06/01/2014 Daily Politics


06/01/2014

Jo Coburn has the top political stories of the day.


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.

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The Chancellor gets 2014 off to a cheery start with a warning that

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another ?25 billion needs to be cut from public spending to balance the

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nation's books. As stormy weather and flooding

:00:56.:00:57.

continue to cause problems across the country, the Government's

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climate change envoy says more should be spent on flood defences.

:01:01.:01:06.

Criminal barristers in England stage a walk-out to protest against cuts

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to legal aid. And will the party leaders agree to

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another set of TV debates ahead of the general election next year? And

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will Nigel Farage get his own podium? We'll talk to the UKIP

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leader. All that in the next hour and to

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kick off our coverage for 2014 we asked for the best and brightest

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from the three main parties. They couldn't be with us so we've had to

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settle instead for Conservative MP Tim Loughton, Labour's Lucy Powell,

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and Julian Huppert for the Liberal Democrats. Welcome to you all. Let's

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start with the stormy weather that has been battering the UK over the

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holiday period. Strong winds and large waves are expected to cause

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further coastal flooding today. There are about 120 flood warnings

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in place in England, Scotland and Wales. In today's Guardian newspaper

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the Government's special envoy on climate change says Britain needs to

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face up to a radical change in weather conditions and invest much

:02:14.:02:21.

more in flood protection. This morning the Environment Secretary

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Owen Paterson said. Under different -- difficult circumstances, the

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government will be spending more this period and that is why we have

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extended the programme up until 2020. We will look to protect

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another 165,000 properties up to 2015 and another 300,000, should the

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plans be stuck to. Should the government be spending even more

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after the Christmas and New Year we have just experienced? The

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government is spending more than ever before, but we do need much

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more. How much more. We are seeing a change in climate, changes in the

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weather patterns which are bringing more storms. It is no accident it is

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the stormiest December we have had for 40 years, or something. Where we

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used to have protections when we have floods one in ten years, now

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huge amounts of money are needing to be spent to protect London and the

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country. We do need to try to reduce these problems because if we emit

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the way we are we will see this being a huge problem. You have a

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coastal constituency, should the government be spending more? Will we

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see more storms like this? Whatever your view on climate change is, we

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are staying more extreme weather. We will be building more houses as well

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and we make sure we don't build them on flood planes. It has continued

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over the last few years hasn't it? We have to make sure the money being

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invested that the money the developers are getting that that

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money does go into flood protection. It is reducing the flood planes. My

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constituents are fairly well pebble dashed not only from the coastal

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threat but a river burst its bank in my constituency into the airport. It

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is a false economy not to make sure there is adequate protection. New

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Year, a would Labour spend more money? You have to look at a budget

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across Defra. We have Owen Paterson who does not relieve climate change

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is happening, so he has not been prioritising these issues. We do

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need more investment in flood defences, but we also need to look

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up the bigger issues around climate change, and look at how many of

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these homes can be better protected through insurance. But the moment,

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many of them cannot get insurance. It is something we can and now with

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a water bill going through Parliament at the moment. Lucy

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Powell has repeated what Labour's Environment Secretary has said, it

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is because he is a sceptic on climate change and not focused on

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flood defences in the way he should be? It is a complete red herring.

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Extreme weather conditions are happening now and are likely to

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continue. The fact we are spending more money on flood defences, the

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fact Owen Paterson spends a lot of his Christmas going round seeing

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areas affect did buy it. It is happening, whatever the cause. We

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have got to make sure that with house-building we are going to have

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to have a lot of that money spent on adequate flood defences for those

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new houses and for existing communities vulnerable to flooding.

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Do you see it could be a prevention if you don't feel the storms will

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continue with the regularity that has been said? You only need to come

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to our constituencies to see the damage that has been cause. But that

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is the symptom and not the cause. That is why more money is going on

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to make sure we have rubber flood defences. Is it right the

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Environment Agency is cutting 1500 jobs? Environment Agency does a

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whole range of things. Coming back to the comment about climate change,

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whatever you think about climate change, we are seeing more extreme

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weather events. That is because it is a changing climate. It is

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obvious. They argue climate change is not happening, we are just seeing

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changes in the weather! We need more action. You are right in terms of

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planning issues. Too many houses were built on flood planes without

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defences that were necessary. We have to take steps to deal with it

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urgently. It will need more money. I am just saying it is a red herring.

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There is a problem, we have to deal with it now. Let's leave that there.

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Now it's time for our Daily Quiz. The Education Secretary Michael Gove

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has got into a bit of a spat with Baldrick from Blackadder, otherwise

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known as Sir Tony Robinson, over the origins of the First World War. What

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does Baldrick think was the cause of the First World War?

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At the end of the show we will ask to see if anyone can remember their

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Blackadder. So while the government is trying to deal with the current

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storms, let's look at a more long-range forecast for the

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political weather in the year ahead. This morning, George Osborne brought

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us all firmly back to earth by saying the government will need to

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find an extra ?25 billion of cuts to bring the deficit under control, the

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Chancellor said the welfare budget will have to be looked at again

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although he played down the prospect of an end to some of the universal

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pension benefits. If 2014 is a year of hard truths for

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our country, it starts with this one, Britain should never return to

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the levels of spending. We either have to return rowing to the

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dangerous levels that threatens our stability, or raise taxes so much.

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Government will have to be smaller and so will to the welfare system.

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Others things we can predict with certainty is that in March Mr

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Osborne will be presenting his penultimate budget before the next

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general election, all eyes will be on how he'll try to neutralise the

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cost of living debate which Labour has been able to attack the

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government with. There'll be high pressure on all the main parties in

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May for the European elections. UKIP's Nigel Farage has said he's

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aiming to blow the other parties away and top the poll, a result that

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could cause squalid conditions in the Conservative Party. Potentially

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the biggest event not just of this year but of the last few hundred

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years is the Scottish Independence referendum in the autumn. The polls

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are currently in favour of Scotland staying in the union, however Alex

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Salmond's SNP believe there is all to play for. And could there be more

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heavy weather ahead for the coalition? Both sides are already

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looking to differentiate themselves from each other, will those voices

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calling for an early split become louder, or will it just be a storm

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in a teacup? In the last few minutes, Nick Clegg

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has been giving his reaction to George Osborne's react should to the

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cuts to the welfare system that are needed. It is driven by two very

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clear ideological impulses. One is to remorselessly cut back the state.

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Just cut back the state. And secondly, and that is what they have

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said now, I think they are making a monumental mistake in doing so, but

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they said the only people in society, the only section of society

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which will bear the burden of further fiscal cuts of a

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working-class poor. George Osborne is making a mistake by stating he

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wants to take ?12 billion more in benefits cuts after the next

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election if he is still Chancellor? It was a -- mistake to think

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everything was solved and we can carry on with the regime we had

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before. We are still borrowing ?100 billion a year. There is large-scale

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public support for the further reining in of welfare, as long as it

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has been done fairly. If we are serious about making sure this

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government and this country is living within its means, welfare

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spending has to be part of the savings. And at a time, let's

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remember when we are seeing big increases in employment, 1.2 million

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jobs since the last election. That is the best route to increase --

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decrease Walther spending. You don't think it is a mistake to make

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another one point -- ?12 billion of cuts to the welfare bill? If you are

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making cuts in the household, you look at the biggest goals first.

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Welfare is still the biggest hill. We need to make sure we are making

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savings and making them fairly. Whose fault is it the government is

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on course to borrow ?111 billion this year? You need to be asking

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Lucy that. You have been in government since 2010 and George

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Osborne has failed to deliver on all of the measures he set out in his

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first emergency budget, in terms of deficit reduction, in terms of debt

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falling as a proportion of GDP and eliminating the structural deficit.

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Whose fault is it this government is still having to borrow ?111 billion

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this year? It is the extent of the problem we inherited and what is

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going on in the rest of the world. We have cut the deficit why more

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than a third. It is taking longer to balance the books than George

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Osborne predict did and more than any of us would have liked. But we

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took over a huge deficit and a shipwreck of an economy. The fact

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the Eurozone, with whom we trade with a lot has been performing

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sluggishly. The surveys today say it is likely we will have the highest

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improvement in manufacturing across Europe. Everything Labour predicted

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has not happened. We have got growth back, unemployment is falling and

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has fallen consistently. Consumer spending is up, there is a recovery.

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Labour got it wrong. Not at all. There wouldn't be growth? There

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hasn't been growth. There wasn't a triple dip recession. We did not

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predict a triple dip recession. He will find what we are saying on

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every measure George Osborne set himself on 2010, he has failed. He

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said the deficit would he gone by 2015. We know that the deficit won't

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even be halved by 2015. He said we would have 7.6% of growth. We now

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know we are looking at 2.5% growth over that period. This is why

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families across the country are paying the price for the stagnant

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growth over three years. Families up and down this country are paying the

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price for that stagnant growth through prices going up much

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faster. You would have added to the deficit and therefore in turn added

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to the debt by spending an awful lot more and risked... No, we said we

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would have halved the deficit by 2015, which is more than this

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government will have achieved in the same period. Let's go back to George

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Osborne, he said 2014 will be a year of hard truths. I find that pretty

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appalling. He wants to come to my constituency and meet families who

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are making hard choices and hard truths in their lives every day.

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Having to choose whether to go to food ranks, or heating their homes.

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Having to choose to pave the childcare waiting for a text message

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that morning to see if they have work on their 0-hours contract.

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Would you be making more cuts? The welfare bill needs to come down, but

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it needs to come down by getting people back to work. Reduce the

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number of in work benefits we pay like introducing a living wage.

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Would you increase taxes? We said we would look at pensioner benefits so

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the winter fuel allowance. There are things we have said we will look at

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that are hard choices. That will only bring you a couple of hundred

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million. Let's have a look at ?25 billion worth of cuts, a substantial

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figure. Would you raise taxes? Would you reinstate the 50p top rate of

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tax? We have not said yet. You ought to be careful before you start

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crowing about your economic record. 2015, another coalition between the

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Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives, would you take...

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No, just imagine! Would you agree to another ?12 billion of cuts to

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welfare? I do not think it is worth speculating over that sort of thing.

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The Conservatives are making clear they would do that. I do not think

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the approach that George Osborne has to the state is that it has to be

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permanently smaller. We have to balance the books, I agree, but does

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that not mean a permanently smaller state. This marriage tax allowance

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that the Conservatives are pushing, about ?700 million, a lot of

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people... That is ideological, not economics. It certainly is economic.

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But you just said it is tiny. Let's look at the bigger picture. Can I

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just come back on what was said earlier? Labour are in an easy

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position, they said they would have cut the deficit by spending less,

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but you never get any specifics. I think that is fascinating, because

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we have to get some specifics. I used to be leader of an opposition

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group on a council and it is easy to say, I would do it better, but we

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have to say exactly what we would do, and I have not seen that from

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Labour. The system fell apart for Labour, it is odd to blame the

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doctors for the fact that the patient has not got up. The real

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problem was the collapse in 2008, and we finally see our way out of

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that. I wish it had happened sooner, but I have heard nothing other than

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hope from Labour. Look at the welfare budget, I am not asking you

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to say what the manifesto will be, but Nick Clegg has said he would

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only sanction going back to the welfare budget if the Government

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began by removing the winter fuel payments from wealthy pensioners? Do

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you agree with that? It seems very odd to say you take money from the

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poorest in society while providing extremely rich people with benefits

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like that. We have to have that stronger economy, and we need a

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fairer society, which means supporting people at the bottom.

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That is why we have pushed to take so many people out of tax, and we

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would like nobody on minimum wage pay any tax. That would be a huge

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step towards a living wage. There is more we can do, a mansion tax so

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that people with a lot of capital pay more. Would that be a red line

:19:08.:19:14.

in the sand for you? It does not work. It just does not bring in the

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sort of money that they think it will. There are many other things

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that we can do before that. What about protection for pensioners?

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David Cameron and George Osborne have kicked off an election cycle by

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saying, we are going to protect pensioners, we are going to protect

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the triple lock, and there has been no discussion about means tested

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benefits. Are they right? I have a high pensioner population in my

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constituency, and it is an important issue. We were right to bring in

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this triple lock and give... But post-2015, is it right to retain

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its? Old on, we have said quite rightly that we will maintain it for

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at least the next five years, for the term of the next Parliament, and

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that is right. We need to give stability to them. What about means

:20:03.:20:06.

tested benefits? That is something we will have to look at, I'm quite

:20:07.:20:12.

relaxed on that, and in constituencies like mine, there are

:20:13.:20:15.

pensioners who have retired with good pensions who are getting a lot

:20:16.:20:21.

of the free bonus schemes which are essential for many people but not

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essential for some. It is something we need to look at. It is only fair

:20:25.:20:30.

that we should do that. It is crazy to pay heating allowances to people

:20:31.:20:35.

living abroad as well. A blokes like David Cameron and George Osborne may

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want to keep that, or that is what they will say. -- it looks as

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though. Will you protect the triple lock posts 2015? We have said we

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will protect it. Post-2015? Yes, we have said we will protect it.

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Miliband refused to commit this morning. I think we are clear that

:20:56.:21:01.

we support the triple lock. So the state pension will rise at 2.5% with

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wages or prices, whatever is the highest? What we have got to look at

:21:07.:21:10.

is how this is the table in the long run, so you have to look at means

:21:11.:21:14.

testing some of the additional support that pensioners received

:21:15.:21:18.

that, as Tim says, many do not need. We also need to look at how we can,

:21:19.:21:25.

you know, continue to make sure that the retirement age is sustainable

:21:26.:21:28.

over that period of time as well. You have got to look at how the

:21:29.:21:30.

Pensions Bill is sustainable as well, but Labour will take no

:21:31.:21:35.

message here from the other parties. When we came into office in 1997,

:21:36.:21:41.

many, many, many pensioners were living below the poverty line. That

:21:42.:21:46.

situation has, frankly, largely gone, in the sense that

:21:47.:21:51.

pensioners... How much did the state pension rise during your time in

:21:52.:21:58.

office? At times not enough. 75p! There were other measures we brought

:21:59.:22:03.

in to ensure that pensioners... It did not rise under Labour very much

:22:04.:22:09.

at all. It has gone up 21% against earnings going up 8%. We will have

:22:10.:22:14.

to leave at there, we will have endless time to discuss economic

:22:15.:22:18.

plans over the next few months. My my criminal barristers have walked

:22:19.:22:20.

out of court in England this morning in a protest against changes to

:22:21.:22:27.

legal aid. The government says reforms would cut ?200 million from

:22:28.:22:31.

the ?2 billion per year legal aid bill. Lawyers argued the cuts, which

:22:32.:22:35.

could see these four by 30%, will reduce the representation available

:22:36.:22:42.

to defendants. -- the fees. The Justice Minister said it was up to

:22:43.:22:45.

the profession to get its house in order. There are challenges at the

:22:46.:22:50.

moment, too many lawyers chasing too little work, crime is going down,

:22:51.:22:55.

but that is a matter for the legal sector to sort out for itself. My

:22:56.:22:59.

responsibility is to the hard-working taxpayer who funds the

:23:00.:23:03.

legal aid bill, and my responsibility is to ensure that

:23:04.:23:06.

those people who qualify for legal aid to have proper representation,

:23:07.:23:10.

and I'm confident that that will happen. With us now is Sarah Forshaw

:23:11.:23:15.

QC, a criminal barrister leads the southeastern circuit and represents

:23:16.:23:19.

3000 lawyers. Welcome to the programme, what is the problem with

:23:20.:23:23.

these changes? It is really about removing quality from the criminal

:23:24.:23:27.

justice system, and what has happened is that since 2007, when

:23:28.:23:33.

the rates were set by an independent body and everyone agreed to them,

:23:34.:23:37.

the rates for criminal state funded lawyers have been successively

:23:38.:23:42.

slashed over the years. If the recent proposals come into force,

:23:43.:23:47.

what it means for the criminal bar is that the fees will have been cut

:23:48.:23:54.

by 41% in real terms over the last six years, 41%. Now, if that

:23:55.:23:59.

happens, the best criminal advocates will move out of the criminal

:24:00.:24:04.

justice system, they will diversify and do something else. But what it

:24:05.:24:08.

means for the public is that the specialist advocates who prosecute

:24:09.:24:12.

and defend the most serious cases in the country will no longer be doing

:24:13.:24:18.

the job. There are not, actually, any good applicants coming into the

:24:19.:24:22.

system for the sort of day they are getting. That makes it sound as if

:24:23.:24:27.

money is the overriding reasons for those sorts of lawyers and

:24:28.:24:30.

barristers and solicitors who take on legal aid work, that is the

:24:31.:24:35.

reason they do it. Actually, the reason... Nobody comes into criminal

:24:36.:24:39.

law to make money, everyone knows that. If you want to make money, you

:24:40.:24:44.

can earn ten times what criminal lawyers are in any other sphere of

:24:45.:24:48.

law. We do it because it is formidably important to society. For

:24:49.:24:54.

example, to prosecute the most serious murders and the most serious

:24:55.:24:58.

terrorist cases, and also to defend. And for that, we at the

:24:59.:25:07.

criminal bar accept state funded fees, provided those state funded

:25:08.:25:12.

fees do not become completely unsustainable for the self-employed

:25:13.:25:16.

bar. Tim Loughton, that does sound like a very plausible argument, this

:25:17.:25:21.

is a fundamental right, isn't it, for people who cannot afford to pay

:25:22.:25:25.

for their own defence? You know, in many instances, it is going to be

:25:26.:25:29.

cut to levels that decent lawyers will walk. Well, it is crucial we

:25:30.:25:34.

have legal aid, nobody is suggesting we should abolish it, but we spend

:25:35.:25:38.

?2 billion per year on legal aid at the moment, it is virtually the most

:25:39.:25:42.

lavishly financed legal aid system in the world. Is it? We spend twice

:25:43.:25:54.

what they do in New Zealand, three times what they spend in Canada.

:25:55.:25:57.

They have a similar system to us. That is utterly misleading, and it

:25:58.:25:59.

is the mantra of the Ministry of Justice, every time this is raised.

:26:00.:26:02.

It is utterly misleading, and I will tell you for why - you cannot

:26:03.:26:06.

compare apples and pears, and that is what you are doing. In this

:26:07.:26:09.

country, we have an adversarial system, we have jury trial, and it

:26:10.:26:14.

means, actually, that you pay more for prosecution and defence

:26:15.:26:19.

investigation June because of the jury trial. If you compare

:26:20.:26:22.

like-for-like, and in fact an independent body have done just

:26:23.:26:27.

that, we are tenth cheapest out of 14 European countries. The countries

:26:28.:26:32.

I quoted have similar systems to our own, that is the point. Tenth

:26:33.:26:38.

cheapest out of 14 if you compare cost per head of legal aid, because

:26:39.:26:42.

of course we have a bigger population in this country. We have

:26:43.:26:48.

had a huge rise in legal costs. The department for justice cannot be

:26:49.:26:52.

immune for the savings we have to make in public saving. We were

:26:53.:26:56.

financing an awful lot of cases that have been brought on spurious

:26:57.:27:01.

grounds as well. We have simply got to make savings. We have still got

:27:02.:27:05.

rather a lot of barristers doing criminal work earning more than

:27:06.:27:09.

?100,000 per year. They are not on the poverty line. I'm afraid that is

:27:10.:27:14.

misleading, there have been some grossly misleading figures being

:27:15.:27:18.

peddled... Do you accept the perception, and maybe it is wrong,

:27:19.:27:22.

is that barristers are hardly even in this line of work are badly paid?

:27:23.:27:25.

If you look at the average, there are those making an awful lot of

:27:26.:27:30.

money. That is only because, I am afraid, people are fooled by the

:27:31.:27:34.

misleading figures that are put out. You have to read the small print,

:27:35.:27:39.

and what impact is happening is that 75% of state funded barristers earn

:27:40.:27:47.

less than ?50,000. Now, that is the business turnover, because they are

:27:48.:27:51.

self employed. When the Ministry of Justice puts out figures like

:27:52.:27:56.

?100,000 per year, I am afraid it includes 20% VAT. Because we

:27:57.:28:00.

self-employed, that goes straight back to the government, so you can

:28:01.:28:04.

have those figures before it is taxable. Should we be making these

:28:05.:28:08.

cuts? There is agreement we need to save money and the legal aid

:28:09.:28:12.

budget, and the Labour manifesto said they would cut legal aid to

:28:13.:28:17.

protect frontline services. The question is how to do it, and there

:28:18.:28:21.

are expensive cases, and you could save a lot of money if the courts

:28:22.:28:25.

system worked more smoothly. That is where there is waste, isn't it? I

:28:26.:28:29.

spent some time in a local magistrate court, and it could be

:28:30.:28:33.

run more effectively and efficiently. There are other ideas

:28:34.:28:37.

which are worth looking at, insurance to deal with fraud

:28:38.:28:40.

trials, using restraint assets to pay for legal aid, which you cannot

:28:41.:28:43.

do at the moment, and the French system where money held by law firms

:28:44.:28:46.

is looked after by the government, and the difference in interest rates

:28:47.:28:52.

is used to fund legal aid, raising hundreds of millions of pounds per

:28:53.:28:58.

year. So this policy is wrong? We fought to improve it from the

:28:59.:29:01.

original proposals, and it has changed, but I would like to see

:29:02.:29:04.

more work on the alternative so that we can find other ways of paying for

:29:05.:29:09.

it so that the taxpayer does not pay as much. We do need to keep the

:29:10.:29:14.

important role of legal aid in many areas. What would your constituents

:29:15.:29:18.

think about this? Do they feel this is a fundamental right that needs to

:29:19.:29:22.

be protected, or that savings needed be made in the same way as other

:29:23.:29:32.

parts of public life? Absolutely savings need to be made and Julian

:29:33.:29:36.

has outlined a number of good ideas. But I see a number of constituents,

:29:37.:29:43.

poor constituents, who need legal advice and can no longer get it

:29:44.:29:46.

because they no longer qualify for legal aid or there are situations

:29:47.:29:50.

where they have to pay some up front fee to do it. As an MP I am getting

:29:51.:29:55.

more people coming to me for legal advice, which I cannot offer them

:29:56.:30:01.

because they are no longer getting legal aid. I would support the cuts

:30:02.:30:04.

to the overall budget, but what we are seeing on this government is

:30:05.:30:10.

they are losing the professionals across the board. They ploughed on

:30:11.:30:15.

with NHS reforms despite Doc has telling them not to do it, they did

:30:16.:30:18.

the same in education, and now with barristers. Do you remember those

:30:19.:30:22.

heady days in 2010 when Cleggmania was at its height? When the Lib Dem

:30:23.:30:31.

leader was propelled to new heights after a series of good performances

:30:32.:30:36.

on the new leaders' TV debates? Well after that, there were many in the

:30:37.:30:39.

Conservative Party who questioned the wisdom of agreeing to the

:30:40.:30:45.

debates. So will they happen again? Labour made it clear that Ed

:30:46.:30:53.

Miliband would take part and Nick Clegg said they would be up for it.

:30:54.:30:56.

Here's a reminder of what they looked like. Who do you want to be

:30:57.:31:02.

your next Prime Minister? There is a lot to this job, but I know how to

:31:03.:31:08.

run the economy. You are hearing desperate stuff from someone in a

:31:09.:31:13.

desperate state. You have heard from Labour and Gordon Brown but if you

:31:14.:31:17.

earn ?20,000 or over, you are considered rich. We are not as a

:31:18.:31:23.

nation going to be able to balance the books, fill the black hole in

:31:24.:31:28.

public finances unless we do it with fairness. We have got to support the

:31:29.:31:33.

recovery until it is fully established and then Mike plan comes

:31:34.:31:39.

into place. But to take money out of the plan now for ideological

:31:40.:31:44.

reasons, you put the economy at risk. He tried to frighten people

:31:45.:31:48.

saying the Conservative Party would take away benefits, we will keep the

:31:49.:31:53.

winter payments. He is trying to frighten people and he should be

:31:54.:32:00.

ashamed. Here they go again. We are desperate to get this country

:32:01.:32:04.

through the recovery and that is what I intend to do, but it is up to

:32:05.:32:10.

the people to decide and it is your decision. That was Gordon Brown and

:32:11.:32:13.

that was then. Joining this little television

:32:14.:32:16.

debate is the UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Should Nigel be allowed to

:32:17.:32:25.

take part? The more I speak to people in my patch, the more the

:32:26.:32:31.

detail does not closer scrutiny. UKIP, when you read the small

:32:32.:32:35.

print, you will see it is hot air with a charismatic and teeming

:32:36.:32:41.

person in charge and not much else. Nigel, they were billed as debates

:32:42.:32:46.

between people who could be Prime Minister. How anybody thought the

:32:47.:32:53.

Liberal Democrats who had not been in power since Lloyd George could

:32:54.:32:56.

produce a Prime Minister is beyond me. So that failed the test. Deputy

:32:57.:33:04.

is a bit better than you have managed? Policy has changed since

:33:05.:33:12.

2010. We have seen radical changes in Scottish and Northern Ireland

:33:13.:33:18.

politics. In 2009 when UKIP came second in the Euro elections, we

:33:19.:33:22.

were told it would not happen in domestic elections. But this year we

:33:23.:33:27.

got a quarter of the vote. UKIP is a significant force in reddish

:33:28.:33:32.

politics, polling double where the Lib Dems are. Frankly, to exclude

:33:33.:33:38.

UKIP from these debates would bubbly give the benefit of the underdog,

:33:39.:33:41.

because it would look like the political class closing ranks on

:33:42.:33:47.

itself. Do you think the Green party leader, Natalie Bennett be in these

:33:48.:33:53.

debates themselves? They have an MP, they run Ryton Council, but the

:33:54.:33:58.

overall share of the national vote is about 2%. New have two sets and

:33:59.:34:05.

sensible markers and barriers. In America, there is a law on this. If

:34:06.:34:11.

you are polling at 15% of the vote, you are allowed to take part. Would

:34:12.:34:16.

you be happy to have Natalie Bennett? I don't think they are a

:34:17.:34:26.

political party. I can see why Nigel is desperate to be in there. It is a

:34:27.:34:30.

party with a leader and nothing else. They might want to ditch me by

:34:31.:34:39.

then. We have just heard from the CBI that membership from the EU

:34:40.:34:43.

rings in ?3000 per person a year into this country. People realise

:34:44.:34:50.

UKIP are bad that the country and working against our own

:34:51.:34:57.

self-interest. I can see why Nigel desperately wants to be in and does

:34:58.:35:00.

not want other parties to be in as well. He has not said he does not

:35:01.:35:07.

want them in. Ed Miliband is keen and to be relaxed about Nigel Farage

:35:08.:35:14.

being in there, but I can see why it would harm the Conservatives more

:35:15.:35:18.

than Labour? The important thing about what Ed Miliband and Douglas

:35:19.:35:21.

Alexander have been saying is we need to resolve this issue. We're

:35:22.:35:27.

not far away from the election, 18 months to go. Everyone needs to get

:35:28.:35:32.

round the table and sort it out. David Cameron was keen on the

:35:33.:35:37.

debates when he was in opposition, and he seems a lot less keen on it

:35:38.:35:42.

now. Will these debates happen? Who will be on them? Do you think they

:35:43.:35:48.

should happen? I think they are a good thing. Initially, Ed Miliband

:35:49.:35:54.

said yes, I think Nigel should be involved. After the South seals

:35:55.:36:00.

by-election when we got 20%, he has changed his tune. -- South Shields.

:36:01.:36:07.

There is a big shift from Labour. Do you support the idea of Nigel? It is

:36:08.:36:15.

a bit of a stretch to have somebody in the leader's debates who does not

:36:16.:36:21.

have an MP in Parliament. I am not about stifling the debate, but you

:36:22.:36:25.

will get other parties saying if Nigel is there, we have an MP and

:36:26.:36:30.

run some local government, why aren't we included? These are issues

:36:31.:36:35.

that need to be resolved. The public want a debate between people who are

:36:36.:36:39.

likely to be running the country. That is what we saw last time and

:36:40.:36:44.

they did bring the last general election alive. As much as we might

:36:45.:36:48.

not like the format. What is interesting with the polling is 14%

:36:49.:36:55.

of people think it should be between the Conservative and Labour leaders.

:36:56.:36:57.

But they are the most likely by far to become the next Prime Minister.

:36:58.:37:05.

Although having a coalition, you can see why it worked for the three

:37:06.:37:08.

parties? When people are asked the question should UKIP be involved in

:37:09.:37:14.

these debates, 50% say they should be. There is a danger of course, the

:37:15.:37:19.

lesson from last time is Nick Clegg had set those debates and did not

:37:20.:37:23.

translate in terms of MPs, did it? In the end, how much can you hope to

:37:24.:37:31.

benefit from it? I will say this, UKIP was consistently at 7% in the

:37:32.:37:38.

polls until 20 ten. Overnight we fell to 3.5% and then we stayed

:37:39.:37:45.

there. It damaged is quite badly. I am making the case we are a real

:37:46.:37:49.

part of British politics. If we are still polling double them what the

:37:50.:37:54.

liberal democrats are, then we should be involved. I think we are

:37:55.:37:59.

getting to hunger up on the debates. They are a small part of the

:38:00.:38:06.

election campaign. -- to hunger. They started off, Nick Clegg did

:38:07.:38:13.

well. They did not agree with him enough to vote for him at the

:38:14.:38:19.

election because he lost seats. Got minimal votes. They ended up in

:38:20.:38:30.

government. That is another debate. I have no problem with Nigel being

:38:31.:38:34.

part of those debates. The more spotlight is put on what they stand

:38:35.:38:39.

for and some of the dubious characters standing for UKIP around

:38:40.:38:43.

the country, the more Nigel might come to think it was in such a good

:38:44.:38:47.

idea. You are staying with us for the next discussion.

:38:48.:38:55.

The start of 2014 removed restrictions on Romanians and

:38:56.:38:57.

Bulgarians working in the UK. The government wants to stop them

:38:58.:39:07.

claiming benefits and accessing the NHS for the first three months.

:39:08.:39:12.

David Cameron wrist straight it is aimed by restricting the number of

:39:13.:39:18.

EU immigrants by striking a deal with his fellow EU leaders. There

:39:19.:39:23.

are good parts to movement within the EU. Many British people take the

:39:24.:39:29.

advantage of going to live and work elsewhere. And there are people with

:39:30.:39:34.

skills coming to Britain and contributing to our economy. The two

:39:35.:39:38.

things have gone wrong, one is movement to claim benefits, we need

:39:39.:39:43.

to crack down on that. And secondly, what has gone wrong, and I think the

:39:44.:39:48.

people who founded the EU, did not think this would happen is that the

:39:49.:39:53.

scale of the movement has been so big. Could that have Lib Dems

:39:54.:40:00.

support? It is a ridiculous idea and he and the Home Office should focus

:40:01.:40:07.

on doing things correctly, like ringing back the exit checks. It is

:40:08.:40:12.

a bad idea in so many ways. There are millions of Brits who live

:40:13.:40:17.

overseas. You get into some tit for tat, which Brits would be evicted

:40:18.:40:27.

from Spain to come back here. I think many in the Conservative Party

:40:28.:40:31.

are panicked by UKIP. David Cameron is panicked. All sorts of weird

:40:32.:40:39.

machinations. It is a self-defeating strategy. It helps UKIP, but it is a

:40:40.:40:47.

bad idea. We benefit as a country for people coming here to work and

:40:48.:40:54.

contribute. And fiscally, we get more money from taxes. Do you agree

:40:55.:41:00.

with a policy to restrict access to benefits by new migrants from the

:41:01.:41:06.

EU? It is reasonable that when somebody comes into this country

:41:07.:41:09.

they have to wait for a period. I have no idea with sticking to the

:41:10.:41:13.

rules to stop people abusing that free movement. But free movement

:41:14.:41:19.

does benefit us. Do you agree with him? I don't. I am in favour of free

:41:20.:41:27.

movement with in the EU, but it cannot be completely free. It is a

:41:28.:41:32.

cornerstone of the European Union. It is how the European Union was set

:41:33.:41:38.

up, free movement of people. Are you saying you want to change that? That

:41:39.:41:45.

is how the EU was set up. We have 28 nations with a lot of Eastern

:41:46.:41:55.

European nations. We never envisaged those sorts of economic migration

:41:56.:41:58.

pressure is back in the early days of the founding of the EU. That is

:41:59.:42:03.

why I think the founding EU principle was right, which is why it

:42:04.:42:10.

should be changed. I have signed the amendment that we should delay

:42:11.:42:15.

opening our doors. It is not whether it is right or wrong, but is it

:42:16.:42:21.

possible? It is impossible. Had they kept the club to about 15 members,

:42:22.:42:25.

this would not have become an issue. Julian makes the point it's go and

:42:26.:42:32.

retire and live in Spain, we have a reciprocal deal with the health

:42:33.:42:37.

service and France. As soon as we open the door to the poor

:42:38.:42:40.

countries, the former communist countries, it was obvious what was

:42:41.:42:50.

going to happen. What has happened? The government thought 13,000 people

:42:51.:42:54.

a year would come and 800,000 came in the first two years. The baulk

:42:55.:43:01.

area and Romanian issue, Tim talks about how poor they are, yes. But

:43:02.:43:07.

Bulgaria have become full members of the European Union with complete

:43:08.:43:10.

open access to this country. The argument we are making is we could

:43:11.:43:16.

extend work permits to people from these countries, but it is

:43:17.:43:19.

irresponsible with high youth unemployment. Who in Europe would

:43:20.:43:29.

listen to David Cameron? David Cameron is one of the biggest

:43:30.:43:36.

advocates of free movement. We have spent the last few months going

:43:37.:43:39.

round European capitals seeing ministers and what is interesting is

:43:40.:43:44.

the number of them who said we were wrong to let in some of these new

:43:45.:43:48.

accession countries. We need to limit the way we have free

:43:49.:44:01.

movement. Which country. It should have happened before January the

:44:02.:44:08.

1st. I believe we should defy the EU and say we are going to have

:44:09.:44:13.

restrictions now. There are a number of countries across the EU who are

:44:14.:44:19.

sympathetic... Who is that? I have been to Scandinavian countries. They

:44:20.:44:27.

want to limit that elements? We should never have accepted those

:44:28.:44:33.

countries on that basis. If we cannot re-negotiate membership with

:44:34.:44:37.

the EU in the future, we need a referendum. It is something which

:44:38.:44:41.

Nigel is in danger of completely undermining. Your leaders have

:44:42.:44:49.

apologised for opening the doors, as they say, to Eastern European

:44:50.:44:54.

migrants from other parts of the EU. What do you say to David Cameron's

:44:55.:44:57.

suggestion that you can limit the free movement of people within the

:44:58.:45:04.

EU. Does Labour agree? You cannot under the existing treaties. Would

:45:05.:45:09.

you like to change it? There are other things you can do now that

:45:10.:45:13.

would limit the free movement of people in terms of the types of jobs

:45:14.:45:18.

available, we have recruitment agencies in these countries, only

:45:19.:45:22.

advertising jobs in Britain in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria because

:45:23.:45:29.

they are looking for low-wage, low skilled workers. We need to drive up

:45:30.:45:33.

wages and skills in this country and change the outlook here, so you

:45:34.:45:38.

cannot have undercutting that we have at the moment with temporary

:45:39.:45:41.

agency workers being paid less than what are largely resident workers.

:45:42.:45:47.

People are going to come here while there is a framework, work for them

:45:48.:45:56.

to do and well paid work to them, but not well paid work to British

:45:57.:45:59.

people. You have got to change those loopholes and take on things like

:46:00.:46:03.

bang masters who are bringing in groups of people under Djourou S.

:46:04.:46:11.

Landlords who are putting a dozen people in a small flat, conditions

:46:12.:46:18.

we should not be allowing workers to work in in this country. Yesterday

:46:19.:46:30.

Nigel was read a part of the rivers of blood speech, was Nigel Wright to

:46:31.:46:36.

say he agreed with the central principle of that? No, not at all,

:46:37.:46:42.

absolutely not. My grandfather came near to this country from Ireland,

:46:43.:46:49.

and when he came to this country in the 1940s, he was treated like he

:46:50.:46:54.

was a leper. And now everyone celebrates the Irish traditions and

:46:55.:46:58.

culture, and everyone wants to be Irish. Immigration is a long

:46:59.:47:02.

tradition of this country, it always comes with problems, that is why you

:47:03.:47:06.

have to manage it carefully, and why you have to look at the issues that

:47:07.:47:10.

drive that immigration and how you can, you know, mitigate the impact

:47:11.:47:17.

that it has an... The mistakes that Labour say they made themselves? Do

:47:18.:47:21.

you wish you had and said that? If those words had been used, I would

:47:22.:47:25.

not up and said the same way. I was read a piece of a speech that said

:47:26.:47:29.

if people cannot get hospital beds, if people cannot get jobs, right,

:47:30.:47:35.

then there will be unhappiness within communities. If you go to

:47:36.:47:37.

Boston in Lincolnshire, as an example, the accident and emergency

:47:38.:47:42.

waiting limits have doubled, British people are discriminated against if

:47:43.:47:48.

they want to get jobs working in the fields, because the gangmasters have

:47:49.:47:51.

the business, and it suits the big landowners to have cheap labour. You

:47:52.:47:55.

begin to understand and realise why immigration is now the most

:47:56.:48:00.

important problem in this country. It is the inflammatory language

:48:01.:48:04.

which you are now endorsing which sews fear and scaremongering. We get

:48:05.:48:08.

this from Anna Soubry and people like you, but the fact is that we

:48:09.:48:12.

should put the interest of British workers first, and we have not done

:48:13.:48:17.

that. It is not just the language, it is also the facts. If we did not

:48:18.:48:21.

have foreign workers in the NHS, there would not be people to staff

:48:22.:48:26.

the hospital beds. The NHS would not run without people. We had this

:48:27.:48:30.

scaremongering about Romanians and Bulgarians, ridiculous stories about

:48:31.:48:34.

blood is appearing on New Year's Day, millions and millions. How many

:48:35.:48:42.

came? The BBC found four people. -- floods. There is a huge amount of

:48:43.:48:49.

scaremongering, and there have been lots of studies that we benefit in

:48:50.:48:54.

terms of taxes paid by migrants. We are net positive. We should be doing

:48:55.:48:58.

more with school places and stuff, but we do benefit.

:48:59.:49:03.

2014 is a crunchy. And with the referendum on independence due to be

:49:04.:49:07.

held on September the 18th. -- a crunch year for Scotland. 16 and

:49:08.:49:12.

17-year-olds will be able to cast a Bolt, and the BBC will follow 50

:49:13.:49:17.

young people to track how they are thinking. -- will be able to cast a

:49:18.:49:23.

vote. The closer I am to my government,

:49:24.:49:29.

the happier I will be. I am definitely a no, M Lil -- let's

:49:30.:49:37.

clear that up! I want to get more information. A lot of the time we

:49:38.:49:43.

are kind of forgotten about, and it is so nice to be able to step up and

:49:44.:49:47.

how people listen to what we think. Ultimately, it is our future.

:49:48.:49:52.

Currently we have free health care, free university fees, and I do not

:49:53.:49:57.

know why we would risk list with an expensive gamble. For the first time

:49:58.:50:01.

in the history of the UK, 16-year-olds will have a vote thanks

:50:02.:50:06.

to the decision of the Scottish Parliament. It is a difficult task

:50:07.:50:09.

to get information about the referendum. There was not a lot of

:50:10.:50:16.

information given to young people. There is a stigma attached to

:50:17.:50:19.

thinking about politics. A lot of people I know are embarrassed to

:50:20.:50:23.

talk about it, it is not the done thing. I have not decided which way

:50:24.:50:29.

I am going yet. I am willing to take bribes from either side!

:50:30.:50:39.

And we are joined from our Aberdeen studio by two students involved in

:50:40.:50:47.

Generation 2014, Martin Close and Erin Fyfe-McWilliam. Welcome to both

:50:48.:50:51.

of you, the spotlight is on Scotland this year, how exciting is the

:50:52.:50:57.

referendum for you? I think it is a breakthrough for our generation,

:50:58.:51:00.

because we are kind of scene as, like, teenagers who are not

:51:01.:51:06.

interested in anything like this, and it is good to show people, like,

:51:07.:51:13.

what we can decide on. Is it a topic of discussion amongst you and your

:51:14.:51:16.

friends? Amongst my group of friends, yes, but whether that is

:51:17.:51:21.

echoed through the rest of our age group, I would be a bit sceptical of

:51:22.:51:26.

that. So you do not think it is generally a topic of conversation

:51:27.:51:31.

for people of your age? I wouldn't say that, no. But for my group of

:51:32.:51:36.

friends, we talk about it on a great deal of aces, I would say. Why are

:51:37.:51:43.

you opposed to independence? I do not think we have enough information

:51:44.:51:49.

on it, and I do not think the Government has thought through it

:51:50.:51:53.

enough. The other countries who have become independent, they have had a

:51:54.:51:56.

more thought through plan, and they have been more certain of what is

:51:57.:52:00.

going to happen afterwards. We are not at that point yet. Martin, you

:52:01.:52:05.

are in favour, how would you answer those fears? Well, I would say that

:52:06.:52:12.

we are in a world right now that isn't very... Not a lot of things

:52:13.:52:20.

are guaranteed in the world. A lot of countries that have gone

:52:21.:52:24.

independent, I would say, have done it from a lesser informed position

:52:25.:52:28.

than we are right now. I would say that the information is out there,

:52:29.:52:34.

and a lot of people want to get off their backsides and start

:52:35.:52:38.

researching about it. What the positives for you about

:52:39.:52:41.

independence? That we would be able to govern ourselves, that we would

:52:42.:52:45.

be in control of our fate, we would be able to choose which direction we

:52:46.:52:50.

would go, instead of having its decided for us by a government that

:52:51.:52:55.

we did not elect. What do you think it would do, or what do think these

:52:56.:52:59.

UCU of the referendum has done in terms of Scottish identity? -- the

:53:00.:53:06.

issue. I think we are known for having big house, but we need to

:53:07.:53:13.

kind of, like, listen to our head and decide whether it is going to

:53:14.:53:17.

benefit us. Economic league, it could go terribly wrong, because 300

:53:18.:53:22.

years ago, when we were independent, England did help us, and we are now

:53:23.:53:26.

getting back on our feet economic league as a nation. -- economic

:53:27.:53:36.

league. Do you think it is right that 16-year-olds will have a vote

:53:37.:53:41.

on something as fundamental as this? Definitely, we are going to be the

:53:42.:53:46.

ones who will be around to enjoy or suffer the consequences of the way

:53:47.:53:50.

we vote, so I think, and everyone voting, we have the biggest stake in

:53:51.:53:56.

it. Well, it is certainly going to be an exciting time over the next

:53:57.:54:00.

few months, thank you to both of you, and you can follow these two

:54:01.:54:06.

and the others in Generation 2014 on BBC News online.

:54:07.:54:10.

So politics is back from the Christmas break, what is on the

:54:11.:54:15.

cards? In Parliament this week, Michael Gove and his ministerial

:54:16.:54:18.

team will be taking education questions from 2:30. Tomorrow Nick

:54:19.:54:25.

Clegg gets his regular grilling in the Commons with Deputy Prime

:54:26.:54:28.

Minister is questions, there is the first Prime Minister's Questions of

:54:29.:54:35.

the year on Wednesday from noon, and the Environment Secretary will be

:54:36.:54:39.

taking questions from MPs on Thursday. Blood defences, of course,

:54:40.:54:43.

are high up on the agenda. -- flood. We are joined by Isabel

:54:44.:54:50.

Hardman and Kevin Maguire, happy New Year to both of you. The Prime

:54:51.:54:54.

Minister and the Chancellor tried to seize the agenda at the start of the

:54:55.:54:58.

year, how worried will they be by the Ashcroft Powell saying that 37%

:54:59.:55:03.

of those who voted Tory in 2010 say they will not, with half defecting

:55:04.:55:09.

to UKIP? I think they should be quite worried, certainly the MPs

:55:10.:55:13.

are, but one of the other lines from that is that voters might trust the

:55:14.:55:17.

Conservatives with the economy, but they trust Labour with the family's

:55:18.:55:22.

futures, and that is quite worrying for the Tories. The Chancellor and

:55:23.:55:25.

the Prime Minister need to get on the front foot to say, this is what

:55:26.:55:28.

we're doing to make sure the cost of your life is not going up. Kevin, no

:55:29.:55:33.

opposition leader with personal ratings as low as Ed has ever won an

:55:34.:55:38.

election, so said somebody over the weekend, I, but who! Is a clear

:55:39.:55:44.

majority for Labour or the Tories unachievable? -- I can't remember

:55:45.:55:52.

who. Ed Miliband is a drag on his party, and they would be further

:55:53.:55:56.

ahead with somebody else, but he is there. Trying to look head, we are

:55:57.:56:02.

using an old maxim, this is uncharted territory now because of

:56:03.:56:06.

the coalition. It is difficult to predict what will happen, although I

:56:07.:56:11.

just feel that neither of the big parties have made that breakthrough.

:56:12.:56:15.

What will they need to do, Isabel Hardman? What does the coalition

:56:16.:56:19.

needs to do? Will there be more differentiation? They will stay

:56:20.:56:23.

together right up until the campaign, it might be difficult, but

:56:24.:56:27.

will differentiation now become the mantra for this year, for the Lib

:56:28.:56:31.

Dems and the Tories? I think it already has. They have become quite

:56:32.:56:36.

used to being public about the disagreements on welfare, human

:56:37.:56:39.

rights and immigration, and they are more comfortable with that. In

:56:40.:56:44.

Justice, Chris Grayling and Nick Clegg are happy to express

:56:45.:56:47.

differences of opinion without it getting personal. In other

:56:48.:56:50.

departments, it is more difficult because there is animosity between

:56:51.:56:54.

Michael Gove and some Lib Dem ministers, for example, which is

:56:55.:56:56.

entertaining from our point of view, but not quite as good for the smooth

:56:57.:57:01.

running of government. Entertaining is important! Looking at

:57:02.:57:05.

pensioners, because David Cameron and George Osborne have made such a

:57:06.:57:15.

big play at the beginning of the year about protecting pensioners,

:57:16.:57:17.

does it put Labour in a tricky position? Labour is the only party

:57:18.:57:19.

who would means test the big benefits, the winter fuel allowance

:57:20.:57:22.

for higher rate taxpayers. It was rather shambolic yesterday with

:57:23.:57:26.

David Cameron, I thought, because the cock crowed three times, Andrew

:57:27.:57:29.

Marr asked three questions about whether he would guarantee universal

:57:30.:57:35.

bus passes, TV licences, the winter fuel allowance, and he would not,

:57:36.:57:39.

and later that afternoon Downing Street's spin doctor said, well, he

:57:40.:57:43.

is minded to keep them. They do not know where they are, and if the

:57:44.:57:46.

Chancellor will be pushing for deeper cuts in welfare, social

:57:47.:57:50.

security 12 billion, a lot of extra money to come, you could abolish

:57:51.:57:54.

jobseeker's allowance, carers and maternity pay and you would not be

:57:55.:57:58.

anywhere near that. If he is going to the pensioners' benefits and the

:57:59.:58:05.

state pension itself, going up, he's going to have a big problem.

:58:06.:58:07.

Thank you very much. Just time before we go to find out the answer

:58:08.:58:11.

to the quiz, can you remember it's? What does Baldrick think caused the

:58:12.:58:12.

First World War? I just wanted to raise those again,

:58:13.:58:32.

anyone know the answer? C! Very good... It is the one thing you

:58:33.:58:36.

cannot do in British politics, criticised Blackadder, it is the

:58:37.:58:40.

worst mistake you can make! We will end on consensus and Blackadder,

:58:41.:58:44.

thank you very much, thanks to my three guests, Tim, Lucy and Julian,

:58:45.:58:50.

and all the others, too. Tomorrow we will have Charles Kennedy, join me

:58:51.:58:53.

then. From all of us here, bye-bye.

:58:54.:58:56.

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