05/02/2014 Daily Politics


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics.


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


as a strike on the Underground brought problems to the morning


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Westminster on a Wednesday - Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


during the rush hour there were occasions when passengers were


queueing onto the pavement, prevented from going into the


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


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


running what they call a special service. London Underground saying


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sides accusing each other of intransigence over this. Boris


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


are to be no compulsory redundancies. Indeed, some people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


compulsory redundancies. I think people are concerned about the lack


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


appointments to Ofsted. And today Treasury Minister Danny Alexander


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


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


details. Is the coalition love-in well and


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


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


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


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


the Conservative Party. And, coalition tensions are rising


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


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


coalition cheerleader David Laws got into a rather public row with


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


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


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


Lib Dems peers are increasingly happy to inflict defeats on the


Government on issues like the EU referendum. With Government


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


you nothing, For many movers and shakers at Westminster


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


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


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


Would you thought it would have consulted the schools minister about


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


phrase, picking fights. They want to differentiate themselves I


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


champagne and rub shoulders with celebrities like Peter Stringfellow.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


when THIS happened. COMMENTATOR: This first London


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


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


would cry too if it happened to you...


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


away # We fade to grey. # We fade to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pretty acute political antenna and will realise if those pictures keep


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


following the official advice, doing what the Minister of agriculture


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


questions. London is the commercial centre of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


platforms and the stations. I unreservedly condemn this strike.


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


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


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


strike today. JEERING


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


properties were rejected last night because of the flood prevention


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


government will help those families and get the issue sorted.


Notwithstanding the prime Minister's response, you know many


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


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


events we have seen demand a comprehensive look at the


government's investment in the protection and the speed of


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


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


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


comp offensive statement tomorrow. This government has spent 2.4


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


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


million will be made available to fund essential flood repairs and


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


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


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


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


decisions because we have looked after the nation's finances


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


honourable members with flooded homes in their constituencies will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


extending the eligible spending period for the claims until the end


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


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


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


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


CHEERING because we will not represent or


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


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


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


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


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


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


related against women -- being discriminated against women and we


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


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


economy. Mr Speaker... JEERING


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Prime Minister... CHEERING


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


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


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


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


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


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


totally ineffective men. HECKLING


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


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


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


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


women. The Prime Minister recently greeted a leading high profile


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


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


because it shapes the policies they government introduces and how they


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


hard working families receiving a pay packet facing a brighter future


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


select committee, the leader of the Welsh Conservative assembly group


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


sensible course of action. Subsequently, that day, the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of weeks ago, the Daventry University technical College open


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


excellent principle, its first 96 students will be learning the


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


agree with me University technical colleges like this will ensure young


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


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


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


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


technical college movement. The number of pupils taught in


underperforming schools under the Scotsman has fallen by 250,004


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


prevented that was ended by the Environment Agency between urban and


rural areas from flooding? Does he recognise my constituents and


elsewhere expect this and maintenance, dredging and not


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


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


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


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


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


constituencies affected by flooding, have seen the effectiveness of some


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


factory in my constituency first produced tyres for the motorsport


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


plant. The Business Secretary and Birmingham City Council have


identified three sites and a financial package to relocate. Will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


options under consideration for an additional Thames crossing are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


which, frankly, has evaded Governments of all colours and


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


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


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


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


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


strong history of supporting apprenticeships across a range of


sectors. With national apprenticeship week approaching next


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


increasing apprenticeships for men and women is exactly what is needed


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


right. This Government has invested record amounts in apprenticeships,


over 1.5 million people have started, including many the East


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


more investing in the resilience of our transport infrastructure and


leave the Government United both in its acceptance of and determination


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


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


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


this afternoon bringing together the problems of the floods and the


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


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


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


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


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


We recently visited a company in my constituency who brought


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


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


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


makes ventilation decrement, bringing jobs from China back into


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


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


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


business with low tax rates including local low corporate tax


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


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


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


community health. Will the Prime Minister have the historic HR


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


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


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


actually make this huge statement that bullying is not acceptable in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


constituency, business confidence is growing and unemployment has fallen


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


lectures from the Shadow Chancellor? We should, given the


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


the latest challenge for the Chancellor remains have into content


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


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


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


remarkable. The UK recovery is getting ever closer to achieving


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


programme for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria has fallen


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


promising start with chemicals not only being discovered and removed


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


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


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


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


produced and destroyed. Overseas students who are offered places at


top British universities get extra coaching in English and maths but


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


investigation into the systematic beating abuse of young men and boys


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


topped 300. This is the biggest investigation ever undertaken by


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


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


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


successful team have the resources it needs to see this investigation


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


can be resuscitated if one of my colleagues Windsor Private members


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


a welcome announcement about tax breaks or the computer games


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


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


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


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


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


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


discussing it with European Commission and hopefully there will


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


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


Cornwall following the recent storms have been concerned that England


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


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


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


relatively small amounts needed to ensure the resilience of the rail


line between Penzance and Paddington? I know from personal


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


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


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


the bell rings scheme because Caucus members of Parliament are concerned


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


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


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


Order. It overran a little bit but Prime


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


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


that people particularly in the Somerset Levels have been


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


Conservative Party, according to him, cleverly stacking his front


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


commanding performance from Ed Miliband who has captured the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


has nothing useful to ask on national or international issues,


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


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


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


couple of people thought the Speaker's performance was


inappropriate. It did it did seem to be mannered and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


brought. Theresa Villiers is Northern Ireland Secretary so she


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Every constituency association that selected a woman could have selected


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


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


McIntosh. How can in her constituency party, one of


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


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


example. There have been three deselection attempts on Conservative


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


candidates listed in seats that are winnable at the next general


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


opinion polling, men are much more sympathetic to cutting public


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would be chairing the emergency committee of Cobra this afternoon.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


other things to subsidise the fact the government have cut their


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


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


People are suffering flooding, notwithstanding the debate about who


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


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


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


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


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


released. The teaching of creationism is


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


independent sector. For the academic and television presenter Alice


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


a science could have dire consequences for a child's


education. Welcome to at Bristol, one of the


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


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


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


ourselves and the world around us. -- our Jeanne


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


with children and that includes being honest about the overwhelming


evidence of evolution. Teaching a religious story as scientifically


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


discussed in religious education lessons but it has no place in


science education. Our government agrees that


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


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


private sector, there are schools teaching creationism as science.


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


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


issue. Science is more than just a load of


facts, it is based on evidence, and it is a way of thinking that teaches


us to question everything we think we know. I think that is what we


should be teaching our children, rather than some unswerving belief


in ancient texts. In fact, I think creationism has the potential to


ruin a scientific education. It And Alice Roberts joins me now from


Bristol. She was meant to be here with us in Westminster but her train


was cancelled, presumably due to the travel disruption in London! It was


the weather. What evidence to you have that teaching of creationism


can ruin a scientific education? It produces a very narrow minded


approach to the world. I think a really good example of the kind of


impact it can have on somebody's life is out there. A man was


educated in one of these schools which ran this is part of the


curriculum and he's been quite outspoken about what it was taught


in school about anybody who believes in evolution was dishonest, it was


an indefensible theory, so it teaches and narrow-minded attitude.


In fact, he's published an article in the new statesman today, talking


about this whole issue, and giving some excerpts from the accelerated


Christian education curriculum as well. It does talk about evolution


as an indefensible failure. Do you think people have the fact choose


whether their children are taught creationism, even in the remit of


science? I think people have the right to choose, obviously, how


their children are educated to a certain extent but the Government


has a clear policy about this. Pseudoscience shouldn't be taught in


science. I'm not talking about what gets stored outside of science


lessons. The Department for Education is very clear that


pseudoscience, including teaching creationism science has no place in


science lessons. It seems odd to me to have one rule for one set of


schools and one rule for another. When state schools are inspected,


they are looking at that issue but when independent schools are


inspected, sometimes by Ofsted, sometimes by other inspectors, they


don't seem to mind any more. That seems to me to be very inconsistent.


Do you have a problem with faith schools generally? Is it


specifically this point? Specifically the fact that, when we


are looking at science, we should be teaching science, not allowing


pseudoscience to creep in to education in this way. Do you agree


with that? Should be banned in all schools? There's a personally


distinction -- as a personal distinction. They don't necessarily


have a choice. Independent schools, people do have a choice. As long as


it's transparent. The point about inspection is important. As long as


this is made clear, I think parents have a right to choose a particular


way of religious education, religious approach, if that's what


they want full survey is not something I would do myself. There


was a perfect sensible distinction to be made. You don't think it harms


the teaching of science? If it does harm it, then it shouldn't be taught


in any school? As long as it's made clear, parents can make that choice.


And then it's up to them. I'm in favour of people, on a well-informed


basis, making that choice themselves. Alice, come back. Surely


Ofsted have a problem if they visited an independent school and it


was teaching of the Earth was flat? Surely there would have a problem


with that? It's one thing to point it out and make it clear it's


happening. And to comment on it for some it's another thing to ban it. I


think we have to be wary, of simply disapproving of something and


banning it. Are they not certain basic standards? Why would that not


apply across the board? The key thing is this is somewhere where


parents have a choice. As long as they know what the choices, they


know what the locations. It should be left up them. Creationism is best


taught within the context of its education. Within the context of


saying this is one thing that some people think but it needs to be done


alongside the other things that people think. I think it's a belief


rather than fact. It's about where it's appropriate sleep taught.


Alice, thank you very much for that we have to leave it there but thank


you very much. Now MPs like Francis and Vernon have a lot to put up


with. All the voting. The cut-price bars. The demands of representing


their constituents. The cut-price bars. The pesky media. The cut-price


bars. And to cap it all the Houses of Parliament are apparently


infested with mice. The problem's so bad that some MPs have demanded that


the Commons authorities get a new cat. We didn't have a cat to send,


so we sent Giles over instead. Hello there. Is it news the House of


Commons is full of rodents? You think Lott anyway. I'm talking about


the little brown fairy things, rats and mice. No, this building is full


of them. It's an old building. Looks and crannies and, no, I don't mean


the bars where MPs drink. But they are looking to a solution. Come


here, you. Yes, eight out of ten overpaid consultants would tell you


within a whisker the answer is cats. Introducing a couple in this


building and the mice might vanish. Downing Street cat, Larry, is about


as active as a tired sloth and prefers publishing diaries to


killing, but some MPs are demanding cats. I want them dead. It's not


nice when they are polling and you relating alike in the next day and


it's covered. It is disgusting. -- you relating. In my personal space,


I'm now frightened to go in at night, switch the light on in case


they are scurrying away. The problem is, will people be frightened?


Giles Dilnot. And he's still standing on a chair somewhere in the


Commons so if you see him, please do help. Or just leave him there. Now


in the interests of helping MPs and peers with their problem we asked


viewers of the Daily Politics if their cats were up to the job. In a


moment we'll see some of them, but first we're joined by Phoebe the cat


and Vicky Snook from the Battersea Cats Home. Welcome. Phoebe, good


mouse? She does like to hand but is looking for a slower pace of life


these days. Aren't we all? She could join Daily Politics. You know how


big the Palace of Westminster is. One cat wouldn't be enough, would


it? It depends on how good a hand to the catches. The presence of a cat


in itself would be enough to start to scare the mice away for them they


will be aware that the pubs around. You should take over this afternoon.


That there is a predator around. We pull rehab got mice in the studios.


-- we have possibly got mice in the studios. We have up to 190 cats


across the three centres looking for homes. Phoebe is one of them. We


urge people to get in touch through the website. Or call one of the


re-homing centres in London, old Windsor or brands Hatch. I'm sure


they will. My cat is from Battersea Cats Home. He's a great mouse. It's


a match made in heaven. It's time to see the winner of Guess The Year. It


was 1981. Francis, press that button. Richard Williams in Cardiff,


well done. OK, that's about all for today. Thanks for bringing Phoebe


in. Thank you for the guests. The one o'clock News started on BBC One


in a moment. I'll be back tomorrow at noon with all the big political


stories of the day. And, as promised, we believe you have some


pictures of your cats that have sent in. Bye bye.


# Pussycat, pussycat, I've got flowers and lots of hours to spend


with you # Your cute little pussycat # Pussycat, pussycat, I love you #


Yes, I do.


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