13/01/2014 Daily Politics


13/01/2014

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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. Cash for councils

:00:41.:00:44.

who give the go-ahead for fracking. But will it be enough to persuade

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communities to drop their opposition to drilling? They were accused of

:00:49.:00:52.

killing the high Street, but are these giants themselves now

:00:53.:00:56.

threatened by the online shopping revolution?

:00:57.:01:02.

Poverty porn or a timely expose of Britain's benefit culture? We get

:01:03.:01:06.

the verdict on Channel -- Channel 4's controversial series. The eyes

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and ears of ministers. We will get the insider's view at the bottom

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rung of the ministerial ladder. All that in the next hour. With us

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for the first half of the programme is Baroness Lucy Neville Rolfe,

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Conservative peer, former executive director of Tesco and a former civil

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servant. Welcome. Let's start with Europe, because yesterday it was

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revealed that almost 100 Conservative MPs have written to the

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Prime Minister asking for Parliament to be given the power to veto new EU

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laws. But that call has been rejected by the Foreign Secretary,

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William Hague, as unrealistic. Do you agree? I think I do. I was

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surprised when I saw the paper yesterday. People feel strongly

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about Europe and its bureaucracy. But they came out and said, we need

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to be able to veto things after they have been decided. If you think

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about the single market, to my mind the greatest achievement of the EU

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since we have been in there, you couldn't run an EU single market if

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you came along afterwards and change the arrangements that had been

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agreed. So is this about something else? Isn't this posturing by

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Eurosceptic MPs? There is concern about Europe. If the Tories get a

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victory at the election, we will have a referendum. I would vote in

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favour. I believe you can reform the European Union from inside. I think

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the renegotiation will be important. Remember, in the 1980s we

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had a problem with the budget rebate. Recently the budget

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settlement was good. We have got problem with benefit tourism. If you

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have got allies, you can get changes. Equally, it is right that

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people should get a chance to vote. But is this something different? Is

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it not about reform but a group of MPs who want to put more pressure on

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David Cameron to actually pull out, eventually? They want to get their

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voices heard and they want the negotiation to be real. The scrutiny

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committee have said they have seen the passage of legislation, year in,

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year out, and have got frustrated. What I think is interesting in

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Europe at the moment, although things will change in May after the

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election, people are questioning more exactly what Europe is doing.

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They are saying, let's get together and do things better. Modern life is

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more about getting together and doing things better. Some of that is

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coming into the Europe debate. Is it a problem, though, for party unity?

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As far as the Conservative party is concerned, we are together in

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wanting this referendum so that people can get another look. During

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the referendum campaign, the people who care about having a single

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market and care about the rights of the EU, will talk more than they are

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at the moment, not just the people who are highly sceptical. It is

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right that we should have a choice. That is what they are saying. There

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will be some in the group who have a higher level of scepticism. Can the

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Prime Minister withstand another attack from the right, another

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assault from his Euro sceptic flank when he clearly has now his colours

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to the mast? The Prime Minister has nailed his colours to the mast and

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is showing leadership and showing it in a way that others haven't done.

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It is fine to have people within the party who are saying something

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different, because that can contribute to the richness of debate

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and make sure that in the renegotiation process we are looking

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at important issues. From a business point of view, the single market has

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been beneficial. I am involved in Europe are bit because I have the

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retail Association in Europe. I can see the advantages it brings to

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consumers across the EU. It would be very different if you came out of

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the EU. It would raise a lot of questions. We will leave it there.

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Could local authorities up and down the country be in line for a cash

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bonanza? David Cameron has announced councils will be able to keep all of

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the business rates from the proceeds of shale gas exploration, or

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fracking. Normally, councils keep only 50% of business rates. The

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Prime Minister claims this could mean councils making up to ?1.7

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million extra per year from each fracking site. Last year, government

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commissioned report found that more than half of the UK could be

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suitable for shale gas extraction. But the practice is controversial.

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It requires vast amounts of water. It has to be transported to and from

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the site, and critics believe some of the chemicals used in the process

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could contaminate the area. What's more, there are concerns the process

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causes small earth tremors. Environmentalists worry that it will

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reduce investment in ritual energy. But with the government believing it

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could inject billions into the UK economy and lower bills, it is

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likely to be seen as too good an opportunity to miss. Let's talk to

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our correspondent, Danny Savage, in Salford, where they have been

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campaigning against fracking. I any of the protesters convinced by what

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some people are calling on government to bribe, letting

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councils keep the money from the business rate? Now, they think this

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is a diversion. They are not swayed by the argument at all. Then you

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wouldn't expect them to be. These are the die-hard environmentalists,

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the local people who are objecting strongly to any fracking happening

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in this part of the country. This morning was a prime example here.

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There is a camp protesters here. When a couple of big lorries turned

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up to try to get into the site, if you protesters climbed up on the

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lorries. It means that police had to get ladders and scaffolding to get

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them down. The main dual carriageway was closed, causing chaos. When

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eventually they got them moving, the protesters walked in front of them

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as slow as they do there, really a snails pace, to the bottom of the

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lane, fracking site is. -- where the fracking site is. This is a daily

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ritual here. I was speaking to somebody from the Green party. He

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doesn't believe the government incentive offered today will make

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any difference. He called it a bribe as well. Even a Conservative MP

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today from up in Lancashire, where there are other fracking site, has

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described the offer from David Cameron as crumbs from the table.

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The figure bandied about by other local authorities today is that

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there should be something like a 10% cut of profits from fracking to make

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a difference to the local communities. Thank you. With us now

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from Glasgow is Labour's Energy Spokesman, Tom Greatrex, and in the

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studio I enjoyed by Jane Thomas from Friends of the Earth. Tom Greatrex,

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is there any difference between you and the government on this? You back

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the idea of fracking and you would like it to go ahead in the site

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identified. We haven't got him. We will comeback in a moment. Let's to

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Jane. The money is what is talking here. I don't mean the money of the

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two councils but the money that can actually be used to reduce energy

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bills. That is what might convince people. That is actually an

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interesting point. Ed Davey has admitted that it will not

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necessarily bring down energy bills. In that sense, it is a nonstarter.

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Plus, we also now, and this has been acknowledged by the industry, we

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know that fracking in any degree will not start until 2021. We need

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to be moving to renewable energy now. We are facing a crisis now,

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even if there is a delay. Fracking will be necessary to bridge the gap

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between the energy we need and we are going to be losing over the next

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few years. The best way to address our energy needs is to have

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energy-saving efficiency measures in place. The government could do far

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more. It has been tested and proven by many academics that energy

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efficiency measures other thing that can really make a difference in the

:10:10.:10:13.

next few years. We do have to move much more quickly to renewable

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energy. The problem with fracking is it is a diversionary issue anyway.

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What percentage of energy comes from renewables? At the moment, around

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12%. I have got 9.4%. It is interesting. We start from a base

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point of just a few years ago, where it was 3%. In terms of growth, it is

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the nominal. The problem is the government hasn't invested in

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removable. There has been a real decline, especially in offshore. The

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government could lead here. Let's go to Tom Greatrex, who I believe can

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hear us now. The support fracking in sites that have been identified for

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the reasons set out by the government. It will help the energy

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crisis many people think we are facing. That is right, isn't it? We

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support the potential of shale gas as a way of displacing imported

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gas. We use a lot of gas. 80% of UK uses gas for heating. We are going

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to continue to need a significant amount of gas. In the last ten years

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we have moved from using more of our own gas from the North Sea to

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importing it. It is a big change. It is not about the silver bullet

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answer, which it is sometimes portrayed as. In reality, you would

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be backing the same policy. You are not against these sites being used

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for exploration. That is right, isn't it? We shouldn't rule out an

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indigenous source of gas. What is the difference? What would actually

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change? If you were in power, these sites that have been identified

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identified, would now be two councils for them to -- the sites

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that have been identified would now be put to councils. We set out,

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nearly two years ago, six conditions for what we thought needed to be

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done to ensure regular shoe is robust. There is also an issue among

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motoring. -- monitoring. That is important because, although as

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people have reflected today, this isn't a new technology, it is a

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different application of it. It is also something that has quite

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rightly produced concerns. There is a public acceptability test. The

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other thing that is significant, and this is where I get frustrated by

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this debate, is the idea that shale gas is immediate and is abundant.

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Nobody knows how much we can get out of the ground, firstly. Secondly,

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the idea that what will happen in the UK is what will happen in the US

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is highly unlikely because we are part of an integrated European gas

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network in the way the US isn't, and can't export it. Thirdly, to suggest

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this is an alternative to doing other things is wrong. We need to

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move to a low carbon energy mix. But we are not going to be able to do

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that straightaway either. We need to use a form of gas extraction for

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heating, and also for producing gas. We have potential options. So you

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have laid out your concerns. I still don't quite see what the difference

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would be on the ground in terms of going ahead with fracking. The use

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-- do you support giving business rates to councils to local

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communities? Jelena afraid there is a real issue around whether -- there

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is a real issue around whether it will be done properly. Communities

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who will be subject to disruption deserve to have some recompense for

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the disruption. In relation to the level, I'm not convinced,

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necessarily, that this is precisely what they will be looking for. This

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is about the impact on the environment as well. Where do you

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stand on this? A lot of good points have been made. I am in favour of

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fracking. I have looked at the American economy. I have seen what a

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difference it has made, both due individual states like North Dakota

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but also for the manufacturing operations in middle America. They

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have fuel prices that allows them to compete better. I am in favour of it

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and I wanted to come about. Clearly, you need proper regulation. He is

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saying the government are not putting in place the proper

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regulation. I don't think that is right. I'm sure changes could be

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made. This is a long-term opportunity, but on the basic

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question of is it right to add a business rate to the cough is to

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make this happen, I think that is a very imaginative idea, a good idea.

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It's saying to the councils who are going to make the decision, here's

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some money, this will offset Government cuts. I will ask the

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minister about this later on. And they are more likely to say yes. I

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think it is an incentive. In this world where you want things to get

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on and you want green growth, we shall see whether it is enough. I

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want to see that it is enough so we are not left behind. For example, in

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France... That is an irony, because they cannot do fracking in France.

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They know it has huge environmental implications. The Government cannot

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have it both ways. We either have a very tight regulation, in which

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case, why do these companies come over here? Or we haven't. Coming

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back to your point about America, there is no comparison with America.

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We have different levels of shale. We have very different communities

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where they want to Frank. They have much bigger areas. Do we want all of

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the impacts that this is going to bring on these places. On every

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level, there is an issue. There seems to be a political consensus

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that even with concerns a - and there will be Lib Dems who are

:17:04.:17:08.

worried about it in their constituencies. But generally,

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fracking is going to go ahead. The thing I really worry about is

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listening to the communities that are facing fracking. Whether the

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political parties agree or not is one thing. You only have to look at

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one place, hardly the hotbed of environmental extremism, but they

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express their views very clearly. That has to be taken into the --

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into account. Coming back to the idea of sweetness. I think the

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conflict of interest is missing from this debate. If you have a council

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that has to determine the planning application from a fracking company

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and makes that decision whether the company can come and frack, knowing

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that they will be in receipt of some money... I'm sorry, but there are

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very clear conflicts of interest. How would Labour deal with the sort

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of protest we saw at the beginning of this item? People are going to be

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out there day in, day out, trying to prevent the tankers from coming --

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the fractures from coming in. Different aspects of this debate

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gets conflated. The legitimate environmental concerns have to be

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properly dealt with. That is about regulation. And also, crucially, the

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monitoring of regulation. If anybody wants to see the potential to have

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shale gas to displace imported gas, not to use more gas in our energy

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mix but to displace what we import, for energy security reasons, they

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need to address all of those issues first. That is why some of the

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rhetoric from the Government today, such as about the number of jobs,

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well, a report was recently published looking at a strategic

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environmental impact assessment, and put it much lower than the

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Government's figure of 4000 new jobs. I don't think that helps in

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terms of having a robust and sensible bait. Thank you both very

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much. My guest of the Day, Lucy

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Neville-Rolfe, became a politician just last year when she was made a

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Peer by David Cameron. Politics is a job closely rivalled in the

:19:37.:19:39.

popularity stakes, perhaps, with being a boss at Britain's biggest

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supermarket chain, Tesco - Lucy's previous role. But what have the

:19:42.:19:45.

supermarkets done to deserve our ire? Are they really as bad as

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politicians? Here's Adam. I have arrived at shopping

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Shangri-La, Tesco's brand-new flagship store in Watford. Tesco has

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around 30% of the market, a market that is worth around ?170 billion a

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year, so this is a good place to ponder the past, present and future

:20:10.:20:14.

of the supermarket. It is the first store in Britain to cut shopping

:20:15.:20:19.

hours in half... They have been part of the retail market since they

:20:20.:20:27.

revolutionised it in the 1950s. In the 1950s, we used to spend about a

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third of our household budget on food. Now we spend about 10%. So we

:20:32.:20:38.

are getting better products, but more affordable. Supermarkets have

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driven that and made it much more affordable for consumers. But how

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I'm grateful we? These places have been blamed for everything, from

:20:50.:20:55.

causing the horse meat scandal to squeezing suppliers. Some have

:20:56.:21:00.

argued that high street shops like this have been killed off. What they

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have done is create further distance between ourselves and the point of

:21:06.:21:08.

production. We are living further away from where food is produced,

:21:09.:21:13.

and it makes it very difficult to remember, when we go in and see an

:21:14.:21:17.

array of banana as all times of the day, this huge array of food, that

:21:18.:21:29.

it is an illusion. Back in Watford, here is Tescos answer. They have

:21:30.:21:33.

imported a north London coffee shop, with an emphasis on chatting and

:21:34.:21:37.

community. Out goes giant televisions, incomes retro

:21:38.:21:43.

kitchenware. The drink I'll is supposed to feel more like a wine

:21:44.:21:48.

merchant's. Then there is the Artisan bakery, which hires

:21:49.:21:52.

apprentices and donates money to charity. Here is an example of how

:21:53.:21:57.

much thought goes into these places. Tesco very proud this new food and

:21:58.:22:02.

bread -- new fruit and veg area. They have lowered the height of the

:22:03.:22:08.

shelves, there is loads more would around, and there is loads more

:22:09.:22:13.

produce on tables. It feels like an old greengrocer of yore. It feels

:22:14.:22:19.

like everything has been designed to confront the thing is making

:22:20.:22:23.

supermarkets feel anything but relaxed. There's a new restaurant to

:22:24.:22:27.

make it feel less soulless. There's a drive-through for picking up

:22:28.:22:31.

shopping that has been done online, along with more upmarket products to

:22:32.:22:37.

head off posh arrivals. If you hate supermarkets, it might not do

:22:38.:22:41.

anything for you. If you love them, you might just be sold on it.

:22:42.:22:48.

As I was saying, our guest of the day, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, worked

:22:49.:22:53.

with the supermarket Tesco is for 15 years. Do you think the success of

:22:54.:22:58.

the big supermarket chains has, the expense of small retailers? Not

:22:59.:23:05.

really. It reflects society and the way it has changed, which is why

:23:06.:23:09.

that film was interesting, because it started in the 1950s. You have

:23:10.:23:16.

the modern Tesco of today as well. It is a very competitive industry.

:23:17.:23:20.

You find it is changing all the time. Obviously, there has been a

:23:21.:23:27.

bad recession in the UK, which has very much affected the high street

:23:28.:23:32.

in recent years. But before that, many independent retailers said that

:23:33.:23:34.

the big supermarket killed off that individuality. Actually, the big

:23:35.:23:44.

change before the recession was Tesco and Morrison is doing well,

:23:45.:23:48.

but the intermediates, Woolworth and so on, not doing well. The really

:23:49.:23:54.

good specialist stores, the ones that sell ethnic food like

:23:55.:23:57.

delicatessens, they did quite well. But then the recession came along

:23:58.:24:03.

and you are getting more discount stores, more places where you can

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change your electrical goods. You have this change coming along with

:24:09.:24:13.

time, and every time consumers want something else, it changes again.

:24:14.:24:18.

The big dynamic today is obviously online. That is the biggest

:24:19.:24:23.

challenge, I think. That's why it is quite interesting that George

:24:24.:24:28.

Osborne, in the budget, made some announcements about rates. Rates are

:24:29.:24:32.

charged on property, so that doesn't really hit the online people at all.

:24:33.:24:36.

He brought in something that means the small stores don't pay rates at

:24:37.:24:41.

all now. He has a review of that coming up, which I think will look

:24:42.:24:47.

at this latest dynamic of online. On that subject, we had reports after

:24:48.:24:51.

Christmas and New Year of falling sales for some of the supermarkets

:24:52.:24:56.

and other big retailers. Online shopping did amazingly well. So why

:24:57.:25:00.

have these massive stores? Isn't that going to be the problem for

:25:01.:25:04.

supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Tesco is. They have massive stores,

:25:05.:25:10.

and actually what people want is the smaller stores and online. They have

:25:11.:25:17.

got to adapt. In the film, I found the modern coffee shop interesting,

:25:18.:25:22.

and the children's restaurant. In some places they are putting in

:25:23.:25:26.

leisure centres and there is more space for community work in these

:25:27.:25:31.

big stores. Actually, it is a mixed economy. Saint-Priest and others

:25:32.:25:36.

have little stores as well. -- Sainsbury's and others. When I was

:25:37.:25:42.

at Tescos, we were being asked for more high-street stores. RB is going

:25:43.:25:51.

to be a hostage to fortune, these very big supermarkets? Isn't it

:25:52.:25:56.

because they cannot sell these big spaces off? It is going to be seen

:25:57.:26:00.

as a gimmick. All of the supermarket chains have big rogue programmes

:26:01.:26:06.

which have largely been going into reverse. They have been selling off

:26:07.:26:11.

some sites. They are adapting existing stores so they are what the

:26:12.:26:17.

customer wants. Will people spend all day in the supermarket, doing

:26:18.:26:22.

their shopping, having a meal? They will do a shop, they will have a cup

:26:23.:26:27.

of coffee, they may buy a swimsuit. On other days, they will go to the

:26:28.:26:32.

high street. During the recession, people started shopping in more

:26:33.:26:36.

places. They started shopping in different places. What do you make

:26:37.:26:43.

of the Mary Portas review? That was all about reviving the high-street.

:26:44.:26:48.

Do you think it should be revived? I think it needs to change. You may

:26:49.:26:54.

have fewer shops, you may have different shops, you may have market

:26:55.:26:59.

stalls. There is a place for local endeavour. When I was at Tesco, we

:27:00.:27:05.

had a big programme to have marketing officials in places like

:27:06.:27:09.

the south-west, so you could get local produce and sell it in a few

:27:10.:27:14.

local stores. I think we will see more of that. I live in Salisbury,

:27:15.:27:18.

and the Salisbury market has a terrific mixture, with the

:27:19.:27:24.

marketplace it has big chain stores like Debenhams, but it also has

:27:25.:27:29.

these stores. Food in Britain is terrific. I think we could be

:27:30.:27:34.

producing more food in Britain from our own resources and our own

:27:35.:27:37.

people. And you think people will buy it from those different places?

:27:38.:27:43.

I do. I don't think they will buy it from a bad retailer. You are as good

:27:44.:27:48.

as your own smile and your own results. Thank you very much for

:27:49.:27:51.

coming on today. So MPs have had their first week

:27:52.:27:55.

back, and things are settling down. What's this week got in store for

:27:56.:27:58.

them? Tomorrow, the Liaison Committee are holding their regular

:27:59.:28:04.

questioning of the Prime Minister. Evidence will be heard from the PM

:28:05.:28:15.

on both violence against women and girls, and energy policy and

:28:16.:28:18.

environmental priorities. Wednesday is of course Prime Minister's

:28:19.:28:36.

Question Time. Will the subdued atmosphere from last week continue?

:28:37.:28:50.

Towards the end of the week, we are expecting speeches from Ed Miliband

:28:51.:28:53.

on the economy and George Osborne on Europe. And finally, Thursday

:28:54.:28:54.

evening sees the first Westminster Correspondents' Dinner, where David

:28:55.:28:56.

Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband will all be dining with Fleet

:28:57.:28:57.

Street's finest. It's modelled on the US White House Correspondents'

:28:58.:28:58.

Dinner. Well, to discuss all of these stories I can speak now to the

:28:59.:28:59.

Guardian's Rowena Mason and the Sun's Kevin Schofield. Have you both

:29:00.:28:59.

been invited to that dinner on Thursday? Have you got your invites?

:29:00.:29:00.

I'm afraid I lost out in the ballot for that, so I will not be going.

:29:01.:29:01.

Those tickets are like gold dust, so I will not be there either. Mine

:29:02.:29:07.

must've got lost in the post. I cannot imagine what happened to it!

:29:08.:29:10.

Moving on to next year. Where is this Tory Government backbench row

:29:11.:29:20.

over having a veto on Europe going? Not that long ago, David Cameron was

:29:21.:29:25.

being praised for having united the Tory party on Europe. The piece

:29:26.:29:32.

hasn't lasted for very long, because some of that euro scepticism has

:29:33.:29:38.

come back to haunt him, with these 95 backbenchers, who demanded in a

:29:39.:29:43.

letter to him a veto for the national parliaments on EU laws. It

:29:44.:29:51.

has turned into a bit of a row now, because the Prime Minister has given

:29:52.:29:57.

it short shrift. William Hague has come out fighting against it as

:29:58.:30:01.

well, saying it wouldn't work, and that it would undermine the single

:30:02.:30:05.

market. We have also seen some of the pro-Europeans like Ken Clarke

:30:06.:30:11.

fight back and say that it is right wing nationalist escapism, and is a

:30:12.:30:16.

terrible idea. It is an argument that I don't think is going to go

:30:17.:30:20.

away. David Cameron probably hoped it would do. On that, Kevin

:30:21.:30:26.

Schofield, William Hague has said that demand is unrealistic. It is

:30:27.:30:31.

difficult for David Cameron now. He is in the position of having tried

:30:32.:30:36.

to keep his eurosceptics onside with stronger rhetoric when it comes to

:30:37.:30:39.

Europe. They continue to demand tougher concessions. He was warned

:30:40.:30:48.

last year that you can never satisfy the Eurosceptic wing of the

:30:49.:30:52.

Conservative party. Offer them a referendum and they will just come

:30:53.:30:56.

back with further demands. And so it has proved. It is an unholy mess.

:30:57.:31:05.

Even a seemingly Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary is telling them it is

:31:06.:31:11.

unrealistic to expect a veto over EU laws. It is clear they are not going

:31:12.:31:16.

to get far. Speaking to a few of them, they are emboldened. At some

:31:17.:31:22.

stage, doesn't David Cameron have to call time on these Eurosceptics? I

:31:23.:31:29.

think he wants to, at the fear is that having promised this

:31:30.:31:34.

referendum, some of the hardline Eurosceptics aren't going to give up

:31:35.:31:38.

until they get what they want. Like Kevin says, they are feeling

:31:39.:31:41.

emboldened and they will keep pushing until they get more

:31:42.:31:51.

concessions. Let's look at Scotland. Danny Alexander has surprisingly

:31:52.:31:58.

said the government will guarantee's Scotland debt. Has

:31:59.:32:03.

displayed into Alex Salmond's hand? I think it has. This morning he has

:32:04.:32:11.

said something that always makes me suspicious. I think it gives him a

:32:12.:32:16.

strong bargaining hand if Scotland decides to become independent. The

:32:17.:32:23.

UK have guaranteed all its debts. Scotland would not be any -- under

:32:24.:32:30.

any legal obligation to pay about ?130 billion, which is expect --

:32:31.:32:35.

estimated to be the extent of the debt. Alex Salmond's argument is

:32:36.:32:39.

simple. If you let us keep the pound, we will meet our obligations

:32:40.:32:45.

in terms of debt. If you don't, we will not meet our obligations. It

:32:46.:32:51.

has put the UK government in a tough spot. Thank you both. Joining me for

:32:52.:32:59.

the rest of the programme are parliamentary private secretaries,

:33:00.:33:02.

conservatively Scott, Barbara Keeley, who works for Ed Balls, Andy

:33:03.:33:12.

Lib Dem Testament who works for Vince Cable. -- Tess Munt. Tonight

:33:13.:33:17.

we get the second instalment of the Channel 4 -- Channel 4 series,

:33:18.:33:20.

Benefits Street. It chronicles life on a Birmingham street where many of

:33:21.:33:28.

the residents are citizens on benefits. Some people have hailed it

:33:29.:33:33.

as an expose of Britain's welfare culture. This man has been on

:33:34.:33:42.

incapacity benefit the years, and now the assessors are on his case,

:33:43.:33:51.

too. Anything you want to disclose? I have suspended your claim as there

:33:52.:33:55.

has been a change in your income. Don't worry about it. I had one of

:33:56.:34:00.

them and I ignored it. Then they paid my landlord anyway. Hello,

:34:01.:34:08.

there. I am phoning on behalf of all friend and neighbour of mine who

:34:09.:34:12.

can't actually read and write. He has had a letter saying he has got

:34:13.:34:16.

to attend an appointment at your place in Smethwick. He can't work

:34:17.:34:20.

out why it would be in Smethwick or what it is for. What am I going to

:34:21.:34:30.

do in Smethwick? They are saying you must have made the appointment. I

:34:31.:34:39.

can't make appointments! To discuss the support available to you through

:34:40.:34:44.

the work programme. We I haven't worked in my life! Tess Munt, should

:34:45.:34:52.

programmes like this be shown? I don't think it's a problem. As long

:34:53.:34:56.

as people rip -- recognise this is a reality TV clip. It is good ratings

:34:57.:35:03.

tied TV but it is not really reflective of everything that

:35:04.:35:09.

happens in my constituency, and the majority of people who need benefits

:35:10.:35:12.

need them for the right reasons. They are not funding I style -- a

:35:13.:35:23.

lifestyle like the one shown here. It is helpful to have it as a small

:35:24.:35:29.

part of a large debate, but it does not reflect the majority of people,

:35:30.:35:34.

I think, who claimed benefits. So you think it is poverty porn? I

:35:35.:35:44.

think so. Fraser Nelson spoke about people having a sense of community.

:35:45.:35:48.

There certainly is that. They are coming together and fighting the

:35:49.:35:51.

outside world. We need to review how the outside world use people in that

:35:52.:35:57.

situation. Do you think it is a fair reflection, taking their streets

:35:58.:36:02.

like this where it is claimed the majority are claiming benefits? Or

:36:03.:36:09.

does it demonise people? It would be good to get a wider spectrum just on

:36:10.:36:13.

that street as well. I don't think it is completely refracting --

:36:14.:36:20.

reflecting what is happening. But there is an element it is happening

:36:21.:36:24.

with, and it needs addressing. What was your reaction on seeing that

:36:25.:36:31.

episode? There were parts, particularly involving shoplifting

:36:32.:36:35.

which concern me greatly. It means there are areas to look into. But it

:36:36.:36:41.

has been sensationalised. Do you think the residents have been

:36:42.:36:44.

stitched up on this programme, to some extent? They didn't realise it

:36:45.:36:48.

was going to be called Benefits Street until close to the

:36:49.:36:51.

transmission. Has there been too much focus on the negative side of

:36:52.:36:58.

people who claim benefits? If we were to take a picture of the

:36:59.:37:02.

benefits cake, if you like, you said almost all people in the street were

:37:03.:37:07.

on benefits, but in a typical situation, 40% would be pensioners.

:37:08.:37:16.

20% would be people on low incomes, who get tax credits. In some of the

:37:17.:37:20.

shots, it showed people who were working but we didn't see any of

:37:21.:37:24.

them. The concentration was on a small number of people who were

:37:25.:37:29.

unemployed. It is important to address unemployment. That is an

:37:30.:37:34.

extreme case. Somebody who has been a drug addict who can't read and

:37:35.:37:38.

write. But it does highlight how some people are really struggling to

:37:39.:37:44.

survive. It didn't go on to show, in fact he was called to speak to work

:37:45.:37:48.

provider and he couldn't even the letter. That is an extreme case. I

:37:49.:37:53.

would rather they focus on the difficulties of people in their 50s

:37:54.:37:57.

who have been made redundant. I have got 700 or so people who have not

:37:58.:38:04.

had a job for the first time. What about the impact? You said yourself

:38:05.:38:10.

that it is time to look at the system. Isn't that what, in part,

:38:11.:38:14.

comes out of a system like this? Is the system wrong? That is exactly

:38:15.:38:20.

what Iain Duncan Smith is doing. The system is working. I think he is

:38:21.:38:31.

tackling the issues that matter, certainly one is that my

:38:32.:38:33.

constituents come to me with. We need to help people back into work.

:38:34.:38:38.

That is particularly so with, as Barbara says, young people. I am

:38:39.:38:42.

working with the programme trying to get people into work. It is working.

:38:43.:38:47.

We need to grow it across other areas. But I do come back to the

:38:48.:38:52.

fact that I think this programme is sensationalist. My also think we

:38:53.:38:55.

need a more objective view of everything that has been happening.

:38:56.:39:01.

-- I also think. Doesn't it show there are sections of the public

:39:02.:39:07.

behaving like some of the characters on Benefits Street? There will be

:39:08.:39:12.

people in the whole spectrum who behave in their own way. It is a

:39:13.:39:17.

shame that this shows people who believe they have rights and

:39:18.:39:20.

responsibilities. Actually, the system needs clarity. I hope Channel

:39:21.:39:25.

4 has picked up some of those problems and help the people who

:39:26.:39:29.

have addiction problems or whatever. This, as I understand, was

:39:30.:39:35.

filmed over two years. Over two years, you can drop your guard

:39:36.:39:43.

easily and the truth will out. I think there are responsibilities

:39:44.:39:51.

from people who are placed in this. The system does have to be changed.

:39:52.:39:56.

It has to be fine tuned. I had somebody who had three days of work

:39:57.:40:00.

before Christmas and was told it was a long-term job. On the third day,

:40:01.:40:05.

he was told he wasn't needed any more. He had lost his jobseeker's

:40:06.:40:09.

allowance. He had been managing on ?71 70 per week. Now he is accruing

:40:10.:40:17.

debt while the system is broken. Is there going to be more people like

:40:18.:40:21.

that under the system Iain Duncan Smith is presiding over? Yes, but I

:40:22.:40:31.

think most people access to have some kind of gainful occupation

:40:32.:40:35.

during your day is good, it is good for your mental and physical health,

:40:36.:40:45.

it is good for everything. It was so extreme. It would have been helpful

:40:46.:40:48.

to show some of the low income people. They showed one family who

:40:49.:40:52.

were not able to buy goods at the door because they were living on ?30

:40:53.:40:57.

per week, but it skimmed over that. It skimmed over the difficulties the

:40:58.:41:04.

chap would have not being able to read and write. How is somebody who

:41:05.:41:07.

cannot read or write apply for jobs? I had a constituent who said

:41:08.:41:13.

it is difficult if you don't have IT skills, to apply for a job. These

:41:14.:41:17.

are these of us to be explored, but the most extreme examples. But that

:41:18.:41:22.

hasn't been helped by some ministers, who have, some say,

:41:23.:41:27.

demonise people on welfare who are often of working age and in work. Do

:41:28.:41:36.

you think dealing with was appropriate? -- the language. Hope

:41:37.:41:47.

-- hard people -- hard working people know it is vital to be in

:41:48.:41:53.

work. The policies for Iain Duncan Smith are doing that. It is going to

:41:54.:41:59.

need some fine tuning, no question. I have a constituents come to me.

:42:00.:42:05.

But we have sorted it. Are you going to watch it again tonight? I

:42:06.:42:11.

probably will but I hope it is more informed. Subject to what is

:42:12.:42:15.

happening in Parliament a night, yes. -- tonight. What is the least

:42:16.:42:27.

glamorous job in Parliament? Some would say my three guests are the

:42:28.:42:32.

lucky owners of that title. They are all Parliamentary Private Secretary

:42:33.:42:36.

is. But what is one? If I was to ask you who is at the bottom of the

:42:37.:42:41.

government porn, I have no doubt he was sending some amusing

:42:42.:42:48.

suggestions. -- government ponder. The answer is the Parliamentary

:42:49.:42:55.

Private Secretary, or PPS. Backbenchers selected by a minister

:42:56.:42:59.

to be their bag carrier, their representative in the Palace of

:43:00.:43:02.

Westminster. But what do they actually do? Really, in Parliament

:43:03.:43:08.

returns, they are sort of Jeeves meets George Smiley, and they are

:43:09.:43:14.

there to be bag carrier for their boss but also they are the eyes and

:43:15.:43:18.

ears in this place. Ministers spend most of their time in the

:43:19.:43:21.

Department, doing what they are supposed to be doing, not lobbying

:43:22.:43:28.

and finding support here. PPSs can do that for them. They also

:43:29.:43:32.

represent their bosses at official functions when their bosses can't

:43:33.:43:35.

make them. They are also there to lobby for any policy there boss is

:43:36.:43:46.

trying to get through. And that is, of course, is key to why they do

:43:47.:43:51.

this. It is like a badge preferment, suggesting future promotion. They

:43:52.:43:55.

get influenced and they meet people. They would need to be a reason to do

:43:56.:44:00.

this because it is unpaid and it is hard work. One Secretary of State

:44:01.:44:06.

told me yesterday that they look for somebody who is loyal, has great

:44:07.:44:09.

organisational skills and is allowed to tell the boss they are doing the

:44:10.:44:13.

wrong thing. When you think about it, that is actually quite a good

:44:14.:44:17.

position to be if you are just a humble backbencher.

:44:18.:44:25.

One MP has said the skill a PPS needs more than any is to fill up

:44:26.:44:31.

the ministerial water jug. Is that a fair description? I have never

:44:32.:44:36.

carried a bag, so come no, I don't think it is a good script. Why do

:44:37.:44:43.

you do the job? It is a fascinating area. The economy is one of the most

:44:44.:44:51.

important areas, and it is fascinating to be in it. But you

:44:52.:44:55.

can't do anything else than what your boss says. You are always

:44:56.:44:58.

expected to vote with the government. Not in my case. With

:44:59.:45:06.

your party. Have you ever thought, I would like to say you are wrong? It

:45:07.:45:12.

is not a case of that. We are all a team. The piece there didn't mention

:45:13.:45:16.

a team. There is a team of ministers, shadow ministers, and

:45:17.:45:22.

PPS. We are a valuable link between the shadow minister and the

:45:23.:45:24.

Secretary of State with the rest of the MPs. It is a fascinating and

:45:25.:45:32.

interesting place to be. In your case, it is different. The person

:45:33.:45:38.

you represented anything but a yes person he is a serial critic. Does

:45:39.:45:45.

it make it easier for you? It is a good reflection of how a Coalition

:45:46.:45:51.

can work. It is good to test all the time. One of my main roles has been

:45:52.:45:57.

to make sure that if anybody on any side of the house has a problem in

:45:58.:46:01.

their constituency, to go and scooped them up and make sure they

:46:02.:46:05.

can get seem to talk about their particular area of concern. That is

:46:06.:46:11.

one of the most rewarding part of the job. You were a PPS before, and

:46:12.:46:25.

you did resign, didn't you? That therein lies the conflict for you.

:46:26.:46:30.

They didn't stop you becoming PPS again. Were you surprised? I was

:46:31.:46:38.

pleased. Why we use tax before? I did not vote for tuition fees. I

:46:39.:46:44.

lost my role at that time. What makes a good PPS? Is it someone like

:46:45.:46:50.

you, who stuck to your principles? I believe, in life, if you say you

:46:51.:46:55.

were going to do something, do it. Not all politicians do that, but in

:46:56.:47:00.

my experience, a lot do. Equally, when people come to you from no

:47:01.:47:05.

matter what side of the House it might be, getting constituency

:47:06.:47:11.

issues dealt with, getting people to the Secretary of State, and actually

:47:12.:47:14.

listening and passing things back, and telling the Secretary of State

:47:15.:47:23.

whether they are right or wrong. Do you think, on this, you dream of

:47:24.:47:30.

becoming a minister, as a PPS? I don't see that particular link. For

:47:31.:47:35.

me, the payback for me, for the little bit of extra work that I do,

:47:36.:47:40.

is the fact that I can actually knock on Ministers' doors and say

:47:41.:47:44.

that I want to talk to them about such and such. That is a really good

:47:45.:47:49.

thing for my constituents. That is the payback. For me, it is about

:47:50.:47:54.

having a bit of influence and being able to speak to ministers in other

:47:55.:48:00.

departments. Briefly, is it possible to be a good constituency MP and a

:48:01.:48:07.

PPS? Absolutely. It is possible to do that and be a minister. You can

:48:08.:48:11.

be both. Very loyal, the three of you!

:48:12.:48:15.

Now, we couldn't end this part of the programme without making special

:48:16.:48:18.

mention of Barbara's boss, Ed Balls. He's gained a reputation as a bit of

:48:19.:48:22.

a bruiser. Yesterday it was reported that he'd squared up to the Shadow

:48:23.:48:25.

Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, over Labour's Europe

:48:26.:48:28.

policy back in 2012. More recently, though, Mr Balls has proffered an

:48:29.:48:31.

olive branch to the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, in a move to soften his

:48:32.:48:35.

image. But yesterday, the kick-boxing Deputy Prime Minister

:48:36.:48:38.

was asked, if it came to it, whether he would be any match for Ed Balls

:48:39.:48:45.

in a fight. I do kick-boxer lessons in a gym.

:48:46.:48:53.

Really? Yes, to keep myself fit. So who knows, if I keep on doing that.

:48:54.:48:58.

I'm not going to make ringside predictions in such a closely fought

:48:59.:49:05.

on -- contest. When you are kicking the ball, whose faces on it? By the

:49:06.:49:10.

way, I am rubbish at it. A surprising revelation that he has

:49:11.:49:15.

taken up kick boxing. Slightly strange, but good for him. We are

:49:16.:49:20.

going to find out who is the real Ed Balls. What is he like? He is great

:49:21.:49:27.

to work with. This is not just a PPS being loyal. He doesn't do kick

:49:28.:49:33.

rocks in. He runs, and he runs marathons to keep fit. And he plays

:49:34.:49:38.

the piano. We have people who do interesting things when they are not

:49:39.:49:42.

in the House. He is a very interesting individual. I wonder if

:49:43.:49:46.

that is a euphemism for something else! Is it true that he had a bust

:49:47.:49:52.

up, or nearly had a bust up, with Douglas Alexander back in 2012? I

:49:53.:49:57.

don't know about that. I'm sure that feelings run high in the Cabinet and

:49:58.:50:02.

the Shadow Cabinet. We are all in politics because we believe

:50:03.:50:05.

passionately in what we want to do and what we want the Government to

:50:06.:50:10.

do. Those passions sometimes play out and people disagree. Sometimes

:50:11.:50:14.

in the chamber, sometimes in meetings. I wasn't around for that

:50:15.:50:18.

particular discussion, but it wouldn't surprise me that people had

:50:19.:50:23.

disagreed about things. Do you think he is unfairly portrayed as a

:50:24.:50:29.

bruiser? Identified him a bruiser. I find him great to work with. That is

:50:30.:50:36.

because you agree with him. Our team gets on Rooney well with him, and

:50:37.:50:43.

that is because he is good to deal with. -- get on really well. I am

:50:44.:50:50.

surprised to find out that Nick does his kick boxing, but then I have a

:50:51.:50:55.

boss who dances. Will that be a turn-off for Lib Dem voters, if

:50:56.:50:59.

there is a rapprochement between Nick Clegg and Ed Balls? We are not

:51:00.:51:05.

here to fight. We are here to persuade and to cajole, so I don't

:51:06.:51:12.

think... The point is, we will fight hard and Labour will fight hard to

:51:13.:51:16.

win in the next election, but we will all have to deal with what the

:51:17.:51:22.

electorate decides. That is a reflection, and what has been said

:51:23.:51:25.

about Ed Balls is a reflection of it. You have to go with what the

:51:26.:51:31.

electorate delivered to you. Back to the Government's plan to compensate

:51:32.:51:36.

councils who give them the go-ahead for fracking, letting them keep all

:51:37.:51:40.

of the business rates collected as a result of the drilling. We are

:51:41.:51:45.

joined by the NST -- by the Energy Minister, Michael Fallon. This will

:51:46.:51:50.

help councils say yes to your project for fracking. I think it is

:51:51.:51:56.

being fair to local councils and local communities. Otherwise the

:51:57.:51:59.

profits go back to the companies involved or straight to the

:52:00.:52:03.

Treasury. This gives local communities the chance, as well as

:52:04.:52:09.

getting jobs and growth, the chance to improve local services. I think

:52:10.:52:15.

that is only fair. Because there are Government cuts. The Treasury is

:52:16.:52:19.

going to get an awful lot of extra revenue because of this. We have

:52:20.:52:23.

seen protesters already complaining about future potential fracking, and

:52:24.:52:27.

this is going to make no difference to those communities whatsoever. I

:52:28.:52:33.

doubt accept that. There was already incentives being offered to the

:52:34.:52:38.

communities for each site. 1% of the revenues, if the gas flows, which

:52:39.:52:43.

could mean up to ?10 million for the site. Today, we have announced that

:52:44.:52:47.

local communities will be able to keep all of the business rates. So

:52:48.:52:52.

there's a strong interest here for local communities who are affected

:52:53.:52:57.

by the search for shale gas. I hope all of these things will encourage

:52:58.:53:01.

that search to get under way. It has been promised as the Holy Grail of

:53:02.:53:06.

our energy supplies in the future. Will it live up to that promise? It

:53:07.:53:11.

has made a huge difference in the United States. It is going to cut

:53:12.:53:17.

bills. When will it start to cut bills? It is going to take two or

:53:18.:53:23.

three years of exploration. It would be irresponsible not to encourage

:53:24.:53:26.

companies to go down there and see if they could get it out, just as in

:53:27.:53:32.

the United States. Even Ed Davey has said that it is not going to bring

:53:33.:53:37.

down energy prices -- energy prices in the future, if at all. By

:53:38.:53:41.

claiming that it is going to bring down energy prices to the same level

:53:42.:53:46.

as in the United States is disingenuous. We don't know that

:53:47.:53:51.

yet. All we do know is that we have two or three times more shale gas

:53:52.:53:57.

than was originally estimated. It would be irresponsible to not allow

:53:58.:54:01.

or encourage companies to get down there and explore and see if they

:54:02.:54:05.

could get it out. It could, I repeat could, make a difference to our

:54:06.:54:09.

economy. It is a big gamble. Fracking will read to the

:54:10.:54:15.

industrialisation of our green and present -- green and pleasant land.

:54:16.:54:20.

You are prepared to gamble that on the basis that in the future our

:54:21.:54:26.

energy prices might come down. It is a gamble for the companies

:54:27.:54:29.

concerned, including the very big companies who are prepared to invest

:54:30.:54:33.

millions in this research. But it is not a gamble in terms of the

:54:34.:54:37.

environment. There will be things in place to protect the environment and

:54:38.:54:41.

make sure that any drilling that is done is safe and does not harm the

:54:42.:54:45.

local community. You say you are going to do enough to make sure

:54:46.:54:52.

fracking is safe, but Lord Stern has criticised the Government for

:54:53.:54:56.

encouraging a brush into fracking without a deep analysis of its

:54:57.:55:01.

effects, such as water pollution. You don't know. We do have

:55:02.:55:07.

experience elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled

:55:08.:55:11.

or fractured in other countries around the world. We have had

:55:12.:55:15.

onshore drilling in Britain for both oil and gas since the end of World

:55:16.:55:20.

War One. We already have a system of regulation in place, and we will

:55:21.:55:24.

take very great care that there is no damage to the water supply and

:55:25.:55:28.

that there are not any risks in the fracturing before any of it goes

:55:29.:55:32.

ahead. You still have to convince many on your own side. This has been

:55:33.:55:41.

described as some as crumbs to the table, and that the Government would

:55:42.:55:45.

take 60% in tax from each Shale site. ?10 million from each site,

:55:46.:55:52.

once the gas flows, is certainly not crumbs. ?10 million is for the 1% of

:55:53.:56:02.

revenue once the gas begins to flow, and doesn't cover the business

:56:03.:56:06.

rates. These are quite formidable sums of money for each of the local

:56:07.:56:11.

communities. Above all, exploration of shale gas that is successful can

:56:12.:56:17.

have a huge impact on communities in terms of jobs, business and growth.

:56:18.:56:22.

This is an opportunity. We don't yet know whether it can reduce prices as

:56:23.:56:27.

it has done in the United States. We do know that plenty of companies out

:56:28.:56:38.

there want to go ahead and explore, and we should be encouraging that.

:56:39.:56:40.

Thank you. Tessa Munt, do you agree? Are you going to back this

:56:41.:56:43.

wholeheartedly? I think we need to do various things before we go hell

:56:44.:56:46.

for leather at this. I don't think the American comparison stands up.

:56:47.:56:53.

This is a new process. If you look at the basis of the American model,

:56:54.:56:58.

that depends on the fact that methane is really the unwanted

:56:59.:57:03.

by-product of methane, butane and propane for the petrochemical

:57:04.:57:08.

industry that they are really after. We have to rely on the Environment

:57:09.:57:14.

Agency in order to patrol and police this, and I don't think the capacity

:57:15.:57:18.

is there in the environment agent -- the Environment Agency. I live in

:57:19.:57:24.

the Mendip Hills, and we know what Somerset is like for water at the

:57:25.:57:29.

moment. If that goes wrong, it could be catastrophic, so we do need to

:57:30.:57:33.

make sure we get this absolutely pinned down before anyone does

:57:34.:57:38.

anything. There's an awful lot of opposition to this. Are you in

:57:39.:57:43.

favour of it? Do you think there needs to be more analysis done on

:57:44.:57:48.

the environmental impact? It is vital for the regulation to be very

:57:49.:57:53.

stringent. The point that was raised at the start of the interview about

:57:54.:57:59.

bribery... From my experience of local councils, the decisions will

:58:00.:58:06.

be in their hands. They know their area best. But the money might be

:58:07.:58:10.

given them to cajole them to do something that their communities

:58:11.:58:14.

might not want them to do otherwise. I have seen many things where

:58:15.:58:18.

there's been, under previous regime, where monies were offered for

:58:19.:58:23.

different things. I have every faith that local councils will do the

:58:24.:58:26.

right thing for their area, which is the way it should be. Are you in

:58:27.:58:32.

favour of fracking? I believe we need to look into fracking. It is an

:58:33.:58:37.

energy source at a time that we need new energy sources. I'm afraid we

:58:38.:58:42.

have run out of time, but thank you all. The news is starting over on

:58:43.:58:49.

BBC One now. I'll be here at noon tomorrow with all the big political

:58:50.:58:52.

stories of the day. I'll be joined by the former Labour MP and diarist,

:58:53.:58:56.

Chris Mullin. Do join me then. Bye.

:58:57.:59:01.

Jo Coburn is joined by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the Conservative peer and former director of Tesco to discuss the government's announcement on fracking as well as all the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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