14/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Afternoon, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.


Ed Miliband's set to make first big intervention of 2014 this week when


he talks about the economy. He gives us a bit of hint today, saying only


Labour can rebuild our middle class. Is this a new direction for Labour


and will the voters believe him? Meanwhile the search for a peaceful


solution to the conflict in Syria goes on. We'll talk to the former


minister who says more need to be done to help the rebels.


MPs have spent almost ?250,000 on paintings and sculptures of their


colleagues. It's the taxpayer in the frame to pay, so what conclusions


should we draw? And what did MPs do before the


invention of the e-mail, the mobile phone, before even the Daily


Politics came into being? We'll look at the changing role of the humble


backbencher. All that in the next hour. Joining


me for the programme today is the former Labour minister and diarist


Chris Mullin. Welcome to the show. First this morning, Ed Miliband has


written an article for today's Daily Telegraph claiming Labour is the


party of the middle classes. It seems the Labour leader, who used to


talk about the "squeezed middle", is at it again. He says he believes,


"The current cost-of-living crisis is not just about people on tax


credits, zero-hours contracts and the minimum wage.


Has he focused too much on tax credits and zero hours contracts and


forgotten about the middle-class? I don't think he has, label has been a


middle-class party for some time -- Labour has been. That is inevitable


because most people in this country are middle-class. I think he is


attempting to counter what... The growth rate is picking up after


three years in office, the Tories have got grows back to the level


they inherited when they came in in 2010 -- got growth back. No doubt an


economic miracle is about to be proclaimed in time for the general


election. I think what Ed Miliband is trying to do is to point out


there are other issues. The housing crisis in London and the


south-east, which has excluded a huge range of people who might


otherwise have expected to buy their own homes, and unemployment amongst


young graduates. But the recovery really does pose a problem for


Labour. As it continues, as the government will no doubt keep


saying, as it takes hold, unemployment continues to fall.


Living standards for some people will improve and Labour, who


predicted a flat-lining economy, that growth would not come back in


strength and that basically the country was doomed under the


coalition's economic policies, have been proved wrong. I don't remember


them saying the country was doomed but this economic miracle that is


about to be proclaimed is rather uneven. I live in the north and we


haven't noticed much of it up there. I hope the economy does recover and


there are signs that it is, and I welcome that and I'm sure Ed


Miliband does. But there are some quite large problems looming.


Funnily enough, especially in London and the south-east. Where about 50%


of the population is shut out because of the extraordinary house


prices, of the housing market. Where very large and is of young people,


many who have been to the best universities, are not employable.


When you sit on the soap docks and say, I am going to bring back


socialism, did your Hartley that point -- the same box -- the


soapbox, did your heart leap? He is right to focus on the outsourced,


that is another growing problem. These are Aspar and middle-class and


they are in deep trouble -- Asp -- aspirational middle-class. Who do


you count as middle-class? Two sets of people, those who are broadly in


white-collar jobs, and also there is an aspirational middle-class. In the


1950s it was different. There were 700,000 railwaymen. The best part of


1 million minors. And other working-class trades. They formed


the core of the Labour vote. Even by the end of the 1950s, that was


beginning to change for stock people started to buy washing machines and


televisions and going on foreign holidays. Now the number of people


you count as working class is a relatively small number. Would you


have a salary figure? If someone says, who is he talking about? Is he


worried that because he has been labelled as red Ed committee is


trying appeal to... This is all Lynton Crosby, the spin doctor for


the Tories. It is a tabloid fantasy and it has never been true. Ed


Miliband is as middle-class as they come. He doesn't attend otherwise.


It is who he is appealing to that is the key. -- he doesn't pretend


otherwise. To form a Labour government you have


to take with you a fair swathes of the fortunate. That everybody is as


mean and as little England as a casual reader of the Daily Mail


Daily Telegraph would have you leave. Do you see a Labour -Liberal


Democrat coalition? It does seem a possible to, it does look as if no


party would get an overall majority, in which case you are talking of


eight coalition of one sort or another. Sit on the fence there!


Now it's time for our daily quiz. Today's question concerns the


Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke, who for charity you understand, is


promising to wear a rather interesting item of clothing in


Parliament. So the question is, what is Mr Shelbrooke threatening to


wear? Is it a cowboy hat, a onesie, a gorilla costume or a clown


costume? At the end of the show Chris will give us the correct


answer. Yesterday on the programme we talked


about the Channel 4 programme Benefits Street, which follows


residents of one Birmingham street living on what the producers call


the bottom rung of Britain's economic ladder. It seems everyone's


t talking about it, even in the House of Commons. But one


Conservative MP, Philip Davies, wasn't feeling sympathetic. Has the


Secretary of State managed to watch programmes like benefit Street, --


like Benefits Street, and has he been struck by the number of people


on there who managed to combine complaining about welfare reforms


whilst being able to afford to buy copious amounts of cigarettes, have


lots of tat who's done -- tat to And we're joined now by the Conservative


MP, Andrew and cannot afford those kinds of


luxuries themselves. My honourable friend is right, many people are


shocked by what they see. The reality is that is why the public


backs are welfare reform package, to get more people back to work to end


these abuses. They date back to what the last government left, massive


spending and trapping people in a benefit dependency. We are joined by


the Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen. Chris Mullin, is the government


putting too much emphasis on cutting working age benefits and welfare in


order to make their savings? It is right that any government would have


to face the scale of the benefit budget. The two largest portions of


that are one, the benefits for the elderly, who are of course, the core


of the government's votes, so they are nervous about dealing with that,


and the other is housing benefit, which is going by and large to buy


to let landlords. This programme, Benefits Street, it is tabloid


television. By newspaper tabloids have been stirring up fear and


loathing among the righteous for years, and doing quite a good job,


by the sounds of things. We July to see more cuts to pension benefits


question certainly -- would you like to see. Certainly universal


benefits. Things like the free bus passes or television licence for the


over 75, the fuel allowance, I wouldn't take them away, because it


is quite important to bind the middle classes into the welfare


system if it is going to have general consent. I would make them


taxable, so that people who are among the wealthiest people in the


country, many giveaway things like their fuel allowance... If you made


it taxable, I think there would be consent for that. The government has


made a big play of saying they are going to protect the triple lock on


pensions, that would be the right -- the rise in basic state pension.


Where would you look for those ?12 billion of cuts from the welfare


budget? It has to be on working age benefits. Chris says that Benefits


Street is tabloid television, it is not, it is grim reality television.


People abandoned by society, trapped in a benefits dependency culture,


that is the grim reality. That is what the last Labour government


did. Hang on a minute, it actually started in the Thatcher decade. I


represented one of the poorest areas in the country for 23 years. I do


accept there is a benefits culture. Housing benefit has doubled in ten


years. Because Mrs Thatcher sold off one third of the council houses and


they are in the hands of buy to let landlords. The first thing they do


is jack up the rents to be highest amount the market will bear. That is


why housing benefit has ballooned. It is about fairness, fairness on


the people who receive benefits. And if its need to be a platform to


build your life back from, not a ceiling that people can break out. I


don't disagree with that, but what I deprecate his attempts to pretend


this is a problem that rose under the last Labour government. It


isn't. It is certainly a problem that wasn't tackled by the Labour


government. I disagree with that. Then why have we got it? It is a


huge issue and previous attempts to tackle it were only partially


successful. Frank Field had some berry good ideas about changing the


welfare system. They were rather expensive and I believe the present


Chancellor has said that of Iain Duncan Smith's reforms. You have to


spend more in order to reduce and that is the great dilemma. It is a


great ideal to make sure that work days at any level and one of the


problems with the benefits system, it is so complex that when people


take short-term or insecure work, when they have to go back onto


benefits, the benefits don't come back straightaway. It is a great


disincentive to take work. Isn't it true that Labour failed to deal with


this, they couldn't get it passed their own backbenchers, so they did


back the issue? They made some inroads. And sacked the messenger.


Frank is a good guy and a thoughtful guy but he was proposing something


that rightly, or only, the government thought was wholly


impractical. It represents a third of all government spending and even


if we were not in a time of austerity... It is subsidising the


lowest paying employers, that is where it is going. Some people were


getting over ?100,000 in housing benefit, my constituents would think


that is obscene. You need to quantify the nub of families, most


people would agree it is not right to have that amount of money, but is


it fair to take more savings now, after a recession, to still look for


those savings from working age people who are on benefits? Is it


right to abandon those people to a life of benefits dependency and


intergenerational unemployment, which is what follows on? The


benefits cap, since it was introduced, 19,000 individuals have


moved into work comes to it is working. Work is the best way out of


poverty for everybody. Do you agree with the cap? You are looking to


review it on the Conservative side, is 26,000 the right level? All I


would say is the way to get people out of the world of landlords is to


start building social housing again. If you moved the people... The money


is wasted spending ?25,000... You haven't built anything like what is


needed since 2010. The previous Conservative government banned the


spending of the proceeds of the sale of council houses on building new


social housing. They actually banned it. Do you accept that Iain Duncan


Smith and this government have made big steps to actually getting a


handle... They have set up universal credit, they are trying to reform


welfare, they have set a cap, they are putting their money where their


mouth is. I don't disagree with the goal to create universal benefit for


the reasons we have described. Whether it works or not remains to


be seen. There are technical problems. I do not mock him for the


problems he isn't cantering. He is just encountering same problems. I'd


deprecate the attempts to pretend it is something that just he and Iain


Duncan-Smith noticed. He is doing something about it and there is no


more decent human being than he. He is a very nice chap. On some of the


ideas that have been put forward, would you be in favour of -- in


favour of capping child benefit? I would. I think anyone has the right


to have as many children as they like. If the third child makes the


difference, I would questioned whether that is a reason to have


children. You don't think it would be there? Is unfair for people on


benefits? If you want to reduce the benefit bill, you have to address


the subsidies to the lowest paid on the employers who are paying the


least. And benefits spent on the wealthiest pensions. That is two


issues the government needs to address. And they declined to do so.


You would not want to look at universal benefits for pensioners?


Probably the savings would be so small that it would cost more to do


that... That is what the government says. Thank you. It's traditional


for portraits of Prime Ministers and Commons speakers to be commissioned


to mark their time in office. They usually hang them in the corridors


of the Palace of Westminster, not in the downstairs loo which is where


I've put mine. Hidden away, safely. Now a freedom of information request


from the Evening Standard newspaper has revealed that ?250,000 has been


spent on pictures and statues, and the list of those immortalised


includes not just occupants of the great offices of state but some


junior ministers and backbenchers. Let's have a look.


A long shot of Ken clerk. We're joined now by the man who chairs the


committee responsible for commissioning these works of art,


the Labour MP Frank Doran, and by Jonathan Isaby from the campaign


group the Taxpayers' Alliance. Jonathan, would you object to? I


think people would expect it was reasonable for Prime Ministers and


speakers to be immortalised in a painting but I think the net has


been cast increasingly wide over the last few years in terms of who has


been afforded this privilege of being immortalised on canvas or in


bronze. People have to look at how we could immortalised people for a


more reasonable sum. Photographic work rates can be a cheaper way.


When the House of parliament was built, you did not have photographs


so you have to paint people to immortalise them but these days, you


can use a photograph. And you need to look at who you are


commissioning. Could you look at getting art students or constituents


of some of these members of Parliament to get involved, perhaps


in a competition? Rather than commissioning a five figure sum of


taxpayers money for the job. The first objection, you are casting the


net to white. You should stick to people occupying the great offices


of state? We have been collecting art in the Houses of Parliament


since the 14th century and we have always collected across the board,


people who made a valuable contribution to politics. Diane


Abbott, there has been a lot of comment on her portrait. She was the


first black woman in Parliament. And in this modern-day, we think it is


important to reflect the changes in Parliament and the number of women


who have come into Parliament, the ethnic mix in Parliament. I think


that is a key part of our strategy, to make sure that the abolition of


Parliament as part of its history is recorded. That seems fair. To look


broader than just the Prime Minister? The macro I think every


member of Parliament would claim to be the first something rather.


Harriet Harman, there was talk of her being the first graduate of the


University of York to be in Parliament. At the time, she said


she would not have this done because she did not think that spending


thousands of pounds on a painting was the right thing to do. Let's


look at the cost. Could you do it more cheaply or do you think in


terms of the world of art this is money well spent? We are preserving


history of Parliament through art. We are also doing other things as


part of our process. One is supporting young artists. Most of


the artist to paint for us are up and coming artists. Most of them,


not all of them. We also bargain seriously with the artists. Some of


the people most upset by this story will be upset to see the prices that


we have managed to get, pushing them down. They want to be in our


collection and we bargain very hard. One of our most recent paintings is


of Margaret Beckett. She was the first female Foreign Secretary, the


first female leader of the Labour Party. And the artist who painted


that portrait spent one year on the portrait. If you look at the


portrait, you will see why because it is done with a particular method.


And we got a very good price for that portrait, more than anyone else


would have been able to achieve. Is it money well spent or is it a


vanity project? It is money well spent. This is a nonsense story. The


thing missing is that the ?250,000 is dated from 1995. That is a small


annual budget and it is mainly about three or four ex-prime ministers and


speakers. As Frank said, Diane Abbott's portrait has been shown


quite a lot. She is the first black woman ever to be elected. Why not?


Are you storing up costs because of these economic times? This has been


going on for years and will continue. The macro at any point,


when politicians are spending taxpayers money, they have to be


aware that it is not bear to spend and they should spend it wisely. As


I say, I accept that there will be Prime Ministers and speakers who


would be afforded this kind of portrait. How much would you spend


on a portrait of an MP? It would depend how big it was and who did


it. I'm not going to get into the numbers but we need to focus on


delivering value for money and look at other ways of immortalising


politicians on canvas. In the 14th century there was not the option of


a photograph. But these days, a photograph can be a good way of


capturing somebody. Which? Wrote to you think they are good? Some of


them are good but some of them are not. Are you pleased with them? We


are very proud of the collection and it is used in different ways. One of


the key issues is access. The public have access to all of the ones which


you have shown today, because they are in an area to which the public


has access, and we are trying to widen access. We started a programme


some time ago of art and architecture tours. And we are


getting a big response from the public on that. And that is a good


thing because if we pay for it, we should be able to see it. Thank you.


Talks are due to take place in Switzerland this week aimed at


ending the civil War in Syria. Yesterday, Foreign Secretary William


Hague came to the Commons to update MPs on the conflict, and he said


with some understatement that securing peace remains


"challenging". Since my last statement to the


House, the violence has remained intense. The Syrian Observatory for


human rights puts the death toll at over 125,000 people. The regime


continues to bombard Aleppo and other towns and cities. One area in


which progress is being made is the destruction of Syria's Emma Coyle


stocks. The first consignment of dangerous chemicals has left Syria


after a short delay caused by intense fighting. The Syrian regime


must ensure that the remaining material is transported to the port


as quickly as possible to ensure that all chemicals can be eliminated


by the end of June. Last week, the Iranians Foreign Minister said that


Iran would take action related to a peace conference if invited without


preconditions and added, and this is a quote, we support any initiative


aimed at finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis. Of


course, it is right that we acknowledge the wall that Iran has


played in deepening and inflaming this conflict. Yet with the need for


a resolution so urgent, does the Foreign Secretary agreed that


Iran's claimed resolve to be part of the solution should now be tested


and if so, does he agree with me that one way of doing that is to


bring Iran to the table at Geneva to participate in the conference? I've


visited a refugee camp before Christmas along with the Jesuit


refugee service is project supporting refugees in Jordan. The


situation is dire, particularly for those who are very vulnerable. I


would like to press the Foreign Secretary that we could make a real


contribution as part of a court noted Roper of resettlement for the


very vulnerable refugees who could benefit from coming here. If the


people in Syria are to get their country back, we should do what we


can to support the opposition in Syria if necessary revisiting the


decision to supply only non-lethal weapons. We are ready to increase


our support of important but non-lethal supplies, providing that


we are confident about what will happen to those supplies. And that


is a condition on which this House will always insist.


We're joined now by the former Foreign Office minister Alistair


Burt, he's calling for the Syrian rebels to be armed, and our guest of


the day Chris Mullin was also a Foreign Office minster under Tony


Blair. Why armed rebels in Syria now?


Because I think the Syrian opposition coalition of which -- for


which the United Kingdom has worked with for over two years, with its


commitment of democracy and a ballistic Syria, and to human


rights, make them valued partners. Secondly, they represent those who


are simply being crushed by Irish team with massive military might


available to it. They want the means to defend themselves. -- crushed by


a regime. Would it actually reduce the number of people being


senselessly slaughtered? I think it would. For this reason. The only


thing that has not happened in Syria is a serious challenge to the might


of the regime. If that was to happen on the resume new that it could not


win a military victory in Syria, I think there is more of an incentive


to negotiate an end to this. Now come quite frankly, backed by


Russia, Hezbollah and Iran, the regime thinks it can win. The only


thing that will end the conflict is a realisation that is -- that that


is not the case. Do you agree? Yes, with most of that. You would arm the


moderate opposition? It depends, as William Hague said, can we be happy


that the arms are going to where they should be supposed to be going?


And there are signs that they are not. If there are any signs, it is


the rapprochement underway with Iran. If they can be brought to the


table and more pressure put on the Russians to lean on their ally, that


is the only way forward. I do not pretend to have any particular


answers. But instinctively, at this point, taking up what Alistair Burt


has set, in order to push the Assad regime to the negotiating table,


would it be strategically wise to arm those rebels? If you could be


satisfied that that would be the outcome. The weapons need to go


where they are supposed to be going. We know in Afghanistan that a number


of weapons ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda. You cannot guarantee it.


It has been a recurring saga. This is all about risk. What is happening


at the moment is a recruiting Sergeant. You see the regime


destroying the country. 30% of houses have been destroyed and half


the population has moved out. That is happening now with a policy of


non-intervention. That is acting as a recruiting Sergeant to those who


want to do something about it. The point I'm making is that in order to


change that situation, something you has to come into the equation. The


people we would be giving alms to have no vested interest in being


passed into the hand of jihadis is. Ultimately, they will need to take


them on for the future of Syria. There's no reason for them to want


the arms to go to the wrong direction. It is unlikely to happen


because you do not have William Hague's here on it? William is not


supporting a policy of bombing because we have worried about


putting arms into the situation. Can we persuade him? We are three years


on and the policy of non-intervention, allowing it to


settle down, if that was working then fine. My worry is that it is


not working. How long does this go on? It Geneva does not produce a


situation where the resume once to move towards transition, if they


continue to do what they are doing, how long to people stand back when


these arms are dropped on innocent populations? And people say that


they can do nothing about it because there is no way to shoot down


anything in the air. Whether you die of a machine gun or a chemical


weapon, does it matter in the end? Neither side can win militarily, so


if you arm the rebels, it escalates. You have to get into a situation


where people want to end it. At this point, the resume does not want to


end this. I think the opposition do because they want to CNN is to the


killing. How much faith you have in the Geneva talks? Does anyone


believe that anything will come out of that? It doesn't look very


hopeful, I think the opposition are declining to turn up.


We have a decision to make on Friday. It would be hopeless if they


don't turn up. I am afraid the sad tragedy of this is that the West


started attacking Assad far to early on, when the uprising began. The


West supported the rebels far too early, without realising... I met a


Syrian who had just come to Damascus and he said that this regime is a


great deal stronger than we are reading in your newspapers, and it


is going to survive. Do you think you miss judged Bashar al-Assad and


the strength of the regime? Nobody knew if the regime was resilient


enough to deal with a revolt in many places over a long period of time.


It is true that the regime had been quite ruthless in putting down


revolts and had done so. No one knew what would happen if those revolts


went on. Remember those early days, we are talking about hundreds of


thousands of people on the streets, saying that the regime should


reform. And when the regime met that with torture and violence, the


regime should go. What should we say about a situation like that, if it


is not to support those who seek freedom from tyranny? How much


impact did giving up the chemical weapons stockpile... Has it had any


effect? It has given a degree of free license to the regime to carry


on killing people conventionally, as they have. Chemical weapons coming


out is a good thing, there is no argument about that, but the terms


on which it is done have been Russian terms, regime terms. As the


quid pro quo being that mystery is pressure has been put on the regime


to stop the conventional killing. How much support have you got from


MPs for arming the opposition? MPs are desperately concerned, they are


worried and sceptical about any engagement in the process, either by


allowing people to get arms or anything else. I would not suggest


at the moment that there is a majority in the house. But the house


is worried that -- about how long this goes on. And the refugee


crisis? No country has done more than the United Kingdom, we have put


in more to support people in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, to protect


them. The human Terry and crisis is the symptom. Unless the conflict


end, it just goes on and gets worse -- humanitarian crisis is the


symptoms. Only the Russians can put pressure on the regime to bring it


to the table. It may be that bringing the Iranians would help as


well and perhaps talking to the Saudis. They have such a vested


interest in keeping the regime going. The Iranians have fought in


Syria, they are fighting to protect a sad and their own interests. -- to


protect President Assad and their own interests. Unless the conflict


ends, we can't even get to that stage. Those pesky lords, they have


been causing problems for the coalition recently, inflicting a


series of defeats on government legislation in the upper house. Last


night they were at it again, this time knocking holes in the lobbying


bill. It is designed to make the lobbying of ministers more


transparent. One of the concerns is the effect it will have on charities


and other campaign groups. This bill is fiendishly compensated.


It is designed to shine a light on the political activities of


charities. That means they would have to register what they are doing


with the Electoral Commission, say how much money they are spending,


there would be limits on spending. Opponents say this will impose huge


rig Autori burdens, and some fear it could also make it harder for


charities to raise genuine issues of public concern around elections --


huge regulatory burdens. Katie Wright is senior policy adviser at


Oxfam and also joined by the Conservative MP for Carmarthen West


who used to be Chief Executive of the countryside Alliance. Can you


spell out a sort of political activities that charities get up to?


Absolutely. The vast amount of money we spent directly on humanitarian


work and working in poor countries around the world. We also part of


big, iconic campaigns that helped to change the lives for millions of


people if they are successful. Things like make poverty history,


the Robin Hood tax campaign, taking on tax dodging and promoting aid


spending. Whilst these may be policy issues, they may be controversial


politically, they are not party political and we think we should be


able to do them in the year before an election as well. So why


shouldn't there be greater accountability and transparency


about what your organisation and others are getting up to? The


government tell us that the point of this bill is to try to take some of


the big money out of politics and they raise the spectres of the


big-money campaigns you see in the innovative states. They don't want


to limit -- in the United States was they don't want to limit policy


campaigning but we -- they have driven the bill is so widely that we


are caught up in its net. We want to make some amendments to ensure our


work could continue. What is wrong with those points of concern? The


charitable sector is worried at the government seems determined to press


it through -- but the government. Some early concerns were legitimate


but I think the government has made huge strides to correct those. I am


told the latest position is of great comfort for people like Oxfam and


others in the voluntary sector and charitable sector. I think the


dangers which were first highlighted have receded into the background.


There is a clear distinction between campaigning up to the election on


policy issues, which all of us in politics welcome and have nothing to


fear from, but also as distinct from activity which has attempted to


influence the outcome of an election, which might favour one


candidate or another. That is what the bill is trying to exclude, I


think charities should have nothing to worry about. Charities are


covered by charity law, why do they need a fresh burden of adulation? I


think -- fresh burden of regulation. I think it is a different point.


From a charitable point of view, it doesn't restrict them in any point


from -- in any way from campaigning on policy issues. You are not going


to be prevented from raising it visibly, loudly, frequently in the


run-up to an election. It prevents you distorting the outcome of an


election by ploughing all of your resources into a campaign which may


affect the outcome of the election. It is a clear distinction. I think


the government has got the balance about right, it has listen to the


concerns of the charities and I think nobody should have anything to


worry about from here. How divided are the charities? Some want further


concessions to make it less burdensome, some want complete


exemption from any of these regulations for charities. I think


it comes from everybody feeling as scared as each other. This bill has


managed to unite a quite widespread of organisations. -- wide spectrum.


We are working with people we normally argue with because we all


want to protect our right to speak out about these issues in a year


before an election. We are all pretty united now in that whilst we


are glad the government has listen to some of our concerns, the


distinction that Simon is talking about is far from clear. We need to


see further votes and amendments made tomorrow to help create the


distinction to perhaps take the big-money out of party politics, but


allow charities and other campaigning groups to continue.


Isn't there a risk that you end up with a two tier system, charities


treated in one way and campaign groups, such as the countryside


Alliance and Amnesty International, treated in a different way. There


are different conditions affecting charities. They are the


beneficiaries of public money to some extent through gift aid and


things like that. Nobody has argued that it is against the law to


campaign in such a way that might influence the outcome of an


election. This bill doesn't really address that at all. It makes it


fairer as far as all charities and all non-governmental organisations


are concerned, and more transparent from the point of view of the voter.


What will happen in the House of Lords tomorrow? I think the


government will do well if they listen to some of the amendments put


forward, which are designed to make this ad law into a much better law.


-- this bad law. That is the bill, it is complete hated and it is in


the House of Lords tomorrow. Government has been defeated 86


times. The opponents and campaigners are looking for more tomorrow. Thank


you very much. As discussions about Britain's


relationship with Europe rumble on, both the pro-and anti-sides of the


debate are keen to show that they have business voices backing their


case. Today Business for Britain, the campaign group that wants to see


reform of the EU, has suggested how they'd like to help firms. They'd


like to see the millions of companies who do not export to


Europe exempted from Brussels regulations. They claim that single


market regulations cost UK businesses an estimated ?7.5 billion


a year. But fewer than 5% of companies actually export goods or


services to other EU states. Business for Britian predict that


with small and medium-sized firms freed from EU regulation, there


could be a jobs boom. The Bruges Group think tank has previously


claimed that pulling out of the EU but staying in the European Economic


Area would create 1 million British jobs. But those in favour of the UK


remaining in the EU say millions of jobs could be lost as global


manufacturers move to lower-cost EU countries. The House of Commons


library suggests that in 2011 an estimated 4.5 million UK jobs were


dependent on exports to the EU. To discuss this I'm joined now by Peter


Wilding from British Influence - they want to keep Britain in a


reformed EU - and by Matthew Elliot from Business for Britain - they


want a referendum on our relationship with Europe. Welcome to


both of you. While I take a quick breath. If you are part of the


single market as a country, all the rules for businesses apply, don't


they? They do at the moment, though interestingly, the EU does exempt


certain micro-businesses from certain regulations. The principle


that EU regulations should not apply to all businesses is already in


place. We propose extending it to say only 5% of companies in the UK


export to the single market, so surely the British Parliament can


describe that certain regulations should not apply to those that don't


export -- can decide. David Cameron talked about how it was ridiculous


that all the regulations apply to the NHS, which doesn't export to the


EU. The point is you can't pick and choose as a member of the EU,


certainly not on cornerstone policy. There are always going to be


exceptions, isn't this just because you want Britain out of the EU? We


are not worn -- moving towards a period of treaty change where


everything is up for grabs. We are in a space for new ideas. The PM,


quite rightly in his Bloomberg speech, made competitors of Ness and


the reduction of red tape a centre space -- made competitiveness and


the reduction of red tape a centrepiece of his speech. 7.5


billion pounds a year could be saved. We are not going to disagree


about red tape, red tape should be brought down in whatever way we can


do it. We want to create growth. The problem with Matthew's analysis is


that he does two things will stop first of all, over half of the


amount of money is generated by UK gold-plating. Civil servants adding


more burden upon the EU directives that Matthew is talking about.


Secondly, a strange figure has cropped up. The OECD published a


report which said that in a league table of countries burdened by red


tape, written is number eight. Above that -- Britain is number eight.


Above that lie four other countries inside the European Union. We are


banging on about red tape, why aren't they? Why is Germany


exporting so much more than us, but inside Europe and outside? I think


red tape is a very important thing but it is absolutely not the hammer


that cracks the nut of bringing us out of the single market. You are


inflating, to some extent, the figures, or certainly painting them


in a way that looks disadvantages to British firms, when it is added by


civil servants or bureaucracy here, and you haven't talked about the


benefits of being part of the EU. What about the benefits in terms of


jobs, in terms of being part of a big group where things like


environmental protection is included? The 7.5 billion figure is


from the government itself, it is a government figure and I would agree


with you on the gold-plating point, it is a really serious point. As to


the benefits of being in the single market, I completely agree. This


proposal is a way where firms who want to export to the single market


would be able to do so. Of course they should go along with this in


the single market would be able to do so. Of course they should go


along with this ingle market begin nations. Of those firms who don't


want to export, like the shop where I bought my cup of coffee, will


never export to the EU, why should they go along with the regulations?


What about the supply chain? Wouldn't it logically mean a drop in


exports to the EU? In 2011, 50 3% of UK goods exports were to other EU


countries, comprising 10% of GDP. You have surely got to look at the


whole supply chain. If you look at the UK economy, only 10% is to do


with manufacturing. There are already mechanisms in place to make


sure that cheap goods do not enter the single market. We're talking


about the same level of regulation not existing, but less regulation of


companies that do not export. You back in this? What is this red tape?


Nobody has said anything about this. Is it the minimum wage? It used to


be. There is no doubt that the working hours directive


regulations, the environmental regulations... You would have to


introduce red tape to separate those companies to whom in the new rules


would apply and those to whom it does not. It will be very


compensated with all kinds of companies who should be bound by it


trying to find a loophole. These mechanisms are in place. One thing


about the solution is that it is imaginative but impractical. We have


a series of businesses do not export. You mentioned the shop on


the corner. The fact of the matter is that we must be positive. We have


to create jobs and the way to do that is to enable people to export.


The problem with this solution is he will introduce an export police that


are going to wander around small firms and say, how much are you


exporting to Europe and how much are you not? And that is utterly crazy.


These systems are already in place. The trouble with Matthew is he looks


at where we are today and tries to go backwards. What I am trying to do


is go forward. The forward thing is quite simple. The Prime Minister


says he wants more people to export but Matthew's report only talks


about goods. It does not talk about the massive ability that we have two


cell services. Let me tell you one thing. In order to do that, here is


the Prime Minister with 18 different other Prime Ministers in Europe


signing up to liberalise the single market. Is it impractical? These


systems are in place so it is practical. The second point, the


Prime Minister, before Christmas, talked about exempting small


companies from EU red tape. I think it is also forward-looking. The PM,


the centrepoint of his speech said that he wanted the EU and the UK to


become competitive. So that we can compete in the global race. This


solution will help that. Actually, we would look overseas to


high-growth countries outside Europe, and they are the ones we


need to trade with more. The problem that Matthew has referred to,


coalescing with other states, is exactly what we're doing right now.


The United States and EU are negotiating a free trade zone,


effectively. The United States is not going to sign up to a situation


where half of the business of one member state is ruled by different


regulations. But in the US, each state has a different system of


regulation, so the states are familiar with that. Support that


free trade deal. Thank you very much. It's a well-known fact that


everything was better in the Old Days. Summers were hotter,


neighbours were friendlier and policemen would give you a cheery


wave as they clipped a small boy round the ear. But what about


politicians? Was there a golden age when our MPs were upstanding men and


women of integrity, who had the respect and love of the people, or


were they held up to as much ridicule and contempt then as they


seem to be today? Here's David, with a blast from the past.


Your first side of the government front bench. Mr Keeley at the


bottom. Mr Josef Craig Lloyd Jenkins. The State opening of


Parliament, 1966 style. The decor is much the same but the politicians,


from a very different age. This place may not have changed very


much, but what about the people who make it take? Our MPs. Are they the


same as they were when everything was black and white? Do we still


treat them with the respect they think they deserve? David Winick


came into the Commons as part of the class of 1966. It was a different


time. We were not expecting to do all that work. It does not mean that


MPs are lazy, but it was a different type of job. If you spoke three


times a year, that would not have been considered inappropriate. If


you visited your constituents in frequently, that might not be so


difficult. It has totally changed. But are our resident day MPs reaping


the rewards? If you go back to 1966, 90 7% of people for their MP was


doing a good job. In 2005, it is not the same question but it shows the


trend. Actually, only 46% of people think that the MPs try hard. I think


there has been a decline in satisfaction. And it would not get


away with making the odd cameo appearance. There's been a shift in


wanting MPs to be doing more constituency work, prioritising that


of national politics. But we still want our MPs to push forward


policies on the national stage. I think there is a trend at a personal


level to reject the professionalisation of politics, to


want MPs to look more like ordinary people. But compared to this


cynical, less deferential age, where the media goes out of the way to


make them figures of fun, MPs get more -- got more respect from the


public in the olden days. I'm afraid not. Dickens Parliamentary gauges


did not show a lot of respect for MPs. If you read the literature of


the 19th century, parliamentarians were often the butt of jokes. I'm


sure that was so before. It does not seem to be a golden age at any time.


Politicians should accept that it is perhaps part of the British


tradition to have a go at us. And why not two of an safety may have


been less of a big deal but worthy MPs better? -- and why not? Health


and safety. Maybe not. To talk about the changing nature of the job of


being an MP we're joined now by Charlotte Leslie, she's a


Conservative who entered Parliament in 2010, and our guest of the day


Chris Mullin who was elected in 1987 and stood down in 2010.


For come to you, Chris Mullin, are you envious of Charlotte's position?


It seems that with the backbench committee, she is in a better


position. I think the rise of the Select Committees has increased the


influence of backbench members. It was pretty low in the 50s and 60s.


That has made a huge difference. Yes, up until the time that are


retired, the government whips had a large influence. You were whipped


within an inch of your lives! In my case, no, but not want trying. It


seems that individual MPs, if they want to take up an issue, have


avenues that they can do so. It is very difficult for me to compare


because I was not around them. I think Parliament takes our time to


get used to. I'd think you have to make a decision as to whether you


want to get promoted very quickly, in which case there are avenues that


it may not be wise to choose them, or whether you will deal with the


things that matter to you. I think through the invigoration of the


Select Committees, you feel that you can make a substantial difference.


And if you do it with respect, and correctly, there is every avenue to


disagree with the government. And how has that gone if you disagree?


Not you necessarily but one of the most notable things that came


through the backbench debate was calling for a referendum on the


UK's membership of the EU, which was not what the Prime Minister wanted.


That is and is sample of how MPs got what they wanted to talk about. --


and example. I was one of the MPs talking about reform of the House of


Lords. If you want to get on the front bench quickly, it is not the


wisest option. But think that if do it reasoned -- correctly and in a


recent way, I would like to think that this government is very much


like that, that people respect differing points of view. As John


Bercow help that? Is he not put Parliament at the forefront,


challenging the executive? -- has John Bercow helped that.


Conservatives are not keen on him, it is that because he challenges the


government? It is difficult to comment, not having been an MP under


another speaker. I think there is a freshness, and often familiarity


breeds contempt. We can get into our politicians' lives much more than


ever before. That demands a freshness from the establishment


itself to keep connected with the public. I think John Bercow has been


an excellent speaker. He has done a great deal to raise the standing of


Parliament from a pretty low base. But under Labour, MPs did not feel


that they have the room to manoeuvre. I do not know if it is a


question of Labour or Conservative. That that time, there was such


control. Labour had enormous majorities. There were large


uprisings, though. But nothing like as rebellious as the MPs under the


coalition. Coalition changes the mathematics. The thing that has


changed, because MPs have allowances and do a lot of things they could


not previously do, they do not even get postage in the 1950s, or


telephone calls outside of London. A lot of them, because of this,


instead of holding the executive to account in Parliament, have spent a


lot of time in acting as fairy godmother to their constituents in


the hope that they will be re-elected next time. And I think


that is going too far. I disagree with that. There is a false


dichotomy between constituency work and what you do on a national stage.


In Parliament, you are in a bottle and the only source of information


is the House of Commons library. The constituents are a reality library.


It is will you go to talk to people who are not politicians or


journalist or researchers. I'd get the best input from my


constituency. In places like pubs, where it is always a chore(!), It is


very viable. -- valuable. There's just time before we go to find out


the answer to our quiz. The question was, what is the Conservative MP


Alec Shelbrooke threatening to wear in Parliament, is it a cowboy hat, a


onesie, a gorilla costume or a clown costume?


Alec Shelbrooke threatening to wear in Parliament, is it a Well. I've


not been told the answer, but my feeling is that this is an example


of the extremes a backbencher has to go to to get noticed. It is a


onesie, is it? You might have been able to spy Alec Shelbrooke. How do


you feel? I feel very comfortable. The House of Commons dress code says


that MPs clothes should show respect for the House. You are not going to


wear it in the chamber? No. I am in try to raise money for Martin's


house children's Hospice. It is a campaign in my constituency for


terminally ill children. If people want to donate, go to just giving


.com, and we're hoping to raise ?5,000. If we do, I will vote in


this attire. I'd macro have you asked the Speaker. I do not need to


ask the speaker because I am not going into the chamber. What you


think of the outfit? It is very charming. But I wonder if everyone


started doing this, I figured that -- I think that the figure of 46% of


MPs doing a good job would decline somewhat. Even though it is in a


good cause. I do not think it would be much fun to follow me afterwards.


Before Christmas, the Shadow Chancellor rushed over from his


grotto vote whilst dressed as Father Christmas. It is not without


precedent. Do you want others to follow in your wake? Let's raise the


money for the children's Hospice. Thank you to our guests. Will be


back tomorrow at 11:30am. Goodbye. -- we will be back.


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