27/01/2014 Daily Politics


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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. David Cameron says


he'll tear up red tape - including almost 100 building regulations - as


the Government promises thousands of new affordable homes. Will it help


get Britain building? A major incident alert has been


issued in Somerset as large parts of the county remain under water. Local


people are furious - is the Environment Agency doing enough?


Feminism, the pill and... Pan's People. What did sexual revolution


or the 60s and 70s really do for women?


And after that promise to restore the 50p tax rate, will Ed Balls


still get the balls for being pro-business?


Balls. -- I have two go with Ed Balls. Because he is not a


psychobabble. -- psychopath.


Very subtle. All that in the next hour. And with us for the first half


of the programme today is Joan Bakewell, former television


presenter, now a Labour Peer. Welcome to the programme. Let's


start with Syria, because there's increasing pressure on the British


government to take refugees from the war-torn country. The conflict has


claimed more than 100,000 lives, with more than nine million people


displaced. Britain is already the second biggest aid donor, but Labour


has called for the door to be opened to refugees. Foreign Secretary


William Hague was asked yesterday what the Prime Minister's plans


entailed. He did open the door. The Home


Secretary is working on that and we'll have more to say on that in


the coming days. There is a case for particularly helping people who are


particularly vulnerable. Is that code for Christians? That is what


the Home Secretary is working on. How we can help people who may need


to get away from the region altogether, who are particularly


vulnerable to violence. This is being worked on. The Prime Minister


and Home Secretary will discuss it further.


Joan Bakewell, should Britain be taking Syrian refugees? Yes, I think


the phrase open door puts terror into people. Also, there is


confusion about the idea of immigrants and asylum seekers. But


people in desperate need really need to come for a period while the


situation recovers, then they can return home. I do think there is a


case. On humanitarian grounds. The British people are very sympathetic


to suffering when they see it. They have a capacity to be very generous


as individuals. I go back to the time of evacuation when people took


children into their homes. There is a case for bringing people,


particularly women, because rape is a weapon of war. Who would you have


come over here from Syria? The homeless, the people in hospitals,


the people in need of medical help. I think children. The consequences


for children is going to be damaging for the future of the country. I


would start there. How many? I would not like to put a number on it. I


think numbers have to be carefully tabulated. The open door phrase is


inappropriate. A few hundred does not sound like too many? It was


worth saying that it was Nigel Farage you started this idea. He


said we should take in asylum seekers. Let's start with 500, go up


to a thousand and see what can be accommodated. What about religious


groups? Nigel Farage indicated that perhaps we should look at Christians


firstly? I do not like people being identified politically by their


religious identity. That is really dangerous. But people in need will


be of all religions. I think religious identification would be


tricky. I would not demarcated thataway.


-- I would not demarcate it that way. Now, despite better news on the


economy, there are fears it's driving a big and possibly


unsustainable rise in house prices, partly because of a shortage of new


housing, especially in the South East. Today the Government is


announcing plans for more affordable homes. Last year their own figures


showed a 26% drop in the number of affordable homes built in England in


2012 to 2013 compared to the year before. There's also pressure from


Labour, with Ed Miliband promising to build 200,000 new homes a year by


2020. So a new programme is being launched to build 165,000 affordable


homes over three years. The scheme is being funded jointly by the


Government and private investment, and will cost ?23 billion in total.


In a speech this morning, David Cameron has announced a blitz on red


tape by cutting more than 100 housing regulations down to ten. He


claims this will save developers around ?60 million a year.


With us now is the Housing Minister, Kris Hopkins. We're also joined by


Brendan Sarsfield, CEO of the housing provider, Family Mosaic.


Welcome to both of you. Kris Hopkins, 165,003 years, is that


enough? It is what we can afford at this moment. We are halfway through


a current programme, and we are quite ambitious about the period


2015, to 2018. In December, a survey found that over the last six months


demand has grown by 10.2% and supply has declined. It looks like you are


going backwards? All I can say is that the present programme, halfway


through the delivery of that, and we have delivered more than half. We


are very confident we can deliver 170,000. That is why we have gone


out there in difficult times and put our money on the table. We have got


the support from the private sector. We have had ?23 billion worth of


investment. How are you going to get more private investment to finish


the job? We are confident that we will receive, by April, the tenders


for that process. We are confident the private sector will deliver that


contribution. The test is, we have already gone out in even more


difficult times and we still managed to deliver that number of houses.


What you impressed by that? No it is business as usual. The money


announced was money we were expecting. Nearly 24 billion. 4


billion of that is coming from the Government and the rest will be


raised by housing associations through bonds and borrowing. For


example, when Family Mosaic used to build a home, we would get ?1 grant


for ?1 of our own money. We are now putting in ?6 or ?7 of our own


money. Not a problem. But we are losing ?80,000 per unit for each


unit we build. And we have to make that shortfall by building housing


and doing other things. Good value for the Government. I do not think


that model is sustainable in the long term. The volume we are


producing when we are doing that is just keeping a cab on it. Just to


give you an example, in the London market, house prices have risen by


50,000 in the last year. Can you imagine how many people that has


excluded in one year from the housing market? The number of people


who cannot access Private rented or owner occupation is growing


enormously. There is a huge wedge in the middle, never mind the poorest,


coming to us for help. That is because they are being priced out of


markets? Exactly. The big danger is we think they are going to leave


London but they were not because this is where the jobs are. They are


over occupying. They are sharing homes. They are living in sheds.


There are big challenges. We need to do more to provide homes in London


and the south-east. If Brendan is saying that all you're doing is just


about keeping a cab on it, you are not doing anything in the long term


to answer the huge demand for housing? Brendan is right in the


fact there is a particular issue in London, and that is why we have


given ?1.1 billion to the London may. -- mayor. This is not just


about London. This is about making sure we meet the market across the


country. There are different housing market in different parts of the


country with different demands. What about Ed Miliband's promise to build


200,000 new homes a year by 2020? Typical of labour to just come up


with a figure. During the boom years, they reached 176,000 units.


The idea that they are now actually... One of the issues we


have got is the capacity to build those houses. A quarter of a million


jobs were lost in the construction industry during the recession.


Thousands of businesses were lost. The ability to make bricks and


materials to build houses, that was lost. It was about addressing this


capacity issue. Even in the boom times, Labour did not build enough?


They did not build enough. The demands are vast. Labour is at least


trying to man up to the huge need. 25% of young people are living with


their parents. People cannot afford to get on the housing ladder. There


is a property boom in London. There was no attempt to control the rented


sector. People cannot afford the new build. The new bills are going to


people who are buying to rent. With all respect, 13 years in power, and


even at the boom period there were still 25,000 short. -- they were.


They have admitted that. But we are where we are. And Brendan has said


it is not enough. Labour is also suggesting boosting the power of


councils to purchase land from developers, telling them to use it


or lose it. That is a fairly tough policy which could unleash some


land? The Labour government set out to build ten eco-towns. Lots of them


will tell you top down what you as a local authority will do. Not one was


built. We want to go to communities, get them to design a plan and


empower them to actually deliver. That will be more houses than they


delivered. What we have seen recently is the growth in developers


just banking land and not building on it. Storing or bland. Labour is


going to release that land. There is no evidence. Labour has said it is


not worth building on that land at the moment. I hear one side saying


one thing and another site saying another. We are spinning in


circles. This is the craziness. Housing is a long-term problem and


it needs long-term planning and solutions. Every time there is a


downturn in the market, we lose people from the construction


industry. We may very thick-skinned, plumbers and


bricklayers, but is -- it is a thin skinned industry. It loses people


all the time. Finding the land, getting that place. Getting the


building sector -- sector able to deliver. It needs people on the same


side delivering a 25 or 30 year plan, not a one-year initiative. Are


developers sitting on land? I think that maybe one or two are sitting on


rural land. Most developers I know cannot afford to sit on land. They


bought it at the high end of the market and had to turn it quite


quickly. And they are waiting for the price to rise. No, I don't think


they can. If you pay a lot of money for land, the interest is running


from day one. All of us, as soon as we buy land I want to go on site as


soon as I can. One of the initiatives that Labour want to


introduce is building on small brown field sites within cities because


developers find that difficult. They want a large site on which to build


many items. But the development of small brown field sites would open


up inner cities much more and renew those cities rather than building on


-- out in the country. We needed all! -- we need it all! The bash --


the ambition of the local Labour council is to go on to the


Greenfield. I wanted to be up to the local council but I think they


should make sure we protect green fields. We do need to utilise brand


sites. What about private landlords and rent? If you get rid of the


legislation, the standard will increase. First of all this


government is paying ?20 million a year in housing benefit to landlords


and we are investing in this programme less than 4 billion over


three years. You can see how we are driving housing and paying for


housing through a revenue stream and not a capital stream. That is like


us funding housing through a payday loans Company. It is a very


expensive way to deliver housing. What we have got to do is address


the housing benefit bill and reduce it by delivering more homes to those


in need who are otherwise in the most very expensive homes. Severe


flooding is still affecting many people in Somerset after a major


incident alert was announced last week due to the sheer volume of


water in the area. Today the Environment Agency is facing a


furious backlash as people were warned more bad weather could be


underway. Yesterday farmers held a demonstration against the agency


accusing it of failing to dredge local rivers. The Environment


Secretary Owen Paterson has been touring the area and had this to say


this morning. I have come down here in person and I had a good meeting


last night with representatives of local farmers and experts who


understand how water systems work and we have had a good meeting this


morning with the two local MPs working on a plan which I hope will


sort this problem over the next 20 years. That plan is far too late,


that plan should have been put into effect years ago. I inherited


guidelines which are not appropriate to this part of England. We can


speak to the local MP, conservative Ian Liddell-Grainger. What is your


reaction to what Owen Paterson had to say? I am encouraged. This is


what we wanted to hear. He has given us six weeks to come up with a local


plan. He understand this is an artificial waterway created by man


and we need to dredge the rivers and give the power back to local


communities to continue doing what they have been doing since Roman


times. Your constituents said that Owen Paterson would not talk to


them. I am not sure that is the case. We have had representatives


with the councils, district and county, so I am not sure that is the


case at all. We have been given that challenge and we have taken it up as


the local community to do something about this. Tell us what is going on


behind you. At the moment we have got palms as you can see to my right


and left. They are pumping something like 1 million gallons a day to


alleviate the flooding behind the cameras. That is just holding the


water is steady. If we have more rain, we will have much more


flooding. This river which is tidal is 40% below capacity as we speak.


If we got the mart and the rubbish out of here, what you are seeing to


my left would not be needed. We have always had flooding here, but it has


never been as bad as this. We seem to have left you and lost the


picture, but we can still hear you. The Environment Agency said the rain


would have overwhelmed the river system even if it had stretched the


waterways. What do you say to that? Yes, it would have done, but we are


now having rain that starts to flood our area earlier and earlier. Back


in the time when it was run by the local community it would flood for a


couple of weeks, but this is months upon months upon months. We have


lost the capacity. Ever since Baroness Young said she would like


to blow up the pub houses, we have never had anything like this. We


have to get on with it. Has the Environment Agency being too slow to


react? A lot of people were saying we should have got the palms in a


week before they did. But until the water goes into those levels, you


cannot actually pump. Do you let them wait and do nothing or do you


wait until it starts flooding? It is a difficult decision and there are


times when I have even cursed myself for not being quicker. This time


they were about right. How worried are your constituents because of the


forecast of more rain? We are extremely worried. It cannot be any


better than it is. We know there is going to be no water and more rain


and more flooding. A lot of people are wondering whether they should


evacuate all await. We do not know, we are in the lap of the Lord and


the Environment Agency. We are going to make a difference, but it will


not be overnight, partly because the machines are too heavy to get onto


the field anyway. One of the reasons that has been put forward is there


have been cuts to the Environment Agency. Do you think they could have


done more? They are all concerned with dredging and draining water


that is running off. But what seems to be avoided is the strategy of


allowing water to soak into the land. We have suburbs in which


everybody's front garden has been cemented over to accommodate cars.


There is less and less of the water soaking in where it could. A lot of


the forests have been cut down. It used to be a forested country and we


are not any more, so more water is running off than the environment


requires. In areas like Somerset they are talking about a boat being


more important than having a car. People are being cut off from coming


in and out of the area. There has to be a solution. It might start


further up from where the water is coming. Where is the water coming


from? In Roman times it was a problem. No Environment Agency then.


But where is the water coming from and why is it not being absorbed


more where it originates. That is a different way of looking at this


problem because it will occur. Yes, it will. We are generally thought to


live in a postfeminist age where the great battles for equality for by


people like Dame Joan Bakewell have been largely won. But the Everyday


Sexism Project has logged 50,000 instances of discrimination in the


last 18 months, with 10,000 of those in the workplace. Though in the


allegations of unwanted sexual advances made by Lord Rennard and


the MP Mike Hancock, and you could just question about how effective


the feminist movement really was. The year is 2012, England,


traditionally a land of he rose and great statesman is in the grip of a


new regime. The country is being run by women. The two Ronnies'


considered response to feminism. The 60s and 70s are often seen as the


golden age of feminism were people like Jermaine Greer and Joan


Bakewell began to change the world for women. But after recent events


you could be forgiven for wondering whether things are actually that


different, did the women's movement really move anything? You could not


get a mortgage. There were two building societies who said you had


to be over 40, which I was not, and you had to be a respectable teacher


or a doctor and I was neither. So it was a necessary movement. But the


gains made then they have become a double edged sword now. There is


this perception that such legislative equality has been won,


and there is a sense there are no problems and if women try to talk


about these problems and if they speak out about sexual harassment


there is a case of, calm down, dear. Could that have its roots in the


sexual liberation of women in the 60s and 70s. Men's attitudes have


never really involved in any way. The coming of the pill meant they


did not have to take any responsibility and that was


wonderful, sweet shop time. I think actually it was quite a lot of


sexual exploitation of women because there was not the threat of having a


baby. Which is why feminist today think those in power now need to


step up. Right now the spotlight is on this issue and they have an


important decision to make about the message they send to other men and


women working in those workplaces and two young women thinking about


their career prospects, about whether this will be taken


seriously. Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips and accordingly they


possess intelligence. But how much have the women gone before helped


their cause? Feminist movement tended to say women were victims,


but also saying all women are powerful, but they do not exert


their power and so it is their fault. It is a contradictory


message. If it is contradictory for women, it is certainly contradictory


for men who are not very subtle creatures. But despite the efforts


of the giants of feminism then, some now feel that the two Ronnies did


not have to worry their pretty little heads. And joining us now is


Anne Atkins. First of all, let's go back to feminism and the sexual


revolution, did it improve the lot for women? In 1963 somebody wrote


that sexual liberation would always be to women's disadvantage. Women


are at a double disadvantage, they play for higher stakes and they are


more likely to lose. His point was basically we are not the same, that


women are biologically inclined to invest more in monogamy and also our


assets diminish in a way that men's assets do not diminish. Whether you


agree or not, it is an interesting point. Sexual liberation is not


necessarily equally liberating to both sets. I think back to the


feminists of the 19th century who were fighting for education, against


poverty and child prostitution. Compare it 100 years later or even


more now, are we fighting for the right for teenage girls to be sick


in a gutter on Friday night because the boys have been? It is a long


revolution and we are only partly there, probably a third of the way


there. If it gives women the right to be drunk in the gutter, that is


one offshoot. In the last week or so I have suddenly become aware there


is a groundswell, certainly among women themselves, of what might well


turn out to be the third or fourth wave of feminism. Suddenly women are


empowered. The Lord Rennard business has... Do you think it is new? It is


ongoing and the biggest social change of the last century and it is


the slow situation where women have equality with equal pay, and


childcare is an enormous problem. We have got a generation of men who are


more tender and able to cook and change nappies and things. My father


was capable of all of those things. You were fortunate, but the change


now is on a bigger scale and there are more people who are able to


seize these opportunities. The more they seek the disadvantage is that


remain, and they are resolute in their way to go forward, and we will


see that happening more and more. Do you think some of these advances


have been regression? The NSPCC did some research in the last few years


on sex dealing in effect. Over and over again young teenage girls say


they feel pressure from their boyfriends to do things they do not


want to do. That may be a pressure that 50 years ago that was not a


pressure that young girls felt. We have seen a tsunami of high-powered


advertising, celebrity culture, cheap fashion, the rise of


pornography. The objectification of women. How do we get the benefits


and advances we all believe in without the disadvantages? In a way


if you look at the allegations that have been made most recently against


Lord Rennard, for example, those women have come forward. Do you see


that as bravery? It is absolutely essential. One thing I would love to


see embraced more is equality does not mean the same. You do not get


equality for women by making us more like men. I would love to see a bit


more of the visionary side. Men have brought us this, ambition and


whatever, women bring a more cooperative side, but why can't we


take the best. You can celebrate the difference, but it has not brought


equality in the workplace in terms of opportunities once you have had


children, for example. You are in danger of suggesting that women


should submit to men's criteria. I am saying the opposite. Women bring


things to the workplace and men bring things to the homily at the


other sex does not. -- to the home that the other sex does not. Lets


have equal pay. Let's resolve that one. That is an absolute base. It


doesn't exist. But it is something we can all agree on. Do you think


that women themselves should stand up for themselves a bit more? Is


that a problem? To yes, and I think it is a problem that we must teach


our children. Basic assertiveness. This is not rocket science. Why


should the onus be on the women? Of course. This recent row has shown


that women are thrown on the defensive. It is a whole society


revolution. It affects everybody. It affects every home. It affects every


family. Everybody can contribute. That is the reward of it. To


embark... There has been a lot of discussion everywhere about whether


you can really put in the same box allegations of serious sexual


assault and rape with allegations of improper touching. Do you agree?


What we do have to keep saying, and maybe bases of two women, we have to


keep saying that even the sort of thing that we should laugh off is


not necessarily acceptable. My first job in the 1980s, at Saint Georges


Theatre in Tufnell Park, the director would think nothing of


pinching women's bottoms. One actress slapped him in the face and


we all thought, I wish we had done that. That was the world in which I


grew up and which -- in which it was an accepted mode of male behaviour.


But it is not any more. That is an absolute sea change. The high


profile of this political row will affect every shop girl, every


schoolgirl. It will affect the whole generation of young women who will


not put up with it. And they will not. In small ways the change will


spread. Thank you for joining us.


In a moment we'll be joined by a panel of MPs to discuss the big


political stories, but first let's take a look at what's happening in


the week ahead. Tomorrow the Office for National Statistics will publish


its latest estimates for growth in the final quarter of 2013 - after


last week's positive economic news, will the momentum be maintained?


Also tomorrow, the ballot to decide the new Deputy Leader of the Lib


Dems will be carried out - it's a position elected only by Lib Dem


MPs, not party members. On Wednesday, Bank of England Governor


Mark Carney will be making a speech in Edinburgh, where's he expected to


make his first comments on issues around the referendum on Scottish


independence. And on Thursday, the Immigration Bill will be back in the


Commons, with Conservative MP Nigel Mills promising to table his


amendment to bring back restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians.


Joining me now are Mehdi Hasan, political editor of the New


Statesman, and the political commentator Iain Martin, who writes


for the Sunday Telegraph among others. Ian, GDC -- GDP figures are


out tomorrow. The prediction is far better than the flat lining that had


been predicted. Quite if the Government not feeling it in the


opinion polls? That is a very good question. If this was a normal


political situation, to party politics, you would expect by now


the Tories to have got out of the low 30s and to be seriously


challenging Labour. But because Cameron has Nigel Farage on his


tail, and because a lot of the Lib Dem voters went back to Labour after


the coalition was formed in 2010, the Tories are really starting to


get nervous. Although the economy seems to be recovering really


strongly, the figures tomorrow will show that that is intensifying. Even


though the Tories are not getting the kick in the polls they had


anticipated. How does Labour counter the continual flow of broadly better


economic news for the Government? They would always be an issue that


when growth returned, what would be Labour strategy be? What would they


switch to? They have done not a bad job in pushing the cost of living


crisis to the top of the political agenda. You had David Cameron on the


today programme this morning pressed on the subject as to whether


households would be better off worse off. He tried to swatted away. He


would not get involved in statistical arguments. There are no


statistical arguments. They will be worse off by 2015. As to why the


Tories are not feeling the game in the polls, the return to growth has


not been matched by a return to living standards. And Labour, since


conference season, have switched the debate onto that terrain. Is the 50p


tax announcement by Labour, if they return to power, is that a problem


or are they cheering in Tory ranks? Personally I think it is not very


sensible economically. It is actually a electorally extremely


smart politics. If you look at that coalition that Labour needs to


assemble to win the next election, or to become the largest party, it


needs the voters it got in 2010. It needs about 4% or 5% of the national


vote. The lefties will love this policy. There is a small group of


floating voters who may be slightly spooked. Hence Labour trying to


emphasise deficit reduction. If that works and the Labour calculation is


right, Labour gets due 37% of the vote and wins the next election. It


may be very cynical but it is not stupid. Whether it is terrible


economics, we don't know. It certainly will bring in some extra


revenue. To respond to the point about it being a clever move, it is


a clever move politically. It is not crazed class politics. Cameron,


Osborne and Lynton Crosby had gone off to immigration and benefits.


Labour have done a similar thing on the bankers. It is not just lefties


who love this. More Tory voters support this than oppose it. If it


is such crazed class warfare, you have to remember that for nine of


Margaret Thatcher's 11 years in office, the top tax rate was... It


will not be the multimillionaires who will pay this. They will find a


way of reordering their affairs. The people this will hit are those on


the threshold. And those who crucially I aspire to get to the


threshold. Not many people get to the threshold of 150,000. It is a


small model number. -- a small number. I do not think it is a daft


move electorally. Thank you both very much. Who's best


for business? That's the battlefield for this week's economic debate.


This morning David Cameron threw business the usual red meat - or


should I say red tape? - promising to slash or simplify more than 3,000


rules. Yesterday, Ed Ball's said Labour would re-introduce the 50p


tax-rate. But his claim that he was still pro-business and


pro-investment was met with scepticism by a Business Minister in


the last Labour government, Lord Digby-Jones.


From a business point of view, if we are going to create jobs, generate


Parfitt and pay tax, you want a sign up there saying, come here, stay


here. Risk your hats. Employ people, generate wealth. To say, I


will tax you an extra 5p in the pound on all of that, is not a way


to get this country out of the mess. What about the public - what do they


think? Well we sent Adam out onto London Bridge to test the mood


amongst commuters. It is the middle of rush hour and we


are on the middle of London Bridge. Look at these commuters. Surely


somebody wants to tell us who is best for business, George Osborne or


Ed Balls? What do you think about the 50p tax? That is going to be a


bad thing. Will you be affected? No comment! Osborne or Ed Balls? Who is


better for business? Who is best for business? It is a hard decision. Who


gets your vote? I will have two say Osborne. I am not a massive fan of


either but things are generally going OK at the moment. Do you


personally feel the economy is getting better? Yes, I think


personally I probably don't feel very much of a change. But there


seems to be a feeling it is moving in the right direction. Osborne, I


will put a ball in for you. You look very busy. Helping the economy grow.


I have to go with balls -- Ed Balls. Because he is not a cycle path! --


psychopath! Or sociopath. The wealth of the nation is being divided to


extremely. At least Labour gives us a fighting chance. Osborne, no


question. I work for the Bank of England. Have you got a purple,


please? Referred UKIP? Who is George Osborne? The Chancellor of the


Exchequer. All, no. -- oh, no. Who is better for business? I would say


you. I do not know if I would be a very good Chancellor. It has


quietened down. They prefer the man who is in the Chancellor's office


right now by quite some margin. I'm quite surprised. The number of


people I have had to explain a simple concept of putting a ball in


a box... Joining me now for the rest of the


programme are the Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie, Labour's Stella


Creasy and the Lib Dem Martin Horwood.


You will be surprised to know we're going to start with you, Stella,


dreadful response in the papers to Ed Balls's announcement. Bad


economics, disincentive etc. The list is endless. Labour is turning


its back basically on high earners and big business in the city? I was


a little bit surprised by that letter. A number of the people who


have signed it represent key businesses in our community. I would


have thought they would be very concerned about the statistics


today. This announcement is part of a broader package about how we get


the economy back on track, how we make sure growth is sustainable and


how we help consumers. I would have thought they would have had a little


bit of concern for those people who are struggling. If they do not have


?1 in their pocket, they will not be able to spend it. Why would raising


the top rate of tax help you? This is about dealing with the deficit


and our economy. When we have the deficit we have got, it is right


that we ask those with the broadest shoulders to contribute what they


can. Bringing in the 50p rate of tax is part of a broader plan. It is


about saying we have to have an economy that works for everybody.


How much will it bring in? These are the questions the ISS, the


Government and HRM sea have been arguing about. -- HMR assay. One of


the questions the Government has to answer is that we all talk about how


this disincentive advises business. I am mature evidence is there. --


dis- incentivise. Getting on top of the deficit and debt on top of the


fact we have a nation more in debt personally than ever before, is gone


to bake a difference. The problem there is everybody has put forward


the counterargument. It does not raise very much money. It will be a


disincentive to jobs and investment. You have lost the support of what


new Labour used to court? I want to have a discussion with businesses


about those consumers. Theirs are the people they need to consider.


How much did it bring in last time? It is difficult to get back on track


and if you look at the facts, rather than the ideology, people say the


parties are the same, but this illustrate the differences between


them. You can look at the world as you would like it to be, and


clobbering the rich might seem like a good idea, but it does not make


intuitively the difference people would like it to make. We have got


people pay more tax than they have ever done before and the lowest


earners paying less tax. Those are facts. If you want to appeal to an


ideology to people you would like to, if you are under breadline, you


have to go for something that brings the tax in. The 50p tax does not do


that. You think it is not worth it? You have to look at how we are


doing, but out there on the planet reality we have got the highest


earners paying the most and the lowest the least. If it does not


bring in that much money, how is it a disincentive? Everybody on the


Tory side said it brought in a negligible amount, so why is it a


disincentive to I earners? They would say, I do not want to do that


and go somewhere else. Is there evidence they did the last time and


left the country? People always leave the country. We would not have


had a stage where Labour had brought in 40% tax rates and government have


lower tax rates and Labour is in a difficult position and is panicking.


It is saying, we are going to balance the books and raise the tax


rate, which might only bring in 10 million at most and they are in a


sticky position. What should the Lib Dems do? We have debated this at


length. We want to send a strong signal that we want to build a


fairer society. The 50p rate would be one way of doing that, but in the


end we thought it was more important to cut the rate of tax at the lowest


end of the spectrum. We have only started to do that. People started


paying income tax at 6500 under Labour and that will be 10,000 from


April. Where do you stand personally? Do you think the richest


1% who are over 150,000 should be the ones to bear the burden? That is


not the debate, actually and we think those with the broadest


shoulders should bear the burden, but there are other ways of doing it


like the mansion tax. We wish we had been able to persuade the


Conservatives to do more and upfront. Capital gains tax progress


has been made and the top earners are paying more in tax than they


have ever done before. What about a coalition with Labour? With the 50p


rate of tax be a deal-breaker? No, I do not think it would be, because


there is a very close debate within the party and the difference would


not be colossal. But if you think it strengthens the economy to


incentivise people at the top end, perhaps income tax might not be the


right tool to use. It may be crazy economics according to some, but it


is pure politics and it might work in a few instances. That is the


truth, it is just a political move? We want to talk facts. Two thirds of


the growth of the economy has come out of the pockets of consumers


because they have spent all their savings and they are getting into


debt. Asking how we can rebalance our economy at the very time when


you guys decided to give millionaires a tax cut, rather than


helping people who are getting into debt. Those are the choices we have


to make. You get very emotional rhetoric. It is a fact. Four people


it is really tough, the cost of living is really tough, but it is


like a sunrise, you see the light first and then the heat. We need to


make sure it is on track. Ed Balls thinks the recession is nothing to


do with Labour. An alcoholic needs to realise there is a problem before


he can change and Labour Dr Fossey the ?1.4 trillion of personal debt


people have in this country is going up and you people have done nothing


about it. You do not understand the difference it makes to our economy.


Moral high horses and sounding very tough does not make a difference to


people's income. Let's come back to the economics. When will Ed Balls


apologise for overspending? That is an insane question. Why? I heard the


interview with Andrew Marr yesterday. He was very clear about


the choices ahead of us. I am talking to people who are


financially struggling and I worried about the choices they can make this


year and next year and they need to see a government that is serious


about tackling the deficit, but also a government that is serious about


making sure they have money in their pockets. You will do nothing to help


those people. The Citizens Advice Bureau says people are struggling


today. The Prime Minister does not even know if the cost of living is


going to go up and down. We have been cutting the rate of tax at the


lower end and the strength in the economy has meant we have kept


interest rates low. That is because we have taken tough decisions on a


deficit. Every house on a mortgage would have been crippled if interest


rates had spiralled out of control. You could have voted against nearly


every attempt the coalition has made to balance the books and you cannot


come back after years of doing that and say, you have not solved the


problem. Labour is going to try and balance the books with tax rises.


They are not going to cut spending, that is true? Let's be really clear


why every pound spent by the government matters. We have said we


were looked at tax rises and public spending. And the mansion tax. That


pays to get young people back into work along with the bankers' tax.


How many times have Labour 's spent the bankers' bonus tax? People can


use sympathy arguments and appealed to things that everyone would like


to see, richer people being clobbered, but that is going to ruin


the economy. Why do we know that? Because they did it last time. The


poorest cannot afford to let that happen. We are going to move on to


immigration. David Cameron has said the level of immigration from


Romania and back -- Bulgaria has been reasonable. Do you think your


party overreacted? One thing about the European Union and immigration


benefits is freedom of movement. We have got immigration wrong over the


past decade. We want people who are going to come and contribute to the


country, but not people who are going to come and take. Opening the


borders to countries that have very different minimum wages and


conditions has distorted things. You would like to see balances on


movement? I would like to see people come here and give skills. What do


you expect other people to do in terms of the checks and balances on


British people who live abroad? It is a reciprocal arrangement and we


benefit from it enormously. We were sensible to not lift restrictions on


new entrants to the EU before any other country did, would distorted


the whole picture with Polish immigration. But taking sensible


steps to make sure the system works properly is fine, but some of the


hysteria around Romanians and Bulgarians has bordered on


xenophobia and we need to get this to a practical debate and not a


hysterical argument. Do you support the rebellion and when it comes on


Thursday there will be a rebellion? I want a practical solution that


works. What is that? What is being proposed is limiting and putting


back the restrictions that were in place preventing Bulgarians and


Romanians working here. That is not legally likely to happen. Should the


government give more concessions? If it can, I think it will be good but


they are legally hamstrung by European legislation. Will the Lib


Dems block any attempts to toughen up the immigration bill? There are


some things that could be done to make it better and one of those is


the length of time people could claim benefits. So you will block


any attempt? It is above my pay grade. The comedian Rufus Hound has


announced his plans to stand as an MEP at the Euro elections. He


announced his candidacy to Jonathan Ross on Saturday night. I am going


to run for the NHA. Because the NHS is being privatised... But I am


looking around to see who is stepping forward and nobody is. I


sat with my wife and my wife went, we should do something. A month


later she said, we might be those people sitting around saying why is


somebody not doing anything? So I think I am going to end up running


as an MEP. What a good man. A popular move.


Is this a good combination? Comedians and politics? Some people


would say we have already got that combination. It is good people want


to take part in politics and that is a much more positive response than


the Russell Brand nihilism saying we should not vote and get involved. He


is going to be standing for the National health action party which


was set up in 2012. Do you think people will be drawn to it because


of celebrity endorsements? Anything that shined light on what is going


on in the NHS is a good thing. The only thing I would caution is, and I


have got a lot of time Rufus, is he is going to do it as a protest. But


we need answers as well. We need answers as to how you would make the


NHS better as well. Let's look at some of the things that have been


raised. Patients say they can rely on information on waiting times for


non-emergency operators and data was inconsistent and that makes it


harder for people to make decisions if they are not being told the


truth. One thing we saw with targets under the last government is that


hospitals will change their behaviour to meet the targets. The


reality is hospitals will fiddle those measures to make those


targets. We have seen it all over the place. Jeremy Hunt has done an


important thing in making a much wider measurement like an Ofsted


style, and not a single target measure. The target culture has had


a detrimental effect. But has the top-down organisation not had a


devastating effect in terms of the money in the system and people's


perception of the NHS? The so-called privatisation is just using


different providers and it is free at the point of use. This started


under the last government. But they were introduced badly and it was a


disastrous PFI and I can see why some people listen to the words


privatisation and thing, it went pretty badly, but there is nothing


wrong with using providers if they can do it as well and at the same


cost for a less to do the same task free at the point of delivery and


based on need. Thank you to all of you. The one o'clock News is


starting on BBC One and I will be here at noon tomorrow when I will be


joined by Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.


Our number-one priority is moving the child or baby.


You can't let your emotions interfere with that process.


You've got to keep one step ahead of the little ones,


because anything can happen at any time.


When you've just got one child to look after,


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