05/02/2014 Daily Politics


05/02/2014

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn are joined by Cabinet Minister, Francis Maude and Shadow Defence Secretary, Vernon Coaker. With live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions at noon.


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Transcript


LineFromTo

Morning, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics.

:00:36.:00:39.

Commuters in London and the south-east struggled to work today

:00:40.:00:42.

as a strike on the Underground brought problems to the morning

:00:43.:00:47.

rush-hour. The trains are going nowhere, but are the Tories inching

:00:48.:00:51.

towards making it harder for the unions to call a strike?

:00:52.:00:56.

Danny Alexander says the Tories will cut the top rate of tax "over his

:00:57.:01:00.

dead body". As the Lib Dems have another public falling out with

:01:01.:01:03.

their coalition partners, we ask if there's anything they do still agree

:01:04.:01:05.

on. It's Wednesday. That means it's

:01:06.:01:09.

nearly time for your weekly bout of Punch and Judy politics - we'll

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bring you PMQs live at midday. And Parliament has an infestation.

:01:14.:01:20.

Not it's not the politicians, or the journalists - it's mice. We'll be

:01:21.:01:24.

meeting a cat that could be sent in to clean up the Commons.

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All that in the next 90 minutes of the finest broadcasting your licence

:01:31.:01:35.

fee can buy. And joining us for the show are two politicians who'd never

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let a little thing like a Tube strike keep them away from

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Westminster on a Wednesday - Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and

:01:43.:01:44.

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker. Welcome to you both. They

:01:45.:01:52.

asked to work from home today but we told them to get on their bikes.

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Let's start today with the latest on this strike affecting commuters

:01:57.:01:58.

coming into London. Yes the 48-hour walk-out by the RMT

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and TSSA unions started last night, they're striking over proposed job

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cuts and ticket office closures and with only a limited service until

:02:05.:02:08.

Friday morning there have been big problems for people heading to work

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in the capital. Let's talk now to our correspondent, Daniel Boettcher.

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How bad has it been where you are? It is pretty calm at the moment but

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during the rush hour there were occasions when passengers were

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queueing onto the pavement, prevented from going into the

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concourse because it was too busy. The Northern line going through here

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does have a good service, it is the only one that does. Others are

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running what they call a special service. London Underground saying

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eight out of 11 Tube lines have some service. We don't know exactly how

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many trains are running. The unions are saying the strike is rock-solid,

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they are describing it as a skeleton service. Both sides in this dispute

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have a different take on how much disruption there has been. It is

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clear when you look at the buses and trains and other services, a lot of

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people have moved on to those. There have been big queues at stations and

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bus stops as people have tried to find alternative ways of getting

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into work. They face the same this evening on the way home, again

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tomorrow and a further 48 hour strike next week. I understand you

:03:28.:03:33.

caught sight of Boris Johnson, what was he talking to commuters about?

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Firstly he was apologising for the disruption, he said this was a

:03:43.:03:46.

pointless strike and he said there had to be more negotiations. Both

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sides accusing each other of intransigence over this. Boris

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Johnson also repeating the idea there should be a 50% threshold for

:03:57.:04:01.

strikes, that 50% of members have to vote in favour on key public

:04:02.:04:07.

services like public transport. Thank you very much. Spirits are not

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dampened behind him. It is OK if you are a skeleton, you

:04:13.:04:16.

have still got service, not so much for the rest of us. What about the

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idea of the Mayor's, that at least 50% of people should vote for a

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strike before they can call one? The first point to make, I am really

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sorry commuters are being subjected to those disruptions, it is quite

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unnecessary. TfL are trying to modernise the Tube and do sensible

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things in a sensible way, and this strike is quite unjustifiable. The

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right thing to do is to condemn the strike, which we do unequivocally,

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and which Labour have refused to do. Ed Miliband's helpful contribution

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was to say there should be negotiations. I don't know what

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Boris was supposed to do, get out to Rio and negotiate? He has been out

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since the weekend, Bob Crow. His mind was made up well in

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advance, Bob Crow wanted a strike. Fewer than 50% of union members

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voted and within that 50%, not everybody voted for a strike. What

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about the idea of a 50% turnout before you can call a strike? That

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is an idea that has been ventilated at various times. We keep it under

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review. The risk is you would enable union leaders to manipulate the

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results, so you get the result over 50% which lends greater legitimacy

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to the result. There are some other oddities with the way strike laws

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work at the moment. I understand that but it doesn't seem... You say

:06:00.:06:04.

it is under consideration which is a way of saying you're not going to do

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it. We have no plans to do it at the moment at we will continue to keep

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it under review. If only 30% of people vote in total, does that

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undermine the legitimacy of the strike? Absolutely, it makes it a

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very weak mandate and it means that you can only then get,

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realistically, if that small number of people have only voted for a

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strike... If more than those come out on strike, it is likely to show

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a degree of intimidation behind the strike and that is what I think is

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bothersome. When Boris Johnson was elected mayor on a turnout of 38% in

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2012, that was a very weak mandate. No, because that is about the

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ability of the union to call people out on strike. How can one turnout

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of between 30 and 40% have no mandate, but a man who gets elected

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mayor with only a turnout of 38% come out cannot be a mandate? You

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would have to ask Boris, he is urging the case for a 50% threshold.

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Which confirms that you are against the 50% threshold. We are keeping it

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under review. There are risks attached to it. On this strike there

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are to be no compulsory redundancies. Indeed, some people

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will be hired. People who are behind ticket offices that almost nobody

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uses will be redeployed to the platforms. And that will add to the

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security and safety of the overall operation. What is wrong with that?

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What we know is that negotiations have taken place. We said the

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strikes should not have gone ahead. It is clear from the newspapers...

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What is wrong with it? It is a matter for the unions and the TfL

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and the Mayor. I am asking you, what is wrong with the system that uses

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no compulsory redundancies, almost nobody uses ticket offices, you get

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the people on to the platforms and people are happier, and no

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compulsory redundancies. I think people are concerned about the lack

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of ticket offices and face-to-face contact. I have been in Tube

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stations where the Oyster card has not worked, people are not sure what

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is going on so they will be concerned. It is a matter for

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negotiation. It would be helpful if the Mayor of London had met the

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leader of the union coming hasn't met him in five years. It would have

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been helpful if Bob Crow had not gone to Rio de Janeiro. Instead of

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arguing about if we need strike laws, what is clear is that CFO, --

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TfL, the Mayor of London and the union should sit down and negotiate

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these things. Is Bob Crow right to call his members on strike? He is

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right if he thinks there is an issue at stake, he is right to go to his

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members and say, we think there is a dispute that needs to be pursued and

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we think the only way is a strike. It is up to him. Why can't you stand

:09:19.:09:24.

up for hard-working people who want to get to work and do their day 's

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work? We are standing up for hard-working people, we have said

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quite clearly that the strike should not have gone ahead. What people

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will be concerned about is we have heard Boris Johnson's only

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contribution, to start talking about changing the laws with respect to

:09:44.:09:47.

strikes. You have not been able to confirm if it will be Conservative

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policy. I think he has confirmed it won't be. And he doesn't know what

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he is talking about. I think people would want to know what Boris's

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pitch is, to get it resolved, get around the table and sort it out.

:10:04.:10:07.

The truth is that Bob Crow decided to call the strike. It is both of

:10:08.:10:16.

them. He did win the votes for it, his members voted for it. When you

:10:17.:10:20.

have got a mandate to call a strike, it doesn't mean you have to call it.

:10:21.:10:26.

Except that there is an oddity in the law which means if you have got

:10:27.:10:31.

a strike mandate, you have to use it within 28 days or you lose it. And

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once you have used it, it remains in place for ever. That does need to be

:10:36.:10:42.

looked at. Bob Crow called the strike, pushed off on his crews, so

:10:43.:10:46.

the negotiations could not take place. -- on his cruise. But he

:10:47.:10:56.

booked it a year ago. Instead of making sound bites, let's save two

:10:57.:11:00.

of one that millions of people are suffering, let's say two Bob Crow

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and Boris Johnson, sit down around the table and sort it out. This is

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the line all oppositions take. What is the alternative? David Cameron

:11:11.:11:19.

says the following, Bob Crow's Tube strike is plain wrong and he should

:11:20.:11:23.

call it off today. Do you agree? We have said it should not have gone

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ahead, Ed Miliband has said that. You think Mr Crow was wrong to call

:11:29.:11:33.

the strike? We have said it should not have gone ahead. There is no

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equivocation. You should express a real view. That the strike should

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not go ahead, that is a real view. I think what everybody wants to say,

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is to love people like me and you talking about it, get them around

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the table, talk about it and sort it out. Getting new two around the

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table hasn't got us very far. -- you two around the table.

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Fans of a coalition bust-up haven't had to look far this week as the

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list of things the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats don't agree on

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just grows and grows. We've already had a very public row over

:12:20.:12:22.

appointments to Ofsted. And today Treasury Minister Danny Alexander

:12:23.:12:26.

says the Tories can cut the top rate of tax "over my dead body". So, are

:12:27.:12:30.

they still in coalition, or are they just cohabiting? Jo-Co has the

:12:31.:12:31.

details. Is the coalition love-in well and

:12:32.:12:34.

truly over? Danny Alexander's previously been accused of "going

:12:35.:12:37.

native". But today he's out to prove he's not true blue, but yellow to

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the core. He's said the Tories will only be able cut the top rate of tax

:12:42.:12:46.

to 40p "over my dead body" - a position likely to enrage many in

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the Conservative Party. And, coalition tensions are rising

:12:51.:12:55.

elsewhere in government too. Reports this morning say the Lib Dems have

:12:56.:12:59.

blocked a plan to cap council tax rises at 1.5%. Also this week -

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coalition cheerleader David Laws got into a rather public row with

:13:05.:13:11.

Michael Gove over Ofsted. He let it be known he was "furious" over the

:13:12.:13:14.

decision not to re-appoint Labour peer Sally Morgan as Ofsted chair.

:13:15.:13:19.

And the slow divorce has been picking up pace in the Lords, where

:13:20.:13:22.

Lib Dems peers are increasingly happy to inflict defeats on the

:13:23.:13:25.

Government on issues like the EU referendum. With Government

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legislation drying up in the Commons, it seems the coalition's

:13:29.:13:33.

radical phase could be over. And as they don't agree on enough to bring

:13:34.:13:37.

forward any new major bills, there's even less reason for the two parties

:13:38.:13:44.

to avoid fighting in public. Thanks, Jo-Co. Sorry we had a

:13:45.:13:51.

problem with the graphic, nothing animated, it got stuck. I don't know

:13:52.:13:56.

why we didn't take a monkey wrench to it. With us now is our new BFF -

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that means Best Friend Forever: it's the Deputy Leader of the Liberal

:14:03.:14:07.

Democrats, Malcolm Bruce. He is fresh from his triumph on the Sunday

:14:08.:14:12.

Politics. Malcolm Bruce, the new deputy leader of the Lib Dems. This

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is now a loveless marriage, isn't it? We will have to go through 16

:14:17.:14:23.

months of the constant tests. It never was a marriage, it was an

:14:24.:14:27.

agreement between two parties to run the government together, they have

:14:28.:14:31.

different agendas and backgrounds but we have had a core objective to

:14:32.:14:37.

turn the country around, which we are succeeding and it doesn't mean

:14:38.:14:43.

we have to agree on every policy. You are staying together for the

:14:44.:14:46.

sake of the kids, also known as the deficit. It is the sake of the

:14:47.:14:51.

people. We are turning the country around, tackling the deficit.

:14:52.:14:55.

Liberal Democrats have cut taxes, boost pensions and we have got the

:14:56.:14:59.

deficit under control, kept interest rates down, we have growth coming

:15:00.:15:02.

back into the economy and you say it hasn't been worth it. I have told

:15:03.:15:07.

you nothing, For many movers and shakers at Westminster

:15:08.:15:12.

we have disagreements. You pick fights, you picked a fight over who

:15:13.:15:25.

would be head of Ofsted. I would suggest the Secretary of State

:15:26.:15:30.

picked that fight. He himself has not put its head above the parapet.

:15:31.:15:34.

Would you thought it would have consulted the schools minister about

:15:35.:15:38.

how to replace and who to replace the inspector of schools with? The

:15:39.:15:42.

fact that he didn't suggests... Why hasn't he said something in public

:15:43.:15:47.

then? I think they have met in the course of the week. That's not

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public. They work together. He just unleashes his friends, more bad

:15:54.:15:56.

blood into it. They have agreed together a process which was not in

:15:57.:16:00.

place at the weekend. Danny Alexander, who now feels he has to

:16:01.:16:05.

do begin self up to the left of the party because they all think he's

:16:06.:16:10.

gone to Tory, picking an aunt Sally. The Tories know they can't cut the

:16:11.:16:14.

top rate of tax to 40% this side of the election. Even if they wanted to

:16:15.:16:19.

but, all of a sudden, he said they will do it over my dead body. He's

:16:20.:16:23.

picking a fight. He was being challenged by left-wing newspaper.

:16:24.:16:27.

He gave a straightforward answer, which the Lib Dems do not believe

:16:28.:16:31.

the priority between now and the election should be. He's ever Tories

:16:32.:16:37.

wouldn't do it over his dead body. They won't attempt to do it. In

:16:38.:16:41.

which case, his body will be relevant. I think is entitled to the

:16:42.:16:47.

public we don't support it. We know that. It over his dead body. We

:16:48.:16:55.

support carrying on with raising the tax threshold. We are trying to see

:16:56.:17:00.

if we can go on in the next Parliament to go further. We are

:17:01.:17:04.

trying to say the people, this is how we differ, and when you come to

:17:05.:17:07.

an election can do can make choices. You were once quoted as saying Uber

:17:08.:17:11.

fed governing the Lib Dems than a small Tory majority. I said, in

:17:12.:17:18.

2010, when the coalition was formed, it was a real advantage having a

:17:19.:17:22.

coalition with a broad base, in order to do the really difficult

:17:23.:17:25.

things that had to be done to get the deficit down. And that's

:17:26.:17:29.

absolutely the case. At the next section, I want an outright

:17:30.:17:33.

Conservative Government. I get on well with them. I understand

:17:34.:17:37.

completely why the Lib Dems want to pick these fights, because they have

:17:38.:17:41.

paid a heavy political price for being in coalition. I feel like a

:17:42.:17:50.

marriage counsellor here. I'm saving you for the best. You just used the

:17:51.:18:01.

phrase, picking fights. They want to differentiate themselves I

:18:02.:18:05.

understand that. It's politics. We are getting on the long-term plan,

:18:06.:18:09.

doing the job in Government, in a purposeful way, to secure the

:18:10.:18:13.

long-term... You're grateful to have the Lib Dems counteracting your

:18:14.:18:18.

right-wing element. That is not a factor. Isn't it? We don't have an

:18:19.:18:25.

outright majority, and that's what we'll be campaigning for at the next

:18:26.:18:30.

election. You keep the right place because you need Lib Dems support.

:18:31.:18:35.

It's not a factor far as I'm concerned. What is important is we

:18:36.:18:41.

continue to give a stable Government when we still have a deficit that is

:18:42.:18:44.

too high, and would need to continue to do the difficult radical things

:18:45.:18:49.

needed to drive it down. Do you fancy replacing the Tories in a

:18:50.:18:52.

loveless marriage? Not a loveless marriage. We want to replace a Tory

:18:53.:18:58.

led Government at the next election. Even I have worked that out. If you

:18:59.:19:03.

don't get an overall majority, have denied any kind of discussions with

:19:04.:19:09.

the Lib Dems? Not at all. Do you think you might as the election

:19:10.:19:13.

approaches? The Labour Party will be focused on winning... We know that.

:19:14.:19:18.

It's an important thing to state because people will speculate. There

:19:19.:19:24.

is no surprise that you want to win the next election. People speculate

:19:25.:19:32.

but I thinking about it. On a lot of things, the Lib Dems are much closer

:19:33.:19:37.

to you than they are to Frances Maude and his party. You don't want

:19:38.:19:41.

to 40% rate of tax, you want a mansion tax, you want more taxes on

:19:42.:19:46.

the rich, as well. You could possibly get on quite well together.

:19:47.:19:50.

It depends on which part of the Liberal Party you talk to. What

:19:51.:19:57.

about this part? You will find liberals are very different,

:19:58.:20:00.

depending on who you speak to. I go back to the point, we would campaign

:20:01.:20:05.

for an outright Labour majority. In terms of saying to the Liberals,

:20:06.:20:10.

we're not thinking about negotiating with them or what will happen. We

:20:11.:20:15.

would campaign... Isn't that a mistake? Those on your own party

:20:16.:20:19.

criticised the fact you didn't lay the ground for negotiations last

:20:20.:20:25.

time round? I don't think it is a mistake because people want to know

:20:26.:20:29.

you are confident, you're going into the next election believing you can

:20:30.:20:33.

win it. On what major policies do you to disagree on? Nuclear weapons.

:20:34.:20:42.

I'm not sure what policies on nuclear weapons. You didn't get that

:20:43.:20:45.

at them you were in Government. We are in the favour of the renewal of

:20:46.:20:52.

Trident. In respect of Trident alternative for the future, it's

:20:53.:20:57.

quite clear they wanted very much reduced level of... They'd want like

:20:58.:21:04.

the like. Would that be a deal-breaker? Defence of the country

:21:05.:21:12.

is a huge issue. You asked me for a big policy difference between us and

:21:13.:21:18.

the Liberals. Everybody wants to win the election and be realistic. The

:21:19.:21:24.

truth is... Winning outright victory will be a challenge for us. That

:21:25.:21:30.

shocks me. I may have to have a minutes silence. I think the public

:21:31.:21:36.

would expect parties to have a plan B. Yes, you want to win, but you

:21:37.:21:40.

must have some idea. We're not going to discuss it in public because you

:21:41.:21:45.

set your manifesto and you see what your outcome is pleased we will say

:21:46.:21:48.

what the process will be and we are prepared to negotiate in those

:21:49.:21:53.

circumstances. Can you hold your policy inside the Labour Party that

:21:54.:21:57.

there will have to be a like-for-like replacement of

:21:58.:22:02.

Trident? Absolutely. Ed Miliband is an soft on this? Not at all. What

:22:03.:22:10.

about council taxes? You want a cap of 1.5 percentage to be said,

:22:11.:22:14.

otherwise there has to be a referendum, and the Lib Dems want to

:22:15.:22:23.

be able to do 2%. Yes, I doubt the background to that. It's a story in

:22:24.:22:26.

the papers today. The Conservatives have lost that battle. You would

:22:27.:22:32.

like to reduce it. It will be held at 2%. Something will no doubt be

:22:33.:22:35.

announced in due course in the proper way. There are agreements in

:22:36.:22:45.

coalition. I have seen Borgen, so I know how it works! In the Thatcher

:22:46.:22:54.

years when I was a minister, you come out and start a different

:22:55.:22:58.

views. You argue it out. It's the same in a coalition. We will see you

:22:59.:23:09.

very shortly. For many movers and shakers at Westminster it's one of

:23:10.:23:17.

THE social events of the year. Last year guests paid ?400 to sip

:23:18.:23:20.

champagne and rub shoulders with celebrities like Peter Stringfellow.

:23:21.:23:25.

And Holly Valance. Who is that? And Francis Maude. Yes, he is with us

:23:26.:23:38.

now! In previous years, the organisers have auctioned off City

:23:39.:23:41.

internships for the kids, or a day's shooting on a country estate. To

:23:42.:23:45.

show their commitment to social mobility. And last year someone was

:23:46.:23:49.

said to have paid ?10,000 just to meet Justin Bieber backstage at a

:23:50.:23:54.

gig. That wasn't you, was that, Andrew? I didn't know he was a Tory!

:23:55.:24:01.

That wouldn't even cover his bail these days. So what is this

:24:02.:24:07.

glittering event I hear you ask? Why, it's the Conservatives' Black

:24:08.:24:10.

and White fundraising ball. It used to be called the Blue Ball but now I

:24:11.:24:17.

have to be more diverse. Which is being held tonight at a secret

:24:18.:24:20.

location somewhere in London. It's hardly secret. It's usually in

:24:21.:24:25.

Battersea Park. Good thing they won't have to use public transport.

:24:26.:24:28.

They have all got chauffeur driven cars. Sadly not. But as those Tory

:24:29.:24:35.

donors dig deep into their pockets, there's one prize that won't be up

:24:36.:24:41.

for auction. Inevitably it's the Daily Politics mug. Here's what it

:24:42.:24:45.

would look like if David Cameron had one. And it would raise so much

:24:46.:24:55.

money the party could tell all its donors to pack up and go home. We

:24:56.:24:59.

should point out that the event is no longer black-tie. But it looks a

:25:00.:25:05.

lot better if we put him in black-tie. Artistic licence. We'll

:25:06.:25:11.

remind you how to enter in a minute. But let's see if you can remember

:25:12.:25:13.

when THIS happened. COMMENTATOR: This first London

:25:14.:25:25.

Marathon, even before it started, is already the most remarkable success.

:25:26.:25:33.

# It's my party and I'll cry if I want to # Cry if I want to # You

:25:34.:25:42.

would cry too if it happened to you...

:25:43.:25:48.

# Oh, tainted love # Oh, tainted love # Now I know I've got to run

:25:49.:25:55.

away # We fade to grey. # We fade to

:25:56.:26:03.

grey. # Don't you ever stop being dandy,

:26:04.:26:22.

showing me your hand some # Prince Charming # Ridicule is nothing to be

:26:23.:26:24.

scared of. Dot. To be in with a chance of winning a

:26:25.:26:40.

Daily Politics mug, send your answer to our special quiz email address.

:26:41.:26:43.

[email protected] And you can see the full terms and conditions for

:26:44.:26:47.

Guess The Year on our website. It's coming up to midday here. I think we

:26:48.:26:53.

have got the Big Ben camera again. We can afford it for one week only.

:26:54.:26:58.

Prime Minister 's questions is on moon. If you'd like to comment on

:26:59.:27:04.

proceedings you can email us at [email protected] or tweet

:27:05.:27:06.

your thoughts using the hashtag #bbcdp. We will read them out if

:27:07.:27:14.

they are possible to read out on daytime television. Nick Robinson is

:27:15.:27:22.

here. Thank you so much. I meant to bring in a picture which I thought

:27:23.:27:26.

would appreciate that please you. It's a picture of me and Alex

:27:27.:27:30.

Ferguson. Really? I thought that would make you jealous. He plays

:27:31.:27:38.

with a round ball. Things are not going very well at my favourite

:27:39.:27:42.

club. Floods have been in an useful to it's been hard for the to avoid

:27:43.:27:47.

floods. It's been tempting given Prince Charles's criticism

:27:48.:27:51.

yesterday, implied, when he said wider take so long for anything to

:27:52.:27:57.

happen? It would be tempting for Ed Miliband to ask, a signal it's

:27:58.:27:59.

become critical, the fact the Prime Minister is chairing this Cobra

:28:00.:28:05.

emergency meeting. We are a long way off but any politician who remembers

:28:06.:28:09.

New Orleans, and what happened to George Bush, knows you do not ignore

:28:10.:28:16.

something in a particular location when people are saying where are the

:28:17.:28:22.

authorities? It's not on the scale of New Orleans, is not as political,

:28:23.:28:26.

but the pictures are dramatic, and I was talking to a minister the other

:28:27.:28:31.

day and David Cameron was talking about dredging endlessly. He's taken

:28:32.:28:35.

a real interest in this. Maybe because it comes from a rural

:28:36.:28:38.

constituency and has knowledge of flooding, but it could be he got

:28:39.:28:41.

pretty acute political antenna and will realise if those pictures keep

:28:42.:28:45.

going on, and with Prince Charles unit, and Ed Miliband races it

:28:46.:28:51.

today, these things can damage him. It's been the policy of the

:28:52.:28:54.

Environment Agency not to dredge, and do the opposite. The previous

:28:55.:28:59.

head wanted to get rid of the pumping stations and the local

:29:00.:29:02.

advice I understand, if you go down there, not in London, but the local

:29:03.:29:06.

advice, the drainage experts, people who run the water board, say we

:29:07.:29:09.

should never have stopped dredging. It's becoming a big problem. I think

:29:10.:29:15.

that's right for the these are not ordinary rivers but artificial

:29:16.:29:20.

drainage. Built by the Dutch for Charles I, I believe. You have to do

:29:21.:29:25.

dredge them. The pattern has been, you dredge them and put the silt on

:29:26.:29:30.

the field which has the effect of increasing the fertility and raising

:29:31.:29:35.

the level of the land either side but, apparently, there is an EU

:29:36.:29:38.

directive which prevents the silt being put on the land for that you

:29:39.:29:43.

can only put it within one machine's length of the bank which

:29:44.:29:48.

seems a bit bonkers. People just want a sense of urgency. Let's get

:29:49.:29:54.

on with it. That's a big thing I think people want. Why doesn't it

:29:55.:30:01.

just happened? Sympathy. We said dredging was a problem and then we

:30:02.:30:06.

said no, but we won't do it. Local people have always thought dredging

:30:07.:30:10.

in the Norfolk Broads, where they have retained control of their below

:30:11.:30:14.

sea level, they have been dredging and they haven't been flooded. As I

:30:15.:30:19.

understand it, there's quite a gulf between the Government the

:30:20.:30:25.

Environment Agency. And Lord Smith, ex-Labour politician, they are not

:30:26.:30:28.

happy with this performance by the Prime Minister can hardly attack the

:30:29.:30:34.

agency or Chris Smith at PMQ 's. He can't, but he can look like he's

:30:35.:30:38.

taking charge. I'm under Tony Blair with foot and mouth, and it was

:30:39.:30:41.

following the official advice, doing what the Minister of agriculture

:30:42.:30:44.

said, and there was a moment in that scandal where he suddenly thought,

:30:45.:30:48.

and I was called in for a meeting with him and the chief scientist,

:30:49.:30:53.

and a group of journalists, and there was a sense of the Prime

:30:54.:30:55.

Minister thought, forget all this, I'm sick of this advice. I'm taking

:30:56.:30:59.

charge here. Francis would know better than I would, with the Prime

:31:00.:31:04.

Minister has got to that moment but I think Prime ministers tend to have

:31:05.:31:07.

moments where they think, enough of this. I'm in charge. We will ask

:31:08.:31:12.

Francis Lai questioned when we come back. Let's go to Prime Minister 's

:31:13.:31:14.

questions. London is the commercial centre of

:31:15.:31:39.

the Western world. With the economy falling, would he agree that the

:31:40.:31:43.

efforts of the RMT union to bring London to a halt is nothing short of

:31:44.:31:49.

economic vandalism? I absolutely agree with my right-friend-macro.

:31:50.:31:54.

There is absolutely no justification for a strike. We need a modernised

:31:55.:32:00.

Tube line working for the millions of Londoners who use it everyday.

:32:01.:32:05.

The fact is only 3% of transactions involve ticket offices so it makes

:32:06.:32:09.

sense to have fewer people in those offices but more people on the

:32:10.:32:14.

platforms and the stations. I unreservedly condemn this strike.

:32:15.:32:18.

When the shadow defence minister was asked to do so today, he said it was

:32:19.:32:22.

a matter for the union. I hope the right honourable gentleman, the

:32:23.:32:27.

leader of the opposition, will get up and unreservedly condemn this

:32:28.:32:32.

strike today. JEERING

:32:33.:32:40.

The ongoing floods and storms are seeing people driven out of their

:32:41.:32:45.

homes and affecting significant parts of the country. Many of those

:32:46.:32:49.

affected feel the government's response has been slow and more

:32:50.:32:53.

could have been done sooner. We'll be Prime Minister tell the house

:32:54.:32:57.

what action is being taken to ensure areas affected have all the

:32:58.:33:01.

necessary support they need? Let me update the house on this very

:33:02.:33:05.

serious situation. I don't accept the government has been slow, we

:33:06.:33:10.

have been having Cobra meetings on a daily basis and taken action across

:33:11.:33:14.

the board. There are currently 328 properties flooded. 122,000

:33:15.:33:20.

properties were rejected last night because of the flood prevention

:33:21.:33:24.

measures in place. 1.2 million protected since December. There are

:33:25.:33:27.

still seven severe flood warnings across the coast of Cornwall, Devon

:33:28.:33:32.

and Dorset and there are 69 flood warnings in place, which means more

:33:33.:33:38.

flooding is expected and immediate action is required. There are 219

:33:39.:33:43.

flood alerts in place. There is a serious situation in Dorset with so

:33:44.:33:46.

many people losing electricity. Over 60,000 homes have been reconnected

:33:47.:33:54.

overnight. Whatever is required, whether it is dredging work, whether

:33:55.:33:57.

it is support for emergency services, whether it is fresh money

:33:58.:34:02.

for flood defences, whether it is action across-the-board, this

:34:03.:34:05.

government will help those families and get the issue sorted.

:34:06.:34:11.

Notwithstanding the prime Minister's response, you know many

:34:12.:34:14.

people in those areas feel the response has been too slow and that

:34:15.:34:19.

they have been left on their own and isolated. Does he agree that the

:34:20.:34:24.

events we have seen demand a comprehensive look at the

:34:25.:34:29.

government's investment in the protection and the speed of

:34:30.:34:34.

response? The Prime Minister 's promise to report by the end of

:34:35.:34:38.

January. Can he tell us when the report will be available -- the

:34:39.:34:39.

Prime Minister promised. I can tell the house he will make a

:34:40.:34:49.

comp offensive statement tomorrow. This government has spent 2.4

:34:50.:34:54.

billion over this four-year period, which is more than the ?2.2 billion

:34:55.:34:59.

spent under the previous government. Let me announce that a further ?100

:35:00.:35:05.

million will be made available to fund essential flood repairs and

:35:06.:35:09.

maintenance over the next year. This will cover ?75 million for repairs,

:35:10.:35:14.

?10 million for urgent work in Somerset to deliver the action plan

:35:15.:35:18.

that is being prepared by the local agencies, and ?15 million for extra

:35:19.:35:22.

maintenance. I would make the point, we are only able to make these

:35:23.:35:25.

decisions because we have looked after the nation's finances

:35:26.:35:32.

carefully. I can confirm it is new money that will protect more houses

:35:33.:35:36.

and help our country more with floods, and we will continue to do

:35:37.:35:42.

what is right. Actually the figures show that investment by the

:35:43.:35:44.

government has fallen over this period, not risen. But the reality

:35:45.:35:52.

is that the scale of challenge we face, from climate change and

:35:53.:35:55.

floods, demands we have a conference of look at the investment that is

:35:56.:35:59.

required and I am glad the Prime Minister has said the environment

:36:00.:36:02.

Secretary will come to the house tomorrow. I wanted to do another

:36:03.:36:09.

subject. The Prime Minister -- I want to turn to another subject was

:36:10.:36:13.

that the Prime Minister said he was going to lead the way on women's

:36:14.:36:20.

equality. Can the Prime Minister tell us, how is that going in the

:36:21.:36:25.

Conservative Party? Let me go back to the very important issue of

:36:26.:36:31.

flooding. Order. People getting very excited on both sides of the house.

:36:32.:36:34.

The question has been put, the answer must we heard. I am that he

:36:35.:36:43.

is asking me about constituency selection with Falkirk going on. Let

:36:44.:36:48.

me return to the issue of floods. If you look at 2010 to 2014, when this

:36:49.:36:55.

government was in office, the funding was ?2.4 billion more than

:36:56.:37:00.

when Labour were in office. Secondly, and this will be of

:37:01.:37:04.

interest to a number of constituency MPs, when it comes to funding, the

:37:05.:37:08.

bell in the scheme also matters because it is the way the government

:37:09.:37:17.

supports local authorities. Order, order, you are an incorrigible

:37:18.:37:21.

delinquent at times. Behave yourself, man. I know that many

:37:22.:37:29.

honourable members with flooded homes in their constituencies will

:37:30.:37:33.

want to hear about this scheme because it is the way that central

:37:34.:37:36.

government helps local government. Let me say that we will be paying

:37:37.:37:42.

local authorities 100% of eligible costs above the grant threshold, we

:37:43.:37:46.

will be extending the eligible... Mr Speaker... However longer session

:37:47.:37:53.

takes, the questions will be heard and the answers will be heard.

:37:54.:37:59.

Order... That is what the public has a right to expect of this house.

:38:00.:38:06.

They claim to be concerned but they won't listen to the answers. We are

:38:07.:38:10.

extending the eligible spending period for the claims until the end

:38:11.:38:15.

of March 2014, recognising that the bad weather is continuing. I can say

:38:16.:38:20.

to colleagues in Cornwall we will make sure they don't suffer from

:38:21.:38:24.

having a unitary authority, which we know they believe is very important.

:38:25.:38:28.

On the important issue of getting more women into public life...

:38:29.:38:30.

CHEERING because we will not represent or

:38:31.:38:40.

govern our country properly unless we have more women at every level in

:38:41.:38:46.

our public life and in our politics. I am proud of the fact that as

:38:47.:38:51.

leader of the Conservative Party, the number of women MPs has gone

:38:52.:38:56.

from 17 to 48, but we need to do much more. I want this to go

:38:57.:39:01.

further. We have also seen more women in work than ever before, a

:39:02.:39:06.

tax cut for 11 million women. We have stopped pensions binned it

:39:07.:39:11.

related against women -- being discriminated against women and we

:39:12.:39:14.

are putting women at the front of international aid programmes. There

:39:15.:39:18.

is more to do but we have a good record of helping women in our

:39:19.:39:24.

economy. Mr Speaker... JEERING

:39:25.:39:30.

I do have to say, a picture tells a thousand words. This is a prime

:39:31.:39:41.

Minister who said... I apologise for having to interrupt again. Calm

:39:42.:39:47.

yourselves, it is only just after midday, many hours of the day

:39:48.:39:52.

remain, don't destroy your systems by exploding. A picture tells 1000

:39:53.:39:58.

words, look at the all-male front bench before us. And he says he

:39:59.:40:02.

wants to represent the whole country. Mr Speaker, I guess they

:40:03.:40:09.

didn't let women into the Bullingdon club either. So there we go. He said

:40:10.:40:13.

a third of his ministers would be women, he is nowhere near meeting

:40:14.:40:20.

the target. Half of women he appointed after the election have

:40:21.:40:24.

resigned or been sacked. In his cabinet, there are as many men who

:40:25.:40:28.

went to Eton or Westminster as there are women. That is the picture. Does

:40:29.:40:33.

he think it is his fault that the Conservative Party has a problem

:40:34.:40:38.

with women? Let me give him the figures. Of the full members of the

:40:39.:40:45.

Cabinet who are conservatives, 24%, one quarter of them are women. Not

:40:46.:40:52.

enough, I want to see that grow. Of the front bench ministers, of the

:40:53.:40:56.

Conservatives, around 20% are women, that is below what I want to achieve

:40:57.:41:01.

in 33%. We are making progress and we will make more progress. Let me

:41:02.:41:06.

make this point, this party is proud of the fact that we had a woman

:41:07.:41:08.

Prime Minister... CHEERING

:41:09.:41:13.

Yes, yes. To be fair... To be fair to the

:41:14.:41:26.

Labour Party... Order, Mr Gove... LAUGHTER

:41:27.:41:35.

Order! You really are a very over excitable individual. You need to

:41:36.:41:48.

write out 1000 times, I will behave myself at Prime Minister's

:41:49.:41:55.

Questions. To be fair to the Labour Party they have had some interim

:41:56.:41:58.

leaders who are women but they have a habit of replacing them with

:41:59.:42:07.

totally ineffective men. HECKLING

:42:08.:42:13.

Of course, he mentions Lady Thatcher. Unlike him, she was a Tory

:42:14.:42:25.

leader who won a general election. And Mr Speaker, I noticed the member

:42:26.:42:33.

for North Essex in his place and he wrote a very interesting article

:42:34.:42:37.

recently. He said we men are all guilty of such unconscious lights to

:42:38.:42:41.

women. The Prime Minister recently greeted a leading high profile

:42:42.:42:45.

business woman at a reception by asking, where is your husband? Mr

:42:46.:42:52.

Speaker, that says it all. The reason representation matters is

:42:53.:42:56.

because it shapes the policies they government introduces and how they

:42:57.:42:59.

impact on women in the country. And he is failing women. Can he say why,

:43:00.:43:05.

for the first time in five years, has the gap between men's and

:43:06.:43:12.

women's pay increased? The fact is there are more women in work in our

:43:13.:43:15.

country than ever before in our history. We have seen a tax cut for

:43:16.:43:20.

12 million women, a pension increase that is benefiting women, tax free

:43:21.:43:24.

childcare that will help women who want to go out to work, or support

:43:25.:43:31.

on childcare. He talks about MPs and candidates, he might enjoy this. The

:43:32.:43:35.

Labour candidate for Wythenshawe has made an endorsement today, he has

:43:36.:43:43.

endorsed Miliband, David Miliband. Mr Speaker... If I were him, I would

:43:44.:43:49.

not be talking about candidates this week, of all weeks. Because what is

:43:50.:43:55.

the Tory Party doing? Removing one of their most senior women and

:43:56.:43:58.

seeking to replace her with an old it's only on. It says it all about

:43:59.:44:06.

the Conservative Party -- old Etonian. I will tell him why the

:44:07.:44:10.

gender pay gap is increasing. The minimum wage has been losing value,

:44:11.:44:15.

there is a growth of zero our on tax and the problem women have accessing

:44:16.:44:21.

childcare. -- zero our contracts. He is going backwards. He runs his

:44:22.:44:28.

government by the old boy network, that is why he is failing women

:44:29.:44:35.

across his party and the country. The win six questions and an

:44:36.:44:38.

invitation to condemn the strike today, not a word. He raises

:44:39.:44:44.

questions in a week when is completely rolled over to the trade

:44:45.:44:48.

unions. Let's be clear about what is happening. They keep their block a

:44:49.:44:53.

vote, they get more power over their discretionary funding, and they get

:44:54.:44:57.

90% of the votes for the leader. He told us he was going to get that of

:44:58.:45:00.

the red flag. All he's done is run up the white flag. Mr Speaker, with

:45:01.:45:20.

40 farms in West Norfolk led by expansion plans, unemployment has

:45:21.:45:25.

fallen by 20% since March last year. If the awareness means another 440

:45:26.:45:28.

hard working families receiving a pay packet facing a brighter future

:45:29.:45:36.

and our long-term economic plans? My honourable friend is absolutely

:45:37.:45:41.

right. We saw, two weeks ago, the biggest increase in employment in

:45:42.:45:47.

one quarterly figure since records began in the 1970s. We are seeing an

:45:48.:45:51.

employment come-down, more people in work, new jobs, the overwhelming

:45:52.:45:57.

majority, full-time jobs. Nine out of ten of them in the last year have

:45:58.:46:00.

been in better paid professions rather than low paid jobs. We are

:46:01.:46:05.

seeing economic success and every one of those jobs isn't just a

:46:06.:46:08.

statistic, but some on the pay packets can help take care of their

:46:09.:46:12.

family and have the dignity and security that work brings. Isn't it

:46:13.:46:16.

surprising, not a word about the economy today from Labour? They know

:46:17.:46:20.

it's growing and their forecasts were wrong. In evidence to the Welsh

:46:21.:46:28.

select committee, the leader of the Welsh Conservative assembly group

:46:29.:46:35.

said about the income tax in the draft Wales Bill, it was not a

:46:36.:46:38.

sensible course of action. Subsequently, that day, the

:46:39.:46:42.

Secretary of State for Wales and said he was expressing very much a

:46:43.:46:46.

personal view of his own. Later, he received a letter from the Welsh

:46:47.:46:52.

Assembly group, the Conservatives, saying it was worry much their

:46:53.:46:57.

opinion. Who speaks for Wales? The leader of the assembly or the sect

:46:58.:47:00.

of state for Wales? He's doing a superb -- superb job standing up for

:47:01.:47:07.

Wales. The NATO conference in Wales will be a success for the Welsh

:47:08.:47:12.

economy. In terms of the future of devolution, we are in favour of

:47:13.:47:16.

taking these further steps, we will bring forward legislation, taking

:47:17.:47:20.

steps in making sure that people in Wales have a real say and I want the

:47:21.:47:24.

Conservatives in Wales to stand up as a lone tax party in Wales and,

:47:25.:47:28.

under our devolution plan, that's exactly what they will do. A couple

:47:29.:47:34.

of weeks ago, the Daventry University technical College open

:47:35.:47:37.

the doors to its new campus where, under the stewardship of it

:47:38.:47:42.

excellent principle, its first 96 students will be learning the

:47:43.:47:44.

vocational skills young people need to compete in the future. Does he

:47:45.:47:50.

agree with me University technical colleges like this will ensure young

:47:51.:47:53.

people across the country have a brighter and more secure future and

:47:54.:47:57.

can be the benefits of the long-term economic plans? He's absolutely

:47:58.:48:03.

right. Making sure we have the best skills and the best schools is a key

:48:04.:48:08.

part of our long-term economic plan. I support very much the University

:48:09.:48:12.

technical college movement. The number of pupils taught in

:48:13.:48:15.

underperforming schools under the Scotsman has fallen by 250,004

:48:16.:48:21.

years, that is tens of thousands of young people who will have the

:48:22.:48:25.

chance of a good future and the chance to get a job and get involved

:48:26.:48:31.

in the modern economy. These buildings help people in that way.

:48:32.:48:36.

On the 22nd of February 2012, I ask the Prime Minister about fraud at a

:48:37.:48:43.

company working with job-seekers. He told me he was waiting for the truth

:48:44.:48:46.

before he would act. This week's guilty pleas by staff reveal a

:48:47.:48:52.

culture of fraud in Co. Isn't the list taxpayer fraudsters getting too

:48:53.:49:02.

long? When is it going to stop? She makes an important point, but the

:49:03.:49:05.

answer I would give is, instead of banding around names of companies

:49:06.:49:09.

where many people in those companies will be working hard to do a good

:49:10.:49:14.

job, what we should do is investigate wrongdoing properly, and

:49:15.:49:18.

make sure cases are properly taken to court as in this case, it clearly

:49:19.:49:28.

was. Does the Prime Minister share my outrage at the false choice

:49:29.:49:33.

prevented that was ended by the Environment Agency between urban and

:49:34.:49:39.

rural areas from flooding? Does he recognise my constituents and

:49:40.:49:44.

elsewhere expect this and maintenance, dredging and not

:49:45.:49:51.

abandonment? I think is absolutely right, there shouldn't be a false

:49:52.:49:54.

choice between protecting the town or the countryside. I think what we

:49:55.:50:00.

need to see, and where I think the debate is now rightly going, is,

:50:01.:50:06.

from the late 1990s, for far too long, the Environment Agency

:50:07.:50:10.

believed it was wrong to dredge. Those of us with rural

:50:11.:50:14.

constituencies affected by flooding, have seen the effectiveness of some

:50:15.:50:18.

dredging taking place. If it's good to some places, I think we need to

:50:19.:50:21.

make the argument it would be good for many more places. I have said we

:50:22.:50:27.

were the dredging in the Somerset Levels because that will make a

:50:28.:50:31.

difference, but I believe it's time for the Environment Agency, natural

:50:32.:50:35.

England, and the departments to work out a new approach to make sure

:50:36.:50:40.

something which did work, frankly, for centuries, is reintroduced

:50:41.:50:46.

again. Mr Speaker, Queen Victoria was on the throne when the Dunlop

:50:47.:50:53.

factory in my constituency first produced tyres for the motorsport

:50:54.:51:02.

industry. Jaguar Land Rover now welcome the expansion of the Jaguar

:51:03.:51:07.

plant. The Business Secretary and Birmingham City Council have

:51:08.:51:10.

identified three sites and a financial package to relocate. Will

:51:11.:51:14.

Prime Minister join with a Business Secretary and me in urging the

:51:15.:51:19.

company to look at those alternatives, and not walk away from

:51:20.:51:25.

125 years of manufacturing history? I was briefed on this issue just

:51:26.:51:28.

before coming to the chamber and I'm happy to look carefully at it and

:51:29.:51:33.

see what can be done. The recovery of the automotive sector,

:51:34.:51:35.

particularly in the West Midlands, has been hugely welcomed for our

:51:36.:51:40.

country. Dunlop is a historic brand and I will do everything I can to

:51:41.:51:43.

work with a Business Secretary to get a good outcome. South Essex is

:51:44.:51:53.

proof our long-term economic plan is working. However, the current

:51:54.:52:00.

options under consideration for an additional Thames crossing are

:52:01.:52:04.

limited in their ambition and do not maximise the economic potential of

:52:05.:52:08.

the Thames Gateway. Will he therefore agreed to meet with me and

:52:09.:52:13.

other interested people so he can hear why the first option and the

:52:14.:52:16.

third option are not the right answer? Where Essex goes, the rest

:52:17.:52:22.

of the country follows, as my honourable friend says. This is an

:52:23.:52:26.

important issue and we have to look at the potential bottlenecks which

:52:27.:52:29.

were held back the economy. I'm happy to meet with him. The Thames

:52:30.:52:33.

Gateway is a vital development for our country. I want is economic

:52:34.:52:37.

environment spread throughout the country and I'm happy to hold that

:52:38.:52:43.

meeting. Royal Mail shares are trading at 580 7p, 80% higher than

:52:44.:52:47.

when the Government sold off its share. Does the Prime Minister still

:52:48.:52:53.

believe that his Government properly valued Royal Mail and the price was

:52:54.:52:58.

set at the best deal for the taxpayer? I think the Government did

:52:59.:53:03.

a good job to get private-sector capital into Royal Mail, something

:53:04.:53:08.

which, frankly, has evaded Governments of all colours and

:53:09.:53:12.

persuasions for decades, and I well remember sitting on that side of the

:53:13.:53:15.

House and hearing about the appalling losses in Royal Mail, tens

:53:16.:53:20.

of millions, hundreds of millions of pounds, and the fact it's now well

:53:21.:53:24.

managed, well-run, with private-sector capital is a great

:53:25.:53:31.

environment for our country. -- of element. -- of element. We have a

:53:32.:53:39.

strong history of supporting apprenticeships across a range of

:53:40.:53:44.

sectors. With national apprenticeship week approaching next

:53:45.:53:48.

month, does he agree with me the emphasis by this Government on

:53:49.:53:51.

increasing apprenticeships for men and women is exactly what is needed

:53:52.:53:56.

to support people getting back into work and training? She is absolutely

:53:57.:54:01.

right. This Government has invested record amounts in apprenticeships,

:54:02.:54:06.

over 1.5 million people have started, including many the East

:54:07.:54:12.

Midlands, and I met them in her constituency. Each and every one of

:54:13.:54:15.

these apprentices if someone is getting a chance, skilled, a job,

:54:16.:54:19.

and the opportunity to build a life for themselves and stability and

:54:20.:54:24.

security which the birthright of every single person in the country.

:54:25.:54:30.

Can I tell Prime Minister the loss of the railway line at Dawlish in

:54:31.:54:37.

the storms is a devastating blow to the economy of Devon and Cornwall

:54:38.:54:41.

and it comes just a year after we lost the railway service from whole

:54:42.:54:46.

month in last year's floods. Does he accept we have to spend a great deal

:54:47.:54:50.

more investing in the resilience of our transport infrastructure and

:54:51.:54:54.

leave the Government United both in its acceptance of and determination

:54:55.:54:58.

to do something about climate change? I agree wholeheartedly on a

:54:59.:55:05.

number of points, first of all, we need to make sure urgent action is

:55:06.:55:08.

taken to restore these transport links, and I will cheer a meeting

:55:09.:55:13.

this afternoon bringing together the problems of the floods and the

:55:14.:55:19.

effect on transport. Secondly, we have to go on investing in rail

:55:20.:55:22.

schemes for them we are putting record amounts into rail schemes.

:55:23.:55:30.

The third point, we have done a real analysis of the resilience of the

:55:31.:55:33.

infrastructure, something carried out by the Cabinet office, and where

:55:34.:55:38.

extra production and infrastructure is needed, it will be put in place.

:55:39.:55:46.

We recently visited a company in my constituency who brought

:55:47.:55:50.

manufacturing jobs back to this country from China. Can he say what

:55:51.:55:56.

the Government is doing to encourage more bring jobs to the UK as a

:55:57.:56:02.

long-term economic plan? It was a huge pleasure to see a company which

:56:03.:56:06.

makes ventilation decrement, bringing jobs from China back into

:56:07.:56:12.

the UK. This is a small trend at the moment, 1500 jobs in manufacturing

:56:13.:56:19.

coming back since 2011. If we manage to make sure energy is competitive,

:56:20.:56:22.

the labour market is flexible and competitive, a friendly company for

:56:23.:56:30.

business with low tax rates including local low corporate tax

:56:31.:56:33.

rates, there's no reason more companies shouldn't come back to

:56:34.:56:37.

Britain. We won't have that every Avenue anti-Labour Party policy.

:56:38.:56:45.

Lastly, the CQC issued an appalling and damning report on Liverpool

:56:46.:56:51.

community health. Will the Prime Minister have the historic HR

:56:52.:56:55.

practices, the disciplinary actions, and the subsequent payoffs, which

:56:56.:56:58.

were used as a mechanism to bully staff, forensically examined and

:56:59.:57:02.

ensure the executive team and the board are held to account and

:57:03.:57:07.

actually make this huge statement that bullying is not acceptable in

:57:08.:57:14.

the NHS? I think she's absolutely right to raise this specific case,

:57:15.:57:17.

but also the general lessons it brings. Of course, we have more to

:57:18.:57:22.

do, but the CQC is a hugely improved organisation. We have got a chief

:57:23.:57:27.

inspector of hospitals, and this is much more transparent than has been

:57:28.:57:31.

in the past, but we're happy to look at the specific concerns about

:57:32.:57:35.

bullying and we can make sure the CQC deals with this. This week, the

:57:36.:57:39.

anniversary of that dreadful report into Stafford Hospital, and she's

:57:40.:57:44.

absolutely committed to making sure there was a change of culture in the

:57:45.:57:49.

NHS where we don't put up with poor practice and we're not afraid or

:57:50.:57:54.

ashamed to surface these problems and deal with them. In my

:57:55.:58:00.

constituency, business confidence is growing and unemployment has fallen

:58:01.:58:04.

by over a quarter in 12 months. Will he agree with me we should take no

:58:05.:58:07.

lectures from the Shadow Chancellor? We should, given the

:58:08.:58:14.

report, the Green budget, which said, and I quote from last week, "

:58:15.:58:18.

the latest challenge for the Chancellor remains have into content

:58:19.:58:22.

of recession caused by the party opposite? " he's making an important

:58:23.:58:29.

point. The Institute of fiscal studies report at this morning does

:58:30.:58:33.

say the change in economic outlook from a year ago is really quite

:58:34.:58:36.

remarkable. The UK recovery is getting ever closer to achieving

:58:37.:58:42.

escape velocity. We keep being told by the Shadow Chancellor it's about

:58:43.:58:45.

time. If we had listened to him, there would be more borrowing,

:58:46.:58:50.

spending, more debt, and his view is very clear that if we gave him back

:58:51.:58:54.

the keys to the car, he would drive it just as fast into the same wall

:58:55.:58:57.

and wreck the economy all over again. Can the Prime Minister make

:58:58.:59:06.

clear whether he still, quite wrongly, is going to try to end the

:59:07.:59:14.

ban on fox hunting? My view remains what was in the manifesto on which I

:59:15.:59:17.

stood with his House of Commons and the opportunity to have a debate and

:59:18.:59:23.

a vote on this issue. Does he share the anxiety of many of us that the

:59:24.:59:27.

programme for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria has fallen

:59:28.:59:35.

so badly behind? I agree with my right honourable friend, what is a

:59:36.:59:38.

promising start with chemicals not only being discovered and removed

:59:39.:59:44.

but also destroyed, there do seem to be indications that the programme is

:59:45.:59:49.

slowing, and not all the information necessary is forthcoming. I

:59:50.:59:53.

discussed this with President Putin 48 hours ago. Britain will continue

:59:54.:59:57.

to put pressure on all parties to make sure the chemical weapons are

:59:58.:00:04.

produced and destroyed. Overseas students who are offered places at

:00:05.:00:08.

top British universities get extra coaching in English and maths but

:00:09.:00:11.

hard-working Hackney students from poor backgrounds with top A-level

:00:12.:00:13.

predictions are not even offered a place if they have a C grade in

:00:14.:00:18.

maths. It's not fair and doesn't help social mobility. What will he

:00:19.:00:22.

do to support hard-working Hackney students? We must continue with

:00:23.:00:26.

what's been happening in Hackney, the introduction of the academy

:00:27.:00:32.

schools, like the mothball academy, which is one of the most impressive

:00:33.:00:35.

I have visited anywhere. We need to continue with the Chancellor's plan

:00:36.:00:41.

to add an cap student numbers at universities, so anyone can get a

:00:42.:00:48.

place of those universities. About GCSE grades, we have to be clear, in

:00:49.:00:53.

the end, universities set the criteria rather than the Government,

:00:54.:00:56.

but I'm happy to look at the specific issue. I also believe that

:00:57.:01:01.

if people don't make the correct grades, in GCSEs, poetically innings

:01:02.:01:07.

in maths, we ought to encourage retakes and more work. There isn't a

:01:08.:01:13.

job in the world that doesn't require good English and maths, and

:01:14.:01:19.

that's a very important message. No doubt the Prime Minister saw the

:01:20.:01:21.

scenes of destruction resulting from storm damage in Dawlish, in my

:01:22.:01:27.

constituency. The rail line is out of action, 25 families evacuated.

:01:28.:01:32.

One House is about to fall into the sea. Devon and Cornwall feel cut

:01:33.:01:36.

off. Is he taking all action possible to take transport systems

:01:37.:01:42.

back in action and families back in their homes and Willie review the

:01:43.:01:47.

funding to protect the railway line which can't be implemented for lack

:01:48.:01:53.

of funding -- will he review? I'm happy to look at the suggestions she

:01:54.:01:59.

makes. That's why we're having a meeting this afternoon not only is

:02:00.:02:04.

this a vital artery for the south-west of our country, but also

:02:05.:02:08.

one of the most before railway lines anywhere in the country, so it's

:02:09.:02:11.

hugely upsetting and disturbing what is happening, and we will look at

:02:12.:02:17.

the options, with great urgency. The Prime Minister will be aware of the

:02:18.:02:20.

investigation into the systematic beating abuse of young men and boys

:02:21.:02:27.

at a detention centre in my constituency. The victim toll has

:02:28.:02:33.

topped 300. This is the biggest investigation ever undertaken by

:02:34.:02:38.

Durham Constabulary, a relatively small police force. Will he commits

:02:39.:02:42.

that, if it proves necessary, the Home Secretary will meet with the

:02:43.:02:45.

PCC, the chief comes to land myself, to ensure the highly

:02:46.:02:49.

successful team have the resources it needs to see this investigation

:02:50.:02:53.

to its conclusion? The victims deserve no less. I'm very glad to

:02:54.:02:56.

give the honourable lady that assurance because I don't support

:02:57.:03:02.

the police merger ideas of the past. I think some of the smaller police

:03:03.:03:06.

forces are hugely capable, but when they are doing very large

:03:07.:03:09.

investigations like this, on occasion, they need help and support

:03:10.:03:13.

so we should make sure that is available. I'm pleased with the

:03:14.:03:16.

support the National Crime Agency is doing and they are fully established

:03:17.:03:19.

and able to deal with the new serious crimes in terms of people

:03:20.:03:24.

smuggling and sexual abuse and the like, and I think we will hear more

:03:25.:03:27.

from them about the great work we're doing. I congratulate him on EU

:03:28.:03:38.

referendum Bill. And also the whole of the House of Commons in passing

:03:39.:03:46.

it. Will he tell us whether the dead parrot is merely resting? Does he

:03:47.:03:54.

have a plan to introduce the Parliament act so we can get the

:03:55.:04:00.

parrots squawking again? I hope this parrots which has beautiful plumage

:04:01.:04:04.

can be resuscitated if one of my colleagues Windsor Private members

:04:05.:04:08.

Bill on their side of the House, because we know the British public

:04:09.:04:11.

deserve it, and I'm sure my colleagues will be delighted to

:04:12.:04:15.

bring the bill back in front of this House but let's be clear, because

:04:16.:04:18.

they've all gone a bit quiet over there, about why this bill was

:04:19.:04:25.

killed in the House of Lords. The Labour Party, and I'm afraid to say

:04:26.:04:28.

the Lib Dem party, do not want to give the British people say. Now,

:04:29.:04:33.

this House, frankly, should feel affronted. We voted for this bill

:04:34.:04:37.

and supported bill, so I hope this House will come together as one and

:04:38.:04:46.

insist on this bill. In the Chancellor's budget of 2012, he made

:04:47.:04:49.

a welcome announcement about tax breaks or the computer games

:04:50.:04:54.

industry. This was passed by the European Commission last April and

:04:55.:04:56.

since then, we've heard nothing and the game 's body is having a rough

:04:57.:05:03.

time. Can the Prime Minister address this wretched Mark I absolutely sure

:05:04.:05:10.

his frustration. I think it's perfectly within the Government's

:05:11.:05:14.

right to set out a way of helping and supporting vital industries like

:05:15.:05:18.

this would so important for the future of our country. We are

:05:19.:05:21.

discussing it with European Commission and hopefully there will

:05:22.:05:24.

be good news to come shortly. Following the questions from the

:05:25.:05:30.

honourable member, of course it's absolutely true that resident in

:05:31.:05:35.

Cornwall following the recent storms have been concerned that England

:05:36.:05:39.

would be completely cut off. And, in view of that, whilst MPs from

:05:40.:05:44.

Cornwall and the south-west of being content to support the billions for

:05:45.:05:51.

HS2 and transport logics to the north, where they accept the

:05:52.:05:55.

relatively small amounts needed to ensure the resilience of the rail

:05:56.:05:58.

line between Penzance and Paddington? I know from personal

:05:59.:06:04.

experience how vital the Penzance to Paddington link is and how many

:06:05.:06:08.

people rely on it. I'm happy to look at this very urgently. Let me just

:06:09.:06:12.

repeat something I was trying to say at the beginning of questions about

:06:13.:06:14.

the bell rings scheme because Caucus members of Parliament are concerned

:06:15.:06:18.

that now they have unitary authority, they need a big claim for

:06:19.:06:22.

triggering it, and we are sorting it out so the money will be there. On

:06:23.:06:26.

the transport links, it's an urgent requirement to get this right.

:06:27.:06:27.

Order. It overran a little bit but Prime

:06:28.:06:43.

Minister's Questions have come to an end. Two main themes, one was the

:06:44.:06:48.

flooding situation, how much money is being spent, the length of time

:06:49.:06:52.

that people particularly in the Somerset Levels have been

:06:53.:06:56.

underwater. Mr Miliband moved on to women, or lack of, in the

:06:57.:06:59.

Conservative Party, according to him, cleverly stacking his front

:07:00.:07:04.

bench role of women to make the point, nothing like symbolic

:07:05.:07:07.

politics. I suppose it did not mean anything if you are listening to

:07:08.:07:12.

this on radio. I am not sure we even got a cutaway of the front bench

:07:13.:07:15.

from the House of Commons. We will talk about that in a minute. Let's

:07:16.:07:22.

hear what you thought. Those issues sparked a lot of interest from our

:07:23.:07:25.

viewers, we have had lots of e-mails, and about the general tone

:07:26.:07:29.

of performance in the chamber as always. This from Ian Jordan, a

:07:30.:07:34.

commanding performance from Ed Miliband who has captured the

:07:35.:07:38.

concerns on another key issue, the floods, and left David Cameron

:07:39.:07:44.

rattled. 90% of the country has no interest in tubes strikes and point

:07:45.:07:49.

scoring about it. This came from Diane intro in Cornwall. The

:07:50.:07:53.

devastation affecting large parts of the South West was down to feature

:07:54.:08:00.

at the Jews, Mr Miliband clearly understands our concerns, as does

:08:01.:08:04.

Prince Charles, but David Cameron does not get it. This from Tim Bass,

:08:05.:08:09.

a poor performance by Ed Miliband, he is in the pocket of the unions

:08:10.:08:14.

and cannot condemn the Tube strike. He did not land a punch on women's

:08:15.:08:19.

issues. Women in the Conservative Party, says Gordon, shows Miliband

:08:20.:08:23.

has nothing useful to ask on national or international issues,

:08:24.:08:27.

but on Twitter, Cameron Ratcliffe said Ed Miliband is on strong ground

:08:28.:08:33.

talking about women, as half the Shadow Cabinet are female. This will

:08:34.:08:36.

play well at the election against Hoff Tories. -- toff Tories. A

:08:37.:08:46.

couple of people thought the Speaker's performance was

:08:47.:08:46.

inappropriate. It did it did seem to be mannered and

:08:47.:08:57.

preplanned. As the deacons the deselection of an Macintosh, was

:08:58.:09:11.

that the reason this was triggered off by Ed Miliband? I think there is

:09:12.:09:17.

that, she is a prominent conservative woman and the fact she

:09:18.:09:20.

is about to be replaced by an old Tony was a gift the Labour Party.

:09:21.:09:26.

Four women MPs new to the House of Commons have also announced they are

:09:27.:09:29.

not running again. One of them, unfortunately the only woman to ask

:09:30.:09:35.

a question from their benches today. They have chosen not to run again.

:09:36.:09:41.

In his own lights, David Cameron has a woman problem. A third of

:09:42.:09:46.

ministers to be women was his target, by his own figures it is

:09:47.:09:51.

about a quarter of a cabinet and a fifth of ministers overall. The

:09:52.:09:55.

truth is these things matter. They did actually cut away. The pictures

:09:56.:09:58.

are pretty devastating. Of course Labour pact its front bench and

:09:59.:10:02.

unusual for the Conservatives, there was not a single woman inside.

:10:03.:10:05.

Theresa May was not there, Maria Miller, Theresa Villiers. Why didn't

:10:06.:10:14.

you see that coming? There are four women in the Cabinet and they are

:10:15.:10:17.

usually there, Justine Greening has an international role and she may be

:10:18.:10:21.

brought. Theresa Villiers is Northern Ireland Secretary so she

:10:22.:10:24.

may be in Belfast. I don't know the reasons why they are not there. It

:10:25.:10:30.

is very unusual. The only two women, one is Miss McIntosh is being

:10:31.:10:35.

deselected, and the other is an who is standing down. It is not quite

:10:36.:10:37.

the only people who were in shock. -- who were in a shot. We have many

:10:38.:10:49.

more women MPs than before, as the prime ministers said it is not

:10:50.:10:51.

enough and we would like there to be more. Labour solve the problem by

:10:52.:10:55.

having all women short lists. I remember a senior colleague saying

:10:56.:10:59.

what you are doing will never work, it only worked for us when we forced

:11:00.:11:03.

it by having all women short lists. My reply was, that means you did not

:11:04.:11:09.

change your party. If we succeed in significantly increasing the number

:11:10.:11:12.

of women candidates and women MPs, without coercion, then we will have

:11:13.:11:23.

done something more significant. You don't reflect modern Britain, that

:11:24.:11:24.

is the reality. I hear that. You need to do something about it.

:11:25.:11:37.

Every constituency association that selected a woman could have selected

:11:38.:11:40.

a white male, and they didn't. That is evidence that the party is

:11:41.:11:44.

changing. I don't know what was going on in the constituency of Miss

:11:45.:11:45.

McIntosh. How can in her constituency party, one of

:11:46.:12:02.

the people in the particles are a silly little girl. What an

:12:03.:12:08.

incredible thing to say. That is a bit of a generalisation from one

:12:09.:12:12.

example. There have been three deselection attempts on Conservative

:12:13.:12:16.

MPs, two have been men, one has been a woman. It is hard to discern a

:12:17.:12:21.

pattern from that. Maybe it is a Tory equivalent of the Arab Spring.

:12:22.:12:25.

Maybe your rank and file have decided they have minds of their

:12:26.:12:29.

own. They have always had minds of their own and have vigorously

:12:30.:12:37.

expressed them. The number of Tory women MPs who are standing down is

:12:38.:12:41.

the same proportion as in Labour. It is of no great significance. That is

:12:42.:12:48.

a man clutching at straws. Half the Shadow Cabinet are women, half

:12:49.:12:52.

candidates listed in seats that are winnable at the next general

:12:53.:12:56.

election... There are women candidates. You try doing what we do

:12:57.:13:02.

and not having all women short lists. I am proud that we have a

:13:03.:13:08.

Moura presence to party. You have a front bench pack full of men -- a

:13:09.:13:15.

more representative party. Neither of you would be held in government

:13:16.:13:19.

are the Lib Dems because they offered no women in the Cabinet. You

:13:20.:13:29.

have to think about that. I think the reason this is politically

:13:30.:13:32.

potent at this time is the difference in attitudes of women and

:13:33.:13:38.

men to austerity, for example. You can theorise about why this is, it

:13:39.:13:42.

may be that women are in control of spending in households, often, they

:13:43.:13:46.

are trying to make ends meet, they are worrying about the weekly shop.

:13:47.:13:50.

It is a generalisation, it is not always true but if you look at

:13:51.:13:54.

opinion polling, men are much more sympathetic to cutting public

:13:55.:13:57.

spending than women, there is quite a big tap in attitudes. The reason

:13:58.:14:06.

Labour can make a deal of this is there is evidence in the opinion

:14:07.:14:10.

polls and on the doorstep that women are much less pathetic to the cuts,

:14:11.:14:15.

to benefits changes, to the pressure on their finances, and that is

:14:16.:14:20.

hurting the Tories. I need to move on to floods. People have still got

:14:21.:14:26.

stagnant water coming up to their front doors, whether they are men or

:14:27.:14:30.

women. Is there any doubt in your mind that the government has taken

:14:31.:14:37.

over events in the Somerset Levels from the Environment Agency? This

:14:38.:14:41.

government is now in the driving seat? No doubt that it is the Prime

:14:42.:14:47.

Minister rather than the bar and secretary. Two things we noticed,

:14:48.:14:52.

invited to criticise -- rather than the Environment Secretary. Chris

:14:53.:14:58.

Smith clearly said he is wrong about the choice between town and country

:14:59.:15:01.

and the issue of dredging, and he made it absolutely plain that he

:15:02.:15:05.

would be chairing the emergency committee of Cobra this afternoon.

:15:06.:15:09.

David Cameron, in the clearest possible way, said he is in charge

:15:10.:15:15.

now. Given the Prime Minister is in charge, why would he claimed this

:15:16.:15:18.

government is spending more on flood defences when it is clearly not? He

:15:19.:15:23.

is saying there is more public spending on flood defences. If you

:15:24.:15:26.

take all the money that is being spent by the government and local

:15:27.:15:30.

authorities on flood defences, that has risen. Total expenditure on

:15:31.:15:41.

flood defences is expected to fall from 646 million from the EU came to

:15:42.:15:46.

power, to 546 million x 2015. In real terms, total spending falls to

:15:47.:15:54.

100 million. My understanding is if you look at all of the spending, tax

:15:55.:16:06.

payer funded then , it has risen. Government grants down, local

:16:07.:16:13.

councils are spending more. People might say councils are having to cut

:16:14.:16:17.

other things to subsidise the fact the government have cut their

:16:18.:16:21.

grants. In terms of what is being spent on flood defences, it is up.

:16:22.:16:25.

Mr Cameron can't take credit, central government spending is down.

:16:26.:16:32.

People are suffering flooding, notwithstanding the debate about who

:16:33.:16:34.

is spending what, they want the government to get a grip and they

:16:35.:16:38.

want it sorted with a sense of urgency. I think they are getting

:16:39.:16:46.

that. It has taken a few weeks. You are not getting that we have run out

:16:47.:16:50.

of time. We have to move on, we have important matters still to content

:16:51.:16:54.

with. Nick, you are raised. Pay the fee on the way out. -- you are

:16:55.:16:59.

released. The teaching of creationism is

:17:00.:17:02.

banned in state funded schools but that is not the case in the

:17:03.:17:08.

independent sector. For the academic and television presenter Alice

:17:09.:17:13.

Roberts, the answer is yes and she argues that teaching the subject as

:17:14.:17:17.

a science could have dire consequences for a child's

:17:18.:17:17.

education. Welcome to at Bristol, one of the

:17:18.:17:38.

UK's biggest interactive science centres. Here, children and adults

:17:39.:17:43.

can learn about the stars in the sky, see what our brains look like

:17:44.:17:48.

and find out about our Jeanne Emms. Science helps us understand

:17:49.:17:50.

ourselves and the world around us. -- our Jeanne

:17:51.:17:55.

a think it is incredibly important that we are honest in children --

:17:56.:18:00.

with children and that includes being honest about the overwhelming

:18:01.:18:07.

evidence of evolution. Teaching a religious story as scientifically

:18:08.:18:12.

valid is nonsense. I don't have a problem with creationism being

:18:13.:18:17.

discussed in religious education lessons but it has no place in

:18:18.:18:19.

science education. Our government agrees that

:18:20.:18:36.

creationism should not be taught as a scientifically valid theory in any

:18:37.:18:40.

state funded schools, and that includes free schools. But in the

:18:41.:18:43.

private sector, there are schools teaching creationism as science.

:18:44.:18:50.

Should we allow creationist schools at all in the UK? Should we validate

:18:51.:18:54.

creationist exams? I think there needs to be more debate on this

:18:55.:18:56.

issue. Science is more than just a load of

:18:57.:19:11.

facts, it is based on evidence, and it is a way of thinking that teaches

:19:12.:19:15.

us to question everything we think we know. I think that is what we

:19:16.:19:19.

should be teaching our children, rather than some unswerving belief

:19:20.:19:26.

in ancient texts. In fact, I think creationism has the potential to

:19:27.:19:39.

ruin a scientific education. It And Alice Roberts joins me now from

:19:40.:19:42.

Bristol. She was meant to be here with us in Westminster but her train

:19:43.:19:46.

was cancelled, presumably due to the travel disruption in London! It was

:19:47.:19:51.

the weather. What evidence to you have that teaching of creationism

:19:52.:19:57.

can ruin a scientific education? It produces a very narrow minded

:19:58.:20:02.

approach to the world. I think a really good example of the kind of

:20:03.:20:06.

impact it can have on somebody's life is out there. A man was

:20:07.:20:15.

educated in one of these schools which ran this is part of the

:20:16.:20:18.

curriculum and he's been quite outspoken about what it was taught

:20:19.:20:21.

in school about anybody who believes in evolution was dishonest, it was

:20:22.:20:29.

an indefensible theory, so it teaches and narrow-minded attitude.

:20:30.:20:31.

In fact, he's published an article in the new statesman today, talking

:20:32.:20:37.

about this whole issue, and giving some excerpts from the accelerated

:20:38.:20:40.

Christian education curriculum as well. It does talk about evolution

:20:41.:20:45.

as an indefensible failure. Do you think people have the fact choose

:20:46.:20:51.

whether their children are taught creationism, even in the remit of

:20:52.:20:56.

science? I think people have the right to choose, obviously, how

:20:57.:20:58.

their children are educated to a certain extent but the Government

:20:59.:21:03.

has a clear policy about this. Pseudoscience shouldn't be taught in

:21:04.:21:07.

science. I'm not talking about what gets stored outside of science

:21:08.:21:11.

lessons. The Department for Education is very clear that

:21:12.:21:17.

pseudoscience, including teaching creationism science has no place in

:21:18.:21:20.

science lessons. It seems odd to me to have one rule for one set of

:21:21.:21:23.

schools and one rule for another. When state schools are inspected,

:21:24.:21:28.

they are looking at that issue but when independent schools are

:21:29.:21:32.

inspected, sometimes by Ofsted, sometimes by other inspectors, they

:21:33.:21:35.

don't seem to mind any more. That seems to me to be very inconsistent.

:21:36.:21:42.

Do you have a problem with faith schools generally? Is it

:21:43.:21:44.

specifically this point? Specifically the fact that, when we

:21:45.:21:52.

are looking at science, we should be teaching science, not allowing

:21:53.:21:55.

pseudoscience to creep in to education in this way. Do you agree

:21:56.:22:01.

with that? Should be banned in all schools? There's a personally

:22:02.:22:08.

distinction -- as a personal distinction. They don't necessarily

:22:09.:22:16.

have a choice. Independent schools, people do have a choice. As long as

:22:17.:22:20.

it's transparent. The point about inspection is important. As long as

:22:21.:22:24.

this is made clear, I think parents have a right to choose a particular

:22:25.:22:31.

way of religious education, religious approach, if that's what

:22:32.:22:33.

they want full survey is not something I would do myself. There

:22:34.:22:39.

was a perfect sensible distinction to be made. You don't think it harms

:22:40.:22:43.

the teaching of science? If it does harm it, then it shouldn't be taught

:22:44.:22:49.

in any school? As long as it's made clear, parents can make that choice.

:22:50.:22:53.

And then it's up to them. I'm in favour of people, on a well-informed

:22:54.:22:57.

basis, making that choice themselves. Alice, come back. Surely

:22:58.:23:06.

Ofsted have a problem if they visited an independent school and it

:23:07.:23:09.

was teaching of the Earth was flat? Surely there would have a problem

:23:10.:23:15.

with that? It's one thing to point it out and make it clear it's

:23:16.:23:18.

happening. And to comment on it for some it's another thing to ban it. I

:23:19.:23:25.

think we have to be wary, of simply disapproving of something and

:23:26.:23:29.

banning it. Are they not certain basic standards? Why would that not

:23:30.:23:36.

apply across the board? The key thing is this is somewhere where

:23:37.:23:41.

parents have a choice. As long as they know what the choices, they

:23:42.:23:45.

know what the locations. It should be left up them. Creationism is best

:23:46.:23:53.

taught within the context of its education. Within the context of

:23:54.:23:56.

saying this is one thing that some people think but it needs to be done

:23:57.:24:00.

alongside the other things that people think. I think it's a belief

:24:01.:24:07.

rather than fact. It's about where it's appropriate sleep taught.

:24:08.:24:12.

Alice, thank you very much for that we have to leave it there but thank

:24:13.:24:16.

you very much. Now MPs like Francis and Vernon have a lot to put up

:24:17.:24:22.

with. All the voting. The cut-price bars. The demands of representing

:24:23.:24:25.

their constituents. The cut-price bars. The pesky media. The cut-price

:24:26.:24:31.

bars. And to cap it all the Houses of Parliament are apparently

:24:32.:24:34.

infested with mice. The problem's so bad that some MPs have demanded that

:24:35.:24:38.

the Commons authorities get a new cat. We didn't have a cat to send,

:24:39.:24:41.

so we sent Giles over instead. Hello there. Is it news the House of

:24:42.:24:54.

Commons is full of rodents? You think Lott anyway. I'm talking about

:24:55.:24:59.

the little brown fairy things, rats and mice. No, this building is full

:25:00.:25:06.

of them. It's an old building. Looks and crannies and, no, I don't mean

:25:07.:25:13.

the bars where MPs drink. But they are looking to a solution. Come

:25:14.:25:21.

here, you. Yes, eight out of ten overpaid consultants would tell you

:25:22.:25:25.

within a whisker the answer is cats. Introducing a couple in this

:25:26.:25:30.

building and the mice might vanish. Downing Street cat, Larry, is about

:25:31.:25:36.

as active as a tired sloth and prefers publishing diaries to

:25:37.:25:42.

killing, but some MPs are demanding cats. I want them dead. It's not

:25:43.:25:49.

nice when they are polling and you relating alike in the next day and

:25:50.:25:55.

it's covered. It is disgusting. -- you relating. In my personal space,

:25:56.:25:58.

I'm now frightened to go in at night, switch the light on in case

:25:59.:26:02.

they are scurrying away. The problem is, will people be frightened?

:26:03.:26:11.

Giles Dilnot. And he's still standing on a chair somewhere in the

:26:12.:26:18.

Commons so if you see him, please do help. Or just leave him there. Now

:26:19.:26:24.

in the interests of helping MPs and peers with their problem we asked

:26:25.:26:27.

viewers of the Daily Politics if their cats were up to the job. In a

:26:28.:26:31.

moment we'll see some of them, but first we're joined by Phoebe the cat

:26:32.:26:35.

and Vicky Snook from the Battersea Cats Home. Welcome. Phoebe, good

:26:36.:26:38.

mouse? She does like to hand but is looking for a slower pace of life

:26:39.:26:42.

these days. Aren't we all? She could join Daily Politics. You know how

:26:43.:26:47.

big the Palace of Westminster is. One cat wouldn't be enough, would

:26:48.:26:53.

it? It depends on how good a hand to the catches. The presence of a cat

:26:54.:26:56.

in itself would be enough to start to scare the mice away for them they

:26:57.:27:01.

will be aware that the pubs around. You should take over this afternoon.

:27:02.:27:09.

That there is a predator around. We pull rehab got mice in the studios.

:27:10.:27:16.

-- we have possibly got mice in the studios. We have up to 190 cats

:27:17.:27:21.

across the three centres looking for homes. Phoebe is one of them. We

:27:22.:27:26.

urge people to get in touch through the website. Or call one of the

:27:27.:27:35.

re-homing centres in London, old Windsor or brands Hatch. I'm sure

:27:36.:27:41.

they will. My cat is from Battersea Cats Home. He's a great mouse. It's

:27:42.:27:49.

a match made in heaven. It's time to see the winner of Guess The Year. It

:27:50.:27:56.

was 1981. Francis, press that button. Richard Williams in Cardiff,

:27:57.:28:01.

well done. OK, that's about all for today. Thanks for bringing Phoebe

:28:02.:28:08.

in. Thank you for the guests. The one o'clock News started on BBC One

:28:09.:28:12.

in a moment. I'll be back tomorrow at noon with all the big political

:28:13.:28:19.

stories of the day. And, as promised, we believe you have some

:28:20.:28:22.

pictures of your cats that have sent in. Bye bye.

:28:23.:28:30.

# Pussycat, pussycat, I've got flowers and lots of hours to spend

:28:31.:28:46.

with you # Your cute little pussycat # Pussycat, pussycat, I love you #

:28:47.:28:49.

Yes, I do.

:28:50.:28:53.

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