31/10/2013 Daily Politics


31/10/2013

Andrew Neil is joined by pensions expert Ros Altmann to discuss the day's political news, including the latest on energy prices and talking to pensions minister Steve Webb.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Afternoon, folks. And welcome to the Daily Politics. Turning up the

:00:40.:00:48.

heat on the energy companies, at least trying to. Ed Davey has been

:00:49.:00:53.

telling the Commons how he plans to increase competition in the energy

:00:54.:01:03.

market. Will -- will Labour derail High Speed 2? The Commons votes on

:01:04.:01:07.

the project and we will ask what the opposition are playing at. The

:01:08.:01:11.

Electoral Commission wants this man to reword his EU referendum

:01:12.:01:17.

question because they do not think the great British public knows

:01:18.:01:21.

whether we are in or not. Is Britain a member of the European

:01:22.:01:28.

Union? I think we are. And is there no end to his meddling? They now

:01:29.:01:40.

want to standardise this. FLUSHING. It is very upmarket this morning!

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With us for the duration, the -- pensions expert, Ros Altman. We

:01:50.:01:54.

will talk about the newspapers. Last night, the queenside and the

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Royal Charter to regulate the press. The Privy Council placed its seal

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of approval on the plans after newspapers lost a last ditch

:02:06.:02:09.

attempt to stop the process. It is under way. What do you make of it?

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A lot of the mainstream press will not join. They will try to stand

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against this. That will open them up to problems, but they are

:02:23.:02:27.

willing to accept that. I am rather sad. I think that the freedom of

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the press is one of the big pluses of the society and we have perhaps,

:02:34.:02:38.

over the top. You do not think the Government should have gone down

:02:39.:02:42.

this road? Per Smillie, not. The press, sometimes, is the most

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effective opposition -- personally. If they are stymied in standing up

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for the electorate, by politicians, effectively, maybe there is a

:02:55.:03:01.

slippery slope. We will see. This demand for regulation, with the

:03:02.:03:07.

Government role in it, came out of terrible things that were exposed

:03:08.:03:13.

by other parts of the press. Things happening at News International

:03:14.:03:16.

with hacking. The law is now taking its course on that, not regulation.

:03:17.:03:22.

We have systems in place to control wrong doing. And to slap these

:03:23.:03:30.

controls on the press, all risks slapping a potential political

:03:31.:03:33.

control on the press I think is the wrong way to go. We shall see what

:03:34.:03:39.

happens. Now it is time for the daily quiz. According to the papers,

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the European Union is proposing to standardise lavatory flushes. It is

:03:48.:03:54.

a sort of bog-standard! Did you see that? What will the recommended

:03:55.:03:57.

flush be? At the end of the show, Ros Altman

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will help to flush out the correct answer. Great script today. Who

:04:20.:04:27.

writes this? They will be fired when I am off the air! It is a big

:04:28.:04:32.

day for High Speed 2. MPs will vote on whether to let the Government to

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start spending money on preparations for the project. David

:04:37.:04:40.

Cameron and George Osborne hope they can drive it through. Labour

:04:41.:04:44.

have appeared to put the brakes on the project went Ed Balls said the

:04:45.:04:51.

costs have gone up to ?50 billion and there would be no blank cheque

:04:52.:04:58.

for HS2. The Transport Secretary said the new line will only happen

:04:59.:05:04.

with Labour support. David Cameron called Labour weak. What if

:05:05.:05:12.

anything can win round the Conservative backbenchers, who want

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to see it hit the buffers? When it was discussed in June this year, 21

:05:17.:05:21.

Tories actually voted against. It is not just a Labour problem for

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the Government. There were rumours 60 could rebel today. Is it all the

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board for HS2? Are we hitting the end of the line? James is the

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expert on Labour and HS2. I understand they will vote for this

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Bill this afternoon. The Labour party will vote for the Bill

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because it is not the whole thing. What it does today is simply say we

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will give the Government the authority to spend money, planning,

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compensation, preliminary work. And Labour are still retaining the

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right, further down the line, to say no. That is because the second

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phase of the legislation, the detail, the building, that will

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happen next year. I understand there is a split between Ed

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Miliband and Ed Balls. Ed Miliband is generally sympathetic and Ed

:06:26.:06:30.

Balls is more sceptical. That is reasonable. If you talk to Ed

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Miliband's people, they say he is a supporter and believes it is a good

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thing. Early in the year he said he thought the economic and social and

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business case had been made. If you talk to Ed Balls, he says yes, in

:06:46.:06:51.

theory we are in favour, but we have to make sure the money is

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spent well. He talks about stewardship of money. What I think

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is going on is that Labour use this as a way of displaying fiscal

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prudence. The topic when they can show the electorate that if they

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were elected, they could look after the purse strings and make a

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difference. Many people in the Labour Party think that is OK, but

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it is not a sustainable position because nobody is going to invest

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in the project if it has continuing doubt. For now, the Labour Party

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maintained that no blank cheque approach. The Government could

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continue doing what it needs to do until 2015 and then the Government,

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the Tory party, will say if you vote for us we will continue, it is

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too late to stop it by 2020, vote for us and we will finish the job.

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That would leave it open to people like us to say to Labour you need

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to say whether you are going with it or not. We would ask the

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question earlier, we would ask it next year, when the detailed Bill

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comes up. At that stage Labour will have to make a decision. Some in

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labour say maybe we could sidestep that and allow it to go through

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without voting for it, but most in Labour say they have to make a

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decision. Is it a lack of faith in big projects that make them put

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almost 15 billion of contingency into the budget? There is a mystery

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about it. They suddenly realised that some of it had not worked out

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and they need flexibility. A buffer. You always need a buffer for the

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railway. Flushing, enter the line, puns. James Lewis is a councillor

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for Leeds. He sits on the West Yorkshire Transport Authority

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committee. Welcome. You are a council -- your council leader

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wrote to the Shadow Transport Secretary this week to express

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concern over the Labour position. What is your view? What would you

:09:13.:09:18.

want the Labour Party to stand for? Our view is clear that for the

:09:19.:09:22.

future of the economy of the North of England we need investment in

:09:23.:09:26.

projects like High Speed 2 and we want to see better Connectivity to

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the rest of the country and extra capacity. At the moment the

:09:31.:09:35.

Government might not be handling it as well as they made, but it has to

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be delivered. If we had a high- speed link between London and Leeds

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Town, what makes you think it would not takes -- take more acid Leeds,

:09:47.:09:52.

rather than leading to greater prosperity for the City -- take

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more out of. London is a great global economic a city, and faster

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links must attract jobs to Leeds. We want better connections two

:10:05.:10:08.

international airports when the Government sorts out the airport

:10:09.:10:12.

policy and better connections to the Continent. That has to be good

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for our city, which is a modern European city and we need to be

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connected to the rest of the world. The coalition want to proceed. The

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fly in the ointment is Labour. You must be irritated by this position,

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of bringing doubt that a project -- to the project? We are clear that

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Labour is committed. We want to make sure that the long term

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commitment to deliver it is there and that it is a project that will

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last beyond the current government. The project was started in the last

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government and has continued under this government. The why is Ed

:10:57.:11:01.

Balls playing politics with it? He is rightly asking questions about

:11:02.:11:07.

the cost. We want to see... It is not just about the froth of the

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daily debate. The economic imperative is there to make longer

:11:13.:11:19.

term decisions about infrastructure. There is a big thumbs-up for HS2

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from you? Yes. We can go to Central lobby. We are joined by a Labour MP

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and Conservative MP. Welcome. What is Labour playing at? I have to

:11:36.:11:40.

make my position clear at the outset. The Labour Party has won

:11:41.:11:44.

position and I have voted consistently against it. -- one

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position. A are they now coming in your direction? I have tried to

:11:52.:11:55.

make the case to say we need a moratorium. What has been said is

:11:56.:12:01.

important. We have problems with Connectivity and capacity. This has

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gone the wrong way around. The project is being imposed on us

:12:07.:12:10.

without looking at whether it is the best use of money. The

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counsellor we just heard from, part of your party, and the head of

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Birmingham City Council, they do not want a moratorium. They are

:12:23.:12:27.

telling Westminster to get on with it. We are 30 years behind on high-

:12:28.:12:34.

speed, get it done. I would say get on with improving the

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infrastructure. But if we are spending ?50 billion, which is

:12:40.:12:43.

likely to rise to 75 billion, we need to sit down and make sure it

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is the best project and I am not convinced. As Ed Balls spoken about

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this to you? He has not. Should he? Why would he not speak to you? I do

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not think it is deliberate. I will make sure I find him today and have

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a word with him. Stewart Andrew, where are you won this? I am in

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favour. We are at the stage where we need to tackle long-term

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problems. The capacity issue is an issue now and will get worse by

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2020. Why do you need high-speed to deal with capacity? And having

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looked at the capacity figures, they are not convincing. I travel

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on the train a lot. What we used to call the InterCity routes. A lot of

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the time, they are not packed, even in peak time. Commuter trains are

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packed, not long distance. A you must use different trains. When I

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go back to my constituency, after 2:30pm, you struggle to find a seat.

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It is set to get worse. Passengers numbers have doubled and that is

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set to increase. The existing mainline routes cannot cope. We

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have spent billions of pounds upgrading the West Coast Main Line.

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Now we are at capacity again. The only way to solve it is to have a

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new line and if we do that, let's use the best technology. Let's be

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proud of it. It is now 30 years out of date. What do you say to the

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capacity argument? Billions of pounds already spent has been on

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consultancy fees. That needs addressing. What we are talking

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about is the economic competence. That is where Ed Balls and Labour

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have been strong, saying they are not prepared to write a blank

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cheque. Nobody is asking for that. I think they are asking for a blank

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cheque. What I'd like to see his evidence of every single other

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option that has been explored and why HS2 is the best option.

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Quite a few Conservatives are on the other side of the argument. How many

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would you regard as rebels? The are not rebels, they are legitimate.

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Forget the word, how many do not agree? We will see. I do not know. I

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think we will have the vast majority of conservatives. 21 voted against

:15:36.:15:39.

it last time. Possibly the same again full of the fact is that we

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have to continue to make the case. The argument before was about speed

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and that is not the issue. It was very good of the transport

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Department to work out that people like us can actually work on trains,

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that was a revelation. It shows they do not get out very often. I label

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MPs -- Labour MPs moving in your direction? There were 27 people of

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all sides of the house last time we voted against this, that is not a

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great number. I am hoping it will be more today. Thank you. You will be

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our default theme. Are you for or against? I am for. We need to renew

:16:40.:16:44.

our infrastructure. When you look around the rest of Europe, we are so

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far behind. HS2 is only one bit. We need more than that. Are we not

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looking at a late 20th-century technology that we have missed the

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boat on, trying to catch it up and the world has moved on? We will have

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holograms on the table, and by 2030, the world will probably be full of

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driverless cars. There will be other things we need to do as well. I

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think we have a project ready to go, we have seen these things take so

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long. If we wait there will be another lot of technology. Today

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will be out of date. Thank you. Just before we came near, Ed Davey made

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his annual energy statement. I know you have been waiting for it. --

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came on here. He announced new plans to make it easier for consumers to

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switch energy plans. He also suggested the issue of market

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competition. In our debates on energy bills, many have been asking

:17:55.:17:57.

questions about whether competition is working in the energy market full

:17:58.:18:03.

of well this coalition has already done a lot to promote competition,

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and we are ready to do more. We propose to introduce annual reviews

:18:12.:18:14.

of the state of competition in the energy market. The first of these

:18:15.:18:20.

assessments will be delivered by spring next year. The assessment

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will be undertaken by Ofgem, working closely with the Office of Fair

:18:28.:18:33.

Trading. The exact metrics for the review will be a matter for the

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regulator but I will be asking them to in-depth across the sector at

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profits and prices, barriers to entry and consumer engagement. This

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government has equipped the regulator with strong powers. It

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uses a phone, they must be addressed. We need to make sure

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energy supplies are open and honest. -- if abuse is found. I have asked

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Ofgem to deliver by spring next year to report. -- a full report. They

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will build on the work completed by BDO. Ofgem will be publishing the

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consultation this afternoon. The public need to know that our reforms

:19:25.:19:28.

will have teeth, that companies that play outside the rules will be

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penalised and punished. Ofgem have the powers to require compensation

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payments to be made directly to consumers who have lost out. I want

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to go further. I intend to consult on the introduction of criminal

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sanctions for anyone found manipulating energy markets and

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harming the consumer interest. I am joined by Angela Knight, chief

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executive of Energy UK. Why does it take so long to switch energy

:20:03.:20:07.

suppliers? Predominantly because there is a two-week cooling off

:20:08.:20:11.

period, set out as a statutory requirement. Then there is a debt

:20:12.:20:19.

piece, where individuals have the opportunity to sort it out if they

:20:20.:20:24.

have any. Then the balancing mechanisms, which are not owned by

:20:25.:20:29.

the industry. That is why it comes down to five weeks. We have done

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quite a lot of work on this already and we reckon some of those changes

:20:33.:20:36.

can undoubtedly take place at the same time. The big question is

:20:37.:20:42.

whether that consumer protection piece is removed or left. We need to

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have a discussion about that. That is up to the customers. We do not

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know at the moment what the balancing mechanism is. You would

:20:51.:20:55.

like to see it happen a lot more quickly? We think it is possible to

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do that. We have done some of the work in the weeds of this. It is

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more, betrayed underneath than one thinks. This is one of those areas.

:21:05.:21:10.

Lots of parties are involved, not just the energy companies. Why don't

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you just get together and do it? That is exactly what we are doing.

:21:16.:21:21.

We kept the department involved. I believe the Secretary of State, when

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he made his England, referenced the work we do it. Why not implemented

:21:25.:21:29.

now? People are desperate to change suppliers. The bills are going up

:21:30.:21:33.

and the winter is upon us. I tried to change my supplier and it is a

:21:34.:21:42.

nightmare. I have a reasonable education, a degree in economic, and

:21:43.:21:47.

a name that some people recognise and it was still a nightmare. What

:21:48.:21:51.

chance would my grandmother have had? 3 million households are

:21:52.:22:00.

changing every year, more doing it on tariffs with one company. They

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are changing on average so it cannot be that much of a nightmare. Why

:22:08.:22:13.

shouldn't it take more than two weeks? I'm not sure that it

:22:14.:22:17.

necessarily does. You have the two-week cooling off period and then

:22:18.:22:22.

you have the organisations that have to be notified. Right now, I don't

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know how their systems are to do that. I do know that we can shorten

:22:33.:22:37.

things but I'm not going to make promises for third parties with

:22:38.:22:43.

which we do not understand their mechanisms. I can make a promise

:22:44.:22:48.

that switching quickly can be done and there is a lot of work underway

:22:49.:22:53.

and we can bring forward some of those changes pretty quickly. Why

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won't you energy companies, that you represent, tell us the wholesale

:22:59.:23:04.

cost of the electricity they generate? A lot of that is already.

:23:05.:23:11.

There is a wholesale market report prices regularly. That is the

:23:12.:23:18.

wholesale market. Why do we not know the energy generation costs of the

:23:19.:23:26.

big six? I'm surprised you say that because they report them in a

:23:27.:23:31.

segregated way, provided to Ofgem, the regulator, which has been

:23:32.:23:34.

subject to not only to the scrutiny of the regulator but also by third

:23:35.:23:39.

parties. Are you saying it is possible for us to see the

:23:40.:23:45.

generating cost, let's take one of the big six, to see how much it cost

:23:46.:23:53.

to generate the electricity and then the retail mark-up that same company

:23:54.:23:58.

put on its own electricity? Can you do that? Have a look at the

:23:59.:24:04.

accounts. You are the expert. Can you do that? The accounts are there,

:24:05.:24:10.

they are public. A separate out generation, retail, you can work

:24:11.:24:15.

your way through. -- they will separate. You can see what the sales

:24:16.:24:20.

margins are. I think it is all there. You represent them. What is

:24:21.:24:31.

the wholesale generating cost of Centrica? I'll have to go and look.

:24:32.:24:37.

For us to be able to judge if the retail price is fear, we need to

:24:38.:24:44.

know the mark-up. I will let you know when I at them and I will let

:24:45.:24:47.

you know that. We're not talking about secret. We are providing

:24:48.:24:53.

information transparently. The question is whether there is more

:24:54.:24:59.

that is required. That is fine. There is no black hole here. There

:25:00.:25:09.

is no opiate thing. -- opaque. You require more, that is fine, more can

:25:10.:25:13.

be required. Do not forget that generation is done by many

:25:14.:25:16.

companies, lots of independent generators. I was just asking for

:25:17.:25:25.

one. Energy and gas is boss unsold. Now you are telling me things that I

:25:26.:25:29.

know, what I was trying to do was get you to tell me something I don't

:25:30.:25:34.

know, but you are not able to do that. I cannot. I have not gone and

:25:35.:25:41.

Luke. Thank you. Thank you. You can go... We are joined by the editor of

:25:42.:25:48.

Which Magazine. I am sad to say, Angela Knight will not debate with

:25:49.:25:54.

you. Why is that? She is very good at debating the indefensible. Why

:25:55.:26:01.

will she not debate with you? Have you upset her? We had a debate in

:26:02.:26:05.

front of the energy industry about whether the suppliers could win back

:26:06.:26:09.

the trust and the audience voted against Angela. It cannot be that!

:26:10.:26:16.

You must have annoyed her. Let me ask you this, can we discern the

:26:17.:26:26.

wholesale price of each individual electricity generator? We cannot.

:26:27.:26:32.

Angela was wrong. We spent a year looking at this. Can you discover

:26:33.:26:38.

the wholesale price of gas and electricity? The answer is you

:26:39.:26:44.

cannot. Unless you are an industry insider, you cannot. I will tell you

:26:45.:26:50.

why, the large companies sell themselves gas and electricity at

:26:51.:26:55.

huge volumes, under the counter, they call it over the counter. You

:26:56.:27:01.

cannot discover what price British Gas are buying their gas and

:27:02.:27:04.

electricity from Centrica in two years time. Which is the same

:27:05.:27:11.

company. The same company. When they discuss profit margins they only

:27:12.:27:15.

talk about the retail business, they do not talk about the group. If you

:27:16.:27:20.

look at the groups, the profit margins are two or three times

:27:21.:27:24.

greater than the likes of Angela Knight will ever admit. There is

:27:25.:27:27.

something murky going on and it is right to get that out in the open.

:27:28.:27:33.

Let me unravel this, are you saying I could not go to Ofgem or the

:27:34.:27:43.

company itself? Let us take Centrica. I could not work out how

:27:44.:27:48.

much it has cost them to generate the electricity from their gas and

:27:49.:27:57.

then work out how much of a mark-up they have put on to reach the retail

:27:58.:28:03.

price? You could not at the moment. What you can discover

:28:04.:28:06.

retrospectively is some of that data when they publish it through the

:28:07.:28:13.

price collection departments. That is retrospective. You cannot

:28:14.:28:17.

discover know what the competitive wholesale price of gas relativity

:28:18.:28:28.

is. -- gas or electricity. There is probably more cost being passed on

:28:29.:28:31.

to the consumer because a lack of price comparison exists. That is why

:28:32.:28:36.

we want to see a separation of these big six companies. You want to break

:28:37.:28:41.

them up? We want them to have a separate license treated separately

:28:42.:28:46.

so there is a proper transparent market for wholesale, for gas and

:28:47.:28:51.

elegant as a tea. Let me ask you another question. -- gas and elegant

:28:52.:28:54.

city. When we see rates of return for

:28:55.:29:09.

energy companies, are you saying that is just their low margin retail

:29:10.:29:16.

business and not the high margin generation business? I am saying

:29:17.:29:18.

exactly that. If you would the margins, their profit margins for

:29:19.:29:25.

the group with generation and wholesale is upwards of 18%. If we

:29:26.:29:31.

want to have an honest debate about whether these very large companies

:29:32.:29:35.

are making excessive profits, we need to look at the whole group, not

:29:36.:29:39.

just the bit of it that Angela and her friends want to speak about. How

:29:40.:29:44.

quickly should we be able to switch? What was your reaction is to mark it

:29:45.:29:52.

is amazing. It takes people eight weeks or more. It takes long time is

:29:53.:29:58.

to navigate. It should be possible in a day. Ed Davey provided the

:29:59.:30:04.

amazing spectacle of a Secretary of State announcing that there will be

:30:05.:30:08.

quicker switching at some point in the future, let's see if that

:30:09.:30:13.

happens, and here's asking the regulators to do their job, look at

:30:14.:30:17.

the market and see if it is working competitively. I thought that was

:30:18.:30:23.

their job. It is! It is so little and so late. Have you ever tried? It

:30:24.:30:28.

is a nightmare. You are absolutely right. Older people are particularly

:30:29.:30:37.

vulnerable. They cannot always navigate the system. It takes a long

:30:38.:30:41.

time. We have a system that is not working well for the consumer. The

:30:42.:30:46.

energy prices have gone up a lot more than other countries. Not

:30:47.:30:53.

places like Germany or Denmark. But they have even more stringent green

:30:54.:30:57.

taxes. We have to get control of this.

:30:58.:31:08.

I am going to make it my mission to bring you and Angela Knight

:31:09.:31:17.

together. Please do. Now, to the Old Bailey. Our correspondent has

:31:18.:31:23.

been following the morning in the trial of Rebekah Brooks and Andy

:31:24.:31:26.

Coulson, the Prime Minister's former head of communications. We

:31:27.:31:31.

have been busy with other things, so tell us what has happened in

:31:32.:31:38.

court. The court heard for three hours from the prosecutor. The

:31:39.:31:42.

second day for him in terms of the opening statement. It is the work

:31:43.:31:46.

of the convicted phone hacker Glenn Mulcaire has dominated what has

:31:47.:31:51.

been heard. He worked at the paper for a six-year period, the News Of

:31:52.:31:56.

The World. Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson were in charge at that time.

:31:57.:32:03.

They heard how he worked, getting pin numbers and mobile phone

:32:04.:32:08.

numbers. And then bid documents handed to the police in 2011 that

:32:09.:32:14.

kicked off the investigation -- and then the documents. One day, Glenn

:32:15.:32:18.

Mulcaire wrote to a senior member of staff at the News Of The World

:32:19.:32:23.

and he referred to Tessa jowl and her husband. He gave her phone

:32:24.:32:34.

number and -- -- Jowell. He said it looked like she was selling up.

:32:35.:32:39.

There was then an e-mail talking about you have to decide whether I

:32:40.:32:43.

have been hacking have. In another e-mail, Glenn Mulcaire said there

:32:44.:32:49.

are 45 messages. The prosecution said he would have only got the

:32:50.:32:54.

details if he had hacked her telephone. And then he looked at

:32:55.:32:58.

the jury and said after that this information came to light, what is

:32:59.:33:03.

the editor's question, how do I know it is true, before he decides

:33:04.:33:09.

to publish the story? He said that Andy Coulson, the former adviser to

:33:10.:33:14.

David Cameron, who was editor at the time. We have a lot of

:33:15.:33:20.

reporting restrictions. If you cannot answer, do not think badly

:33:21.:33:25.

of it. Yesterday, we learned there were senior news editors from the

:33:26.:33:30.

News Of The World to have pleaded guilty. That became public

:33:31.:33:34.

knowledge yesterday. Will these news editors, who have gone for the

:33:35.:33:39.

guilty plea, will they give evidence for the prosecution in

:33:40.:33:46.

this trial? We do not know is the short answer. We learned yesterday

:33:47.:33:50.

that four people have pleaded guilty. Glenn Mulcaire, he pleaded

:33:51.:34:00.

-- he pleaded guilty to further charges. Neville Thurlbeck, James

:34:01.:34:04.

Weatherup and Greg Miskiw. Ian Edmondson, the 4th news editor

:34:05.:34:09.

working at the News Of The World at the time, he is at trial here and

:34:10.:34:14.

he denies the charges. As to who will give evidence, and we could be

:34:15.:34:18.

here for a long time, we do not know.

:34:19.:34:25.

You are watching Daily Politics. We have been joined by viewers in

:34:26.:34:33.

Scotland. They have been watching first minister's questions live.

:34:34.:34:42.

Welcome. It'S as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it

:34:43.:34:44.

increases the risk of illnesses like dementia and heart problems

:34:45.:34:47.

and it mainly targets older people. It's not a medical disease, it is

:34:48.:34:50.

loneliness. In England alone, almost a million are classed as

:34:51.:34:56.

chronically lonely. There will be more in Scotland, Wales and

:34:57.:35:02.

Northern Ireland. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, recently said

:35:03.:35:04.

loneliness and our response to it shamed the nation. But is what the

:35:05.:35:07.

government doing about it actually enough? Or is it an issue where we,

:35:08.:35:11.

the public, should look to ourselves rather than blame the

:35:12.:35:13.

politicians? David Thomson has been reporting. # And it could be me...

:35:14.:35:25.

Henderson court in north London where Age UK run a day centre and

:35:26.:35:29.

people who use it talk honestly about getting older and being on

:35:30.:35:34.

your own. I do feel lonely sometimes. They do not help, the

:35:35.:35:42.

young folks. If you have no family, it is hard to talk to people about

:35:43.:35:54.

your life. Cold beds, lonely beds. Loneliness. And we respect older

:35:55.:36:01.

people and think they deserve the best. Politicians are no different.

:36:02.:36:07.

But how come that for so many, old age can be in isolation and

:36:08.:36:12.

loneliness. Each and every lonely person to have someone who could

:36:13.:36:17.

visit them. The forgotten 1 million living among us, ignored to our

:36:18.:36:22.

national shame. Politician has are taking it on board. This was Jeremy

:36:23.:36:27.

Hunt last week. Even his ministerial colleagues wonder if

:36:28.:36:31.

the approach is right. I thought his analysis was spot on. His move

:36:32.:36:37.

to the blame game, saying families let their grandparents and their

:36:38.:36:40.

parents down by not providing support, it missed the fact there

:36:41.:36:45.

are 6 million carers and I know from messages I have read since

:36:46.:36:50.

that speech, they are in despair and outraged by a speech that

:36:51.:36:53.

implies in some way they do not do enough. But there is also a cost to

:36:54.:37:00.

being a compassionate society that the politicians and public aspire

:37:01.:37:04.

to be. They is a lot we can do as individuals, but there is a lot

:37:05.:37:10.

politicians can do. They need to join up between talking about

:37:11.:37:13.

loneliness and making hard choices about where they put their money.

:37:14.:37:18.

They need to invest in low-level, local facilities, such as day

:37:19.:37:22.

centres. They make a huge difference. Perhaps a part of the

:37:23.:37:27.

problem is not how we treat older people, but how we think of them.

:37:28.:37:34.

We need to challenge negative stereotypes about older people and

:37:35.:37:39.

ageing, that portrayed older people as a burden, ticking time bombs

:37:40.:37:44.

exploding under the NHS. Older people contribute to the economy

:37:45.:37:48.

more than they cost the economy. They are valuable, their wisdom and

:37:49.:37:53.

talents should be better used. That is one way we can tackle social

:37:54.:37:58.

isolation. That is why I think we need a commissioner to trace -- to

:37:59.:38:04.

chase government and make sure it does what is necessary to look

:38:05.:38:08.

after the interests of older people. Dignity, security and companionship.

:38:09.:38:14.

To make them happen takes deeds and not words from everyone.

:38:15.:38:21.

You follow these things carefully. This is a serious problem. It is.

:38:22.:38:28.

But it is also important to stress that the real problems occur much

:38:29.:38:36.

older than the typical old person would be perceived to be. In this

:38:37.:38:40.

country we have a stereotype that when you hit 60, even 70, you are

:38:41.:38:46.

somehow decrepit, you cannot contribute. People in the film are

:38:47.:38:51.

advanced in years, Eighties and Nineties, but it is important to

:38:52.:38:59.

stress that loneliness does affect older people, the older they are,

:39:00.:39:05.

but at the later stages. Families are more dispersed. Fur the to

:39:06.:39:10.

travel to see them. Sometimes you cannot go to see them -- further.

:39:11.:39:16.

What should the response be? There is a default position there is a

:39:17.:39:20.

problem and what will the Government do? The Health Secretary,

:39:21.:39:24.

we tried to get him on today, but he would not, but he has been

:39:25.:39:28.

criticised for identifying the problem and not doing anything

:39:29.:39:32.

about it. The solution might be in our hands. We have heard the fine

:39:33.:39:37.

words. One problem we have that need sorting out is the social care

:39:38.:39:43.

system is dysfunctional. If we spend a little bit of money on

:39:44.:39:48.

helping lonely older people, as you said at the beginning, their health

:39:49.:39:52.

would be better and it would save money for the NHS. When it comes to

:39:53.:39:56.

health, the NHS is a nationwide system, with social care it is

:39:57.:40:02.

parcelled up to local councils. The idea of a commissioner for older

:40:03.:40:06.

people is good. Wales has one. England does not. Are the older

:40:07.:40:12.

people in Wales are any less slowly than the people in England? Of

:40:13.:40:16.

course not. Appointing the commissioner is sometimes a

:40:17.:40:19.

political way of being seen to do something. But they have no

:40:20.:40:25.

representation. What about charities and individuals getting

:40:26.:40:31.

together and having 15 minute visits, identifying a number of

:40:32.:40:34.

older people and saying one will visit this person every couple of

:40:35.:40:43.

days? There is not one magic silver bullet. The charities already do

:40:44.:40:48.

marvellous work. It needs to be centralised, I think, and organised.

:40:49.:40:54.

If you had a centralised and organised system which said we have

:40:55.:40:59.

an issue with millions of people who are well advanced in years on

:41:00.:41:03.

their own, the older you are there fewer friends you have because they

:41:04.:41:07.

might have died. Let's recognise that. Harness the ability is an

:41:08.:41:12.

strengths of people in their sixties and seventies and when you

:41:13.:41:16.

get much older, we need to look after people in a different way

:41:17.:41:22.

from how we do now. I am glad we have brought some attention to it.

:41:23.:41:27.

Earlier this month, the Prince of Wales addressed the National

:41:28.:41:31.

Association of Pension Funds. He gets about. He urged the industry

:41:32.:41:36.

to ensure that portfolios are resilient in the long term, or risk

:41:37.:41:40.

condemning future generations to, quote, an exceptionally miserable

:41:41.:41:47.

future. I would argue that as the largest class of institutional

:41:48.:41:52.

investor, and as a sector defined by your long-term liabilities, you

:41:53.:41:58.

have a need, and arguably a duty, to ensure these emerging

:41:59.:42:03.

environmental and social and economic risks are identified and

:42:04.:42:11.

managed. With an ageing population, and pension fund liabilities that

:42:12.:42:14.

are there for stretching out for decades, surely the current focus

:42:15.:42:19.

on quarterly capitalism is increasingly unfit for purpose?

:42:20.:42:25.

There is also mounting evidence from the likes of Harford and

:42:26.:42:31.

London Business Schools, that those companies that improve the way they

:42:32.:42:35.

tackle environmental and social challenges proved to be the ones

:42:36.:42:41.

better able to deliver the long term returns. You can have your

:42:42.:42:47.

cake and eat it. Prince Charles. I wonder who he has his pension with.

:42:48.:42:55.

That would be a -- that would be us! The a joined by their minister.

:42:56.:43:04.

It is a fundamental question. -- we are joined. Can you argue pensions

:43:05.:43:11.

are a good investment? Absolutely. We are about to put 10 million

:43:12.:43:15.

people into a workplace pension and for every ?1 they put in, their

:43:16.:43:19.

farm and the taxpayer puts in another ?1. What other investments

:43:20.:43:26.

can you turn ?1 into ?2 overnight? Many would take two paths and turn

:43:27.:43:32.

it back into one band. We have talked about a limit on charges. --

:43:33.:43:39.

?1. 99p of the ?1 in the pension turns into a pension, which would

:43:40.:43:45.

be an advance. ?30 billion of pension savings, languishing in

:43:46.:43:51.

poorly performing funds. That is hard earned cash. That is why we

:43:52.:43:57.

are taking action. For too long, money has been left in old funds,

:43:58.:44:02.

when higher charges were the norm. One thing we do with automatic

:44:03.:44:07.

enrolment, if we set standards, the firms will not be able to use the

:44:08.:44:12.

old schemes. We will not allow that. Should you have sorted out pension

:44:13.:44:19.

fees before automatic enrolment? So that people... Employers being

:44:20.:44:25.

forced to put in matching contributions are not going to be

:44:26.:44:30.

ripped off? Were have been doing this for a year and it has been the

:44:31.:44:33.

big employers such as the big supermarkets, who have the buying

:44:34.:44:37.

power to negotiate good deals with the pensions industry. We are

:44:38.:44:41.

acting now because when you get to smaller firms, they might not have

:44:42.:44:46.

the buying power and interest. So far, people have got good deals. We

:44:47.:44:53.

have to make sure it goes on. If you saved up and you bought a small

:44:54.:44:58.

second home, a flat, in a reasonably prosperous part of the

:44:59.:45:03.

country, when you retire, you would get a better return than these

:45:04.:45:08.

pensions? It might be fantastic and it might be terrible. I do not want

:45:09.:45:11.

my retirement to be that uncertain. There are so many problems with

:45:12.:45:25.

pension. They have had a very bad press. Deservedly. There has been

:45:26.:45:31.

lots of scandals. It is correct to control the charges. One of the big

:45:32.:45:37.

issues we are not looking at yet is once you have built up a pension

:45:38.:45:40.

fund you have to take an income out of it. At that point, when you buy

:45:41.:45:49.

an annuity. When you buy that, there are no controls on the charges. You

:45:50.:45:57.

could lose a lot if you die quickly. That has to change. We need to make

:45:58.:46:01.

sure that we get good value when building up the fund, but also when

:46:02.:46:09.

you take it down. Annuity rates have been terrible for some time. That is

:46:10.:46:14.

partly a real thing, partly because we are living longer, and I entirely

:46:15.:46:19.

agree that as well as addressing getting people into savings, dealing

:46:20.:46:25.

with cost, we need to deal with how to turn that into a pension. The

:46:26.:46:30.

Financial Conduct Authority, newly created this year, is doing a lot of

:46:31.:46:36.

work, I am working with the Treasury to make sure that is the big thing

:46:37.:46:41.

we work on. What should he do to ensure we get a better pension

:46:42.:46:45.

system? We need more flexibility in the system. At the moment, when you

:46:46.:46:50.

put your money into a pension, if you need that back you cannot get

:46:51.:46:55.

it. When you put it into an annuity, if you have done the wrong thing you

:46:56.:46:58.

can never change it. We have the most inflexible system, and I know

:46:59.:47:03.

that Steve understands this. He is doing some great work in trying to

:47:04.:47:07.

improve the pension system. I applaud him for that. It is a

:47:08.:47:14.

difficult job. A lot of younger people look at what has happened to

:47:15.:47:22.

the pensions of their parents. They think, really? Maybe I will do

:47:23.:47:28.

something else. Older people always say they wish they started sooner.

:47:29.:47:35.

But the young are more likely to stay in than the old. Vacancy

:47:36.:47:44.

rewards down the road? We are going in gradually. They barely notice.

:47:45.:47:49.

That gives us a real chance to turn this around. We need to encourage

:47:50.:48:02.

people to do more than the minimum. You can have an Isa, then you lose

:48:03.:48:09.

the contribution. That might be OK for some younger ones. If you have

:48:10.:48:15.

these schemes, any time you get a pay rise, encourage people to put a

:48:16.:48:22.

bit of money away for the future. Not necessarily locked up but at

:48:23.:48:30.

least long-term saving. It is easier for them. That would help with

:48:31.:48:36.

longer savings. But you will do something about these fees?

:48:37.:48:44.

Absolutely. We will legislate by Easter. We better leave it there. Do

:48:45.:48:53.

you know where you live? Are you sure? The electoral commission does

:48:54.:48:59.

not have a lot of confidence in our abilities. They have just given

:49:00.:49:03.

their advice on the European Union referendum. There are concerns

:49:04.:49:10.

linked to research that show that some of us do not already know that

:49:11.:49:15.

we are in the European Union. Obviously everyone who watches the

:49:16.:49:19.

Daily Politics knows that. In a moment we will discuss this with the

:49:20.:49:24.

electoral commission. We have been putting the great British public to

:49:25.:49:31.

the test. Do you know if Britain is a member of the EU? I do not. You

:49:32.:49:41.

don't know? Of course. So you do now? Yes. Is Britain a member of the

:49:42.:49:49.

European Union or not? I don't think so. We are. Where are you from?

:49:50.:50:00.

France. Of course it is. Some research shows some people do not

:50:01.:50:06.

know if we are. That is a bit sad. Is Britain a member of the European

:50:07.:50:12.

Union? Yes. You think it seems like quite an obvious question? Yes. I

:50:13.:50:22.

think we are. Some people don't know. They are all thick if they

:50:23.:50:31.

don't know. I think that Liverpudlian accent got straight to

:50:32.:50:35.

the point. We are joined by James Wharton. And Jenny, who thinks the

:50:36.:50:44.

EU Referendum Bill is badly worded. What do you make of these vox pop?

:50:45.:50:50.

That is very entertaining, but our research is rather more rigorous

:50:51.:50:55.

than that. What we did find was the people who did not know we were in

:50:56.:51:01.

the EU. How many? It is not that kind of research. It is a

:51:02.:51:09.

one-to-one, with the ballot paper. We then do in-depth interviews. We

:51:10.:51:15.

did find there were people who did not know we were in the the EU. What

:51:16.:51:22.

percentage? We also found there were people who thought we were and when

:51:23.:51:26.

they looked at the bill, they were confused. I understand that full is

:51:27.:51:32.

not -- I understand that. Can you not tell us which percentage of your

:51:33.:51:39.

sample. Were not in the EU? It is not that type of sample. It has been

:51:40.:51:47.

well tested. What is wrong with his question? The question is, do you

:51:48.:51:54.

think the United Kingdom should be a member of the European Union? The

:51:55.:51:58.

original question, two things are problematic. Did you think it was

:51:59.:52:04.

like an opinion poll and nothing would happen? And people did not

:52:05.:52:09.

have enough knowledge. It needs to give them information that we are in

:52:10.:52:14.

the the EU now. You need to introduce the word leave or the

:52:15.:52:18.

words remain. Let's have a look on the screen. That is your question. I

:52:19.:52:26.

suppose that could be interpreted as whether we should stay in or should

:52:27.:52:32.

we join? You might not think we are in already. The electoral commission

:52:33.:52:41.

questioned changes the verb. That is less equivocal, isn't it? The danger

:52:42.:52:47.

with that, we had remain in the original question and we took it out

:52:48.:52:55.

because we consulted amongst MPs. If you put remain end, it leads people

:52:56.:52:59.

to vote for the status quo and its the result. -- it will affect the

:53:00.:53:10.

result. What is the answer? If you are going to use I guess Renaud

:53:11.:53:15.

question you need to use leave or the remain. This was overwhelmingly

:53:16.:53:21.

the best. It leaves a low level of perception of bias and for that

:53:22.:53:26.

reason we have also asked parliament to consider, we have given them an

:53:27.:53:29.

alternative approach, moving away from this question and asking

:53:30.:53:37.

whether the EU should remain in or leave. What about that? They have

:53:38.:53:45.

not fully tested that question, and so in next week's debate we could

:53:46.:53:50.

adopt that, put it in, and then find out that does not work either.

:53:51.:53:58.

Avenue fully tested it? We have. We have not seen if we could simplify

:53:59.:54:01.

it further and we have not heard from campaigners. I would not

:54:02.:54:07.

imagine that running a campaign to leave remain would be difficult but

:54:08.:54:12.

we have not given that option. Are you minded to stay with this

:54:13.:54:20.

question, even though we have had the commission, seen the vox pops,

:54:21.:54:27.

some people don't even know we are members? I am but it is up to

:54:28.:54:33.

Parliament. I recognise the work the electoral commission have done but

:54:34.:54:37.

the key finding is it is thus -- is it does not lead people down one

:54:38.:54:41.

route or the other. Any aspect of this, that would come at the end of

:54:42.:54:47.

a referendum campaign process when people would be better informed by

:54:48.:54:51.

the public debate. We have run out of time but I think the dialogue

:54:52.:54:56.

will continue full is not -- will continue. The quiz was, European

:54:57.:55:05.

commissioners are standardising across the continent. What will the

:55:06.:55:19.

recommendation be? Six litres? Five litres? One beater or have a bucket

:55:20.:55:22.

of sawdust? Is it five litres? How did you know? I had a guess.

:55:23.:55:31.

Amazing. Is this Big Brother intrusion? Joining us is Peter Bone

:55:32.:55:46.

and Natalie Bennett. I assume that you are a big supporter of this

:55:47.:55:49.

standardisation so that wherever we are, we know how much water we are

:55:50.:55:57.

using. I know the BBC have cut but why have you put me in the toilet?

:55:58.:56:03.

It is absurd that the EU should be wasting time and money. They have

:56:04.:56:14.

been investigating since 2011. They have been testing out different

:56:15.:56:17.

systems. It is the most absurd waste of money. Is this absurd or

:56:18.:56:26.

sensible? We are having typical tabloid reporting. We have a

:56:27.:56:30.

voluntary label manufacturers can choose to use so people know we are

:56:31.:56:39.

getting the best possible quality. This is another example of curly

:56:40.:56:43.

cucumbers and then the bananas. This is a voluntary standard. Just like

:56:44.:56:51.

we have fair trade, Carbon trust. I promise everybody the EU is not

:56:52.:56:57.

going to come marching in. They would like to. It is in -- it is a

:56:58.:57:11.

guideline and it is voluntary. If you go into McDonald's Uriah Knowles

:57:12.:57:19.

there is no water being used at all. -- urinals. That is why the cost is

:57:20.:57:27.

going up. It is a waste of money and another reason why we should come

:57:28.:57:33.

out of stock -- out of the European Union. This is a serious issue. We

:57:34.:57:40.

need to cut down the amount of good value drinking water we are putting

:57:41.:57:48.

in when we renovate pilots, and this is simply saying it is a good

:57:49.:57:53.

guideline. 30% of the water that the British use goes down the toilet. In

:57:54.:58:04.

Finland, it is 14%. Peter Bone, the research only cost ?76,000. That is

:58:05.:58:12.

just like an MP's expenses. That is too low. It is just another example

:58:13.:58:18.

of the complete waste of money in the European Union. People are

:58:19.:58:25.

saying this is unnecessary. The alternative would be every member

:58:26.:58:30.

state do the research and come up with its own standard. We are going

:58:31.:58:36.

to have to leave you there. Enjoy yourself there. Thank you. The one

:58:37.:58:44.

o'clock News is starting on BBC One. I will be back tonight with Michael

:58:45.:58:49.

Portillo, Diane Abbott, Stanley Johnson, Miranda Green, Emily

:58:50.:58:52.

Maitlis and Malcolm Gladwell. Goodbye.

:58:53.:59:02.

Andrew Neil is joined by pensions expert Ros Altmann to discuss the day's political news, including the latest on energy prices and talking to pensions minister Steve Webb.


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