17/10/2013 Daily Politics


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afternoon, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. The dish gas has an


early Christmas present for you. Electricity is up 10.4%. Gas is up


8.4%. That's both from late November. The company says it


understands the frustration. The Energy Secretary says he is


disappointed. He urges unhappy customers to switch to other


providers. Should benefits for wealthy pensioners be cut? And


should the win, when -- minimum wage be increased? Expect Alex Salmond to


address the SNP conference later, but can he smile his way to the


independent Scotland he desires? And I'll be asking why the government


wants to change the rules on what is an official secret. But don't tell


anybody about it. All of that is in the next hour. With us for the


duration is a man with a CV as long as my arm. A scientist, journalist,


businessman, peer of the realm, officially the 5th Viscount Ridley.


But we don't do titles on the show, so he is just plain old Matt Ridley.


First, the House of Lords, our guest is one of those, he has been


actually elected. Not by you or me, but he won an election as a


Conservative peer, making one of the so-called 92, the number of


hereditary peers that retained membership by being elected by other


members. There is a report out from the Commons committee, that wants to


do away with that, saying that hereditary peers should not be


replaced in this way when they die. The report from the Political and


Constitutional Reform Committee also backs moves to expel lawbreaking


peers and those members that do not attend on a regular basis. That


should be a pretty big cull, if you start to take them out. Time to do


away with hereditary peers? Lords reform is needed, everybody agrees


we need some kind of reform. But to pick on this one element, hereditary


peers and stop the elections to allow them to replace themselves,


that would be a pity. I'm in favour of an all elected house. How would


you elected? Some kind of regional system. I wonder why we can't go


back to the ancient Greek system of picking them by Lott. Out of a hat?


The committee suggests expelling lawbreakers and non-attendees. I


think a lot of people would be surprised that doesn't happen


already. If you break the law, why should you sit and make laws for us?


If you don't bother to turn up for a long while, why should you be


allowed in the place? I think that is a fair comment. I suspect a lot


of people in the House of Lords would probably agree. One of the


things that is most frustrating is that the House of Lords is now


enormous. The government has announced it is going to install


another 30 or so peers. Where are they going to go? Good point. We


should blame Tony Blair for this. He started by increasing the number


enormous e-commerce that Labour had a majority over the Conservatives.


So, David is clawing his way back towards a majority over Labour. He


is not quite there yet. The House of Lords, which overall does not really


matter, is now eight times larger than the US Senate, which is the


most important legislative body in the world? I think we are something


like the only other house in the world that is larger than the lower


house. You are even bigger than the European Parliament. That is not


exactly a byword for efficiency. That may come to our defence for a


second. The House of Lords is full of expertise. This studio is full of


experts. Why do we need them in the Lords? To introduce legislation for


the better. People can influence things on the show, the Commons has


to take notice of them. It is a club for dumping the establishment when


there is nothing else to do with them. You sit in Cabinet, Labour,


Conservative and Lib Dem, when that bit is over you get kicked upstairs


and you still collect the dosh, you get to use House of Lords notepaper.


A lot of bills come to the House of Lords in a state of disarray and get


improved. There are some surprising examples of hard work going on. Late


at night, some of these people you are so rude about their drafting new


clauses and things like that. Having time to debate a clause. Yesterday,


we voted one thing down and two things down. There are changes made


in the Lords. We know that, it's just difficult to work out what your


democratic legitimacy as for doing so. That is a fair point. Time for


the daily quiz. Today's question is, what is Prince Charles's latest


hobbyhorse? Is it Paul pointy buildings, wind farms, pension funds


or the price of biscuits? Towards the end of the show we will give you


the correct answer. The government's Social Mobility and


Child Poverty Commission, chaired by former Labour minister Alan Milburn,


has published its first annual report to Parliament. It commends


some have meant initiatives on apprenticeships and education, it


says there has been a lack of progress on improving social


mobility. More needs to be done to help children from modest


backgrounds to move up the social scale. The goal of eradicating child


poverty by 2020 will likely be missed. According to the OECD,


Britain ranks amongst the worst countries in the developed world in


terms of social mobility. Last year, Nick Clegg described the situation


as an absolute scandal. The commission warns that many children


are people on low and middle incomes are likely to be the first for more


than a century that will grow up worse off than their parents. The


report makes a series of recommendations. The minimum wage


should go up. It is now worth ?1000 per year less in real terms than in


2008. Workers have seen the real value of wages decline. Government


money to help with childcare costs should be redirected from higher


income families to people on low pay. Unpaid internships as a way


into professional careers should be ended. And the burden of tackling


Britain's deficit needs to be shared more fairly. So far, pensioners have


seen their benefits, like winter fuel allowance, protected, while


younger people have had benefits cut. Clegg says he welcomes much of


the report. On the last point he strikes a note of caution. Writing


in the Daily Telegraph he says, punishing pensioners is not going to


help a single child achieve more in life. Alan Milburn, the author of


the report is with us. Welcome back to the Daily Politics. Has this


permission achieved anything? Time will tell. Our job is to report on


what is going on. Nick Clegg said when he set up the commission that


he wanted us to hold the government's feet to the fire. I


hope we have done that. It is now a scatter-gun approach. It is all


sorts of things that people will find very tenuous in the link with


social mobility. For example, the minimum wage. When the minimum wage


was worth ?1000 more in real terms, in 2008, social mobility was not any


better. It depends on your diagnosis of the problem. We say that child


poverty, which has been falling for a decade, is now rising. Everybody


knows that the 2020 target is not going to be met. The really worrying


thing is that there is no evidence we can see in the recovery, and


thank God it is happening, we can see no evidence of the decade-long


trend when the top part has prospered and the bottom part has


stagnated, that that is going to come to an end. That will have an


impact on social mobility. The question is, what is the Government,


employers and society willing to do about that? We cannot will the ends,


but not will the means. So many things you are proposing seem pretty


tenuous. It would take a long while to make any affect. And now you are


picking on old people? We are all moving in that direction. You can


say that again. We are all moving in that direction. Did you just say


that again? You can say that again. Nick Clegg already says it is


punishing old folk and that will not help social mobility? He is right,


nobody wants to punish pensioners. The right question to ask is a


straightforward one. When youth unemployment, particularly


long-term, is still high, when family incomes are falling, when


people on the lowest incomes are being squeezed and the poorest


people are having benefits capped, is it right that wealthy pensioners


are not only having benefits protect it but also enhanced? Absolutely, I


understand that perfectly. I just wonder what it is going to do with


social mobility. It seems strange to me that very wealthy pensioners get


a winter fuel allowance... The Queen is entitled. The Queen is entitled,


all sorts of people are entitled to it, and yet benefits are being cut


elsewhere. For the life of me, I don't see how it helps social


mobility? For this reason, if we can free those resources up, and we


estimate, the IFS fiscal studies Institute estimate, if we give


entitlements to the poorest pensioners and take it away from the


wealthiest, it would save one point ?4 billion. Where would I invest


that? And education maintenance allowance to make sure that poor


kids stay on at school. Good for social mobility. That is better for


social mobility, parents and carers get more of a chance to get on in


life. More to help parents get out to work, good for social mobility.


There are always choices in government to be made, however


difficult the circumstances. You take ?1.4 billion from people that


do not deserve it, you spend is the way you have done, the problem is,


your last government shows it does not work. You've doubled per capita


spending on schools, school pupils in the last Labour Government. The


latest OECD report shows us tumbling down the tables, almost last in the


major economies. It's not money that is the problem. It is interesting


there is no mention of schools or education. There is a whole chapter


on schools. If we had decent schools that taught kids to read and write,


created a culture that the world was their oyster, that nothing could


hold them back, and we had great teachers that inspired that, job


done on social mobility? You should be on my commission and you should


read that chapter on that report. For example, if we had have this


conversation 20 years ago, where would we have said the problem is?


We would have said it was in London and the inner cities. The state


schools were so terrible. Today, the best state schools in the country


are in London. Today, the worst schools are probably in the North of


England. That didn't happen by accident, it was by design. A


massive effort to recruit the best teachers into the worst schools.


That paid dividends. Michael Gove should take heed. Do you get


frustrated by the lack of progress? It is frustrating for me, in a


sense. But it is bloody frustrating for people that want to get on in


life. It is very frustrating, you know the people that I feel most


sorry for, the people that used to come to my surgeries when I was a


member of Parliament, the people that were the strivers. They were


going to work, standing on their own feet, doing the right thing. There


are 5 million of them in this country. They earn less than the


living wage. Most of them are women. They listen to what


politicians are saying and those other people that need a new deal


that is why I think the national minimum wage needs to rise and go


back to the level, at least, that was in 2008. Do you think social


mobility has got worse? Yes, I do. I think it is clear that the leaders


of society that came through the grammar school system have given way


to people like me, who... Well, I am not a leader of society, but people


who have had a privileged education. It was not so easy for people over


the last 20 or 30 years to go from the bottom to the top, through the


education system. On this point of wages being supported by benefits at


the lower end, which is an interesting and key point, surely do


think there is that we have got to get unemployment down. Then you


start getting competition amongst employers to drive up wages. That is


beginning to happen. We saw 1 million new jobs since the election.


But I do not think it is either-or. If you have 2.5 million people


unemployed, you have long-term unemployment amongst young people at


a 20 year high, of course more has to be done to create jobs and get


people into jobs. The old idea that a job was the cue for poverty is,


I'm afraid, unproven. -- Q. It is disproven by the fact that two in


three kids, that the government says are officially poor, and not in a


workless family, not in a work-shy family, in a working family. Those


people are doing the right thing. They are going out to work. The


problem is that they don't earn enough to escape poverty. But if we


could free up the housing market and the energy market, we will probably


come to that later, you can see, actually, the diminution of the


outgoings. It is both, there are two sides to the equation. One is in


earnings and the other is prices. In the end, I personally think that


governments have precious little locus when it comes to cost of


living. I think they should introduce more competition, not


less. That is the way to solve many of the problems. It feels, if you


are on the receiving end of a 10% hike in electricity bills, or 8% in


gas bills, that feels like a long way away. One thing that would help


if we had really good technical skills and they have a status, the


way they have in Germany or Sweden. That would create a path way for the


none academic and they would start their own businesses and the rest of


it. So a bit of encouraging, do you think to see Ben Baker's


announcement his move in that direction? : Yes I like what Ken


announced and the UTCs he anouzed -- he anewsed -- announced. We


criticised politicians for 30 years focussing on kids going into higher


education, but not the other 50% who are going into vocational education,


more apprenticeships a good thing, but one and a half learners are in


further education colleges which are deemed unsatisfactory. That is one


and a half million people too many. One proposal we make is the colleges


should be paid not according to the numbers they recruit, but in terms


of the outcomes they achieve. Internships have become


controversial, because the top jobs, the ones kids want to get into are


largely in London. Yes. And they're unpaid and if you're a kid coming


out a college from Middlesbrough or Glasgow, you can't come to London if


there is no money. So they go to kids who are already here and those


who have parents that can subsidise them. You want to get rid of them.


Is it your idea that the Government should, you could stop the public


sector doing that and it would be helpful if some political parties


stopped doing it. Indeed. We see them on the web-sites, do you want


the Government to actually legislate to ban private companies from doibg


it? -- doing? No, I don't think that is the way to do it. The thing that


has changed is if you want to go into professional employment there


is a new rung on the ladder called internship and if you want to become


a doctor, you have got to get work experience. If you want to be a


lawyer, you have got to get work expeernts, the -- experience, the


question is who gets the work experience and sadly it goes to


people on the basis of who you know and not what you know. That has got


to change. I think whether or not these things are paid makes a


difference. It is a sort of arms race. When I was at university, none


of my friend got internships. Now if you don have something lined up,


everyone thinks your child will be a failure and the parents get more


competitive. It is a big change in the labour market. All I would ask


is if it is a new rung opt ladder, employers wouldn't think for


appointing any other member of the staff to not advertise a job or not


to pay a job. All I ask is for a level playing field. Do the same for


sberpships, because they're the route into work as for other members


of staff. The Tories didn't do themselves any faves when their


donors could bid for interns. Yes, I suspect that isn't a problem that is


limited to one partin't Where -- to one party. Where next? Onwards and


upwards. But we are going backwards and down wards on this it is getting


tougherer for a -- tougher for a bright kid to get into a job. When I


came to this city in the dark ages, I was against the old school tie,


which was more prevalent than the internships, pause it was -- because


it was rv I where. But if you had good education and that gave you


confidence and ambition, I mean we took the old tie on and won. Look,


if you ask me, I get asked, if you could do one thing what would it be,


the key to unlock this, the answer I think is education and


employability. It has got to be. So it is great that school standards


have improved and that the education attainment gap between poor kids and


wealthier kids has narrowed. But boy, oh boy, there is a long way to


go. Things like free schools can make a difference and most


importantly of all paying good teachers the best to go and teach in


the worst schools I believe could transform this. Finland has done


some of that too and they expect high standards from the teachers.


Thank you Alan Milburn. Always good to talk to you on this subject. Now


Ed Milliband announced a new policy today. He is full of policies today,


he wants to impose a new levy on pay day lender, the wonga type ones, who


are always on TV and use the money, he wants to use the money to double


the money for credit unions. He has appointed a new leader of the


campaign against what are known as legal loan sharks, something you


think she should have done before. She joins us now. Sarah Creasey


welcome to the show. Explain what you want the policies should be to


these pay day loan merchants? First we are committed now to a total cost


cap and capping what these companies can charge, because the problem is


this credit is too expensive and a lot of people who borrow in this way


end up in debt and having to borrow more. We think pause these --


because these companies are causing so much damage that it is right they


take responsibility and pay back for credit unions and debt advice and


things that can help people get out of the trap. So it is pay back time.


It seems there are two parts. First, you say you will cap the amount of


interest they can charge is that right? No, not the interest, the


total cost of the spire loan. In this industry, 50% of the profits


come from default charges. If you just cap the interest rate or


charges, they make up the money elsewhere. Taking the entire cost of


the loan, a gap and setting a ceiling and preventing the problems.


It is what a lot of other countries are doing. So if I borrow ?100,


because we are usually talking smallish amounts, what would be the


cap and I'm in a bit of default, I see these interest rates are rising,


what will the cap be? Well, we need a cap that works with the UK market


and we wanted the Financial Conduct Authority to have the cap. I don't


think politicians can set a specific cap. We need the regulator to work


with the industry to set that cap. The problem is now they're not using


that power and not gathering the evidence to use that power and the


Government says, we are not sure about capping. The millions


borrowing in this way can't weight for this to happen. Can you have a


cap or can't you? You can have a cap in law. We fought hard to give them


the power. But they're not using it. What whoub the cap? -- What would be


the cap. In other caps tefest they have had -- they have had caps for


say ?15 per ?100. It leads to lower levels of debts and is the one thing


that can change the behaviour of the companies and the fact that


Government talks about it not being a good idea is a problem. Because


millions are stuck in this trap. You, what you're talking about, the


second part of the policy, is this to be a levy on the pay day lenders?


Yes, lots of industries where their products cause problems set up


voluntary organisations, like the gambling and the drinks industry.


This industry have been saying they're responsible, but they have


done nothing to help people in trouble. So we think they should pay


to help. What would the levy be on? All these companies will have to pay


to register with the new authority from April. We are talking about an


additional amount and do remember some of the companies are making a


million pounds a week. It is important that cap works with how


those companies are operating. You're the politicians, you can't


say it is up to the regulator. You have got to tell us, will this levy


be on the prochts of the company -- profits of the companies, their turn


over, their balance sheepts, what size -- sheets what size will it be.


That is the reason experts should set a lvy. There are different ways


to do it. We think even a levy just on profits would raise ?30 million a


year to go into the growth fund to grow credit unions ability to work


with, like the one I saw with Ed Milliband in Peckham that is lending


?10 to ?15 million. What rate do they charge? They capped and the


maximum they can charge is 26% interest rate. 26? Isn't that loan


shark territory? Against interest rate of 6 thousand %. -- 6,000%.


That is almost as bad as the credit card companies. Good you mentioned


that, because the Government did a U-turn on credit cards and consumers


are being scammed. Our market does not work. There are things we need


to do. All right it seems there is a lot to do. Thank you for coming on


the show today. So it's not a good day if you're a customer of British


Gas. They've just announced an increase in electricity prices of


over 10% and of gas prices of over 8%. The Energy Secretary Ed Davey


urged customers to switch companies and had this to say in the Commons.


It is disappointing news for British Gas customers. British Gas will need


to justify their decision openly and transparently to bill-by aers.


British Gas was the only company not to meet its targets under the


previous obligation to make its customers' homes more energy


efficient. That left more homes cold. So British Gas has fallen in


failing to meet its targets. I hope the honourable lady with that can


join with me in making sure that British Gas does, is more


transparent about its costs. We are pushing competition and I would urge


skus hers of -- customers of British Gas to change their supplier. That


was a rather angry energy Secretary. He found out as he was taking


questions in the House of Commons. And we're joined now by the Shadow


Energy Secretary, Caroline Flint. And also Greg Barker. There is the


ball on the table, there is an open goal over there, would you like to


kick the ball? Today again we are seeing the public are paying the


price, because the Government haven't stootd up to these


companies. They hike their prices at the expense of the consumer and the


Government should do something. We have set out our package, that is to


freeze the prices from the day of the general election to January 2017


but as part of a package to reform the market. To give us time to get


legislation through to reform the market. We are getting eye watering


rises. We saw the latest average wage figures and it is under 1%. If


you're in the public sector, your pay is falling. But your prices for


British Gas are going up 10%. With Eno what Labour would do -- we know


what Labour would do, you can disagree, but you're not doing


anything are you? On the contrary we are doing a great deal but we are


not trying to con people. We Eno hard working people are -- we know


hard working people are there and they need more competition and make


it easier for people to switch and to bring in new entrants to the


market and challenge the big six created under the last Labour


Government and rather than increase regulation and bind them in tighter


and create greater barriers to entry for new independent companies we


need to break down the barriers and bring in the consumer champions, not


scare off investment, but all the independent companies the ones we


want to deliver the choice. The problem is that we have got to a


situation today were these companies dominate 98% of the market. They


dominate energy and sell it to themselves before they sell it to


us. Other people cannot get a slice of the pie to put downward pressure


on prices. That is why we want a power exchange, where all energy put


into the exchange, including from independent generators, the big six


and other people that want to retail energy can come in and competitively


bid to buy energies. That is what we used to do, though? Pretty much?


No, the problem was that we only had two generators, they held all of the


cards and there was criticism of gaming that system. We are looking


at the system the Scandinavian countries use, where we can have


two-way bids from generators and retailers. I think we are all agreed


we want much more competition and we want to burst the market open. But


we don't agree that Labour's return to the 1970s... It's not! Is the way


to go. We want to work with independents to open up the energy


market. We are bringing through the House of Commons at the market, in


fact up House of Lords, we are driving reforms with the biggest


package of measures we have seen, probably for ten or 15 years,


possibly since privatisation. But it is not enough. There is a wider


debate about reforms that are necessary. We need to make sure


there is a firewall between these companies generating arms and their


retailing arms. We said we would look at the president of this in


separating energy companies. At the heart of all of this, is also having


a system or a delay should, a better system of regulation, not just


layering over, that can get to the heart of what the true price of


energy is. We know wholesale costs are less than they were in 2008. We


had a drop in 2009 of 45% and that has not been reflected in bills.


Ofgem, who I criticise a lot, have done reports saying it is rockets


and feathers, the reductions are not being passed on. People watching


this are worked up about it. The bottom line is that you are going to


do nothing about this 10% rise? The people watching this today,


customers of British Gas, they are paying 10%. This is Great Britain,


not East Germany. As much as Caroline wants to drag us back to


the 1970s, the answer to this, it is going to deliver... Energy prices


were quite cheap in East Germany. But how did that end? It's not a


happy story. That is clearly where you are taking us. We want genuine,


dynamic competition, break down the market walls. You can talk about


that, but you are both guilty of driving up energy prices. Caroline


has a fair point on transparency. Clearly, successive governments have


not done enough, post-privatisation, to open up the market, particularly


the way it consolidated under Labour. We will be coming forwards


with new measures to open transparency so we can get to the


bottom of this question... That does not heat the bedroom this winter for


the people facing price rises. You are both in favour, you keep on


agreeing to things that will drive up the price rises. ?100 billion in


offshore wind, where the price of electricity will be three times the


market rate. That is going on to bills. We are going to pay ?155 per


megawatt. How much do you think onshore wind... It's twice the


price. Onshore contributes ?9 to that. That is onshore, offshore, now


you are about to agree with a nationalised French company to agree


they will get twice the market rate of electricity price for 30 years.


We need nuclear, we need investment. It goes on to our bill, correct? Of


course, there is nobody else paying. We need nuclear, we need a


diverse energy policy. We are going to hear more details about it. I do


back nuclear power, I think it is important. The price, the market


price, putting it onto the people watching this show? They will find


out the details about that next week. The cost of the bill for


developing renewables, it is about ?50 of the overall bill. We have


seen price rises of ?300, ?400, ?120 from what British gas is saying


today. In no way can they use that part of the bill to explain some of


these price rises. We have to get to the heart of the issue. What is the


true cost of energy? We can't do that in the market, the way it is


set up at the moment. That is why our reforms are so important. I


think we haven't seen anything yet. If this is the row we are having


now, there is not a huge input of wind into the price, once you get


the offshore wind rolling out, three times the wholesale price, once you


get nuclear coming in, all of these renewables that are being given


these huge rewards, then... The cost is going up and up. The cost of


solar has fallen by 70%. Offshore wind is down from ?135. You can have


your own opinions, but not your own facts. I just stated a fact. There


is also the cost of staying where we are. If we stay hostage to fossil


fuels, we will pay the price, not only in higher bills, but the loss


of the jobs we can create with these new energies. It's not just me


saying that, the climate change committee and former Conservative MP


Sir John Gover. The world has changed since 2008, we have


discovered shale gas all around the world. We know it is not going to


run out anywhere soon as we thought. Fukushima, Olivia... We can't say


that until we can find out if we can get it out of the ground in a way


that is economic. Gas prices in the United States are one third of what


they are here, because they have access to cheap gas. The idea behind


renewables... Until 2003, we did not have a prevailing price for gas in


the UK that was different to elsewhere in Europe. We want


fracking, we are going to bring it in an environmentally entryway. But


it is not a magic bullet. Would you agree, surely, that the whole idea


behind renewables was that they were eventually going to look cheap


compared to fossil fuels, because they will go up in price. They will.


It is not going to turn out that way. You have a certain view, which


is to deny climate change, so we know where you are coming from. You


deny how important it is and how we have to take action to tackle it.


Better not get on to climate change or people will have heart attacks.


Thank you very much. The SNP leader Alex Sam and opens up the party


conference in the beautiful city of Perth this afternoon. He insists


that the referendum on independence can be won, despite polls suggesting


that the no campaign is still well ahead. He thinks the key to victory


is convincing voters that independence will bring economic


prosperity. We are joined by the Deputy First Minister Nicola


Sturgeon. We hear that the theme of the conference is going to be a big


love in, and then next year it will be a big wake when you have lost the


referendum? If we play our cards right and do our jobs properly, next


year's conference will be a celebration of a yes vote and


Scotland voting for independence. But that's getting ahead of


ourselves, we have work to do to convince people that we can afford


to be an independent country, we are one of the wealthiest countries in


the world, even the no campaign does not question that now, but secondly


that we should be independent because it means decisions being


made here, not in Westminster by governments we often reject. When I


last spoke to you, it was a year to the referendum, you were excited,


the referendum would build up in your favour. You were the one that


was very excited, I seem to remember. I am always excited to


talk to you. But you were excited at the prospect that it was only a year


to go, things would start to move your way. Actually, support for


independence continues to flat line at about 25%. What is going to break


that? What we see any opinion polls, and I am not denying that we have a


challenge, we have got to convince people. I remember a few months


before the SNP won an overall majority in the Scottish parliament


the polls said we had no chance, we were 15 points behind Labour. If we


pitched the argument properly, the polls can be overturned. The polls


say that as people become more informed, when they feel they have


the information to base their decision on, they are more likely to


fall into the yes camp. Next month, there will be a White Paper on


independence and that will be the platform for making and winning the


argument that Scotland could be and can be an independent country. But,


most importantly, that we should be an independent country because it


means no longer having governments we do not vote for taking decisions


we don't agree with. We have governments we vote for and they can


take decisions in line with the priorities of people in Scotland.


You gave the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds for this referendum,


thinking younger people would be more nationalist and more in favour


of independence. You surprised that turned out not to be the case? There


was a mock referendum with 11,000 schoolchildren in part of the


country that is very strongly nationalist and only 2000 voted for


independence. Firstly, we extended the franchise to 16 and 17-year-olds


because it is the right thing to do. If you can get married, sign up for


the Army at 16, I think you should have a boat, not just in a


referendum but in general elections as well. -- vote. Young people, like


the population at large, they want to have a referendum, they want to


be persuaded. We have seen a number of debates, where once people hear


the arguments they turn from being no or being undecided, to being yes.


That is our challenge and opportunity. The publication of the


Government White Paper next month takes us into a new phase in the


campaign. We are very much looking forward to that. The referendum is


there to be won and I look forward to campaigning hard to make sure we


do win it. Is Alex Salmond going to take part in a live debate with the


new Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael? I am sure he will debate


lots of people. And Alistair Darling? I am sure he will debate


with lots of people between now and the referendum. What we have said


and what I will say again today is that we think it is right and proper


that there is a debate between the first Minister and the Prime


Minister. He has a right to intervene into this debate and


persuade people to vote no. But if he is going to do that, he has to be


prepared to have a head-to-head debate with the first Minister. I


look forward to him changing his mind on that. I wouldn't hold your


breath. Are you going to get a major debate between Alistair Darling and


Alex Salmond on television. Will that happen? Well, I have already


debated with Alistair Darling. I know that, we have seen it. Alex


Salmond will debate with lots of people... Will he debate with


Alistair Darling on television? I am sure he will debate with all sorts


of people. The first and foremost point here is that there should be


the debate between the first Minister and the Prime Minister.


What is the Prime Minister running scared of? What is Alex Salmond


running scared of when you cannot say he will debate Alistair Darling?


Alex Salmond wants to debate the Prime Minister. He wants to debate


the Prime Minister. I think that is right and proper. This is a debate


about a transfer of powers from Westminster to the Scottish


Parliament. Surely it is right and proper that the leader of the


Scottish Government... You have made that point. I am trying to get you


to a address, that his Ford David Cameron to decide, I have no


influence on that, there is no point repeating it. I am asking you, why


can you not it Alex Salmon to debate with Alistair Carmichael, Alistair


Darling or both? Does he just not like people called Alistair? I am


sure that between now and the referendum Alex Salmond will debate


with both of those people and many others, making the positive case for


independence. There is no issue or question about that. The question is


why David Cameron will not agreed to debate... Well, we have done that. I


think we are going round in circles. We enjoy debating with people called


Nicola. Thank you. Last night, Congress agreed to a deal which will


see the debt ceiling rise, preventing it from going into a


forced to default on debts, with the consequences that would entail, not


just for America but the rest of the world. It also means parts of the


government which have been shut down and get going again. Maybe some did


not notice they have been shut down. That is another story. Here is


what Barack Obama had to save the other night. Once this agreement


arrives on my desk, I will sign it immediately. We will begin reopening


our government immediately. You can begin to lift this cloud of


uncertainty and unease from our businesses and from the American


people. Because there is a lot of work ahead of us. Including our need


to earn back the trust of the American people, that has been lost


over the last few weeks. We can begin to do that by addressing the


real issues that they care about. I have said it before, I will say it


again. I am willing to work with anybody, I am eager to work with


anybody, a crack or Republican, house or Senate members, or any idea


that will grow our economy, create new jobs, strengthen the middle


class and get our fiscal house in order, long-term. Joining us now is


Ron Freeman, spokesperson for Democrats Abroad and the Republican


commentator Charlie Wolf. Ron Freeman, are we going to go through


is in again in the new year? Yes. So it is never ending? The time periods


are getting shorter. When Clinton was president, we went six years


without an increase, now we are down to three months. Is this a healthy


way to run a country? Absolutely not. What do you think Charlie Wolf?


Listening to President Obama, he likes to negotiate the same way that


Henry Ford liked to offer cars - any colour you like as long as it is


black. He has a legacy that will not last unless he learns to play with


others. The Republicans control a branch of congress and they have the


right to stand up for what they believe in and as long as President


Obama has the my way of the highway approach that is not tegt. --


negotiates. Warren Buffet said it is absurd to have this debt ceiling and


you can't run a country where you country -- constantly have a debt


ceiling. He is right isn't he? It is a stupid way to run a country? No, I


want the Executive to have accountability to the people that


pull the purse strings, if I was paying your credit card I would want


to know there was a limit. OK. History goes the other way. The debt


ceiling came into effect in the Spanish/American war in 1898.


Because they had to issue sprayed bond issue t. The idea tow give the


-- was to give the Treasury discretion as to how to finance the


Government. It is only lately using it as a Republican tactic to force


through their programme. It is not correct to say it makes the


Executive accountable. They have the whip hand, not the president. Now,


we have a spending problem that needs to be addressed and Mr Freeman


said it has been kicked in the long Gass. We have -- grass. We have


massive debt and we have a president spending like there is no tomorrow.


He has cut the deficit after he ran it up to a billion. It is still


uncontrolled and we have to have some way of watching our books and


living within our means. You should have told that to President Bush who


tubbed -- doubled the deficit. Are you not worried that there are


people in your party that wanted the Government to not pay the debt. And


they wants to bring the Government down. Not at all. You're not worried


about that. They never said that and the Government was never going to


come down. The tax receipts would have paid for is. It is a big


Kaboookie, Japanese song and dance. It didn't have to happen. But we


have a president who still acts like a community organiser and not a


president. If he wants a legacy he will have to work with the


Republican house. Where are you on Kabookie? Now, I know what one is.


Isn't it the case by going for - Ba ma Care the Republicans were up


against an impossible position in terms of winning the argue.


President Obama was never going to back down. He won which five -- he


won by five million votes in the election. President Obama got


elected in 2008 in - you can agree or disagree with the policy, he was


elected to implement it and then got re-elected to implement it. Why


don't you accept the democratic decision of the American people and


its judiciary? Because it is a bad law. But the people voted for it.


They also voted for pro-Higgs -- prohibition. But it was implemented.


To be fair, there is an ideological battle that we would like to get rid


of o' Ba ma Care -- Obamacare. They are saying, why isn't the president


and the congress held to the same standard as the rest and why


companies get a one year waiver, but individuals don't and some people


get subsidies. I think these were fair things to bring up. But the law


is now the law and you lost the argument and it seem to be time


tomorrow. But Mr Freeman, there are signs that the American economy is


recovering. More than signs. Exactly. There are more than signs


that the British economy is recovering as well. Indeed. There


are signs that the emerging markets are getting their act together after


the set back they had as a result of some statements from the Fed.


Deficits are coming down. But debt hasn't. I can't think of a worse way


of getting the recovery to get momentum than the way the United


States is behaving. The United States of course is not a single


entity. They have had difficulty holding the faction together. Those


who don't like President Obama are a faction. It is a terrible situation,


but it can't be fought over whether the Government is open or close.


Charlie Wolf we will have you back in February, you will do it again.


For the K a, boo -- Kabbookie dance. Why should we dump dollars, you're


becoming a joke banana republic. Let's dump dollars and buy Chinese


or Swiss francs. I think the United States economy is still the


strongest on the planet. Not if you carry on like this. I would rather


see that happening that we went through than going through a debt


situation that is unsustainable and that is the problem. Or raise the


taxes. Well that doesn't help either. We will have to leave it


there. Thank you both. When is a secret not a secret? Well, lean in.


Listen very carefully. This is a bit hush-hush. Because Whitehall is


reviewing how to classify its classified documents. Agent Dilnot


has been investigating. Someone once said that the man that can keep a


secret is wise. But not half as wise as the man who has no secrets to


keep. That is all right for an individual, but for governments it


is impossible. They have to keep the secret as best they can, once they


have decided what a secret is. And bureaucratically you have to decide


you don't someone calmed Edward Snowdon -- calmed Edward Snowdon --


xauled Edward Snowdon working for you. Since the Second World War our


Government has used unclassified, secret and top secret and the thing


is how much damage they could cause if they got into the wrong hands.


The joke in the comedy was anything marked confidential pretty much


everyone had seen. But culturally in Whitehall the opposite is true.


Civil servants have been overcautious, marking things secret


when they didn't need to be. That is high the Cabinet Office for the


first time in 68 years is reclassifying documents. They're


keeping secret and the ones that would endanger life and limb in the


wrong hands. But they're making everything else, 90% of documents


classified as official. This is to simplify for the digital age. To


speed up the government bureaucracy and make government decision-making


that bit quicker. What would Sir Humphrey say? Giles Dilnot there. At


least he is saving power with the electricity there. Lord West has


been the Royal Navy's First Sea Lord, as well as being the minister


for security and counter-terrorism in the Gordon Brown government. So


he's in a good position to discuss this with us. What do you make of


this change? I think it makes sense. You have gone straight to my heart,


some 30 years ago I was court martialed for losing something that


was classified. So I pay attention. I think it makes sense and it is


clear we have too much that is overclassified where you're working


with a lot of things are secret, people think, I had better make this


secret just in case and handling these documents on computers or


sending them to someone else is complex and expensive. Did you find


you only got people's attention when you put highly classify on the


document? I have to say that I did discover and it is awful, because I


have been a minister, if I want a minister to look at it I would make


it code word. We have code word. And then they had to be indoctrinated


into it and then you gave it to them, then they really wanted to see


it. If you gave them that just confidential, which I know sound


awful. I think it is time that this was done. And under the previous


system most secret documents couldn't be sent electronically and


now they will. Is that OK? Well you're to have, the ones that will


still be secret, you have to have a system to allow that to happen. But


so much was oversclass if Ied -- overclassified that can all be sent


and you can use awful the shelf computers to send it. I think that


is right. Where we have to careful is when we get to top secret and not


do what the Americans have seen, where 4.2 million people within


their structure had access to this data and we must make sure that


doesn't happen. How could somebody be -- something be properly secret


if millions of people have access to it. Among that there were secret


things and I have to say why I think it is appalling that the Guardian


said we can decide what should be seen and what shouldn't. That is


dangerous and I Edward Snowdon I think he is a traitor and to see him


in Russia getting awards and looking like an innocent choir boy, but he


is not. That worries me. Everyone knows how open and transparn and


democratic - transparent and democratic Russian society is. And


they have been good at protecting secrets so we have had to build up


agencies in the Cold War to get among them. Do you think we have too


many secrets? No, I have never seen a secret document. I haven't been


inducted into that level of importance. Clearly I think you're


right that if there were too many dock ts -- document and too many


people seeing them, the point is lost. So you have to simplify it.


Are ewe sure -- are we sure our technology is good enough to keep it


secret. I think your high grade crypto, which passes secret


information, is very good. But it is like when we used to spot people in


cybersecurity wreak -- breaking into our system and we would say isn't it


awful. The ones that worried me were the ones that we didn't know about.


The Germans in the Second World War thought their Cripps pose was --


cryptowas rock solid. But it wassen. Do you miss getting the secret


documents? I think whent I went to -- went to the other department and


didn't have all this stuff that kept you right up to speed was a shock.


But it is quite nice now. Thank you. Now let's find out the answer to our


daily quiz. We asked what is Prince Charles' latest hobby horse. It is


tall pointy buildings, or wind farms, pension funds, or the price


of biscuits. The answer is... You won't get this - pension funds! Yes,


I am not sure if he has a pension fund. Here is what he said in a


recorded message to the conference of the National Association of


Pension Funds. With an ageing population, and pension funds


liabilities that are therefore stretching out for many decades,


surely the current focus on quarterly capitalism is becoming


unfit for purpose. So he has even talked about how quarterly reporting


wasn't a good thing from the 19th to the 20th century. Maybe he should


stand for Parliament. That's all for today. Thanks to our guests. The one


o'clock news is starting over on BBC One now. And I will be on BBC One


tonight for This Week with Michael Portillo, Adam Boulton, Nicholas


Parsons, Philip Collins and someone new on the sofa called Diane Abbott


- never heard of her! And I'll be here at noon tomorrow with all the


big political stories of the day. Do join


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