10/02/2014 Daily Politics


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 10/02/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Good afternoon, welcome to the Daily Politics. The floodwaters are


rising, thousands of homes are at risk, and the politicians are


sniping, mainly at each other and this man, the head of the


Environment Agency, Chris Smith. There are calls for him to resign,


he says he's staying put. Edwina Currie is on the warpath over food


banks, she thinks they should be canned. We will be asking why. Nick


Clegg has been to see the floods for himself, but is the coalition in


deepwater? More calls from both sides to call it a day. And we will


be asking what tickles your fancy at the ballot box, good looks,


maturity, or a brilliant manifesto? All that in the next hour, and


witness for the first half of the programme is Vidhya Alakeson from


the Resolution Foundation. Should you be smoking in a car if any of


your passengers is a child? MPs are to vote on the issue this


afternoon. Labour MPs are expected to vote for a ban, the Conservatives


and the Liberal Democrats will be offered a free vote. Where are you


on this? I think it is an unenforceable ban, so whilst I am


not really disputing the health evidence that children are subject


to passive smoking in the car, it is more intense than in the home, I


think it only works to mitigate those impact on children if you can


enforce the ban, and I do not think it is enforceable. Is it's pointless


to try to pass a law on its? I think laws are not the best way of


changing behaviours, and this one, like mobile phones in cars, will be


very hard for police to enforce. I do not think it is a good idea. What


about how far the state should intervene on how parents should


bring up their children? That is effectively what this is. There is a


legitimate argument around protecting the vulnerable, harm to


children who are unable to make choices themselves. But I think


there are other spheres, where, for example, immunisation, there is a


benefit to the child, the wider public, but actually we do not


ban... We do not find parents who do not immunise their children, we give


them a choice, and this is an area where we should be thinking about


changing attitudes to smoking, rather than trying to ban them. Sell


you a grey with the state dictating in some areas how people should


bring up their children, but not in areas where it is unenforceable? --


so you agree. What about the ban on mobile phone usage in cars, that is


difficult to enforce? I would argue it is not being well enforced,


people are texting on their lap, rather than holding their phone. Do


you think it has changed habits at all? It has probably changed some


behaviour, but if the argument is that most parents do not smoke in


the car with their children, we are talking about a minority, and it is


often low income kids who, according to the research, are more likely to


face this. But if we say it is the minority, the idea that we will


catch that minority of parents by having a ban, I think it is


unrealistic. All right. It is interesting that ministers are


split, even some of the Tories who he would be expecting to be against


a ban, they are in favour of this. The Liberals are split, too. Michael


Gove is in favour because the health risks are so clear. Norman Lamb and


Nick Clegg, that is the way they are dividing, Nick Clegg saying that


parents should have the right to bring up children as they choose,


Norman Lamb saying the health evidence outweighs that. I can see


both sides of the argument, I think the enforcement trumps the fact that


the evidence is reasonably strong. It is time now for our daily quiz,


and the question for today is, according to researchers, which of


the following could make you more likely to get elected, if you are a


man, if you belong to an ethnic minority, if you are really good


looking, or if you are more mature? You will see more of some of those


people later in the programme, and we will give you the correct answer


at the end of the show. It appears the flooding crisis is getting


worse, with sections of the River Thames reaching their highest levels


for more than 20 years. That is damaging peoples homes and


threatening thousands more in Berkshire and Surrey. The


Environment Agency has issued 14 severe flood warnings, meaning that


lives are in danger in many areas close to the river. Two further such


warnings are still in force for the Somerset Levels, while lower-level


alerts are in place across much of England and Wales. In Westminster,


the political row of the crisis also appears to be getting worse. We


joined now by political correspondent Chris Mason, the blame


game, isn't? Yes, it is well and truly on, plenty of senior


politicians dusting around the garage looking for their wellies,


Nick Clegg has been on the Somerset Levels this morning, saying now is


not the time for apportioning blame. But plenty are clearly not


listening. One MP in Somerset has suggested that the Environment


Agency is led by a bunch of monkeys, and Eric Pickles, the communities


secretary, has found himself responsible for all things


government response to the floods, because Owen Paterson, the


Environment Secretary, is flat out on his back recovering from an


operation on his eye. Eric Pickles was out and about on the telly over


the weekend, and there is no way of finishing this, it really was


putting the boot into the Environment Agency. There is no


doubt about it, we perhaps have relied too much on the Environment


Agency's advice. I think we recognise now that we should have


dredged, and I think it is important now that we get on with the process


of getting those people back into their houses once we are able to


really do some serious pumping. At the moment, the level is too high.


So you do think the Prime Minister should apologise to farmers who have


said, you need to dredge now? Well, I will apologise unreservedly. I am


really sorry that we took the price of experts. So that was the take


from Eric Pickles, what the people at the sludge management business


make of this, they think it is absolute. -- flood. They think Eric


Pickles according to one of them, would be best used as a sound bite.


What does Lord Smith say about this? He is wrong. Our agency work


following government rules, government guidelines. We put money


on the table for dredging 12 months ago, but the maximum that we were


allowed by government rules to put on the table, the maximum was


?400,000. We did so. Others did not come to the table at the time. Lorna


Smith making it absolutely clear he is not going to resign, but he is


standing down in a couple of months. -- Lord Smith. Yes, you can apply to


be the chairman of the Environment Agency, ?60,000 per year, two or


three days' work a week, excellent ambassadorial skills, you need to be


a team player and build effective, collaborative partnerships. You can


judge whether we have seen much of that!


You could apply for that, we could all apply on that criteria! Before


we let you go, give us a few lines about the latest weather warnings,


because it doesn't sound as if the rain is going to stop any time soon.


It is pretty grim, what we are hearing from the Met Office, in the


last couple of minutes, 16 severe flood warnings in place, including


14 now in Berkshire and Surrey. Police are warning that 2500 homes


are at risk of flooding. The Environment Agency is warning of


rising water in the Somerset Levels, so this will remain a series issue


around the country, and politically here at Westminster for some time.


-- a serious issue. To discuss all this is Conservative


MP John Redwood, who is working constituency has been affected by


flooding, and Shadow Environment Secretary Maria Eagle. How bad is it


in Wokingham? There is some bad flooding on major roads and in


homes, and flooding which mixes farm water with -- foul water with clean.


What is so galling is that we have been warning about it for years and


trying to get the Environment Agency to clear the river to make more


capacity to take the waterway, and they have refused to do so. They


spent our money on things other than dredging and maintaining culverts


and drains. What was the response from the Environment Agency over the


years if you have been warning of this? They kept on blocking any idea


that entailed clearing debris from rivers or improving culverts and


drains. They did not want to do that. They argue it is too


expensive, and they have also been cut themselves. Their budget went up


?41 million last year, a massive increase in expenditure. You say


their budget has gone up, you are saying it has not. It is down by


over 100 million pounds in real terms, and this yet it is ?567


million. The current Government cut by 30% in 2010, and since that time


it has been going back up a bit, and John is using figures from lasted,


not 2010, to suggest that the budget has gone up. -- from last year. It


has gone down by ?100 million per year in real terms since 2010. Do


you accept the criticism that the agency has not been listening to


people on the ground who have been calling for years for rivers in


their areas to be dredged? Well, I don't know what has happened, John


is the better to talk about his own constituency. A lot of people have


said anecdotally, look, we have been warning about the impact if you do


not dredge the rivers. Look, dredging is not an answer in all


circumstances. It may be that where you are under sea level, a man-made


environments like the Somerset Levels, it is a better option. So


they should have done dredging, shouldn't they? You are the shadow


Environment Secretary. I do not mind if they say they have got a better


answer, but they have got no answer. I think proper local consideration


is important, I accept that. I cannot say what has happened in


John's constituency. But in general, they failed to do what was


necessary, whether it was dredging or something else, and as a result


that has compounded the problem. I do not think it is as black or white


as that. In each circumstance, there are different answers, and I do not


think the blame game that the current ministers have descended


into helps in the middle of this crisis, when the waters are still


rising, when thousands of homes are affected by flooding, that it helps


to engage in this kind of blame game that we are seeing. Internal rows,


you know, Owen Paterson has written a letter to the Prime Minister from


his sick bed to complain about the way in which his colleague, Eric


Pickles, is handled what is, after all, his own Government


department's responsibilities. It is very unedifying, and for people


affected, is it really what they want to see, different ministers,


Tory ministers pointing the finger at each other, and everyone pointing


the finger at Chris Smith, head of the Environment Agency? I have


sympathy with both ministers in this case. Owen Paterson is exactly right


that some of the Environment Agency staff are working extremely hard,


and I am very grateful to the ones who are trying to deal with the


waters in my constituency. But Eric Pickles is right that if you look at


the last ten-year round of the agency's behaviour, it has not done


nearly enough to sort out the problem is to prevent them


happening, and that is making is very cross. Someone has to express


that anger and get a change of policy. He has campaigned to the


Prime Minister from his sick bed about the behaviour of Eric Pickles


in picking on the right? I think he has a duty to stand up for a lot of


the staff who are doing a marvellous job in a crisis, but you have to ask


why the Environment Agency didn't spend a lot of all that money on


things that would have alleviated it instead of finding other ways of


spending it. They greatly increased their staff last year, up by 900


people, the budget. By 30 million, and a bit of that money would have


kept a lot of us try. I think the Environment Agency is doing a good


job, he can speak for himself and has done, and to suggest that if


there had been more river dredging generally there would have been no


flooding is nonsensical. If you were the Environment Secretary, would you


be happy with Chris Smith's performance? I am happy that they


are doing their best. They have protected a lot of homes from


flooding, as well as having to deal with the consequences when homes


have flooded. And the reality is that the current government have cut


the amount of money that is available, there are Treasury rules


which prevents them from spending money in the way in which others may


wish them to spend, and the current government have taken their eye off


the ball when it comes to flood protection. Isn't that true? It


cannot just be the Environment Agency, why is the Prime Minister,


excuse the pun, wading into this, because he feels he did not get good


enough advice? He is obviously lacking a bit of faith in Owen


Paterson, isn't each Umax I think he sees a national crisis and wishes to


help resolve it, as a good Prime Minister does. Is a out of his


depth, Owen Paterson? Of course not. They are trying to remedy a position


which has been building up for years, the rivers have been silting


up for a decade, the culverts, ditches and strains have not been


maintained for ten years in many cases, not just the last one or


two. There is a huge backlog of work that has to be done, and because the


Environment Agency has not been a strong voice against building on the


flood plain, in my constituency views that get flooded though is the


most recently built, and the Environment Agency did not intervene


and say, you should not build here. You should stop building on the


flood plain, that is what most people would say. We have an


incoherent is here that needs to be looked at. It is a failure of the


government. The Environment Agency is a creature of the Government. You


cannot wash your hands of it, it is a government issue. We all wrote


under the law. The people who have two say to the planning authority,


you cannot build here, is the Environment Agency's responsibility.


Let's put aside the sniping for a moment. We have all seen the


pictures since the start of January. What would you do? Would


you say let's start dredging those rivers? I'm not an expert and each


local area needs a different kind of solution. Dredging wholesale isn't


the answer. When this is no longer on the front pages, can we still


make the case for the investment needed for better defences? If we


are not going to build a flood plain, we are going to have to find


land elsewhere. You can build on the flood plain if the Environment


Agency told people how to manage the water and put in proper facilities


but they haven't been doing that. Is it affordable long-term? A lot of it


is because you create the plan when you are requesting planning


permission. A lot of this is very controversial and current. There are


schemes and measures put in to improve drainage so things can be


done but we are 200,000 homes short of what we need, not merely keeping


up with demographic change. We are going to have two free up some land.


We have an Environment Secretary who cut the adaptations budget of his


department by 40% last year. Do you believe in man-made climate change?


I do, and if I were the Environment Secretary I would be looking at


whether the department's budget is not focused so much on flood


protection. And staff, because clearly that hasn't helped. You have


to have staff to do the work that needs to be done by the Environment


Agency, you have to have a proper balance. Since 2010 we have seen


?100 million per year cut in the budget available. It has gone up.


How do you know that? I have read the accounts. Maria is only taking a


part of their budget. If you go back over the accounts you will see that


with the fees, charges and grant income, more money has been spent.


How much more money would you like the Environment Agency to have? I'm


undertaking work at the moment to look at their departmental budgets


and I haven't got the result of that yet but there should be more


priority for flood protection. Thank you both very much.


Now, they've been around for decades in America. Here, they're a recent


phenomenon. But over the last few years, hundreds have literally


sprung up over the country and they're helping thousands of people


feed their families. I'm talking, of course, about food banks. They've


been welcomed, it seems, across the political spectrum, but they're not


everyone's cup of tea. Here's the former Health Minister, Edwina


Currie. According to some charities, Britain


is in the grip of a food poverty crisis. Their solution, food banks,


providing emergency food for the needy. This charity is currently


handing out about 100 food bank parcels every week, and the people


who run it are wonderful people, but I do wonder whether they are doing


almost as much harm as good. What about longer term issues? Many who


visit food banks have complex needs, including mental illness. A lot of


money is being diverted from health budgets to pay for these food banks,


money that I'd believe would be better spent elsewhere. It seems we


have forgotten about personal responsibility. Can a tin of soup


and a smile really address these problems? I would like to find out


more. Mike Godwin is the operations manager here. I saw a lady with four


children and you are being asked to give her toiletries and toilet rolls


as well as food. Four children means a lot of child benefit. What is


going on there? The biggest single reason people come here is because


of benefit delays. These are people not mismanaging their benefits, they


are not receiving any at all. You have a situation with flexible


working practices, where people when they are looking for work, you now


go to employment agencies to look for work so you might be working one


week, not the next week, three days the next, so people are signing on


and off like yo-yos. In my grandparents' time it was expected


you would put money away to save for the bad times and now many believe


it is the Government's responsibility. Many on benefits are


better off than those giving out the food but we have no way of checking.


On the times I have been unemployed, it has been the worst time of my


life, having to sit there and watch rubbish, not the Daily Politics I


might add. Food banks and no way to lift people out of poverty, and as


they found in Canada, 25 years on, you could simply be trapping people


in dependency. Living hand to mouth is no existence for anybody. This is


not the way forward. And I'm joined by Edwina Currie, and from


Manchester by Marc Godwin. And Vidhya Alakeson is still with us.


Marc, let me come to you first. Edwina says people like you are


wonderful but she wonders whether you do almost as much harm as good,


do you? No, we try to do the Christian thing because we are


church led charity. I think we do lots of positive things. If we


weren't around, a lot of people would be suffering in silence and we


make sure people get food when they need it. What sort of people come to


your food bank? A vast range of people from all over. We get people


from a wide range of different backgrounds. Can I just correct


Edwina in that piece you did, about food banks getting funding. Chelwood


food bank doesn't get a penny of public funding, every penny we find,


any tin of soup we find, we have to pay for it ourselves. Also to say


that people from all sorts of different backgrounds come to us. It


is easy to tar everyone with the same brush, but people come with so


many different circumstances. You are just not being very charitable,


one might say, where is the big society here when it comes to people


who need food getting food? I think we would agree that quite a lot of


the people who come to the food banks need help, but where we


disagree is about the sort of help we should be providing as a society,


as a public sector. What really worries me is that they are just


being sent away with food. I know what he will say, we send them to


the other agencies, but they have been sent by the agencies to get the


food. They don't get fresh food like in the picture here. Plus mark does


not know what background they have because they do not visit people in


their homes, they are not social workers. But they are providing a


service which is needed. You don't think they are necessary, food


banks? I think you have three kinds of people who use them, one of them


is people who are released from prison, people with post-traumatic


stress, people with addiction, and we need to get more help to them.


Councils are sending them to food banks. The second group of people


with short-term problems like indebtedness, and he should have in


his office debt adviser and a credit union that area which is not


functioning... A whole range, and some of them, I'm sorry, don't need


it. I sat in the car park beforehand, I went early because I


am cynical and I like to look at people and make up my own mind. I


watched people arrive in their cars, so they can afford to buy petrol,


going in clutching their voucher, they say hello and come out


clutching the food they haven't paid for. What do you say to that, that


it encourages a culture of dependency for some people who don't


need it? The vast majority of people who go to food banks would rather be


paying money and going to the supermarket. Very few people revel


in the culture of benefits. How do you know? Because we have followed


many families over many years, and they have a lot better handle on


their family finances then I have on mine because every single penny


counts. Most of them are very strict with their finances, but


unfortunately some of them have got into debt. I would dispute the idea


that there are loads of feckless people milking food banks from what


they are worth. On the question of people who need more sophisticated


help, I don't disagree but you cannot replace food with a mental


health programme. If they are mental health problems, they are


fluctuating problems, people get better and then worse again. When


they are not doing so well, do we not feed them? I don't mind in the


least if the food bank is crisis intervention, a hawk to bring people


in who have all sorts of problems, then it could start providing the


care people need. Isn't marked just there for the crisis then? Do you


think you should be expanding your role as such? We would love to, but


at the end of the day we are just a charity already punching above our


weight. We would love to have a debt adviser and a credit union, but also


Edwina raised the point of people getting out of cars. It is very easy


to say everyone should look the same who come to a food bank, but those


people might have got those cars when they are working. We also have


people who have walked several miles to get to us and cannot afford the


bus fare. What about your point of council funding being diverted from


public health budgets to pay for these food banks? My understanding


was that they were mainly charities, are you wrong on that?


This is something fairly new. I gather BBC panorama is working on


this and looking at it. Manchester alone is giving about quarter of ?1


million a year straight to food banks, I would rather it went


straight to an addiction clinic. What about the point they need


food? They are struggling to eat, I don't disagree they need an


addiction programme. You have got people going today programmes for


ten years. You have lots of people in need. Why is that OK? Because


they are not being passed from pillar to post, they are being


looked after and given some continuing care. Care in the


community is difficult to do and it needs a big professional input. If


those councils are handing money over to people like Mark and the


charities and not following up what they are doing, they are getting a


much worse service. What about people on benefits, why do they need


to go to food banks? If they have a large number of children, they are


getting help from the state, isn't that enough? Very few people are


rich on benefits. This idea that people are living a life of luxury


on benefits, income support is on average ?70 per week. Plus their


accommodation and day nursery paid, and an awful lot of other things.


They do not get their day nursery pay. If they work 16 hours a week,


they do. No, they will pay 30%. Do not think that people are ashamed of


going to a food bank, not something they do lightly? The people I saw


bringing food were in much worse shape than the people I saw taking


food. Have you used a food by? Never! Exactly. I totally disagree,


having spent time with the blond very low incomes, they have pride,


most of them have the same kind of pride that means they do not want to


take benefits. You do not have expertise that I do not have. You


are suggesting the majority of people have no qualms about using a


food bank. I did not suggest that, I am saying there is a process of


change and transition going on in the country, in which people on


benefits are being pushed into work, but what they will find if they get


into work is that they will be better off. It takes some time and


is difficult to do. One of the things I know Marc is keen to do is


have a job adviser, but he's doing food first, and I think that is the


wrong way round. You have to do the food first. Interesting discussion,


Marc, Edwina Currie, and our guest of the day, thank you.


Let's take a look at what is happening this week. As we have been


hearing, later today MPs will consider a proposal to interviews a


ban on smoking in cars with children present. On Wednesday, David Cameron


faces his regular questioning session in the House of Commons.


Wednesday also sees the Chief Inspector of schools, Sir Michael


Wilshaw, give evidence to the Education Select Committee. He was


recently quoted as spitting blood over attacks on Ofsted by right-wing


think tanks. On Thursday, it is the Wythenshawe and Sale East


by-election to replace Labour MP Paul Goggins, who died last month.


It is widely expected to be held by Labour, but could UKIP come second?


We should find out the result on Friday morning. Joining Li now is


Joe Watts from the Evening Standard and Tamara Cohen of the Daily Mail.


-- joining me. Let's talk about UKIP and the potential threat to Labour


in the North, is Labour taking the threat seriously? Wythenshawe and


sale is going to be safely for Labour on Thursday. The polls are


suggesting they have a 46 point lead, but UKIP can't come second,


and Nigel Farage has made clear that he thinks UKIP are taking both off


all the major parties, not just the Conservatives. If they do get a


strong showing, it will definitely bolster his case that UKIP are going


to be doing well in the North of England. Joe, Nigel Farage often


says that he can take as many votes off Labour as he can off the


Conservatives. How do you think Labour has to fight UKIP in the


North of England? There is a certain level of nervousness among Labour


MPs, when I have spoken to them here. UKIP polling shows that, of


the votes they are taking at the moment, around 31% of people who


voted Tory in 2010, and about 13% voted Labour in 2010. So my feeling


is that the mainstream parties have to worry about the fact that a lot


of the UKIP vote is coming from people who did not vote at all in


2010, and those people are completely apathetic are being


brought back into the fold. We know that Nigel Farage has been out and


about, visiting flood areas, obviously taking this very seriously


as we get closer to the European elections and the general elections,


is that the feeling in Westminster? Absolutely, we had news today that


Labour have sent a unit to scrutinise UKIP's policies and the


people who work there, which the Conservatives have been doing for


some months now, an interesting move, given that UKIP may top the


poll in the European elections and, head of Labour. While UKIP


definitely pose more of a threat to the Conservatives, Labour are taking


the fact that people are turning to UKIP quite seriously. We can see


Nigel Farage dipping its toe in the floodwaters, how much personal


damage has been flooding done to David Cameron politically? Well,


everyone is trying to pass that hot potato around at the moment. David


Cameron is there today, Owen Paterson is obviously lying in his


hospital bed, unfortunately, and Eric Pickles is trying to put the


blame onto the Environment Agency. Generally, all of this


finger-pointing at the blame game that is going on is going to be


pretty damaging to the Government. It is only going to outrage people


further in the south-west as they see Westminster fighting like


ferrets in a sack. The question of immigration, Mark Harper's


resignation over his cleaner's fake documents, will there be a buzz of


activity as ministers and shadow ministers start checking the


documentation of their cleaners childminders? Well, it certainly


raises that question. The fact that Mark Harper was the immigration


minister putting a bill through parliament to compel landlords to


check the status of their tenants and impose fines on employers, it is


like something out of The Thick Of It. It does raise the question, Mark


Harper says that he has not committed any offence, that he


checked his cleaner's documents in 2007, but there are employment


lawyers today saying we do not have enough information to be able to say


definitively on that. It does really raise the question that, if the


politicians are not clear on what the rules are, how the rest of us


opposed to know? Absolutely, widely respected, Mark Harper, regarded as


a high. Will he be back in a ministerial post before the


election? I think he will be eventually. I think we should just


put into context how embarrassing this could have been for the


Government. If you think about it in this sense, it is like David


Cameron's well feminist are claiming incapacity benefit and cart wheeling


his way to work every day. -- health care Minister.


Joining me for the rest of the programme is Mark Field MP,


Rushanara Ali MP and Malcolm Bruce, the spanking new leader of the


Liberal Democrats. Less of the spanking, I think! Let's talk about


the coalition, because on Sunday Politics two people who had never


thought the coalition marriage was a particularly good idea in the first


place at this to say. Our long-term economic plan is working. Further


changes in policies that we want to implement are being held back by the


Liberal Democrats. I think that tension... I have always said, I


have to say it has lasted longer than I thought it would. When will


it break up? At least six months before the election, otherwise it


has no integrity. Do you think it will survive? The coalition has


delivered a great deal in many ways, but it is running out of steam. I


think it depends on what happens in the May elections. If the Liberal


Democrats do not do better than we have in the last three, there will


be very strong pressure from insights to avoid a wipe-out by


putting our own policies forward, to show that we can be in coalition


with Labour as well as the Conservatives next time. They do not


think it is going to last, Malcolm Bruce, do you think it is


effectively over and will just go on until six months before the


election? To be fair, those two never wanted to start it in the


first place. It is a five-year agreement centred on some pretty


heavy lifting, which is to turn the economy around. If you walk away


from something just as it is about to deliver, you spook the markets


and effectively are saying, we did the wrong thing. I don't think we


did the wrong thing, I think the country is beginning to realise


that, and we will see it through to the end. What I going to deliver


between now and 2015? We will go on delivering tax cuts hopefully, we


want to raise the threshold even further in the next Budget to give


people some cost of living benefit as growth sort of kicks in. There


are things we can do, and it is not all about legislation. I am not


going to be writing the Budget, and I think there is a slight worry, I


would say, with this idea of a broader tax base that we need. Where


I would agree with Malcolm, personally I did not want to see a


coalition, I think they should have been a second election in 2010, but


I think it will last the full five years. The Liberals will go into the


next election without any pretence of being able to form a government


on their own, they want to be a break on the extremism of the


Conservative Party or the Labour Party. The coalition has worked


pretty well, but I think that Malcolm is right to say that,


actually, let's be honest, the Liberal ministers enjoy being


ministers, but also there is going to be ongoing economic recovery, and


the Liberal do not want the Conservatives to take all the credit


for that. What will happen between now and then? You have not said...


Why carry on as a coalition? What do you agree and? There is going to be


more recovery. The rolling out of welfare and education reforms will


have a long-term elements to them. Where I think there is a bit of a


danger, and I think both partners needs to be aware of this, is if


there is a very light Queen's Speech programme and there isn't much


legislation or much day-to-day work. As we know, politics and horse a


vacuum, -- and that somehow there was a lack of


confidence, just as confidence is restoring. It would be


irresponsible. Let's just have a look at some of the events over the


last few weeks. Nick Clegg once a rethink on drugs, the Tories don't.


The Liberal Democrats will not... Would you cut the rate of tax over


Danny Alexander's dead body if you could?! I am of the view that the


most important message is that we are trying to get the deficit down,


and we recognise it is going to take longer than five years. There is a


mixed message. I am a low tax Conservative, but I do not think it


is the number-one priority to get taxed down at this juncture when we


are looking to get the deficit down. We are borrowing ?1 in every


?5 that we are spending. We need to focus on that. What tax cuts would


you introduce? We have made it clear that we think it is... Let me


finish, since you have had your say. My point is that you have got


this inherent tension between the Conservatives and the Liberals which


is coming home to roost. While the coalition may last until the end of


this term, the point is that the Liberals are in a really tight


position, where they have been in cahoots with the Tories with


increases in tuition fees, welfare cuts that are causing a cost of


living prices, while the same time the Government has not ruled out


cutting top rate taxes further. I think that is going to be a huge


issue. What about you two together? You would agree on the rate of tax,


would you, at 45p with the Liberal Democrats and not cut it further? We


need to make sure the deficit is brought down and borrowing is


brought down. By 2015, borrowing will still be at nearly ?80 billion.


The tax cut was brought in by Alistair Darling just before the


election. They cut capital gains tax to 18%, which has been increased and


the coalition to 28%. In addition to that, other taxes on high earners


have been introduced, and they are paying more taxes in a fairer, more


progressive way than under Labour, partly because you held the economy


back. Let me make my point, the cost of living crisis is affecting our


constituents dramatically, people cannot, as you saw in the last bit


of this programme, cannot afford to eat and pay their fuel costs. And


you and your party have been complicit in that, and I think it is


time... Hang on a minute! Labour Saudi economy shrank by 7% in a


single year. Everyone recognises the financial crisis. We are trying to


build the economy back, so of course everybody is being squeezed, but we


are trying to ensure it is applied fairly, and all non-work-related


benefits have been inflation protected. You agree on a mansion


tax, do you agree the top rate should stay at 45p? Could you go


into coalition together? On the broad issues, do you agree? At the


moment we still have 2.5 million people unemployed. You haven't


answered the question. We would be prepared to work in coalition with


either of the other parties if we can form an agreement. We are not


going to do it in advance of an election but everybody needs to know


what the commitments are. You have written that voters shouldn't back


the Liberal Democrats into a corner and forced it to make policy pledges


before the next election, but how can voters know what they are voting


for? We will have to negotiate with another party so we will not make


that mistake. The other parties would be unwise to get themselves


into a situation where they say we are going to win. Nobody will


believe what they say. Do you not think one of the reasons there is


this surge of interest in the polls for UKIP is because they think you


will make your deals after the voters have had their say? The issue


with UKIP is that you cannot go online through line of their


policies because most of it is nonsense. I understand that and it


is not an unfair point but if we are moving into coalition permanents, it


beholds all parties to be aware that you have to compromise. I take the


point you don't want to do it in corners after the election but you


cannot say, we will do this regardless. You have at your fingers


burned and I understand that but we may not be moving into a coalition


permanents, I guess we will find that out in the second week of May


2015. Onto immigration now. In a moment we will be talking about Mark


Harper who resigned after employing an illegal immigrant as a cleaner,


but now an undercover investigation by BBC One's Panorama has revealed


systematic fraud in the student visa system. Secret filming showed a


network of agents helping overseas students pass English tests, obtain


false documents, and doctor their academic records. Let's have a look.


The Home Office rules are clear, non-EU students have to pass an


English exam or they don't get a visa. Only last year we heard and


immigration agency in west London that could guarantee a pass for a


price. And Studentway denies any wrongdoing. What is the Border


Agency doing? They have a difficult job, a lot of their senior people


spend time working with universities to make sure everything is right. A


quango was setup to do the English tests and there it seems to be this


problem that has come into play, but we need to look at the broader


national interest. We do want to encourage people to come to this


country and the message is that the doors are closed I don't think it is


in the national or economic interest. We want the brightest


people coming from across the globe, perhaps spending some time here and


going back to be ambassadors for this country for the rest of their


lives. Actually it looks like the doors have gone up to those outside


the EU, do you think that has happened? We have no control over


how people are leaving this country, and I suspect there is not that much


to choose between our parties where we see the immigration system going.


We need an effective system, but let's be honest about this, our


education system is a wonderful invisible export for this country.


We have some fantastic universities and colleges, and whilst I think it


is important that any abuse is highlighted, it is the exception


rather than the rule. The implication is that the numbers have


been quite big in terms of bogus colleges. Wouldn't it be better to


have face-to-face interviews with each these candidate? It may be


possible, we could perhaps do it in their home countries through


embassies abroad and a large amount of that continues to go on. That is


happening. Theresa May said today that she inherited a broken system


when it came to immigration, particularly on student visas, from


a Labour government. Do you take responsibility? She has been in


power for four years and I think it is unacceptable for this Government


to blame the last government for everything. You have hard Eric


Pickles blaming us for the flooding, and I think she needs to take


responsibility. Mark is right that the world-class universities that we


have attracts some of the best students and we need to make sure we


find ways of doing that and the economy benefits from it, but she


needs to get a grip on the abuses because every single abuse leads to


discrediting of the system and loss of trust among voters. That is when


parties like UKIP try to take advantage of the immigration debate


and making a toxic debate which is damaging. Do you accept the majority


of those bogus colleges sprung up under Labour, and it is only


subsequently they have been closed because they are not getting the


students in? I don't accept that. We take responsibility for mistakes


that have happened and that is well documented, but she has been in


power for four years. I get letters from the UK Border Agency even when


people should be returned because they know that they have no right to


be in this country. Why doesn't she deal with the problems that exist


that her department is responsible for, instead of blaming the previous


government? Was Mark Harper right to resign? Yes, when you are an


Immigration Minister and you find out you have made an administrative


error, you have to go and he has done the right thing. He has to


conform to his own rules but it raises a serious issue of


enforcement. If they were fake documents... He said he had to


resign but they were faked and he didn't check enough, and that is a


big onus on everybody. The average householder is not going to know.


The requirement of landlords to check their tenants, we have said it


should be piloted to check how enforceable it is because otherwise


you finish up in a situation where genuinely people don't know the


situation and can be caught out. You don't want to make criminals out of


innocent mistakes and Mark Harper has been the victim of that. The


colleges have been closed down or at least excluded by the present


government and it is crucial to recognise that this is a very big


challenge but the Government is doing its best and they are


interviewing more and more people to check their references. Let's leave


it there. Now, time to find out the answer to our quiz. The question


was: According to researchers, which of the following could make you more


likely to get elected? Is it... If you are man, if you belong to an


ethnic minority, if you are good-looking, or if you more


mature. Which answer do you think is correct? Don't be shy? In local


elections you will have three candidates and it's interesting how


often they will be all women so being a woman may bring sexism into


it. That wasn't in the question, but what do you think? I'm sure it's


maturity. I will let you fight. The answer is if you are good-looking,


and you are all good-looking of course. And joining me to explain


her research is Caitlin Milazzo, who's a lecturer in politics and


international relations at Nottingham University. Is it true,


what evidence is there? There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from


the study of American politics. We have the long-standing belief that


politicians in the US do better when they are good-looking or taller, so


we asked some students from the University of Iowa to rate which


candidate was more attractive and we found that attractive candidates did


tend to be election winners and tended to get more votes than the


candidates deemed not attractive. Did age come into it at all? Yes,


not only because our subjects were quite young, an average age of only


about 20 years old, but even when you take into account age, the


party, how much they spent on the campaign, we found out that


attractive candidates tend to come out 2% higher in vote share than


their less attractive counterparts. Stay and listen to the rest of this


discussion, you might learn something. I was going to say were


you elected because of your good looks? My brain and intellect and


everything else! He is blushing! Do you think there is any truth in


that? They are American students. Anyone who watches west wing will


know there is a difference. Looking at this, I'm sure people's demeanour


is part of it but I suspect it is a bigger feature in American politics


because you cannot get anywhere in America if you are not a Hollywood


star. In TV advertising, they push people more in that way. What do you


think? I agree with Malcolm and I would add that what is really


important is that if you don't work hard for your constituents and you


are not capable of doing the job, that is made very clear to you by


your voters when you are knocking on the door asking for their votes. I


think in Britain... You don't think the voters are so vain. Is there


ageism? I think it is a media driven thing, but the fact is there is a


tendency you have -- you think you have to be young and dynamic but


experience matters and I don't think the public discount that as much as


the media says they would. I would have thought it was about trust. I


am older than all three of the party leaders and it is an unhealthy state


of affairs. Gender balance in Parliament, when you look at the


fact there is 22% of women, that is where I think we can do much more in


terms of having younger people. We don't have any time to come back to


you, Caitlin, but I hope it was interesting for you to listen to.


That's all for today. Thanks to our guests. Goodbye.


It's your job to keep law and order, isn't it?


Download Subtitles