not only first-time buyers getting into


the market but one of the other barriers was people wanting to sell


the house and buy a new house and they could not do so because people


could not get a deposit together. In 1997, 98, there were 156,000 starts.


Ten years later, before the financial crash, how many did Labour


start? I do not know the answer. It was 170,000. So after ten years of


boom you managed to increase the number of starts by 14,000, ten


years of economic growth and you only added to it. One of the reasons


why there is a huge housing shortage in this country is because of all


the years in power you never built anything like the right number of


houses. I would have our record over their record any day. We built 2


million houses. What needs to be done now is over 200,000 houses a


year should be built. You never heard that figure? That is right, we


should have built more. You had 13 years to do it. Firstly, we have put


this centre stage of our agenda for the next Parliament. Maybe we did


not give it the priority it deserved. Secondly, we have outlined


ambitious plans in order to put pressure on developers who are


sitting on land with planning permission. Where is the evidence


for that bit people have land but not developing? You say it is the


case, where is the evidence? It is clear that there are developers


sitting on land with planning permission in different local


authorities and they are not building. You asserting it does not


make it to be so. What you want, a piece of paper? Yes, I want an


investigation. The OFT investigated and could not find evidence. Kate


Barker had a major investigation and concluded the industry did not have


overly large land banks. The home builders Federation pointed out the


local latest -- latest local government report on this. There are


three, the OFT, Barker report and Local Government Association who all


say they have no evidence for what you claim. I would ask you to give


me some evidence. We are working very closely with local authorities


and there are local authorities in different parts of the country who


are telling us this is a problem. I am sure there are individual


examples but I cannot find evidence that this is the case. Since you are


making it a key part of your claim, can you give me any? It is clear


that the market is not working and there are not enough houses being


built. We are working closely with local authorities who tell us this


is a problem. This is not the only part of the solution that we are


suggesting. We have set up a commission chaired by Sir Michael


Lyons who has great experience in these matters. He used to be the


chief executive of Wolverhampton City Council in the 80s. He is


looking at how we can develop further these plans. We think we


need to be much more ambitious than this government. This government has


presided over slumping housing completions, the lowest since the


1920s in peace time. You need to kick-start the building of housing.


You can trade statistics till the cows come home. The key thing is


helping people to get their foot on the housing ladder which too many


have been unable to do. Also freeing up land where builders have got


permission and it has not started yet and what the government has


managed to do is to unlock a dozen house-building sites which is why we


are seeing construction on the up now. We will keep an eye on these


figures. Now, the Conservative party has a


policy, believe me! Just the one! They promise to raise the personal


tax allowance to ?12,500. Sound familiar, Steve Webb? The Liberal


Democrats have accused their coalition partners of stealing their


policy. How dare they? We know how you feel about good ideas being


stolen. It has been brought to our attention that other television


programmes may have mimicked our entirely original idea of having a


mark with the programme's name on it. ITV's Loose Women, sky News Adam


Boulton and our colleagues at BBC Breakfast macro. He does not look a


day older than he was when I gave him his job at Sky News. But we


still have our unique selling point because we are giving hours away. We


will remind you how to enter in a minute but see if you can remember


when this happened. Mystical Sun, did you have any regrets? --


mystical Sun. To be in with a chance of winning a


Daily Politics mug, send your answer to our special quiz e-mail address.


You can see the full terms and conditions for best year on our


website. It is coming up to midday here. It


is Wednesday, it is noon, it means Prime Minister 's questions -- Prime


Ministers' Questions. And Nick Robinson is here. You have got the


dreaded party conference lurgy, also known as drinking too much! An


interesting set of statistics today, a big fall in employment by the


job-seeker's allowance cut and average earnings, which we thought


would show some signs of life are still flat. That is the intriguing


thing. The battle we saw played out in the party conferences, Labour say


it is all about the cost of living, the Tory party state is about the


economy. I guess this will be played out in Prime Ministers' Questions.


The Prime Minister will say employment is at a record high. He


will say you did not see that coming and the truth is no one thought


unemployment would be as low as it is now. On the other hand, the


Labour leader will say not only has the rate of increase of earnings has


gone down, not only is it lagging inflation for 39 months in a row out


of 40, but there is also the fact in the public sector there has been an


actual fall in people's earnings. It is not less than inflation it has


gone down by not .5%. That is the first time ever in the statistics --


0.5%. It is a striking statistic about the extent of the squeeze on


people's earnings. It is the economy again for Prime Ministers'


Questions? That is my guess. And Ed Miliband was criticised by his own


people for changing the subject. The message he has got is once you say


something, you have to say it again and again until people aboard in the


hope that the public will notice. The comparison with the standard of


living, the real picture is the household disposable income. I


suspect the Prime Minister is not always across his statistics and


will not know that. There was a debate a few months ago about the


figures on the household income whether they were going up or not.


The Treasury said they were going up. There was a question about


whether they were going overall up across the economy. Or were they not


going up her head. You get a detailed breakdown. That will not


happen! Crudely speaking, the Prime Minister cannot deny there is the


squeeze on people's earnings. The question that hangs over both their


assertions is whether the government of either party will make a


difference to those statistics. It is interesting that this business of


recovery and living standards dominates the political agenda. I


remember talking to Labour ministers when the crash began and they were


terrified about a rise in unemployment. Now it is like an


implement is fine. Let's go to the I had meetings with ministerial


colleagues and others and I will have further such meetings later


today. I'm only hoping that Sheffield United will follow their


lead. Mr Speaker, we will all have heard from constituents who, while


struggling to make ends meet, have taken out payday loans and then


found themselves trapped in spiralling debt with excessive


charges and escalating interest. Yesterday, all the major national


consumer and debt advice organisations came together in


Parliament to launch a charter calling for the top regulation of


payday lenders. The charter is backed by members representing every


party in this House. Will the Prime Minister added his support? Can I


commend the Honourable Gentleman for the honourable work he does on


payday loans and tough regulation? It is absolutely right we get things


right in this area. This month, the Government published reports showing


that the problems in this market persist. That is why the Financial


Conduct Authority has made a series of proposals using powers to ban


loans and adverts it does not approve of, limiting the number of


attempts payday lender can take money out of, and all other


proposals. We continue to look at the issue of a cap but we do have to


bear in mind what has been found out in other countries and through our


own research about whether a cap would prove effective. But it is


right that we regulate this area. Can we have a full and transparent


assessment about whether the Guardian's involvement in the


Snowdon affair has damaged Britain's national security? Does my


right honourable friend agree that it is bizarre that for some, the


hacking of a celebrity phone demands a prosecution, but leaving the


country vulnerable is opening a debate? I commend my honourable


friend for raising this issue. The plain fact is that what has happened


has damaged national security, and in many ways, the Guardian admitted


that when they agreed to destroy the files they had. So they know what


they are dealing with is dangerous for national security. It is up to


select committees in this House if they want to examine this issue and


make further recommendations. I join the Prime Minister in sending


warmest congratulations to the England team on their victory last


night and getting to the World Cup finals. My commiserations to Wales,


Scotland and Northern Ireland. Today's economic figures show a


welcome fall in unemployment. They also show that prices have risen


faster than wages, and that is 39 out of 40 months that living


standards have fallen since he became Prime Minister. We'll


reconfirm what everybody knows, that there is a cost of living crisis in


this country? Let me welcome his welcome for the unemployment


figures. Not everyone in the House would have been able to study them,


but it is good news. Numbers in work are up 155,000. Unemployment is down


18,000. Women's unemployment and youth unemployment is down. And


vacancies are up. And, crucially, the ball in the claimant count is


41,000 this month alone. That is the fastest ball in the number of people


claiming employment benefit since February 1997. Of course, we all


want to see living standards improve, and last year disposable


income increased, but the way to deliver on living standards is to


grow the economy, keep producing jobs and cut people 's taxes. There


are almost 1 million young people still out of work and yak -- and


record numbers of people working part time you cannot find full-time


work. That is no cause for complacency. The British people will


be surprised to hear the Prime Minister telling them their living


standards are rising when they know the truth: Under them, living


standards are falling month upon month upon month. One of the reasons


is rising energy bills, which one leading charity reports today is one


of the things driving people to food banks. In light of that, does the


Prime Minister think the energy company as if each's decision to


raise bills by 8.2% is justified? -- the company SSE. There is absolutely


no complacency, we need more young people in work, we need more jobs.


But one remarkable thing about these figures is they show for the first


time thereof 1 million more people in work than there were when this


Government came to office. And let me remind the right Honourable


Gentleman of something he predicted in October 2010. He said the


Government have a programme which will clearly lead to the


disappearance of 1 million jobs. That was his prediction, he was 100%


wrong and he should apologise to this House of Commons. Of course, we


all want to see energy prices come down. That's why we're putting


people on the lowest tariff. The one thing that will not work is a price


column, and that is what he is recommending. The person who should


be apologising is this Prime Minister for the cost of living


crisis facing millions of families. Let's talk about SSE. On their


website they say they have one strategic priority, and they call it


a dividend of session. It is not to get bills down, not to be on the


side of the consumer. So it is make up your mind time for the Prime


Minister. He sided see on? -- whose side is he on? We are on the side of


the people. That is why we have frozen council tax and lifted 2


million people out of tax. Let me make this point about living


standards. If you want to help with living standards, the best way to do


that is to cut taxes. You can only cut taxes if you can cut spending.


He has opposed every single spending cut we are proposed. Even now comedy


wants to spend more money. More spending, more borrowing, more debt.


It is the same old Labour. Isn't it striking that the one thing the


Prime Minister doesn't want to talk about is energy prices? He can't


talk about it, because he has no answer. Let's have an answer on the


energy price freeze. Can you confirm that opposing the freeze, he has on


his side the big six energy companies, and supporting the


freeze, we have consumer bodies and small energy producers and the vast


majority of the British people? Is an energy price freeze was such a


great idea, why didn't he introduced that when he stood at this precise


spot as energy secretary? It is not a price freeze, it is a price con.


He is not in control of worldwide gas prices, which is why he had to


admit the next day he could not keep his promise. That is the truth. The


reason he does not want to talk about the economy is because he


hasn't got a credible economic policy. He can't explain why did up


as falling, the economy is growing, unemployment is going down. I have


to say to him, given his problem is no credible economic policy, he


doesn't help them sell by having a totally incredible energy policy. I


thought you might get to the record of the last Government. They've been


floundering and beds blame the last Government and green levies. Let's


talk about them. Who was it you said, go blue, boat Green. There was


it who said, I think green taxes as a whole need to go up. It was him as


leader of the opposition. He's been talking about my record as energy


secretary. So I look back at the record on the energy bill of 2010.


Did he oppose the energy bill of 2010? No, you supported the energy


bill. You could say, Mr Speaker, two parties working together in the


national interest. Does he not feel faintly embarrassed that in five


short years he's gone from hug a husky to gas a badger? The only


embarrassing thing is this tortured performance. He wants to talk about


the record of the last Labour Government. Let me remind him, they


doubled the council tax, they put up electricity bills by half, they put


up petrol tax 12 times and they increased the basic state pension by


a measly 75p. When it came to the low paid, they got rid of the 10p


income tax ban altogether. They absolutely no economic policy and


that is why the former economic Chancellor said this. I'm waiting to


hear what we've got to say on the economy. Well, I think we should


give up waiting because they are a hopeless opposition. He talks about


the last Labour Government. I will tell him what happened. Living


standards up ?3700 over the last years of the Labour Government.


Living standards down ?1500 under him. This is the reality of Britain


under this Prime Minister booed by -- under this Prime Minister. Even


if you are in work, you are worse off. He is in total denial about the


cost of living crisis. If he wants to debate the last Labour


Government, I say, bring it on. They crashed the economy, they bust the


banks, they doubled the national debt, and I have to say to him,


today, on the day we can see their 1 million more people in work in their


country, that is 1 million people -- reasons to stick to the plan that we


have, 1 million reasons to keep reducing the deficit, and 1 million


reasons to say, more borrowing, more spending, more debt - that is the


same old Labour. Never again! Mr Stephen Gilbert. Thank you. Last


night, you presented an award to the nieces of Alan Shearing, their World


War II code breaker who helped this country win World War II. The


Government indicated in July it would move to bring a pardon to his


infection -- to his conviction. Can my right Honourable Gentleman tell


me when this pardon will be granted? Firstly, let me pay tribute to what


he did for this country. It was remarkable and crucial to winning


the war. What happened to him was completely wrong, and looking back,


everybody knows that. The specific of the pardon I'm happy to look at,


but above all we should praise him and the people who worked for him.


The Prime Minister embraced the need to cut pseudo- green biofuel


mandates which effectively hijacked food conductivity -- productivity.


Today, a 7% cap is being proposed as opposed to the 5%. That difference


could feed 68 million people a year. What ever it is he making to


actively avert this compromise against the fight against world


hunger? Let me pay tribute to the honourable member for the work he


has done on this issue. Biofuels should not undermine food


production. A 5% cap on fuels was one of the key components of this


campaign, which I support. That is what we are pushing for and I hope


we will be successful. Mr Speaker, the use of contaminated


blood products by the NHS in the 1980s, exposed 5000 people to


hepatitis C and some 1200 others included in that number to HIV as


well. Of those 1200, just over 300 are still alive. There has never


been an apology or a public enquiry. Would my right honourable friend,


who has an outstanding record in seeking to close historic wrongs of


the past, meet with me and one of my affected constituents, and look


again at the issue of a public commitment that this is the last


historic scandal and ensure that these people are treated fairly by a


state which wronged them in the first place? Can I thank my right


honourable friend for raising this issue in the way that he has. I also


have constituents who have been affected by this appalling thing


which happened in our country. In 2011 in January, we announced a


package of measures to provide support for those affected. Not


least because there have been change in the outcomes for those with a try


the -- those with HIV and hepatitis C. I hope there is more we can do to


bring this sad chapter to a close. The Prime Minister will know of the


many injustices which have been meted out by ATOS in the last two


years. The latest victim was a farmer and a butcher in Bolsover who


went to ATOS in December 2012 and was stripped of his benefit. For 11


months he waited for an appeal. And then his aggressive cancer took his


site, took his hearing and then last Friday took his life. Isn't it time


that we put an end to this system where people who are really


suffering should not be allowed an appeal, having to live on ?70 a


week, him and his widow. Two things the Prime Minister should do, one,


with immediate effect make an ex-Gracia payment to his widow to


cover the suffering, the pain and the loss of income. And secondly,


abolish this cruel, heartless monster called ATOS. Get rid of it!


The honourable gentleman quite rightly raises a desperately sad


case and I am happy to look at it and look at the specifics of the


case he raises. I think everyone who has constituency surgeries knows


that and we have to improve the quality of decision-making about


this issue. Where I would take issue with him, I think it is important


that we carry out proper assessments and whether people are qualified for


benefits or not qualified for benefits. That is why before members


opposite shout out about this, that is why they started to look at work


capability. The question was heard and heard I think with great


courtesy and the answer must be heard. The Prime Minister. That is


why when they were in government the last government did look at work


capability assessments and judge the proper way that people should be


receiving benefits. There are appeals to the system but I am happy


to look at the individual case. The Arctic 13 comprises of six dish


citizens including Alexander Harris, the friend of my daughter. I am


really concerned that their ecological protest about grey Wales


is being misinterpreted as piracy because no one wants the scrutiny of


the environmental work they are doing. I think we need to follow


this case extremely closely. The Foreign Office Minister had a


meeting which I'm sure she attended and we are daily seeking updates


from the Russian government about how these people are being treated.


Last week, in answer to question on his marriage tax policy the Prime


Minister answered that all married couples paying basic rate tax would


benefit from this move, this was not correct, was it, Prime Minister?


What I said was he married couples allowance tax is available to all


who are on basic rate tax. Anyone who has a unused tax allowance is


able to transfer it between a husband or the wife. It comes back


to a very simple principle which is we want to back marriage in the tax


system and not just of the party opposite did, back tax in the


inheritance tax system, we want to back marriage for less well off


couples. If the shadow chancellor wants to raise another point of


order, I am very happy to stick around and hear it out!


I had originally intended to raise the issue of the a 14 with my right


honourable friend but an important announcement was made today by the


Supreme Court, who unanimously turned down the appeal for


prisoners' rights. Also importantly, reasserted that it is the role for


this Parliament to make the decision. Can my right honourable


friend ensure that we will not be voting for prisoners' rights in this


Parliament? Can I think my honourable friend for forsaking the


issue of the A14. The Attorney General fought this case if front of


the supreme court. He made a compelling and forceful argument and


this is a victory for common sense. My views on this issue are


well-known. I do not believe that prisoners should have the vote and I


believe it is a matter for this House of Commons. The Supreme Court


has stood up for common sense and Chrissy. This issue has nothing to


do with the European Union and we can already rise that this result.


The number of people helped by food banks in 2012-13 was tripled


compared with the previous year. Is the Prime Minister proud of this


achievement? Well food bank usage went up ten times in the last Labour


government. What I want to see is helping all families with their


living standards. That is why we should recognise the fact we are


getting more people into work. We are growing our economy. We are


keeping interest rates down and crucially, we are cutting taxes,


four things which are vital for living standards and you would never


get from a Labour government. In September, solid hull's ambulance


service moved to a make ready system and today there are no two man and


didn't is based in the borough. Several of my constituents have been


left for totally unacceptably long periods waiting for an ambulance to


take them to hospital. Talking to ambulance chiefs is like a dialogue


of the death. Will the Prime Minister agreed to meet with me to


see what can be done before a constituent dies waiting for an


ambulance to come? I share my honourable friend's concern about


response times for ambulances. We have to task the NHS with how they


best meet those targets. What matters most is swift attendance to


people who need it. I am happy to arrange a meeting with her and


health ministers. I know the West Midlands ambulance service is


looking at ways to improve the ambulance service.


The Prime Minister will know that yesterday the Independent Police


Complaints Commission published a damning report into events which


occurred involving the former government chief whip. This report


goes to the heart of the issue of integrity is and ethics of the


police. Does he agree with the Home Secretary, who in her evidence to


the Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, said it was right that


the relevant Chief Constable should apologise to the right honourable


member for Sutton Coldfield and wrong if the relevant officers did


not face disciplinary proceedings? I agree 100% with what the Home


Secretary said yesterday and I think we should be clear about what we are


discussing here. Whole case of what happened outside Number Ten Downing


St is with the CPS. What is being discussed here is the fact that the


former chief whip had a meeting with Police Federation offices in his


constituency where he gave a full account about what happened. He left


that meeting and they claimed he gave no account at all.


Unfortunately, this meeting was recorded so he has been able to


prove what he said was true and what the police officers said was


untrue. That is why the right honourable gentleman was absolutely


right. He is owed an apology. Conduct of the officers was not


acceptable. These things should be properly investigated. Crucially, it


is absolutely right for his committee to discuss this with the


Chief Constable is concerned and try to get to the bottom of why better


redress has not been given. Can I congratulate the Prime


Minister on taking 2 million out of income tax but note the 1.3 million


earning -- who have been sucked into the higher rate. Can I urge him to


Matt Crown can I urge him to deliver it and ease the squeeze on the


middle classes? We have taken 2.7 million people out of income tax


altogether because we have lifted the first ?10,000 of what you can


earn before you start paying taxes. This means some on the minimum wage


working full-time, someone on the minimum wage has seen their tax bill


come down by something like two thirds. I want to see taxes cut for


all, but the only way we can continue to do that is to get the


deficit down not listen to the party opposite who even today are making


massive commitments to more welfare spending and public spending which


would mean more taxes, higher borrowing and more of the old


Labour. Does the Prime Minister consider it


is a source of shame that on his watch the Red Cross has announced


that it will be distributing food to British families for the first time


in 70 years? What the Red Cross are choosing to do, and it is their


choice, is to work with Fare Share, which is an excellent charity which


makes sure supermarkets do not waste food and make it available to people


who need it. That is worthwhile. We need to see a raising living


standards which we will get if we keep growing the economy, getting


more jobs, cutting people's taxes and we keep interest rates and


mortgage rates low. Those are the four things this government is


delivering which we would never have delivered if we had listened to a


word on the front bench opposite. Yesterday I presented a petition to


the Department of Health calling for ?420 million hospital redevelopment


in Brighton Kemp Town. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that


this money would make a real difference to patients across Sussex


and the hard-working staff at my local hospital? I understand the


business case for the redevelopment for the Centre for teaching trauma


and tertiary care at the Royal Hospital of Sussex is being


considered. This government decided not to cut the NHS but to put extra


resources into the NHS and I am sure when it is considered an


announcement will be made. Tax cuts for millionaires. Tax cuts


for the wealthiest companies in this country. A bonus bonanza in the


city, at the same time as millions are denied the right to work and


those people who are hard-working in work have had their pay cut by


?1500. When is this government made up of privileged privately educated


millionaire ministers going to do something and get in the real world


instead of being the political front of the hedge fund is of the bankers


in the city? We all know who gave the most bonuses to the bankers, it


was the people who allowed the banks to go bust in the first place. This


government is taking 2.7 million people out of tax, compared with the


disgrace of the government he was in which scrapped the 10p income tax.


We all appreciate that government requires hard choices about


priorities. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that a generous basic


state pension based on a triple lock should have greater priority and


more generous benefit payments? I think my honourable friend makes an


important point and I am proud of the fact that last year the basic


state pension went up by ?5 30 a week. We have the inflation figures


for September. We can say that the basic state pension will go up by


the rate of inflation next year. The party opposite committed to an


earnings increase in the basic state pension would not see anything like


that. They are choosing to operate welfare by 2.7% where we think it


should be what I 1%. We have the priority is to stand up to people


who have worked hard, done the right thing, who have saved during their


lives, who deserve dignity in retirement. We will never let our


pensioners down. This week, the Office for National Statistics


reported that house price inflation in London was running at 8.7%. Does


the Prime Minister agree that it is inevitable that the mortgage


guarantee scheme will feed the property price bubble? I do not


accept that for a moment we want to help people get on housing ladder.


The Labour Party is standing against those people. I have to say to the


honourable lady that if you look at house price increases outside London


and the south-east, it is a 0.8% increase. We want to help people get


on the housing ladder and achieve their dream of home ownership.


Clearly the party opposite do not care for them.


The Prime Minister will know in my constituency, some businesses are


almost paying enough in business rates as they are paying in red.


What steps will they take to persuade local councils to use the


powers this government have given them to reduce those rates and make


the right choices to support hard working people? I know he is a real


champion for small business on this issue. The first thing we need to do


is get the bill passed through the House of Commons. That will cut the


national insurance bill of every business in the country,


particularly helping small businesses. It means single traders


need to take on three people without paying any national insurance at


all. That is the most important thing. We will continue to look at


the business rate system, encourage councils to make sure they do


everything they can to apply the discounts where they are verbal and


work on this issue. Under this government Wales -- wages have


fallen. When is the Prime Minister going to take personal


responsibility for this? What the honourable gentleman has to do is


look at disposable income as well as wages. Because this government has


cut taxes before they pay taxes, disposable income is rising. If you


go on attacking spending cuts and you go on asking for more and more


spending, everyone will know, with Labour you have more borrowing, more


spending, more taxes, it is the same old Labour. I am very happy to look


at what my right honourable friend says. I am a champion for the low


paid for people who want to work hard and improve their


circumstances. We should look at national insurance. The priorities


for small businesses to take people on. There are a million extra people


in work. If two or three quarters of those jobs are full-time jobs. The


economy is getting stronger, more people are getting into work and we


need to encourage that rather than set it back.


So, that was dominated by the argument the living standards, which


is becoming a common theme. Mr Miliband was talking several times


about a crisis of living standards in the country, Mr Cameron arguing


that the recovery is now underway. Mr Miliband then brought in energy


prices and his plan for a freeze which is part of the argument on


living standards. Mr Cameron did not quite over Mr Miliband on the green


levies that were introduced when Labour was in power, because Mr


Cameron had voted the most of them at that time. I think we had a taste


of the argument between now and the general election on this issue, this


is what will dominate the discourse between the major parties. Let's


hear what you had to say. Reviewers e-mails were all about the cost of


living issue. It seems Ed Miliband has really grasped the agenda with


his target on the cost of living. Once again, he batted David Cameron.


This was from Colin: Ed Miliband may have some valid points to make, but


he continually fails to deliver them in a coherent manner. Damian says:


Why has Ed Miliband harped on about youth unemployment again? Didn't it


soar under Labour and food banks began? This was from Ian Whiteley:


Ed Miliband knows he is on a winner his energy price free is, going on


it for a second week. He wiped the floor with David Cameron. We now


find out they've voted for green taxes. And finally: Raising the tax


threshold does not automatically help people out of poverty because


people who are really poor were already below the tax threshold.


Only 19 more months of this! Ed Miliband has been told to bang on


until people listen, and they did bang on. The same phrases, the same


quotes, from both parties. We knew there would be the trading of stats,


unemployment down and living standards. But there was also the


battle of two quotes. From David Cameron, he was able to remind Ed


Miliband that he predicted the disappearance of 1 million private


and public sector jobs. Today's statistic shows that has not been a


disappearance, there has been the creation of an extra 1 million jobs.


On the other hand, Ed Miliband was able to remind the Conservatives,


Paul Lamy blame green levies and the former energy secretary, he was able


to quote that David Cameron and George Osborne said at the time they


wanted to see more green taxes, not fewer. So in a sense you are seeing


their positioning through statistics". The coalition, if it is


to have a hope of doing well at the next election, you're going to have


two be able to a rise back to point to a rise in living standards. It is


about what people are left with after tax. The threshold used to be


6500 and they want to move it up to 10,000. The reviewer who said that


poor people don't pay tax, a full-time job on the minimum wage is


still on income tax, so that is why the Lib Dems are keen to see if we


can go further. So not taxing people on the minimum wage has to be an


important part of it. To win the election, given the kind of


constituencies both you and the Conservatives tend to win, people in


the middle part - in but just around the average - they are going to have


to feel that, after the pain they've been through of this belt


tightening, by 2015 or even next year, they're going to have to feel


that things are getting better, aren't they? I think the fact that


wage growth has been so low is historically very and usual. As the


economy starts to pick up I think wages will start to pick up. If we


can combine out with record low interest rates, we have to keep the


mortgage rates low. Cutting the income tax bill, job security, that


could be the sign of a strong economy. If you step back from the


party politics, the unemployment figures look better than many


predicted. Not just Labour, but many thought they would be higher. I


think the government itself feared it would be higher. But average


earnings are not growing by much. Isn't it honest to say that both are


connected? What employers have basically said is, I'm not going to


fire you, although there is not a lot of work around, but I'm not


going to increase your pay either. We welcome any improvement in the


employment figures, but the truth is, many of these new jobs were


hearing about our part-time jobs. A minority of them, actually. Well, a


lot of people who are working part-time want to be working


full-time. With respect, that wasn't what I was asking. I was trying to


get you away from the party line. It is penetrated off in this country


which we've never had in a recession before, that - and it may be a


result of the more liberal, Labour markets which started under the


Tories - as a nation, we decided, win not going to have the big rise


in unemployment we would normally expect when there is then no


economic growth, but only because we're not going to let people's


wages rise in terms with prices. I agree and I think it has been


different to previous recessions. One reason it has been battered


during the recession we just come out of if industrial relations. --


one reason it has been better. There was an agreement between trade


unions and their employers that in order to keep people in work, in


some cases they were working much shorter hours. That was difficult


for them, but they preferred to do that and come out the other end.


Now, with the recovery happening, that is not yet feeding through into


people's pockets. Soaring energy prices but also prices rising faster


than wages. If they have hopes of doing well at the election at all,


people have to feel better. The interesting thing is the cost of


living squeezed it not begin during the recession. It started before the


recession. If you look at the figures between 2003 and 2008,


people do not have a fall in living standards, but they started to


become on hitched from the rate of growth in the economy. Living


standards were rising about half the rate of the growth in the economy,


so something was already happening. Was it due to globalisation? The


cost of living crisis has been a subject in American politics for now


much longer than a decade. So this is not just a recession issue, not


just a how do you get out of the recession? Now, the police are in


real trouble, aren't they? It was quite striking that the Home


Secretary, a woman who is herself naturally cautious in a job where


the office holder is usually very careful not to enter disputes


between police services and a member of the public, did enter that, and


now David Cameron has gone further. He has said to serving chief


constables that they owe Andrew Mitchell an apology and they


should've disciplined their staff. It is a confrontation the like of


which I cannot recall between the top of government and the chief


constables, and not one, but three, major police forces. They will give


evidence next week in the House of Commons. We get a sense of what


their defence is now. It is not that their officers didn't do anything


wrong, they are basically saying they did do something wrong, but it


wasn't enough for is to be able to discipline them. I think the view


from Westminster on all sides is that they are backing Andrew


Mitchell. They are saying it is not good enough. So the Prime Minister


wants the police to apologise to Mr Mitchell. How long before somebody


calls on the Prime Minister to apologise to Mr Mitchell? There is


of course a gap. He has very carefully I thought in his answer


explained that gap. What he said is, we still don't know what happened on


the gates of Downing Street. That is the subject of a separate


investigation which has not yet reported back. So that day may come.


If the Crown Prosecution Service decide to prosecute officers who


were at the gates then the Prime Minister may very well find that he


is under pressure to apologise. It's not looking good for the police. No,


but if you are following the details, it is quite possible that


police officers lied, as the police watchdog claimed, about what Andrew


Mitchell told them in a meeting. It is quite possible, given the


evidence we've seen, that there was a conspiracy to bring Andrew


Mitchell down. It is quite possible those things are true, but that the


police officer at the centre of this allegation still insists that they


heard him say plebs. And that Mehmet -- that may never be resolved. It


may not be provable. Now, Nick Clegg has said he's


"frustrated" with the Conservatives' failure to look at drugs policy in a


more open and imaginative way. And Mike Barton, Chief Constable of


Durham Constabulary, is the latest police chief to call for the


decriminalisation of drugs. So what should we do? Baroness Meacher is


the chair of the All Party Group on Drug Policy Reform. In her soapbox,


she argues that the existing laws aren't working. Drugs are


everywhere. People have always used drugs to change the state of their


mind but since our drugs laws were introduced in 90s and one, we have


had an explosion of drugs used in this country -- 1971. This suggests


to me the drugs law is not working. Today, young people are shifting


from traditional drugs to synthetic copies of these, so-called legal


highs although many are in fact banned. New legal highs are


appearing on the market in the UK every week. The 1971 misuse of drugs


act cannot cope with our modern poly- drugs use culture and our


web-based drugs market. We are now out of step with the rest of the


Western world. 20 US states have legalised cannabis for medical use


and two have legalised it altogether. In Europe, Portugal and


the Czech Republic decriminalised possession and misuse of drugs more


than ten years ago and many European countries have softer drugs laws


than we do. 77% of our members of Parliament now agreed on the need


for reform. Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary is


the latest top police officer to come out in favour of


decriminalisation on the possession and use of all drugs. Nick Clegg


supported the Home Affairs Select Committee's call for royal committee


on drugs policy. I do not think we are winning the drugs war. We are


banging our heads against a brick wall. I find it frustrating that


coalition partners are not looking at openly imaginative policies. I


would like to see the decriminalisation and possession of


all drugs. Secondly, we should not regulate herbal cannabis. Keep it


separate from the dangerous stuff. This would keep our young people


much safer. And Molly Meacher joins us now. It


has been suggested before there has been decades of discussion about it,


why do you think now litter clique, you cited some strong support from


the leg and the chief police officer in Durham, do you think that will


change anything -- some strong support from Nick Clegg. We have had


some is strong drugs policy and even Ban Ki-Moon has called on all states


to look at drugs policy. In this country we have very tough drugs


policies. They do not work. They are dangerous. They drive young people


into the hands of illegal drug dealers. They cut the drugs and sell


the toughest things they can find. But decriminalisation seems


politically unpalatable. Before run election it is tricky. I have great


respect for political parties. It is something all parties should be


thinking about and I believe they all are thinking about it. You


mentioned Portugal and 20 states in the US. What is the experience in


Portugal? Has it been a success? In my view it certainly has. How are


you measuring that? The numbers of young people using drugs are lower


in Portugal whereas nearby in Italy the numbers have gone up. You have


to think about an upward trend in drug use across Europe in 50 years.


Portugal have bucked the trend. Now all political parties in Portugal


support the decriminalisation policy. They certainly did not in


the beginning. Hasn't general drug use gone down here as well? That has


been recently a small drop in cannabis use. Why? Because young


people are shifting in droves to so-called legal highs, very


dangerous substances. We have a very bad dangerous situation in this


country and we have got to change. The problem is imagining the


culture. People often refer to Holland and Amsterdam and imagine


people smoking pot, cannabis, walking up and down the street.


Would the whole culture which surrounds strokes then be even more


rows than it is now? Definitely not. The interesting thing about the


Netherlands is the use of heroin has almost disappeared in the


Netherlands. We have 0.8% of people using heroin and they have 0.1%.


That is important because heroin is dangerous. Will Nick Clegg support


decriminalisation and try and get this on the agenda by the next


election? We should be looking at what other countries are doing and


with Liberal Democrat influencing the Home Office, that is what we are


doing, looking at other countries and having evidence -based policy.


The current policy is not working so we should look at other countries


are doing. What are you hoping that Norman Baker will achieve? Is this


an issue he will come to blows with Theresa May over? It is clear that


the current policy is causing harm and we have to find an evidence


-based way of moving forward. We have to take it away from the


political knock-about to see what damage is doing and try and do it


better. Will Labour put their money where their mouth is on this issue?


We are not in favour of decriminalisation. I think it would


send out a bad signal to young people to say, these drugs, it is OK


if you take them. One thing I agree with is there is a real problem


around legal highs and some of these substances are much more dangerous


than cannabis and other lower grade drugs. We do not have an effective


policy to deal with those legal highs. I am not blaming the current


government. It is a sophisticated develop man in drugs unfortunately.


Lots of young people are dying from legal highs. Are the drug laws


working? The war against drugs, will it ever be one? We have had the same


approach since 1971. If you are saying it cannot be won, should we


change the law? Should we change the approach? I am not sure that


overhauling the entire system is the right answer but I agree it is not


working properly. I was interested in your report that you talk about


the legalisation in 20 states in the United States with regard to


medicinal use of cannabis. There are lots of people who are suffering


from debilitating diseases whose lives could be made much better if


that were to happen in the UK. That is not official Labour Party policy


but I am very sympathetic to that suggestion. Do you think it will


change? This government has have considered this issue of


decriminalisation for a year. Europe is moving. The UK is moving


carefully. Thank you. Does watching the daily politics


constitute a legal high? A high, but it like that! I guess that is a no.


15 Tories hope to be on the short list for the canvases and -- candid


date of Croydon South. You might get these stockings and the breaches


although you do not get them any more but there is a rather nice


black silk gown for a vital role at the heart of government. MPs will


vote on a new deputy speaker of the House of Commons. Will it be Brian,


Simon, Nadine Gary? We will check that the bookies' thoughts but first


he is how they performed under some stringent questions.


Which language can also be used in some formalities of the parliament?


French. Ancient Norman French. Norman French is the word. Who is


the MP for Ashton under Lyne? Ashton underlying? Indeed. You can say you


don't know. It is David Hayes Labour MP. How did short money get its


name? I think after a former Labour minister will stop would you care to


have a guess which one? Lend short? Edward Short came up with the idea.


What is a money bill? It is when we passed a measure to spend money.


That may not be right but it is the best thing I can come up with? Who


is the captain of gentlemen of arms? That is not your question. Answer


it, Henry. The gentleman Usher of the court. The government Chief


Whip. There was one last one. What is the procedure on a member asking


the chair whether they can undertake a bush tucker challenge? You do not


know that? I do not know either! This is my favourite question. Simon


Burns, which member stupid, sanctimonious dwarf? That is cruel


and you know it! There you have it, the runners and


riders. Alex Donohue is here from Ladbrokes with the full SP, that is


starting price for you and me. Eleanor Laing is the favourite at


five quarters. We have Gary Streeter...


Nadine Dorries is the rank outsider. It is a certainty she will lose but


not a certainty that Eleanor Laing will win? We have had one yet Nadine


Dorries, 50p is the only stake. Eleanor Laing was odds-on. There


were a few big debts which came on for her when we mentioned her. A


massive gamble came in on Henry Bellingham after the hustings. We


think it is a two horse race between the two at the top. So Henry


Bellingham is the one to watch. Absolutely. That is interesting. Is


it an important post? It is important because the Deputy Speaker


does preside over the business of the Commons for quite a lot of time.


How have you voted? I have not voted yet because I came to this


programme. I will vote for Eleanor Laing. She has a great, quiet


authority. She looks the part and she is quite moderate and I like her


style. I will vote for Gary Streeter but I think Eleanor has done very


well. No Lib Dems? No, they said Lib Dems will vote for the first time


and have seven Conservatives on the ballot paper! It is interesting that


it is held under PR. It is time to put you out of your misery and give


you the answer for Guess the Year. It was 2011. Press that red button,


Emma and we will see who has won. Well done, Andrew, a nice name you


have there. That is it for today. Thank you to our guests for being


good sports. The one o'clock News is starting on BBC One and we will be


back tomorrow at noon. You will be back. I do not get everything right.


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