07/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon, and welcome to the Daily Politics.


A Strategic Defence Review lacking in strategy, and driven only by the


need to cut costs, says a committee of MPs. But, are more cuts heading


the MoD's way? European judges say whole-life


sentences for prisoners are illegal. The government must respond this


week. So, is it time to stand up to the European Court of Human Rights?


Want to see less immigration? Well, the government does. It's promised


to get net migration down to less than 100,000 a year. But its


Business Secretary says that target's unachievable.


And, looking for a party venue? Look no further, the Palace of


Westminster's for hire. But, should the right amount of cash really give


you the right to hold an event in the mother of Parliaments?


All that in the next hour. We're seven days in to 2014, and


look who's kept his New Year resolution to come on the programme.


Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, welcome. Happy New


Year. Let's start with the Chancellor's


plans to cut ?12.5 billion from the welfare bill after the next general


election. He wants the cut to come from working age welfare recipients


rather than pensioners. And it's part of a ?25 billion package of


cuts designed to get the public finances back in surplus by the end


of the next Parliament. It's not a policy that George Osborne's


coalition partners are signed up to, however. Before we come to Nick


Clegg, is it feasible to cut another ?25 billion, is it desirable?


In terms of feasibility, it is a tall political order. We have seen,


even in the climate of austerity, and one hopes after the next


election it will not be as Diana, how difficult it was for the


government to constrain the growth of expenditure as opposed to real


cuts. ?25 billion is a very tall I -- order. All parties agreed there


will be a further squeeze of necessity. This is as much about


politics as economic. It is a gamble to delineate the tram lines for the


next election. Because George Osborne says it is


popular with the public to trim the welfare bill even further, that is


debatable, and also because he says it is not fair on working people to


subsidise those on benefits. But the people who would be vulnerable to


these further cuts are many people in work.


This is the difficulty. You might say, Nick Clegg would say that. That


Ed Balls would say that. It is the allies of Iain Duncan Smith, unnamed


in newspapers today, who are saying, we are going back to the


same people and penalising them again. Is this good electoral


politics? It is not clear cut who George Osborne is battling when he


talks about this. There is a legitimate argument, if you took


more working families out of tax as has been successfully at our behest,


or made them better off, that would reduce the welfare bill.


Is it a monumental state to state now, as Nick Clegg has said, ?12


billion coming from welfare? It is a monumental gamble on George


Osborne. He wants to set out these very clear distinctions across the


political spectrum early on. And put Labour in particular and ourselves


on the back foot, saying, here are the figures. Doesn't it put the Lib


Dems on the back foot? We have to turn this into an


opportunity. Which is what Nick was beginning to do. To say, you need to


constrain welfare but how do you do that? Surely by taking less people


off welfare dependency by making them better off. You can use money


more effectively. What about means testing pensioner


benefits? I always have been in favour. Not


just pensioners, it is ridiculous that people like us qualify, I speak


as a Scot, where it is more accentuated in Scotland, for


benefits you get for nothing. People... But the basic state


pension should go to everybody? Yes, a sense of social equity, that


has to be maintained. Now it's time for our daily quiz.


This man has just received an MBE in the New Year's Honours List. So, our


question today is, what service does he provide for the Prime Minister?


Is it: a) Chef. B) Security guard.


C) Hairdresser. Or d) Ski instructor.


At the end of the show, Charles will give us the correct answer.


I never know these ones. But today I do know the answer to this.


I won't divulge it. Keep the drama going.


What's the greatest threat facing our military? Is it terrorism? Is it


cyber attack? You might be surprised to learn that, in fact, it's you.


Specifically, it's the lack of public understanding about what our


armed forces are for, that represents one of the greatest


strategic threats to Britain's military. That's the view of a


report published today by the Defence Select Committee. The


committee's chairman, James Arbuthnot, also said the government


lacks a clear defence strategy, and that the last Defence Review was


dictated more by the need to cut the deficit rather than a proper


assessment of what our defence needs should be.


The proper process to take place needs to be a discussion in the


country of what this security strategy should be. Followed by a


process of a defence and Security review, hand in hand with a


comprehensive spending review, so that they work out what the wish


list is, and if it is necessary to change the security strategy of the


country, then we need to be open about what we are giving up, and we


need to say how we are going to give that up, rather than pretend we can


do everything. In the last review, the government said we were going to


do more with less. There comes a point where we can't do that, that


point has been reached now. With me now are the former Defence


Minister Gerald Howarth, the Shadow Defence Minister Gemma Doyle, and


Charles Kennedy is still with us. Welcome to the programme. Do you


agree with the committee the review was governed by the overriding


objective of reducing the UK budget deficit?


In part, that is correct. The nation faced a catastrophic situation with


a budget deficit of ?160 billion, the MoD accounts were in turmoil


with a ?38 billion black hole. So sorting out those finances is a


continuing issue. But I think it is quite a tribute to the MoD and


national-security council, which came out of the Strategic Defence


Review, that they were able to produce a number of strategic lines.


The committee is being unfair. They are contradicting that by


saying it was a botch job because of the overriding objective of cutting


costs which took away the element of strategy.


I would answer that by reference to a number of specific things we did.


We only had five months in which to do it. Was it rushed? Was there an


alternative? Absolutely no choice. The Chancellor had to produce a


comprehensive spending review by the 20th of October 2010. If he failed


to do so, the international capital markets would not have believed in


Britain's credibility. That would have stuffed us on a gigantic scale.


We did not want in opposition to do this in months. We were denied the


opportunity of longer. But I think that the establishment of the


Council, a new institution, the decision to bring back our troops


from Germany, the decision to prioritise current operations in


Afghanistan. To look to future Force 2020, and create a template for our


Armed Forces, that stands today. What you say about those priorities,


bearing in mind the economic backdrop. Did they do a good job?


The report does back up what we said, the strategic part was missing


from the review. And strategy? The decisions about aircraft carriers


which were reversed. Very little mention of certain regions. And,


things to do with Nimrod. Really, we need, the next review had to be much


more based on strategy. Of course you need a financial balance. That


?8 billion is not supported by anyone except by Conservative


defence ministers. It was far too rushed.


Proper consultation did not happen. Aircraft carriers, that was a


fiasco. The idea was that in the last Labour


government, it produced a new design for the aircraft carriers, 65,000


tonnes, the biggest built in British yards, capable of being retrofitted


with catapults and equipment. We decided in office it would make


sense to look at that possibility to be able to provide a propensity with


the US. We were told it was ?250 million. Then, we discovered, it was


?2.5 billion. Ministers are entitled to ask of those professionals in the


MoD what you think you're doing coming up with an estimate which is


one tenth of the ultimate figure. Do you think that the cuts that have


been taken to the defence budget will lead to a disproportionate


decline in Britain's place in the world?


Yes, I do. That the cuts were too big? That is what I argued at the


time. But, effectiveness possibility, let's call priorities.


We were in coalition. Defence was not as high a priority. The Defence


Review... And we are getting a 2015 review because what came out of our


non-strategic defence review was we should as a nation review every five


years. So it's all your fault!


I was going to become symmetric until that last bit. It's not a


priority for the Lib Dems and as a result the cuts were much deeper,


the government perception changed? No. That was a telling example,


commemorating last week the sad passing of John Fortune. I once


asked him about biting comedy and he said the easiest comedy sketch ever


is anything to do with defence. Because you don't have to crack a


joke. You just tell the story. As they would at home if they were not


outraged by ministers being told something would cost a certain


amount but it was ten times the amount. What on earth are the civil


service doing? It is laughable were it not so serious. The main point,


it is very different focus? It's not a priority for the Lib Dems?


We have had our differences with the Conservatives on items like


Trident. That would have a massive effect within any defence budget. I


think also, there is a question to be asked. We have been in Parliament


long enough. I have never been satisfied as an onlooker we have had


a proper assessment of what kind of nation are we? Principally maritime?


Do we need land forces for future conflict? More into peacekeeping? I


don't think so, incidentally. Speak to the Canadians and Irish.


Looking to the future, should defence spending be ring-fenced?


I think Charles is right and we do have to have this conversation.


There is no minister in that department any more and that is


very, very sad. When you are looking at spending across government


departments, I don't think you can say defence should be treated in a


different way. So there would be more departmental cuts to MoD


spending? In 2015? From our point of view, we would need to see what the


books are going to look like in 2015. It is not going to be


protected as it is not protected in the way health is, so there will be


further cuts? Well, we will try to persuade the Prime Minister, as I


have been trying to do privately and publicly since I left office, that


we make sure defence delivers security and protection of our


interests in the times we live. I want to see an increase in defence


expenditure, in fact. Is that really realistic? I don't know, Jo. But I


believe in defence of the realm and I'd believe defence leverages


influence. One of the key thing is this report questions is, what does


the Government think, what do the parties think Britain's role in the


world should be? David Cameron has made it clear and William Hague said


in 2009 that Britain intends to help shape the world in which we find


ourselves and I'd believe defence can help us shape the world. Does


Labour accept Britain would have to have a smaller role on the


international stage in a defence capacity if it will not spend the


money? I think the world is changing and I think actually we are playing


catch up a bit at the moment with the changes taking place in the


world in a defence sense. I think we need to look more at how we prevent


conflict and work to strengthen other nations' security. Thank you


to you all. Now, it is just a few days since


restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in Britain have


been lifted. We will not know exactly how many have come. And


time. The Government has said it wants to cut net migration to less


than 100,000 a year and a survey for a BBC documentary on BBC Two tonight


indicates just over half of Britons want to see immigration cut by" a


lot" . Nick Robinson is fronting that documentary. Welcome to the


programme. One you are very familiar with! I am sorry I cannot be with


you. Priam here finishing it off! -- I am. The truth about immigration,


and I suppose the truth is, -- the question is, whose truth do you


believe? That is right. People might say, who the heck do you think you


are to pretend you know the truth? It was my view there had not been a


proper political debate about this for many, many years and that those


people, which ever side of the debate they are on, have for not


being candid with the public about the downsides of their views, so on


the one side, I think those who have argued for cuts in immigration has


not really been pressed to think, what is the economic consequence of


that? Would we be poorer as a result? And those in favour of


immigration have not been pressed to say, what are the consequences for


communities and individuals who find greater competition for jobs, wages,


driving wages down, and also the change to the social fabric of Great


Britain. So that was the purpose of doing this documentary. And what


about views within government? Because we know they have had


differences of opinion, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. But that


quite controversial target that was set - is it now unachievable? I


think it looks increasingly likely, and, more importantly, Vince Cable,


the Business Secretary, has talked about its importance. The net


migration is the difference between those coming into the country and


those going out. David Cameron said he would get it below 100,000. I'd


put it to the Business Secretary tonight that it might prove very


difficult, and he agreed. It is not sensible to have an arbitrary cap


because most of the things under it cannot be controlled. It involves


British people emigrating and you cannot control that. It involves


free movement in and out of the European Union. It involves British


people coming back from overseas who are not immigrants but are counted


in the numbers. So setting an arbitrary cap is not helpful. It


almost certainly will not achieve the 100,000 level the Conservatives


have set anyway, so let's be practical about it. That was Vince


Cable, Business Secretary. For many years, it was considered something


politically they to abuse object, immigration. -- politically


controversial. Yes. He persuaded some people it was too dangerous to


talk about it because it was somehow linked in with the issue of race and


racism as well. -- it persuaded. But immigration is not about racial


difference or religious difference. There are plenty with Asian


backgrounds and Caribbean backgrounds who are just as


concerned as those with white heritage as well. It has made it


easier to have that conversation again. The leader of UKIP, Nigel


Farage, says Enoch Powell distorted that debate, although he agrees with


many of those warnings. I'd put it to him that he wasn't really being


upfront with people and unless he was willing to say to them, yes, I


am against immigration, but that will actually make you poorer. He


replied he was willing to say it and then added this. I don't want to


live in a country whose population is heading toward 75 million people.


There are some things in a society and the community that matter more


than just money. Quality of life. Overcrowded Britain. Back of social


housing. Youth unemployment. These are very real issues. Very dramatic


comments there from him. When is it on? 9:30pm, BBC Two, and even your


viewers want just politics. There are lots of real people in this and


you can have a laugh at me running a pie stall trying to illustrate that


people don't actually know the numbers of those coming into the


country with a pie chart. Get it? Yes! I am joined by Tim Aker, Head


of Policy at UKIP, and Charles Kennedy is still with us. Charles


Kennedy, you said immigration is not something a Dutch auction on the


back of UKIP should be indulged in. Are you out of step with the public


mood? I would say by the records of public opinion, yes, but in


politics, you have to be prepared to be that. Politics is the business of


trying to persuade and change public opinion to what you think is a


better viewpoint. I think we are all in the business of that. Where we


find ourselves in a minority occasionally. It also has to be


about reading public opinion. This debate, and are largely agree with


Nick Robinson, it is a bit like Europe. The establishment did not


want to discuss these matters. Well, in a healthy, vibrant democracy, you


need to. And I think it is good thing we are. Those who take a


different view from the Nigel Farage Outlook need to make that case


robustly. There is conflicting research, as you know, but there is


return should that -- research in the short term that indicates that


there is a problem with low-wage and low skilled workers, those who were


migrants themselves in the first place. Yes. You can argue this both


ways. I think the key thing is, are we better in the internationalised


world we live in as a multicultural society functioning well? I think we


are and I think that is something to celebrate, quite frankly. What is


wrong with that? I think it is a question of numbers and we made a


promise we would cut immigration from hundreds of thousands down to


tens of thousands. You are not going to achieve that, you? We have


actually made a lot of restrictions... It was part of the


agreement made with the EU, but just go on, are you going to achieve this


net migration target of tens of thousands? We may do. It is a


challenging target. I've thought we were on target six months ago and


I'm worried we have been knocked off that target cause of problems in


Europe with the currency and the numbers from Bulgaria and Romania.


But think it is essential we deliver on that promise for migration. But


you cannot do anything about it, Mark Reckless, because other member


countries around the EU, we have free movement of people. Are you


worried it is something you couldn't deliver? What is happening is,


because of the problems controlling EU immigration, we are having to do


more on non-EU immigration. And I say, why are we allowing... ? I


don't think it helps our graduates domestic lead to let EU graduates


stay on and get jobs after their graduation, constituting a third of


graduate employment in London, or why we let some come and work for a


very short time or why we allow domestic servants in from the


European Union. Certainly the rhetoric from David Cameron and the


Government, notwithstanding the Lib Dems, the Conservative side of the


government, has been to try to limit in some way net migration and they


are now at 182,000, I think. And though it may not be achievable,


they have gone to some way to doing it and trying to restrict access to


benefits for new immigrants. So in a way, they are doing the sorts of


things you are promising. Well, we are shaping the agenda on this. IDSA


without UKIP, we wouldn't have been having this discussion now. -- I'd


dare say. It is continuity blow. We have had ten years of this. Ten


years. And we have only been able to discuss it in the last two because


of a political class and the cosies -- cosy consensus where they would


not discuss it. When did you find out UKIP wanted a five-year


moratorium on immigrants settling in the UK? We have been discussing this


for a while. We discussed policy all the time at UKIP. Do you think that


is a good idea? I don't think it is fair to say it was a reaction to


UKIP. We promise to... Under the Conservatives we never had that and


we promised we would cut it back from the quarter of a million year


we had under Labour to under 100,000. But you know as well of


idea, Mark, that the only way to do that is to bring forward the debate


now. Your leader is only prepared to kick the can down the road. The only


way we can get control back of our borders is with this. So why are you


supporting kicking the can down the road? To do this, we need a


Conservative government to give a referendum... We must have a


referendum. They need a Conservative government that will give them the


referendum. Do you feel you are on the outside looking in? Yes! I am


delighted and relieved! This is a clear blue and deeper blue water


flowing through the studio! Support a referendum. I am very happy with


the referendum. I would have had it 20 years ago for a start! We have a


referendum this year on the future of one union, the United Kingdom,


and after the May 2015 election, we will have another on the European


Union, and that is, to me, seems sensible. Is the debate you have


heard here about two parties trying to buy who will be tougher, is that


identifying it as far as you're concerned or do we need to be


discussed in detail policy about whether immigrants should be


restricted from accessing benefits or whether we should have a


moratorium? It is perfectly reasonable to have a debate on the


specifics of policy and it isn't -- insulting to people's intelligence


not to. It is as legitimate to express these who is as it is to


rehearse my view. That's pick up on the point of Nigel Farage, that it


would be better to be poorer because there is plenty of research which


states from the GDP growth point of view that the country is actually


better off as a result of immigration. It is one view put out


by the national in shoot for economic research that says without


immigration GDP will come down. -- national institute. I think the


impact of immigration on the GDP per head tends to be quite small but


lots of people who are perhaps better off benefit from employing


cheaper immigrants, cheaper labour, and then those people look down on


the rest of the population and said they were racist for not agreeing


with them, and the rest of the population are very often competing


with those people in the labour market and therefore are not as


supportive of immigration as those who are better off. But it suggests


it is short-term and long-term, more people in the population would


benefit. How do you counteract that argument if the research states that


in terms of GDP, which the Conservatives have made accordance


stone of their policy, how does it work if Nigel Farage says we are


going to be poorer? We are having these debates now, so let's have


more research. Let's find out. The research now says that, but let's


look at this. We have school place shortages, communities that feel


uncomfortable. We are having this discussion now because three


quarters of the British public want immigration reduced and we have 1


million young unemployed people in this country, and that is a


disgrace. But do you accept, as Nigel Farage does seem to, that we


would be worse off from a GDP growth point of view if we don't have


continued immigration of some sort? Statistics mean little to someone


who has gone through Christmas without a job.


Economically, it is arguable, but socially there is a big impact when


it comes to hospitals, school places. This country doesn't have


the room for these, for a lot more immigration?


I do not accept that statement. If you look at the NHS, if it wasn't


for a lot of labour at all levels within the NHS, then what is a


creaking edifice would be in a state of genuine crisis.


The reason so many people from Europe are coming to the UK is


because our economy is doing better compared to the massive problems in


the Eurozone. I think we can cut immigration to below 100,000 while


still making it beneficial. We should have in people who we would


benefit from, not those competing disproportionately with those


struggling to get jobs. Vince Cable would argue by


restricting non-EU immigration... Should life mean life for murderers


and other serious offenders? It's an issue the government is having to


grapple with, after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. And


it's just the latest example of the court in Strasbourg putting itself


at odds with the British government. There are currently 52 criminals in


England and Wales serving whole-life prison terms, which allow no


possibility for parole. Different rules apply in Scotland. Judges in


Strasbourg found in favour of three of those prisoners, all notorious


killers, when it said their sentences breached human rights


rules because they were not allowed a "right to review". David Cameron


said he "profoundly disagreed" with the decision. But it looks like the


government could try to comply with the ruling by replacing whole-life


tariffs with US-style 100-year prison sentences. That would


potentially allow offenders to have their sentences reviewed and


reduced. The government is already considering how to respond to


another ruling from the ECHR, after it said the UK's ban on prisoners


voting is unlawful. For many, all this adds up to proof that the court


in Strasbourg is overreaching itself. The former Lord Chief


Justice, Lord Judge, said last month it threatened the sovereignty of


Parliament, warning, "this is a court which is not answerable to


anybody". The period for the government to decide what to do


about whole-life tariffs runs out this week. And the Ministry of


Justice says it will respond "shortly".


I'm joined now by the Conservative MP and member of the Home Affairs


Select Committee Mark Reckless, and of course Charles Kennedy is still


here. Ian Brady, Rosemary West, Jeremy


Bamber, notorious killers, are they being denied their human rights?


It's not a matter of releasing them, but having a review after 25 years.


They could be released. It's not for politicians to take


that judgement. But there should be a right to review. This is


misunderstood. This is not about opening cell doors to notorious


people who need to be locked up for their own safety as well as others.


You should have a review process. Interestingly, the European Court,


again much misunderstood, is talking about an automatic right of review


after 25 years. In English law, the standard is in fact 16 years. What


the court is talking about is more punitive than the working practice


in England. For many people, life should mean


life. For those notorious killers, they should stay, they should die in


prison. Life should mean life, but that doesn't mean an independent


judge or panel should be able to review after a quarter of a


century, the individual circumstances.


An example, hypothetically, suppose somebody is terminally ill and have


served 30 years. Suppose there is a prison riot and they save a


warder's life, and they only have a few months left of their own knife.


A judge might take that into account and say they should serve that, the


rest of their term in liberty. Should there be some sort of legal


right to a review? It sounds like when the Scottish


government sent al-Meghari back to Libya.


We come in Parliament, should decide. Ultimately, our top judge


said this was quite compliant with the European Convention on Human


Rights. Our courts have interpreted it that way. They only had to have


regard to Strasbourg, they do not need to follow it. We should respect


our own top judges. Personally, you would like to see


them stay, regardless of who decides whole-life tariffs. Why shouldn't


somebody as stated by Charles Kennedy, no matter how hard they


work towards rehabilitation, their punishment should not change?


The Lord Chief Justice looked at the case of David Oates, a cold-blooded


murder of his former partner and daughter. It was planned. The judge


said he took pleasure in the killing. There was no mitigation.


The worst possible murder. It is important society has the ability to


sake you must go to prison for the rest of your life. Belief in our


criminal justice system would be undermined if that principle were


bitten away. 2011, in England, 160 people were


released for murder, of those, 26 had served less than ten years. That


is nothing to do with Strasbourg, or the European Court, that is what is


happening in domestic law. Why isn't the same outrage about that, if what


Strasbourg is saying is invidious. I think Parliament should decide.


You are happy with those decisions that Parliament has made leading to


those statistics? I would like to see tougher sentencing more


generally. And the issue life must mean life should hold. I believe we


should... Given what is happening in our country, nothing to do with


Strasbourg, why don't we abolish the court system in England? There is


the European Convention, and the question of who decides. We have a


mess where both of us are deciding. It is not clear. Other countries...


Our judges have a better record than those European judges. We should


follow our Lord Chief Justice and allow them to make decisions. As a


country governed by our Parliament, that is a better system than one


which this European court decides. There is a contradiction. If you


pulled out of the European court, you would still have cases where


people who should stay for life could be released. Our Lord Chief


Justice upholds what Parliament passes. We only have two have regard


to Strasbourg. Our Parliament doesn't even have two have regard.


What about the compromise? We shouldn't be dancing around to do


what the European Court says. Ministers may be trying to obey


international law because the Prime Minister has issued a ministerial


code. Under our system, you should only have two obey the law as


determined by Parliament. How dangerous would it be if Britain


pulled out of the European Court and convention? A disaster, we are a


founding member. I like the phrase, our judges are better than anyone


else. I am a member of the all party Parliamentary assembly of the


Council of Europe. The one important vote I have is I get to vote for who


these judges are from all other 46 countries. All the more reason for


not following this decision. And I pay great attention... I was there


when David Cameron addressed the Parliamentary assembly last year. If


he had used phrases like, our judges are better... I said they were


better than judges who had not been judges in their own country or had


no legal experience. Let us leave it there.


The general election of 2015 promises to be fascinating. And,


less than 18 months out, there's still no clear indication of how any


of the main parties will fare. It will be particularly crucial for the


Lib Dems. Not only will they be going to the voters on the back of


five years in coalition with the Conservatives, a significant number


of their big beasts, people like Menzies Campbell, will be standing


down. That in itself could have an effect on their chances of holding


onto seats, as familiar faces are replaced with relative unknowns. So,


five years on from Clegg-mania, just what might it mean for the party?


Here's David. A changing of the guard, as familiar


faces give way. They have seen hard times and glory days, what will


their departure mean for the future of the party? The Lib reckon they


have a secret weapon in a general election campaign, it is called


incumbency. Once they get in, it is tough to get them out. They become


familiar faces. With more than 10% of their MPs standing down and


having been in coalition, will it still work in 2015? Big names


standing down will have an impact on the Lib Dems. Essentially, they are


based on the local relevancy of their MPs. Looking at inheriting


seats, with the national polls showing them on just 8%, having been


in government, they are going to struggle to hold onto seats,


particularly Liberal Democrat- Labour seat where Labour can play


that anti-government card. If that holds true, they could lose more


than 30 seats. There are concerns about the big names who have been


the face of unpopular policies. Being an AA Minister does have its


benefits. Someone like Danny Alexander is aware of the


difficulties that come from being the man in charge of the public


purse strings. He is making sure there are sweeteners going the way


of his constituents. He is being careful to play that game well. Even


those standing down think the Lib Dems have brought benefits in their


time at office. We all know government is a process


of compromise particularly in a coalition. At the same time, you do


get things done which you have been trying to do for many years. You are


able to keep those promises to your electorate. Let me tell you, if you


have the choice, then being in government enables you to deliver in


a way you will never do in opposition. You can talk a lot, but


you can't get things done. Could the Lib Dems's best hope be pride in


their time in office? I don't think you can wash your


hands of the coalition, but playing for the next three months they will


be authentic. 2015 will be new territory for


everyone but it could be toughest for the Lib Dems. They hope will be


locally and nationally some of the achievements of their past will


still be standing the day after they next go to the polls.


Charles Kennedy, what you think of your electoral chances?


Very tough. Excuse me, I am croaking a bit. Have some water. They were


bound to be tough from the moment the coalition decision was taken.


That would have been the case whatever way that had gone. Had


there been a coalition or arrangement with labour. You'd


probably have had a shot at Polmont but it would have been tough. I


didn't support it at the time, I would have stayed in opposition.


Most of my Parliamentary colleagues took the view understandably they


didn't want that but wanted the long haul. I was never any doubt the


press underestimate the resilience of this party. They don't understand


this party. But, despite all the ups and downs, there have been plenty,


once the ink was dry, this deal would see its way through.


But you lost seats after the Cleggmania and there was talk of the


Lib Dems being wiped out. Can they hold the same number of seats they


have now? I think we can do that because if you look at the pattern


of results, sure, we have had very bad set acts, but in areas where we


have Parliamentary representation, we have been bucking that trend. In


the main, that is. So we can certainly do that but there is a


big, big communication job for us to do in the next 18 months in


particular. We have two, possibly three big opportunities to do this.


The Scottish referendum campaign in the autumn, between now and


September, for once we are on the side of something which the polls


suggest has majority support and we very much have to be in the vanguard


of that. Secondly, on the European elections, which will be very tough


indeed, with UKIP... You could do very badly there as well? Well, when


I was leader, I remember one weekend we came fourth in the European


elections, which was a disaster. We came second on the same day of


polling in the English local elections and beat Labour and we won


one if not two sensational Parliamentary by-elections, so we


can survive bad results but the challenge is, to be pro-, and


unambiguously pro-European, because that is our niche market. What about


the brand? Because the editor of the magazine says it is a toxic brand,


partly because of tuition fees but other things as well. He uses the


evidence that you have not been able to, as the party, select all your


candidates, and by now normally that would have happened. This is for the


next election. Groves of people have gone to Labour since 2010 and that,


in the end, will inhibit you having anything like a strong performance


as you did in 2010. -- droves of people. Well, if you remember, we


were due to be in the process of a very controversial people with the


new Parliamentary boundaries, which got scrapped last year because of


all sorts of internal Parliamentary vaccinations. On the brand issue,


yes, we took some very big knocks. Tuition fees, in my view, was the


biggest, and Nick Clegg has apologised for it. However, I was


interested looking at some of Lord Ashcroft's most recent polling,


where it showed, and this is where we can work and we have potential to


work with the grain here, is that we are still trusted on things like, if


you ask the question, is the heart in the right place? Largest single


group of respondents say yes. But the polling figures are terrible.


Yes. We have to translate those value judgements about us into


practical support but we have campaign opportunities to do it.


Just to confirm, you are standing, are you? I have been reselected! The


electorate willing, my hat will be in the ring next time and eye will


be back! Thank you for clarifying that. -- I.


Ed Miliband's described them as spreading like an epidemic, and


tomorrow Labour will use an opposition day debate to discuss the


regulation of fixed-odds betting terminals. Currently, bookmakers are


allowed up to four of these machines per branch on which punters can bet


up to ?300 a minute. But Labour argues this is causing more and more


bookmakers to open on the high streets. They want councils to be


given powers to limit the number of bookmakers allowed to open in an


area and regulate how many machines are allowed on the premises.The


Government is waiting for a study into the machines' effects before


deciding on the matter. Joining me from Birmingham is the Labour MP Tom


Watson, who's campaigned on the issue.


Tom, why not wait for that study to deliver what the impact has been of


these machines? Well, Jo, the problem with the study is, it is


like waiting for the polar ice caps to melt! We have been waiting years


for this. And the Government, in their tri- annual review of stakes,


has decided the simple way to deal with these machines to reduce the


stakes from ?200 down to ?100, that is not the way to do it. Give local


authorities the power to rule that if there is anti-social behaviour


problems, give them the powers to ban them. That is the debate


tomorrow. What impact do you think, anecdotally, if the study is still


looking at it, and I am told by Charles Kennedy that the review


should be concluded early 2014, so you should be expecting it fairly


soon, but what sort of impact is it having on communities? It is great


to have Charlie Kennedy back, by the way! He talks so much sense. And


what the resolution tomorrow is about is he is probably inspired a


bit by the Lib Dems, whose own conference past policy in this area


in September, so the Lib Dems have made their mind up on it and I'm


hoping we can unite around the issue of a resolution tomorrow, though I


have not seen it yet. I'm hoping my front bench will be clever in the


way they word it so it gives the Lib Dems an opportunity to express their


support. The real argument is, there is an emerging body of evidence and


it doesn't need a gambling charity report to see that these machines


are being used for money-laundering, that there is an increasing amount


of violence within bookmakers and nearly 180 callouts to the police


every week from bookmakers, predominantly from gamblers smashing


them up who have lost too much money. And there is also a body of


evidence that says these machines are creating gambling addicts and


that is something Parliament should act on. And we never should have


licensed these machines in the way we did in 2005 and we should put the


matter right as quickly as possible. So that was when Labour


was in power, then? Yes. I'd feel duty bound to continue with this


campaign because I was on the bill that allowed the licensing of these


machines to go through. And it is time all MPs -- at the time all MPs


let these machines go through sort of on the nod. We basically drop the


ball on this one and didn't understand the impact this


technology would have on the high street. Now is the time to put it


right. Thank you. Charles Kennedy, you woman should there. Are the


Liberal Democrats going to support this? Tom is so kind and it seems


dishonourable to not go along with him! He is right, the 2005 act is


what gave life to this problem. But we do have the review. Don Foster,


the Lib Dem government minister, and onto recently he became our Chief


Whip and the deputy Chief Whip, he set up the review and a flow was


pointing out, it is reporting early this calendar year. -- and as I was


pointing out. I hope the review will endorse it and it seems this is


slightly putting the cart before the horse. It is procedural rather than


any other sort of disagreement. Thank you.


Now, would you like to get married in a neo-Gothic palace on the banks


of the River Thames? As long as you don't mind the odd MP photo-bombing


the wedding pictures, that is. Or perhaps you're a business wanting to


hire out a function room in the heart of Westminster to really


impress your clients? Well, it's all now possible thanks to the House of


Commons authorities, who have begun renting out a number of the historic


rooms in Parliament for the first time.


But what exactly is on offer? Well, members of the public can hire the


Pugin Room, which seats 30 people for just ?900 an evening.


Or for a bigger gathering, you could opt for the vast Portcullis House


glass atrium, which can be rented for ?9,000 on a Saturday and can


hold up to 450 people. And what food's on offer? Well, a


Westminster cream tea will set customers back ?24 a head, or for


the more extravagant, there's House of Commons champagne available at


?40 a bottle. The idea behind all of this is for


the Commons to generate more revenue to pay for repairs and upkeep of the


buildings, but some argue it's just commercialising a public institution


to the highest bidder. I'm joined now by the Labour MP Paul


Flynn, who's in favour of the hiring-out of Parliament, and by the


Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who opposed the commercialisation of


Parliament when it was proposed in 2012. What is wrong with it, Robert?


Welcome. Well, they wanted to originally charge for going up Ben


and I'd put a stop to that because the first issue is about respect and


equality and we should have respect for Parliament. It is at the base of


our democracy and it should be equal to all citizens, not just if they


are rich enough to hire it out. And also, there are savings that can be


made elsewhere as well. Thirdly, I think we are in danger of making


Parliament a theme park. We are opening a Pandora's box. Why not


have roller-coaster 's and other things? This is central to our


country and I have a rented view about Parliament. We are the


greatest Parliament in one of the greatest countries in the world and


we should treat it as such. Robert, what do you say to that? It is


deserted. Members are not there on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday


evenings, nothing happening at the weekend. We have this huge asset and


we should be doing it in a democratic way. Prices should be at


a level where everybody can have a go and there has to be some kind of


lottery to have a go. It should be used by everyone. It is a marvellous


place to have a wedding, for instance. And everyone should have


at least a chance, then paying costs which would be similar to a


first-class hotel. In terms of the practical level, the building is


crumbling in parts, as I am told. If it is not being used to its full


capacity and you want to retain and maintain it, then isn't that a


sensible way just to make some money and allow people to use it


recreationally? But the reality of this if there will be some people


who use it for having a cream tea and weddings, and good luck to them.


But the majority who can afford to hire it will be corporate and it


should be for the people. It should not be for big business by big


business. MPs have been dodging this and they are underused in


Parliament. People use it to the greatest extent for big business and


lobbyists and it should be open to the public and everyone should have


the chance to use it. It is a wonderful building. It should be


open to the public and it should be free to walk around. They are even


talking about charging... But if they want to have their wedding...


The public already pay taxes for Parliament should be able to walk


around it. This is not a museum or hotel. It is the place of our


democracy. On the sort of romantic notion it should be for the people


and of the people, what do you think? I am genuinely sitting on the


fence listening to the argument. Hate to be a traditional Liberal


Democrat! When I assumed the capitalist Conservative would be all


in favour of opening up the place to maximise the profit and then my good


socialist friend here from the Council of Europe would be against


it. I think I'd tend towards the more romantic view, have to say,


because Paul's argument is interesting but the same argument


should apply to Buckingham Palace as well, shouldn't it? Indeed. There


was the suggestion that the royal palaces, there are eight of them,


and one of them has 600 rooms, that they should be open to the public.


Very quickly, the answer to our quiz, the man who received the MBE


in the New Year's honours list, what service does he provide for the


prime minister? He is Sweeney Todd! A close shave! Not quite Sweeney


Todd! But he is the hairdresser. Many thanks to all of you,


particularly you, Charles Kennedy. The one o'clock News is starting on


BBC One now. Goodbye.


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