28/10/2013 Daily Politics


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 28/10/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics and a windy Westminster,


where earlier the storm of St Jude hit the heart of Government. A


collapsed crane on the roof of the Cabinet Office caused the Deputy


Prime Minister to cancel his monthly press conference. St Jude's the


patron saint for lost causes. But don't worry, today's programme


isn't. -- isn't one of them. Afternoon, we've made it on air,


despite the travel disruption. Many commuters today are facing hellish


delays which, coincidently, is what they could be condemned to if the


proposed High Speed 2 rail line is not built. That's the finding of a


government-commissioned report out this week. MPs are due to vote on


the project on Thursday. The trial's begun of former Sun


editor Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron's former communications


chief, Andy Coulson, over phone hacking charges.


I'm a person with crazy hair, quite a good sense of humour, don't know


much about politics, I'm ideal. We will ask if anyone cares what this


man thinks about politics. And will the advent of Mystic Ed and


his Crystal Balls herald the arrival of American-style attack


advertising? All that in the next hour. And with


us for the first half of today's programme is Liz Peace, who's chief


executive of the British Property Federation. Liz has battled her way


through the storm all the way from Hampshire to make it here. We are


very grateful. You are welcome. Now, first today, let's talk about the


weather, because you're lucky we're on air today if the rest of


Westminster is anything to go by. Here's Whitehall just before nine


o'clock this morning. Not a mandarin in sight after that collapsed crane


on the roof of the Cabinet Office. And it's not just Westminster that's


faced stormy conditions. Tragically, two people have died as a result of


the bad weather, both killed by falling trees Over a quarter of a


million homes are without power, rail services across much of


southern Britain have been cancelled, houses have been flooded


and the helter-skelter at Clacton Pier in Essex has blown down. Winds


of 99 miles per hour were recorded at Needles Old Battery, Isle of


Wight. Weather forecasters say the storm is almost over in the UK.


Earlier the Prime Minister had this to say.


Everyone has two act on the basis of the evidence they are given and the


information they are given, everyone has two work closely together to


deal with the storm. We will be able to look back afterwards and see if


people made the right decisions, but what matters now is working together


and getting things back to normal. Lives, how did you get here? I


normally rely on South West trains, and they were absolutely stuffed


this morning. What I did discover, looking at their first rate Twitter


feed, there were 29 trees across the network. I woke up thinking, what


storm? I was one of the doubters. But I realised that it probably was


a storm. I feel sorry for these people trying to run the


infrastructure, because they can't afford to take risks. If they ran a


train prematurely and something went wrong, they would be purely and, so


I don't blame them for playing it safe, so we battled in by car where,


by and large, the roads were well at a very quiet. And the winds were not


too high? -- the roads were relatively quiet. On the roads, lots


of loose branches, but I suspect the railways are in cuttings with a lot


of overhanging trees, if you get a bit of wind, they come down. Even if


you predict the storm, you can't predict where trees are going to


fall, you can't have somebody standing with a chainsaw along


hundreds of miles of train truck, so you have to react when it happens.


-- hundreds of miles of train track. I listen to interviews yesterday


with people from energy companies or in the industry, they hoped there


would not be widespread loss of power, there are 270,000 homes. You


think more should be done to protect power lines? I think it is part of a


broader infrastructure debate. A lot of UK infrastructure is extremely


creaky. The more modern power supplies are underground cables.


Touch wood, that is what we have, and it is fine. It is about how you


pay with the replacement of the infrastructure. But on the whole, we


don't get extreme weather events that often compared to other places


in the world, so how much money are we prepared to spend two in sure


against a one in 300 days event. -- to spend to ensure against? I have


heard people moaning about how badly at airports function, and somebody


who is American said that Chicago closes down when there is no.


On Thursday MPs will vote again on the High Speed Rail Bill. There's


talk of a significant Conservative rebellion and, whilst Labour say


they'll support the bill at this stage, they're worried about the


escalating costs. So is there an alternative which would be better


value for money? In June the Transport Secretary announced that


the overall cost of HS2 would be higher than previously expected. The


estimated maximum price has gone up from ?34.2 billion to ?42.6 billion,


plus a further ?7.5 billion for new trains. That has led Labour to


question its support for the scheme. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says he


is not prepared to write a blank cheque, and David Cameron said at


the weekend that it might not go ahead without cross-party support.


But now a new report for Network Rail has warned that the


alternatives to a new high speed line would have their own problems.


Upgrading the East and West Coast lines, along with the Midlands


mainline, would be expensive and would cause massive disruption There


would have to be weekend line closures for approximately 14 years


whilst the work was done. Supporters of HS2 say this bolsters the case


for the Government plan. We are joined now by Conservative MP


Nadhim Zahawi, and hopefully Kelvin Hopkins from Labour. What do you


think about these alternatives? If we look at the details, and we will


get more this week, the job you would need to do would mean 14 years


of weekend closures, journeys to Leeds increasing from two hours to


four and a half hours, journeys from Huntington to Peterborough doubling


to an hour. Even the alternatives require knocking down some homes.


What about the cost? It could be much cheaper. They are talking about


?20 billion. The less time West Coast Main Line was patched up cost


about ?7 billion, the ?20 billion would probably only by you about a


third more capacity. We have gone up to 125 million train journeys in


recent years, a significant row. We have to make hard choices. We have


to go for more capacity. This is where I find the Labour position be


be puzzling, Lord Dyson, who delivered the Olympics, is in


charge. -- I find the Labour position really puzzling. He says


that, like with the Olympics, what UK firms can do to benefit from this


investment, as there is more investment in the rest of the road


and transport. The arguments seem to be with the Labour, let's see if we


can make political mileage in the short-term. I think that is very


unwise. Is it really neutral? It was a government commissioned report by


network rail. People will view it as home-grown and scare tactics? Atkins


is a serious company with an international reputation, I don't


think they would put their name to a study of this kind without doing


some of the work properly. All I can say to you is that from previous


experience of the West Coast Main Line upgrade, these things cost


money and it is massive disruption, 14 years of weekend disruption. If


you take one train where you will have to provide a bus service, 500


passengers, that is about eight or nine coaches, just imagine what that


would do. There is a trade-off here. What do we want, how do we wanted? I


think the North/ South high-speed lane is the thing, it will benefit


eight of our most important cities. Of course, by definition, when you


have a new high-speed rail line, inward investment would follow that


transport upgrade and you would get some winners and losers. But the


winners in the West Midlands and the North are bigger than down in London


and the south-east. The Government will publish the business case


tomorrow. Why so late? Why are we hearing all the arguments so late in


the day? I think Patrick McLoughlin has tried to do a rigorous job. He


was white to say that with these massive ambitious projects you are


right to kick the tires. Let's not abuse the way we try to kick the


tyres, let's have a debate that is constructive and objective. He has


gone out of his way to make sure that the data is robust. Nobody is


arguing against the capacity argument, not even Labour. Labour


has to decide whether it wants to play politics or behave responsibly


with cross-party consensus. Liz Peace, are you a fan of high-speed


rail? I am a fan of additional capacity. So far the case has been


very badly made. The fact that it is called high-speed, nobody is that


fussed about knocking ten or 20 minutes off the time to Birmingham,


it is important that we have new infrastructure. We can't go into the


next 50 years with the railway lines we have, we need new ones. It makes


sense to me that if you are building new ones you build them


state-of-the-art, not to yesterday 's technology. Looking at the


numbers, the incremental cost of moving to a high-speed system as


opposed to patching up the old one or building a company can lead new


parallel one is only about ten percentage difference. -- or


building a completely new parallel one. I think High Speed 2 is the way


to go. It is connecting the north and the South. You can come up with


the rebranding. Is it worth the money? Yes. Alternatives outlined


today like upgrading the other three main lines, would that not be


viable? Depends how you assess viability. The idea of disrupting


trouble for however long... Over 14 years, it beggars belief. We like to


think of ourselves as a leading, modern country with technology, if


we don't have a rail system, what will the rest of the world think?


There is a risk of the project range are old, because within your own


party perhaps up to 60 Conservative MPs will not back this. There is not


cross-party support for this. The ball is firmly in Labour 's court.


It is difficult for many of my colleagues. But they are wrong? They


are right to fight for their constituents and to make the


arguments to say, have we done enough tunnelling and cutting, have


we made sure the compensation is adequate? These are people 's lives


and properties, let's make sure that we do it properly. I have no truck


with my colleagues standing up and speaking for constituents, I would


do exactly the same. But Labour need to make their mind up. Are we going


to be ambitious in delivering these big infrastructure projects for the


UK, or will we say, we don't need that, we don't need better airport


infrastructure, we don't need shale, let's just do non-that and


let's be something different? -- let's do non-flat. Unfortunately


there are technical problems with the line. Surprise, surprise. We


could not get a Labour spokesperson. They are there, there are just


technical problems. Don't say it is not because they will not come on.


If you can't convince your own colleagues and you just want to


blame Labour, the argument is not strong enough? The estimates are


that between 30 and 60 colleagues will decide to vote against this.


There are over 306 in the Conservative Party Conference so the


majority think this is right. -- in the Conservative Party, so the


majority think this is right. Lord Dyson, who delivered the Olympics,


says he can deliver this within the envelope, which means within the


budget. He is probably the best man equipped at two deliver such a


project after the Olympics. Looking ahead, it will take a long time


before it is online, won't this new high-speed rail be redundant? It is


very difficult to envisage a country in which we don't want good rail


travel. But we could have upgraded other connections. Will that line be


the priority then? It is not shaving off 20 minutes that is important,


the capacity is important. The single line that goes up to


Manchester is bursting. It frequently gets a problem on it,


once you have a problem there are delays. You need the capacity and I


don't see how we can have a modern country without a modern railway.


Even the Americans are going for high speed. We now have the Labour


MP. You may or may not have been able to hear what Nadhim Zahawi was


saying, but he says that without cross-party support, HS2 is


derailed? Hello? I have lost you, I am afraid. Can usually me now? I can


hear you, but you are breaking up. What is Labour going to do? Should


Labour support the line? I have come here to support the freight route


scheme which will take freight off the main lines and 5 million lorries


off the road as well each year. That will free up those lines for more


passengers. On the West Coast Main Line, my engineer friends tell me


that modernised signalling would allow for more passenger routes


through, more passenger frequency, and the other lines are easily


modifiable in a relatively short time as well. The report here


clearly says that any alternative to HS2 is actually not all it is


cracked up to be, you would have to thousands 700 weekend closures


lasting 14 years, and there would still be billions in terms of costs


of the upgrades. That 2700. That is nonsense, it is just a scare story.


The East Coast Main Line could be modernised without interrupting


traffic at all. We want to build another viaduct, a flyover at


Peterborough, and another at Newark, increasing the line from two up two


four tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough. That is what needs to


be done, then we could get 140 mph working for most of the route and do


London to Edinburgh in a shorter time than is proposed for HS2. Do


you want and are you lobbying Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to withdraw


support from this scheme? Well, I am just expressing a view, I am not


lobbying them about that. What I am lobbying about is the freight route,


which is a dedicated route from the Channel Tunnel to the Glasgow. What


is your problem with HS2? I think it is a necessary and extremely


expensive, and the money would be much better spent investing in all


sorts of other railway projects, including GB Freight, and


modernising the East Coast, west coast and Midland mainline is, and


indeed promoting another line from Paddington to Birmingham to make


extra capacity on that route. So it is just a scare tactic, Nadhim


Zahawi, saying we would have to spend equal amounts of money and


have all that disruption when you could just upgrade the lines without


HS2. Well, Kilburn talks about Huntingdon to Peterborough, and that


would double the time to get there in terms of an hour while the


upgrades are taking place. According to a serious firm, Atkins, and


Network Rail, to get a third of the capacity, which does not address the


problem, we have already begun investment. The Manchester to


Scotland line is being electrified, we are spending an additional 56


billion on top of the 17 billion that will be spent up to 2021 on


HS2. That is on other transport upgrades. The idea that you could


spend more money differently, I think, is wrong. Labour need to put


up a better spokesman and come and explain why they are, you know,


effectively casting a shadow over a very important project for business.


Hard-working businessmen and women watching a programme of thinking,


why Labour doing this? He said he was not lobbying, that is just his


view. Thank you very much, Kelvin Hopkins, for getting onto the


programme. The trial has begun of Rebekah


Brooks and Andy Coulson. Both face charges, which they deny, arising


from the phone hacking affair. Our correspondent Robin Brant is outside


the Old Bailey, what is happening today, then, Robin? Well, it is


technically the beginning of the trial, a trial that, we are told,


could last some time. The two people you just mentioned arrived here at


the entrance to the Old Bailey about three hours ago, they arrive


separately, of course, Rebekah Brooks arriving with her husband,


also one of the people facing trial today, and a little later Andy


Coulson arrived on foot. They are among the eight people facing trial


here. The others are Ian Edmondson, Stuart Kuttner, Clive Goodman,


Cheryl Carter and Mark Hanna. They face an array of charges. For


Rebekah Brooks, formerly the editor of the News of the World, for three


years until 2003, and went on to be in charge of News International, she


faces conspiracy to intercept communications, she faces two


charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office in


relation to allegations of corrupt payments to people in public


office, and she also faces two charges of conspiracy to pervert the


course of justice. That is in relation to allegations of


concealing or removing potential evidence. When it comes to Andy


Coulson, the man who was also the editor of the News of the World for


four years until 2007, and went on to be the Prime Minister's director


of communications, both in opposition and in Downing Street, he


also faces that overarching charge of conspiracy to intercept


communications, and then two separate charges of conspiracy to


commit misconduct in a public office. So the trial starts today,


technically, although I think what we have today is the selection of


the jury from a vast pool of up to about 80 people, and then the


proceedings proper, I suppose, as we would refer to it, with opening


statements and the prosecution may start tomorrow, but probably more


likely Wednesday. Now, it is becoming harder and


harder to get on the property ladder in London. In the past year alone,


house prices in the capital increased by almost 9%, and many


blaming foreign investors for pricing ordinary families out of


housing market. Overseas buyers see London real estate as a safe place


to invest their cash. So our foreign investors to blame for house price


inflation? If so, what should be done about it? Eleanor Garnier has


been investigating. This is luxury living, high


ceilings, a touch of marble, slumped to perfection. London properties


like this are a place for the world's millionaires to move their


money and make more, a safe investment in a turbulent economic


world, and it is turning property in our capital into a global reserve


currency. We have just bought this house onto the market at ?6.75


million. We marketed one year ago, we would have been asking closer to


6 million, perhaps 6.25 million. The reason is that we have seen prices


going up by around 7%. It is a familiar story across the capital.


Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in the


year to August, house prices in the capital shot up by 8.7%. One agency


is recently reported that asking prices went up by more than 10% in a


month. It is fuelling fears of a housing bubble and making London


increasingly unaffordable for many. A high level of international


interest, some agents report 50% of purchases coming from overseas. With


their affordability being greater than the domestic buyer, that is


pushing up prices, so the choice for the domestic buyers are to move


further out or really stretched their levels of borrowing to the


levels that are unsustainable. It is not just the influence of foreign


buyers and the influx of immigrants that is sucking up supply. There are


many factors - strong cultural desire to own homes rather than


rent, more people living alone, and the Help To Buy scheme are all


sighted. Close to the capital, in the south-east, the ripple effect is


being felt. Elsewhere across England, Wales and Northern Ireland,


house prices are rising, albeit far more slowly. In Scotland, they are


falling. London's mayor, Boris Johnson, welcomes overseas


investment. He believes the solution to high prices and short supply is


to build more. But there is pressure on politicians for radical steps to


help average income earners. We need restrictions on foreign capital


coming in, as they have in Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland,


many countries, and we need to make sure that council tax is much more


applicable compares to how much house prices actually are, because a


mansion in Kensington and Chelsea pays less council tax than an


ordinary house in Stoke-on-Trent, that is not acceptable. New homes


are still springing up across the capital's skyline. The concern,


though, is that they are serving the appetite of rich investors, rather


than helping to meet the drastic shortage of affordable housing.


And the Shadow Housing Minister, Emma Reynolds, is here, welcome to


the programme. Is foreign ownership to blame for the recent house price


inflation? It probably is contributing, but actually I do not


think in the end it is something that we are going to be able to curb


or limit, because the problem is, if you did not have this foreign


investment, a lot of the schemes would not get off the ground, so we


would be building even less than we do at the moment. I think a lot of


the foreign investment is far more of an issue in the very centre of


London, and in the goober prime, rather than some of the... Although


it is having a ripple effect, pushing prices to the outer boroughs


as well. I am not sure we have got fully another evidence of that. The


obsession with London is very much in the centre for overseas buyers.


There are other things that are driving up house prices elsewhere,


you know, lack of supply, the Help To Buy scheme up to a point. I think


it is a very complex picture, it is too quick and simple to say, blame


the overseas buyers, do something to curb them. Although in that film,


one of the contributors said 50% of interest in homes in central London,


over the ?2 million mark, came from overseas, so the anecdotal evidence


is there. But that is not going to hugely affect the first-time buyer,


like my young son, looking for a house. He's not looking for a ?2


million flat, he is looking for a much more reasonable level.


Interestingly, about 49% of the over ?1 million properties go to overseas


buyers, and 28% of them, only 28% are not resident in London. They may


be foreign buyers, but they are in London. But you accept the analysis


that for ordinary families, it is extremely difficult to buy a home in


London. I absolutely accept that, and we have to look at ways of


making it easier. Do you want to take action against foreign


investors? There is more concerned about foreign investment and


ownership, particularly when flats or houses are being built, and in


some cases, not all, as Liz has said, being left empty, and there is


a chronic shortage of supply in London, but across the country, and


that is the really big issue that the Government has failed to tackle.


There is a chronic shortage of supply, supply is outstripping


demand, and therefore house prices are going up. We understand what the


problem is, how many of these properties are being left empty,


bought up by foreign investors and left empty? I think Estimates vary,


so we need a more accurate assessment of the facts in terms of


how many properties are being left empty. You said you could not curb


it, but you could if you wanted to, you could introduce taxes or levies


of foreign investors - would you like to do that? In terms of the


empty properties, which is a problem, but we have to understand


the percentage of the problem that is caused by that, but councils


already have the power to increase the rate of council taxes on these


empty properties, and Camden Council, for example, earlier this


year as the Secretary of State whether they could increase that


council tax even further for empty properties. Empty properties and


some of those are owned by foreign investors, it is a particular


problem in some areas in London. Was that a good idea? I agree that we


are not clear how many are empty, I suspect it is rather less than


people think. We were involved in some work in 2007 by a reputable


independent researcher who said that he felt that all this business about


lots of FT properties was a bit of a fallacy, something like 5% are


empty. Wood July to see boroughs and councils... What I would like to see


the changes to the other end of council tax. This is a sensible way


of getting the right level of tax levied on the higher, more expensive


properties. Is it fair that someone living in Kensington pays more


council tax -- less council tax than someone living in Stoke-on-Trent?


Should be councils carry out a rebranding exercise? In an ideal


world, you would have that exercise, but we are not living in an ideal


world, and the problem is that it costs a lot of money to revalue


properties, and you would have to do it across the country, and councils


are seeing very large cuts to the government grant they get, so it


would have to be... Is that going to continue? We have to look at that


new to the time of the general election in terms of the budget that


we put forward, you know, in terms of what is in the pot, but all I am


saying is that it would be great if we could do that, but it is a costly


exercise. Is there something we could do like a mansion tax that


would not require... That would still require rebranding, wouldn't


it? You have got properties that have not been looked at for years.


Only at the other end. My constituency is in Wolverhampton,


and I would wager there is not a house in Wolverhampton that is over


?2 million in terms of its work. Property speculation tax, that is


the other thing. My concern with this is that if you take a sort of


knee-jerk reaction into some sort of mansion tax, properties regulation


tax, something that is aimed at overseas buyers, which would be very


difficult... Or even wealthy home-grown, you will actually simply


drive away a whole load of the investment. Would that really


happen? Absolutely, if we do not have a degree of overseas investment


in a lot of these large schemes, they won't even get off the table,


because the problem is, when the companies are looking at whether to


do them, they have to do an investment appraisal, they have to


assess how many they will sell at what price. The fact that they can


pre-sell-off plan a percentage of them is what allows them to get the


finance and crack on with the scheme. If they can't do that, they


won't do it. I'm not convinced. Developers and the like are driven


by profit. But the Government has relaxed section 106, which means


that councils can no longer demand a high percentage or a substantial


amount... Demand is outstripping supply in London, why is it that


there are developers sitting on land with planning permission and not


building houses? Even Boris Johnson says it is a problem. That is one of


the problems we need to look at. I am not convinced that foreign owners


need to commence to boost things. The developers sitting on land and


not using it, a game, that is something I would like to see


evidence of all stop I think you will find there are parts of the


house building community that would not be averse to seeing things done


to tackle that. But you can't make somebody build if they are going to


lose money. They are businesses, they do their investment appraisal


and they must be clear that they will be able to sell and make a


profit. Nothing wrong with that, if they can't make a profit they will


not be in business. Thank you both. Liz Peace, I hope your journey home


is not as horrendous as the journey in.


So what's the political forecast for the week ahead? Better weather, I


help! -- I hope! Well, this afternoon, and by pure coincidence,


the transport select committee meet to discuss the UK's resilience to


winter weather. All eyes will be on the Energy and Climate Change


Committee tomorrow when bosses from the big six energy companies give


evidence. On Wednesday, the Privy Council meets to approve a royal


charter on press regulation agreed by the main political parties. On


Thursday High Speed Two faces a commons vote. And on Friday the


firefighters are due to strike in their dispute with the Government


over pensions. I'm joined now by James Lyons from


the Daily Mirror and Tamara Cohen from the Daily Mail. Welcome, both.


James Lyons, energy bills continue to dominate the political agenda as


energy companies continue to increase prices. MPs will be willing


the energy companies, seen as the ogres in this drama. Will it be a


case of them trying to outstrip each other in terms of who can be most


tough? They will be turning up the heat on energy bosses, if you


forgive the pun. There will be some very interesting statistics


discussed which Ofgem has come up with today, which shows that four of


the big six have put their prices up by an average of 9.1 present. They


blame wholesale energy prices for this. In fact, Ofgem is saying that


the price at which they are buying energy before they sell it has only


gone up by 1.7 percentage. -- 1.7%. The plan to move part of the green


levies from bills onto general taxation, that would be welcomed by


the energy companies, no doubt. But the taxpayer will still be paying,


whichever way you cut it? David Cameron has said he would roll back


the green taxes on energy bills, and the criticism is that the government


is saying that they are aggressive and the burden falls equally on


everybody, whereas if part of it was brought under general taxation then


it would mean that people who earn more would pay more. They say it


would be more fair. The difficulty is getting this past the Liberal


Democrats. The part of the green taxes that the Government is talking


about is ?47 which goes to what is called the energy company


obligation, which is too insulated homes which are not very


energy-efficient. But there has been criticism that a lot of the money is


not going to the fuel poor. There is consensus between Labour and the


Liberal Democrat that the whole of the programme needs reviewing,


perhaps. Games, what about the coalition? Nick Clegg seemed to


suggest he would agree with part of the green levy going onto general


taxation, but are there problems further down the line? -- games,


what about the coalition? Interestingly, yesterday, Simon


Hughes floated the idea of some sort of rebate for poorer households. I


don't know whether that is something they can sign George Osborne up to


win the autumn statement, that I suspect there will be something like


that, something that the Lib Dems can display as a win in terms of


backing down. HS2, Tamara Cohen, do you think it will go ahead or be


derailed? They are voting on a paving bill -- paving bill, which


allocates the money for the project. It is not the major vote when the


construction begins. I suspect the Government will win the vote on


Thursday, but Labour is tightening the screws in the costs and a


timeline of the project, and it looks increasingly like they are


looking for an excuse to pull out and have the opportunity to allocate


some of that money for other project in the next manifesto, whether that


be housing, social care or something else. Labour is seeing this as a


political opportunity to cause maximum embarrassment to the


Government? I think Tamara is right, I think the bill will go through on


Thursday. But you could well see next year and opportune moment,


Labour pulling the plug, people talking about maybe during the


European elections, which will be tough for all three main parties. It


would cause David Cameron a lot of problems if Labour pulled support


them. This is a vast sum of money, ?50 billion. If you look at, for


example, the social care plans that the Labour Party comes up with, that


is ?2 billion a year, so Labour could fund social care for 25 years


with this money. And we're joined now by three


knights in shining armour who've ridden to our rescue at short notice


and through the storm to be our Monday political panel - the


Conservative MP Mark Field, Labour's David Lammy and the Liberal Democrat


MP Tom Brake. Welcome to you all. Now to welfare, because the national


roll-out of the Government's flagship welfare reform, universal


credit, reaches London today. It is being introduced in Hammersmith and


Fulham and replaces six existing benefits. Universal credit is being


phased in more slowly than ministers planned because of IT problems. Are


you disappointed? A little, but nobody said it would be easy. We all


knew the sort of welfare required... Reforms that would be


required, I think the public and the whole political class knew that we


could not go on spending that money, so I am happy delaying it. I am


happier that it is delayed and we are getting it right rather than


rushing into it with all sorts of problems. And you accept that the


Shadow Minister Chris Bryant described universal credit as being


in total chaos? It is not. We will be getting on later to why people


are so detached from the political process, this name-calling is daft.


Nobody said it would be easy, we would like to see things move


forward more quickly and we would like to see computer systems working


entirely smoothly, but a better idea is that we move ahead with what we


have done on the pilot project, then we can learn some lessons for


rolling this out in the years to come. Mark Field, this was the


centrepiece of the welfare programme, and just 1000 people have


claimed universal credit so far. For a project that will eventually


include 8 million people, it sounds like we are years away? I suspect we


are years away from getting it across the country, but filtering


down six credits into a universal credit, making it worth your while


to work - and the welfare trap is something that we feel very acutely


in our constituencies in London - I hope we get it right rather than


rushing it with some artificial timetable. But tens of millions have


now been wasted, says the National Audit Office. Hundreds of millions


are at risk of being written off because they have lost a grip on the


whole project. In fairness, the National Audit Office said the money


had been spent. A rather larger group of councils will be taking


this forward. Hopefully we can learn a lot from the pilot process in


Hammersmith and Fulham. Are you worried about what is going on in


the department? Are you reassured that they have a grip? The National


Audit Office said there was a good news culture, ministers not been


told exactly what was going on by civil servants and them not being


told about problems. Are you worried? We have some good ministers


in that department. Are you being given the full picture? One MP knows


a whole deal about pension reform. I hope they are drilling down and


asking the difficult questions. Isn't it right to take time? Yeah,


that they said it was overambitious and badly managed, they have wasted


millions. They should have gone with a phased approach should, benefit by


benefit. That is the intention. But six benefits are still being changed


with a few hundred thousand people as a pilot, which makes me very


with a few hundred thousand people worried, given we have seen the


mistakes with the benefit cap and we have seen that in one area only ten


percentage people have gone into work. -- only 10% of people. I would


be worried about whether ministers have a grip. But you are not against


the idea of the universal credit? Nobody is against simplifying the


system, but it is how you do it and how fast we might get to it. It


seems a long way away at the moment. Do you wanted to speed up or be


phased-in? They are changing disability living allowance at the


same time, changing the benefits caps. Right across the board, every


benefit that the Department is giving out, they are changing and


there are huge problems in the system. I would not say they are


huge problems. Sorry, Tom. It was always the Government 's intention


to roll this out, it is on target to be completed by 2017, a long-time


friend to do -- a long time frame to deliver it. If we wanted a big bang


approach, as happened with the Child Support Agency, I think people would


be tearing their hair out. We are doing a gradual roll-out, we have


trialled it in Manchester, we are trialling it in Hammersmith and


Fulham. We will be able to learn from those trials. In our


constituencies we have all had to deal with the fact that people,


until now, were better off on benefits than in work. How much will


it cost? You have missed -- messed up disability living allowance.


Those in receipt of benefits at the moment have them capped by 1%


following George Osborne 's Budget, it is a tough time for people and


they want to know what will happen to them, unticketed if they have a


disability. It is not good enough to spend millions and then slow down


the process, sending confusion into the system. People don't know when


they will be the next tranche of people being put onto this benefit.


People fear change, as you know. Of course they do, that is exactly why


the Government is right to make sure the roll-out happens gradually and


is fully tested, so all of those people do not experience disasters


with their benefits, that actually things happen in a smooth way so


they do not then find there are multiple corrections taking place. I


think this is very sensible. The former Prime Minister, John Major,


gave a very clear warning as to the group of people he saw as the


millions of silent have not locked into lace curtain property, you said


the Conservatives were not doing enough. I share his view, I don't


like some of the rhetoric, the skivers against rises, it is


unhelpful. We have to make this work. -- the skivers against


strivers. But one would argue that this announcement today goes along


with what John Major has said. We have to be careful about rushing it


through. We are 17 or 18 months away from a general election, I don't


think we will see any thing radical happening within welfare other than


the plans already afoot, and insofar as this will be rolled out in a


significant way it will probably be after 2015. It was always going to


be difficult, Labour did not exactly have great experience when it came


to big IT project? I will not pretend that IT projects are easy,


but every single benefit is being changed. It was incredibly


overambitious, they brought this on themselves. That out there there are


some very vulnerable people reliant on their support and they need the


system to work. -- but out there. I wrote about this in my book. Very


complicated. They also need a system which enabled them to have their


situation reviewed on a regular basis where we did not face a


situation, for instance, with regards to DLA, where people had had


benefits and reviewed since the 1990s. Let's leave it there.


Now he's never voted and apparently he never will. And, for the record,


he thinks the political system in the UK is, well, pretty rubbish. Who


am I talking about? Russell Brand. He guest edited the New Statesman


last week and subsequently gave an interview to BBC Newsnight, which


has been a bit of hit worldwide hit with millions watching it on


YouTube. Here's a flavour of it. It is not that I am not putting out of


apathy, it is out of absolute indifference and weariness and


exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of a political class that


has been going on for generations now, and which has reached fever


pitch, where we have a disenfranchised, disillusioned,


despondent underclass that are not represented by the system, so voting


for it is tacit complicity with that system, and that is not something I


am up for. Why don't you change it? I am trying to! Why don't you start


by voting? I don't think it works, this has created the current


paradigm. You have never voted? Do you think that is bad? So before the


age of 18... I was busy being a drug addict, because I came from the


social conditions that are exacerbated by the system which


administrator for large corporations... You are blaming the


political class for that you had a drug problem? No, I was part of the


social and economic class that is underserved by the current system,


and drug addiction is one of the problems it creates, when you have


huge underserved impoverished populations, people get drug


problems and do not feel like they are engaged with the political


system because they see it does not work for them. They see that it


makes no difference, that they are not served. Of course it doesn't, if


they don't bother to vote. Jeremy, my darling, the apathy comes from


the politicians, they are apathetic to our needs.


News Statesman deputy editor Helen Lewis is with us, what was it like


working with Russell Brand? Everything you would imagine and


more! He came into the editorial conference and delivered this sort


of flawless monologue that had us all sitting there going, right, that


is interesting! The fundamental point he made is that he goes to


football matches and sees people on the terraces, they are excited and


passionate, he sees people campaign against the closure of an A


department or a library, they are passionate. But in national they


feel are not involved, they do not have any say in it, and that is the


key problem. I believe it to you guys to address that. Why did you


ask him? We like finding people of whom the perception is not what they


actually are, and slightly changed, and the same thing with happened


with Jemima Khan, who had great thoughts about free speech that we


wanted to get across, and she changed the reception of herself.


Russell Brand had been seen, we last remembered him as this kind of guy


who hosted big brother, but he has got some fantastic pieces in there,


Rupert Everett writing on gay rights is a revelation, a beautiful piece


of writing that I would never have read or we would not have been able


to commission otherwise. Tom Brake, man of the people, are you going to


read it? This is a copy of the edition, will you read it? Yes, I


will, although from the interview I think it is clear that he wants a


revolution, but what is not clear is what the Revolution looks like and


how it is going to happen and what it would mean in practical terms. I


think the issue about making a connection between voters and local


issues, maybe A campaigns, and national issues, it can be done. One


example - a national issue about improving access to train stations,


a couple of days ago I found out that Carshalton was on a list of


stations which might receive funding to be fully accessible or start by


e-mail, I contacted a certain number of people, and within two days we


had over 400 people who have signed up to a campaign to support making


that accessible. You can, using technology, make that connection


between local and national campaigns. It is about cutting


through, isn't it? You think we take Russell Brand too seriously, or


politics does, looks at them and thinks, how can he reach the parts


that we don't? What is successful is speaking for a bunch of young people


who feel very disillusioned with the system. They have not got free


education, they are not going to get full employment, many are


unemployed, they cannot buy a house, and if they get to work, they will


be working well past 70. That is a completely different settlements to


the baby boomers and Generation X. They are sitting pretty pretty. That


means that David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, they all have


to reach out and speak for these people. Not always easy to do, when


you have come out of Oxford with your PDA, but come a researcher and


inherited a political party. In that sense, Russell Brand is right. Do


you agree? Not entirely, we had Occupy London in my constituency two


years ago, and it struck a chord beyond just the usual sort of group


of perhaps anarchists on the left, increasingly, dare I say it,


middle-class Tory voters. How frightening for you! In a way,


frightening for the whole political class. The capitalist system seems


to be working against them, and David is right that we are of a


generation of having a free university education, being able to


get on the housing ladder, which is incredibly difficult now. Russell


Brand's answer to that is do not vote. That is the problem. All that


will mean is that the political class, they will think, we have to


put all of our attention into people over the age of 55, and a lot of


those people... He says he has been underserved by the political class.


Low blow it may well be that David and Mark are doing it as well. I am


doing some work with Fight the Ballot, which campaigns to get


people registered. Before they even vote, they need to be registered, so


make that first step, because if they do not, if they do not get


registered and vote in elections, as Mark has said, politicians


generally, they know who votes in their constituencies, and they tend


to try to establish a relationship with them. If people are not voting,


there is a problem. A pessimistic view of life for young people. It


may be true, but it seems pessimistic. I would not advocate


not voting. We should think about compulsory voting and then at least


we could see who destroyed their ballot and was upset with the


system. At the moment, the elderly are protected in our system, no-one


is attacking their TV licence, their fuel allowance. Young people not


voting are left out of the system. That was a mistake by David Cameron,


to make that commitment? We moving away from the paradigm of classless


politics, we moved into generational groups pitted against each other,


and my biggest worry is that the brightest and best young people,


young graduates in this country will think, there -- their future is best


served elsewhere. There is a workless core across the country,


who Russell Brand is also supporting, who was shot out of the


Westminster based politics that commits us to sound bites, usually


through the news, but does not seem to really speak genuinely about


people's problems. Do you agree, broadly, with the discussion that


the political class needs to engage with younger people and participate


in large numbers with those people? It is a completely vicious cycle.


Young people vote less, they are served less, therefore they vote


less. Your film about housing at this exactly. The one people that


preoccupies people in London under the age of 35 is the rising age of


first-time buyers. Help to buy will help a tiny number of people at the


expense of others who will see prices escalate further out their


reach. But with the exception of Labour and the jobs guarantee, what


party has a specific offer for young people? I think something that is


very concrete is the fact that we have a record number of


apprenticeships, and that is helping a very large number of young people.


Oh, God! Spare as! I am sorry that David thinks... That is quite


insulting for the young people who are undertaking these


apprenticeships. They are getting jobs as a result. What we need to do


is make sure that, traditionally, the wood for young people has been


about university education, and what is patronising, David, is saying


that all apprenticeships are useless. I am not saying that,


customer services, six weeks, no quality? We are providing young


people with the experience they need to then take up jobs that are there,


because their jobs in London. There is this mantra, all political


parties, get them into apprenticeships, we need more.


Nobody is talking about quality, the length, whether you can get jobs at


the end, the fact that there are adults doing these apprenticeships.


Speak to young people in their bedrooms not doing apprenticeships.


We need quality opportunities, not this Mickey Mouse stuff.


We preview did last week, and this week it is out. The Conservative


Party's YouTube attack on Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, branding them


mystic Ed and his crystal Balls, predicting Britain's economic slump


would get worse. And here it is. Well, Halloween is coming soon,


isn't it? Is it a work of art? Listen, it is funny, we are all


talking about it, and in many ways because we have so little of this at


the moment, you know, I think it is making a bit of an impact. The truth


is that once everyone has stuff like this on YouTube, it will die loot


its impact, but at the moment... How are you measuring the impact that is


well above my pay grade! Does it work to Mack I think it is mildly


entertaining, and I think it what is does is end use the supporters,


Conservative Party supporters, but at the bottom of it there is a


serious message, and that is that Ed Miliband and the Labour Party


predicted that growth would go down, but it has gone up, that jobs would


go down, but they have gone up. There is a serious basis for what is


a mildly humorous piece. What is the Labour response? What creative


response are you going to have to mystic Ed and his crystal Balls? I


think this is shockingly bad! It is puerile, it lacks innovation, it


speaks down to people. There are some serious issues out here. The


idea that people sat in Conservative Central Office have come up with


is... They are taking it too seriously. Try being one of the


people in my constituency, this is what you might dream up in a pub.


The fact that we are talking about it shows it is successful. Oh, God!


In the United States, a lot of this, the attack adverts are de rigueur,


and thankfully we don't have that. Will we see more of that? We are not


allowed to get in that way. There are very strict financial limits.


That was the very purpose of the transparency bill through the House


of Commons, that was about stopping super packed style campaigning that


they have in the United States, where organisations that are not


accountable put a huge amount of money into the political campaigns


of one or other of the parties, and thanks to that bill, that will not


happen here. It is on YouTube. So what?! Is that the future? There is


a lot of rubbish on YouTube! I think that the Conservatives spent money


on this, presumably, and they expected it to go viral. It might go


viral for the wrong reasons. But really this kind of politics is


precisely why Russell Brand has said what he said. Labour would do


something similar. We have done things that have been shopping as


well, but I don't think we should treat the electorate like this. Does


it go down well, all that negative advertising? I don't like that,


party should be able to put out a more positive message, but the


American evidence suggests that it works, that is the depressing side


of it, and I suspect we have not seen the last of it. What will you


come up with? As I said, I think it is mildly humorous, and in terms of


the political impact, it is extremely limited. It is very rare


for a short clip to have an impact. Perhaps the one example might be the


Neil Kinnock walking down the beach and being washed away by an incoming


wave, that has an impact, but I do not think this will have any


impact. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your predictions! Thank you


for coming in at the very last minute, that was very good of you


and we appreciated. Thank you to my guests for battling in against the


storm. The one o'clock news is starting on BBC One. I will be here


at noon tomorrow with all the big political stories of the day.




Download Subtitles