12/02/2014 Daily Politics


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Morning, folks, welcome to the Daily Politics. "Money is no object" when


it comes to helping communities hit by floods. The Prime Minister says


everything is being done to help struggling areas, including sending


in troops. He's been chairing a special cabinet committee this


morning and cancelled a trip to the Middle East to take charge of the


situation. But should the Government be doing more? As politicians


continue to search for answers, do they need to consider more radical


solutions for dealing with floods? We speak to an expert. The floods


will no doubt be the hot topic at Prime Minister's Questions, we'll


have the action live at midday. And how do the spin doctors cope in the


age of online and 24 hour news? One King of Spin takes a trip down


memory lane. By walk down Henry Lane, do you mean


pub crawl? Along the lines of that. All that coming up in the next 90


minutes of public service broadcasting at its very finest.


With us today, the former floods minister, Richard Benyon, and the


Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry. Welcome. We now -- Now,


we know the floods must be serious because David Cameron called a


Downing Street press conference yesterday, his first in over seven


months. And the Prime Minister declared that


"money is no object" when it comes to helping communities stricken by


the floods. This morning, though, the Transport Secretary said that


didn't necessarily amount to a "blank cheque." If money is no


object, it is a blank cheque! But, after a week of damaging sniping


over who or what is to blame for the floods, David Cameron has sought to


reassert his control over the situation. So, what do we know? As


you said, once it was clear that the floods have become a crisis, the


Prime Minister did say money is no object, but clarified it with, "in


this relief effort. " So far, she has promised ?130 million for a


emergency flood repairs and maintenance. And the deployment of


600 troops. What about long-term? DEFRA spending on flood management


has fallen since the coalition came to power, from a peak of ?670


million in 2011, to ?576 million last year, and that is just in cash


terms. Once you adjust for inflation, it is an even bigger


difference. Central government money is on the slide, there is some extra


cash from local councils, a ?148 million partnership funding. Back to


you. So, it was a mistake to cut flood spending, wasn't it? That is


not the way to look at funding for these schemes. No flood scheme goes


from conception to commissioning in one year. You look at it over the


whole spending programme. In that period, the four years of this


spending programme, we are going to spend more. In money terms, not in


real terms. The partnership funding, we have changed the system


we introduced so that we can get many more schemes up and running,


and more people will be protected. This is a political argument and


this is one I have been having for many months and years. In today's


context, it is sterile, but it is more money being spent on flood


defences than ever before. Modi is more delighted than me that the


contingency reserve that exists in the Treasury is being used. Can we


get the figure is clear? This is from the Commons library, a very


independent and reliable source. Government -- central government


spending will reduce in real terms over the Spending Review period.


2.34 1 billion, compared to a higher number in the preceding year. The


figure I have is 2.4 billion as opposed to 2.2 billion. The figure


is that in the last four years of the Labour government, and one


year, including up to 2011 when spending was counted, the spending


was two point -- was 2.371, falling to 2.341. In real terms, it will be


more of a cut. There was more announced by the Chancellor in the


November autumn statement just over a year ago. And more that has been


announced since. And the projected period for the spending, we will see


more money spent on flood defences than ever before. With the


partnership funding scheme, which I was attacked for one I bought it


in, people called it a flood tax, no government of any complexion that


exists in this country and the future will change that system


because it has meant places like Leeds, Exeter, they will get the


flood protection they need. They would never have got that until we


changed the system. In the Labour years, 2001-2010, 200,000 houses,


new homes, were built on the flood plains. Shouldn't you have built


better flood defences, given the number of people living there? I


think that's a bubbly ride. And what happened as we had the floods in


2007, then we had the review which recommended we take a better look a


mess we increased the funding. I understand that the consider the


Conservatives came in with austerity, and we talked about not


being enough water. You can see in hindsight... Caroline Spelman, when


she was doing the job, she said drought will become the new normal.


The planet is becoming more unpredictable. It seems to be hot,


cold, drought. We have to look at -- we have to take a proper strategic


look now. This is an opportunity now to take a completely different look.


Government will always have to spend billions on flood defences. But


there are ways and people doing really interesting work, about how


you can actually getting a completely new level of private


funding on top of government funding for large-scale protections. He


would always also say that nobody was listening to him a few years


ago. The tragedy is, that what is happening now, it defines what the


Environment Agency said. Now 99% of the time the Environment Agency says


no to new building, it doesn't go ahead. Our Labour and Conservatives


both guilty to allow the Environment Agency to implement a policy to put


habitat ahead of people? I worked with the Environment Agency for 3.5


years, with the best engineers and flood defences or third priority. I


never had a conversation or felt they were being diverted from


providing good flood defences. This is a flood defence in Somerset, and


it does create better habitat, but it protects the community. Do you


deny it was the policy of the Environment Agency, particularly


under Margaret Young when she was the Chief Executive, to allow


habitat to give precedence over pumping stations and dredging? In


March 2008, there was support about the strategic flooding in Somerset.


She is accused of saying she wanted to put Olympic mine on every pumping


station. The dredging stopped! There was a culture that needed to be


changed. Credit to Chris Smith. He has changed that culture. I had my


run-in with Barbara Young after the 2007 floods in my constituency where


I had precisely that argument with her about SSSI versus the homes


people were living in. I think that has changed. There has been very


little dredging at all that has taken place. Barbara Young's policy


was, she said, in many speeches, including testimony to the House of


Lords that building new habitats is very expensive. The easiest way is


to let previous marshland received to -- reduced to wetland. If you


want habitat, just add water. Was that a mistake? There was a ratio


introduced under the new rules, for every pound you spend, you've got to


save ?8. Which therefore means that farmland is going to be seen as less


of a priority. It didn't stop them building the bird sanctuary. That is


completely irrelevant. If people came to me last year and said, would


you put up some money for dredging in the Somerset Levels? I could have


done that. In terms of the taxpayers money, it would have meant taking


funds away from other schemes, and of those communities were then


flooded... They spent ?2.5 million on public relations! They only


needed ?4 million to drain the whole of the levels. That is a little bit


more than double what the agency was spending on PR. We would have had to


divert different schemes. You wouldn't have had to do that. There


were plenty of other areas where you could have found money. You have


expertise in this area, when Chris Smith was first asked about


dredging, and we're now talking less than ten days ago, when the call was


that we asked you to dredge, you didn't do it, he replied that


dredging is marginal. It is of marginal importance. The second


thing he said a week later was that dredging is part of the story but


not the whole story. Now he is saying, we couldn't really do it


because of the Treasury formula. What is it? On Friday, there will be


a report coming out which I think we'll show from hydrology engineers


who really know what they are talking about rather than


politicians about what would actually be effective. Tragically,


for the Somerset Levels, and, please, can nobody look at the whole


of the flooding problems we are looking at through the prism of the


Somerset Levels because nobody should be dredging rivers that


haven't ever been dredged. If you do dredge them, they flood. In Somerset


it is difficult. It is a one in 5000 gradient, which is very shallow. The


tide can block it like a bung, so you could spend all the money the


Environment Agency has in dredging it and it wouldn't do anything.


Until the rain came. I want to be fair here. I don't want to be fair.


The rain is worse than it has been. Your party is meant to believe in


localism. And not in quangos in London. The society in charge of


training has always drainage is the key to this not happening. The


chairman of the Wessex flood defence, who is himself an


engineering hydrologist has also said that. I would suggest that if


you believe in the prison, let these people look after their own land. --


if you believe in localism. How many properties or feels it would have


protected from flooding is uncertain and this report on Friday will show


us that. We have to work with local drainage boards and farmers, and we


do, all around the country. And schemes last year predicted 175,000


acres of farmland, along with many thousands of houses and properties.


-- schemes last year protected. There are terrible winds about to


hit Wales. The North of England as well. 100 miles an hour they are


talking about. That will bring some rain as well. How much can we


expect? Over now to a man known for his accurate forecasting and who's


never knowingly missed a storm. Michael Fish, the former BBC weather


forecaster, joins us from College Green. Looking back at the history


books, how does the rain... I know that it is January's record, but how


has the rain compared historically? The wettest on record, going back to


the middle of the 18th-century. This particular flood is unique in that


it is covering the larger area of the country and lasting for far, far


longer. We have had more devastating floods in the past. Especially with


the North Sea surges, like in December. In 1632, 20 5000 people


were killed, and in 1634, 15,000. So we have had more severe weather than


now, but not as widespread. I assume, sadly, that if more rain


comes, it will get worse, because the ground is already sodden with


water? We're expecting more storms in the near future. One is obviously


under way at the moment and another one on Friday night, Saturday,


another on Monday and then choose day-Wednesday next week. So I'm


afraid there is no end to it. -- Tuesday. So we don't know when it


will stop? I don't know it will get better in February. The main thing


next month is that the storms will be less potent. When do you think we


will see the first hosepipe ban?! It would be nice if we didn't get that.


It was only a couple of days later. We ought to have a minister for


heatwaves! Right! Well, that is probably an underemployed job at the


moment. Thank you for joining us. Good to see you on the programme.


Now, money is one thing, but is all the political talk about how much is


being spent really what is at issue? We are now joined by Dr Hannah


Cloke, who is associate Professor of hydrology at the University of


Reading. Why don't know if you could hear before, we were talking about


the impact dredging might or might not have had, particularly in the


Somerset Levels. Would dredging have prevented the flooding in your


mind? This is a particularly serious flood and I'd do not think it would


have prevented this flood from happening at all. You would need to


have... Got rid of the rain in some magic way in order to have prevented


this flood in the Somerset Levels! So all of this talk from locals and


ministers, who have been chastising the environment age and the because


dredging stopped ten years ago and saying that actually led to the


flooding of wrong? We do not have the evidence that this would have


stopped flooding. What has happened is, we have decided you need a whole


range of different measures in order to prevent or mitigate those kinds


floods. What about the Somerset Levels? Can they, in your opinion,


be protected for ever? It would be very difficult to protect them


forever because we are living with the prospect of a changing climate


and these events may become more awkward in the future and we need to


think of clever solutions and possibly retreating slightly,


helping communities become more resilient in other ways. So you


think people living there could in, 30, 40, 50 years time might have to


accept that the area will turn to some sort of Marshland? We need to


look at the possible future and that surrounds having to retreat from


that land in some way, yes. And we need to help those communities to


understand that future and make themselves resilient to that. What


are the clever ways you are talking about? What are the non-engineer


ways of mitigating flooding and heavy rainfall? There are two


things. Firstly, this series of storms has provided an enormous


amount of rain and we would have seen this flooding however hard we


tried to get rid of it in clever ways. But for smaller storms,


certainly, you can detect yourself by trying to slow down the water in


the river catchment. Upstream, we are looking at upstream measures,


trying to hold back the water and get it to infiltrate into the


ground. And in urban areas is trying to make those areas more porous,


have sustainable training systems and maybe retrofit those to some


existing properties. Let's go to our guests. In the end, the argument


about dredging, according to our expert, has actually been slightly


futile and you should have been, or successive governments should have


been looking at longer term or natural methods of trying to deal


with the rain? That is why I have been slightly grinding my teeth this


week because I'd find this binding argument about whether you dredge or


do not dredge is sterile. We have done so much over the last few


years. It started with previous government but we have looked at the


whole catchment approach, and it is about making land use part of it.


Making sure that the incentives we give to farmers to manage their land


in different ways, the crops they grow, the crops they don't grow,


where they grow them, and how we secure all the feeder streams that


come into the big rivers, and it is absolutely right that is part of an


integrated plan, so we are talking about, yes, the environment and


protection of it, but in conjunction with flood defence. In the first two


years we were using with a catastrophic drought so it is those


extremes. But it is fairly unpalatable to turn around to people


in the Somerset Levels and say, this has a finite time for you guys and


in the end you are going to have to retreat. It is not just about the


Somerset Levels. There was a man in a bungalow in the Thames Valley who


said he was woken up and had to be rescued by a fire engine and taken


off. He said, we cannot go on the thing like this, and we can't. We


have to have a strategic approach. May be the Somerset Levels - we


cannot keep inhabiting them? I'm not going to keep... Are not going to do


that because I want to be allowed to live. I do think there is much more


we can do upstream in places like that to slow the water down, so, OK,


this kind of rain will flood anyway but that is another storms... And in


towns and cities we cannot have the whole thing concreted over. So


having roots with green on the top or porous stone or whatever it is.


Cannot come back to you on what we talked about yesterday, the


saturation point. We saw these pictures of boreholes up to the


top... Exploding out of the top. We are going to flood anyway, aren't


we? We have to be realistic. In the near future there is going to be


serious flooding around for a while and many communities will be


affected by ground flooding as well as flooding from rivers. That is a


reality. Where can the water go? We have to wait for it to drain away.


We can divert it in places but really we have to wait and ride it


out, this particular event, and really we need to be looking to the


future to help ourselves out next time this happens. And it probably


will happen. What about health risks? Because all that stagnant


water sitting around for the foreseeable future, does that mean a


significant health risk? One of the problems is where sewage comes into


contact with people, so these are the problems that need to be sorted


out with stagnant water. It is quite disgusting in many cases. That is a


problem and you have mentioned climate change. Is it time to say,


this is what is going to happen, this is climate change, it is going


to happen more often? Or is it that... There is definitely some


indication that this is caused by some change in the climate. We know


the likelihood of these types of storms and rainfall events will get


more frequent in the future. So we could think of this as a sort of


test run for climate change. OK, Hannah. I was talking to a scientist


from the Royal Society last night and he said, people talk about


people not beating Manchester City, it is to do with marine youth. It is


like that. So we have to be prepared for climate change to happen in the


future because I think it is something like that. But it seems


extraordinary to have someone in charge of DEFRA who does not believe


when change is man-made. I was there when he spoke to the staff and he


explained quite clearly. He recognises something is very serious


that is happening. But he cannot deny climate change looking at what


we are doing. He does deny... Try to find somebody who doesn't deny it.


Even the most sceptical scientist on climate change is still believing


man is somehow involved in what is happening. It is just a bandwidth.


Where we all are on that is up for debate. Glad we got you there in the


end. Thank you, Hannah. Now, if you're watching this with


the water lapping at your feet, we'd firstly like to thank you for taking


a break amid all the chaos to enjoy our little programme. No doubt


you'll have spent the morning stacking sandbags at the front door,


but we all know you'll have to do far more than that to stop a


politician in nice new wellies, or worse still, full-on waders, from


turning up in your area to point at the water and tell you how terrible


it all is. Goodbye, I'm back to London! They do care, you know. But


here at The Daily Politics, we'd like to offer you a far more


practical gift that really could help you reduce those water levels.


With its magical water-scooping powers, I'm talking, of course,


about the Daily Politics mug. Literally within weeks you could


once again be dry as a bone and ready to use it for its other


calling for a good old-fashioned cup of tea to reward all your efforts.


How versatile! We will remind you how to enter in a minute but let's


see if you can remember when all of this happened.


With hope and prayer in our hearts, we sent her fourth on her mission,


this noble ship. The Prime Minister arrives to raise


the trickle as the guns boom their salute. -- the trickle or flag.


And in a neck and neck finish, the horse wins the toughest steeplechase


in the world. # Loving one who loves you,


# And then taking that allow, # Nice work if you can get it,


# And if you can get it, won't you tell me how!


To be in with a chance of winning a Daily Politics mug, send your answer


to our special quiz email address. You can see the full terms and


conditions for the competition on our website.


It's coming up to midday here. Just take a look at Big Ben. There it is.


And that can mean only one thing - yes, Prime Minister's Questions is


on its way. Should be a good one today! If you'd like to comment on


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


your thoughts using the hashtag #bbcdp. We'll read some out after


PMQs. And Nick Robinson is here as well.


Now, before we come to you, Nick, disturbing evidence has been


unearthed by the Daily Politics munchkins about PMQs. In a new


report, the Hansard Society say it's a big turn-off for the public.


Really?! Yes, for you at home. But, please, do stay tuned. The report


says people are put off by the noise, bluster and showing off from


MPs at PMQs, and has a number of suggestions on how to make it


better. It should be moved to a Tuesday or Wednesday evening to


allow a broader range of people to watch. Good luck getting that on the


schedules! That'll knock the EastEnders ratings! The number of


questions from the Leader of the Opposition should be reduced to


allow more time for questions from backbenchers. Ordinary people should


be able to submit questions once a month. And a new sin bin penalty,


naming members for disorderly conduct and removing them from the


chamber, should be introduced at the Speaker's discretion. He will love


that! There will be no one left! Is there a bin big enough? Let me go


out on a limb there and say none of this will happen. You see, they do


this. He doesn't follow football. I thought you were going to sell your


men wise! -- men wire! The truth is, any new Prime Minister gets the


chance to try to change it. If Ed Miliband becomes Prime Minister


after the next election, there is no doubt, and we have discussed it


before, doesn't much like this and does not think it is particularly


fruitful. But, in the end, what tends to happen is prime ministers


think, how do we just minimise the amount of time it takes in our


schedule, which is why Tony Blair reduced it from twice a week to once


a week. And, in the end, do they really want to make it more hard by


giving more questions -- getting more questions from outsiders? It


would be good if he could answer some questions. I am one of the ones


who shouts at the Prime Minister when he doesn't answer. He doesn't


even pretend to answer! I think in the end, because there is no chance


of getting an answer, the question becomes the thing. A vicious circle.


That is right. I think we should have something like they do in


Australia, where they have a time-out when it gets too noisy.


Would he agree it would be both complacent and ignorant to flout the


warnings of the Met Office and his own advisers who warned that climate


change will lead to even more such events in the future? Can he conform


to the House and to everyone in my constituency that doing everything


he can will include not only reversing cuts to the Environment


Agency budget but also, crucially, removing... Prime Minister. Let me


reassure the honourable lady that I listen very carefully to my experts


in the Met Office and in the Environment Agency. Every COBRA


meeting starts with a briefing from the Met Office. It is clear we are


seeing more extreme weather events, and we will go on to see them and we


need to do everything we can to improve the resilience of our


country. Let me repeat again, when it comes to this relief effort,


money is no object, and we will spend what's necessary to help


families, people, communities get through this very difficult time.


Things are likely to get worse before they get better because of


the very high levels of rainfall we've seen, and we have seen very


serious high winds as we speak in this House today. But whatever can


be done, will be done. Last year, my constituents daughter was brutally


murdered. At the trial it was revealed that her attacker had


previously attacked another young girl five years earlier.


Unbelievably, that attacker got off from the early offence with a police


caution. A written warning. Will the Prime Minister join me in calling


upon West Mercia Police to publish all relevant material relating to


that earlier case in order that any lessons that can be learnt will be


learned? First of all, he's right to take up his constituent's case in


this way and he has written to me about this specific case. I said


they goes out to the family and friends of George Williams. I


understand the Independent Police Complaints Commission are currently


considering their response to a referral from West Mercia Police


into the handling of this case. On the issue of cautions, let me say we


announced last year that we are banning the use of simple cautions


for all of the most serious offences, including manslaughter,


rape, robbery, as well as a range of other offences. This is a tragic


case and we must get to the bottom of what went wrong. I join the prime


minister in expressing all of my sympathies with people affected by


the floods, who have been driven out of their homes and who are facing


disruption to their lives. I also join him in paying tribute to all of


those helping with relief efforts and to the extraordinary resilience


we have seen of the people of our country. He will know that people in


affected communities are relieved that help from the Armed Forces has


now arrived. Many feel they were sent into late. With further


flooding expected in the coming hours and days, can the Prime


Minister provide an assurance that people will get the help in time,


not after the event? I can give that assurance and let me repeat again


that it is important to praise our urgency services, to praise


volunteers, all of those working for the Environment Agency who have


worked night and day, around the clock, to help our communities. They


have done amazing work. In terms of the engagement of the military, this


is important. It has always been possible for Gold commanders in


these emergency situations to call on military assets. A military


liaison officer is supposed to sit with those gold commanders and


liaise with them. What we have done in recent days is say very clearly


to all the local authorities concerned, and we contacted them


individually, if you want military assistance, do not think twice about


it. Just ask. So, we have now thousands of military in a state of


readiness to help out, and a huge number have already been deployed.


As we see the levels rising on the Thames again, coming into this


weekend, we should do everything we can to get extra help into those


communities that could be affected and make sure they are helped. All


the military assistance required is there, people only have to ask. I


welcome that promise of proactive help from the Prime Minister. Given


the forecasts of the extreme weather, one of the key issues that


will concern people is not just their homes but continuing gas and


electricity supplies. We have learned from previous experience


that protecting electricity substations that can be responsible


for power to hundreds of thousands of homes is of particular


importance. Can he reassure the House about the steps being taken to


protect these vital services? I can give him that assurance. The


Minister carried out a review into the resilience of our infrastructure


and a lot of extra steps were taken following that and that has made a


difference. In the COBRA system, we are monitoring every day this


particular bits of infrastructure that could be under threat. In


recent days, it has been about water treatment works rather than electric


works. I spoke to the Minister responsible for an edgy policy at


this morning's COBRA and to make sure that everything is being done


to stand up the people that will be necessary if there is further supply


disruption. I think the experience there, where there were problems in


Kent after Christmas, since then, the energy companies have done a


better job at reconnecting people more quickly. One of the


reassurances he provided yesterday, as he said earlier, was to say money


was no object. This morning, the Transport Secretary said it is not a


blank cheque. Can he tell the House exactly what areas of spending


yesterday's promise covers? I was very clear last night. As I said,


money is no object in this relief effort and I want communities who


are suffering, and people who see water lapping at their doors to know


that when it comes to the military, when it comes to sandbags, when it


comes to the emergency services, one it comes to restoring broken flood


defences, money is no object. To be fair, this is what the Transport


Minister said. Money is not the issue in this relief job. He is


absolutely right. He is right about the relief effort. He said we will


spend whatever it takes to recover from this. And to make sure we have


a resilient country for the future. Let me give him an example in that


context. He praised the Environment Agency staff, but they are in the


process this year of making 550 people dealing with flooding


redundant. These are staff that help put in place and maintain flood


defences and help deal with clean-up. If money is no object, is


he committing now to reconsider these redundancies? Let me tell him


what we are doing with the Environment Agency and their


budget. We are spending ?2.4 billion over four years between 2010 - 2014,


comparing with ?2.2 billion in the previous four-year period. What I


can say to the House, and this is important, as the waters recede, it


will be important for the Environment Agency, for local


authorities, they must all look again at the flood patterns we have


seen, at the models they have, and work out what fresh flood defences


will be necessary. In addition, I can tell the House we will be


introducing a grant for all affected homeowners and businesses to build


in better flood protection as they repair their properties. That will


be up to ?5,000 per house, per business, and on top of that we are


announcing a ?10 million fund to help farmers who had seen their land


waterlogged day after day, week after week. And I can also announce


that we will be deferring the tax payments that businesses have to pay


and all of the businesses that have been affected by floods will get


100% business rate relief. Mr Speaker, these steps are welcome and


we welcome them across the House. I'm afraid he didn't answer the


question I asked. The 550 people that the Environment Agency are


planning to make redundant that work on flood defences. They are people


who are currently helping with the clean-up and put in place the flood


defences. Similarly on the issue of spending on flood defence, the


committee says we are spending less on flood defence then we should. My


question is a simple one. Given yesterday's promise to make sure we


have a resilient country for the future, and spend whatever it takes,


as he committing now to reconsider these redundancies, and reconsider


the amount of money we invest in flood defences? Let me tell him what


we are doing with the Environment Agency budget into the future. In


terms of the capital spending, we have set out the figures all the way


up to 2020. We have made capital spending pledges in areas like


transport and in terms of flood defences, pledges that no one else


is able to match, particularly not if they are committed to a 0-based


budget review, but promises we are happy to make so that people can see


how much money will be spent on flood defences, 2015, 2016, 2017,


2018, 2019, 2020. We are able to make those pledges because we have


managed our economy effectively and our budgets. I say to the Prime


Minister that he came along yesterday at his press conference


and made what sounded like a very grand promise to spend whatever it


takes to recover from this, and make sure we have a resilient country for


the future. And the simple point I'm making to think is that there are


real doubts when it comes to making members of the Environment Agency


who deal with flooding redundant. And the lack of investments with the


committee on climate change, the expert body, to invest in flood


defences says is not happening. He needs to reconsider those things. I


would urge the Prime Minister, the government need to speak with one


voice on this issue. The response needs to be speedier than it has


been, and everyone affected needs to feel they are getting the help they


need. If the government does this, they will have our full support.


What I said last night is exactly what I've said today. When it comes


to this relief effort, money will be no object. I don't want people to


worry about penny-pinching, as they see the vital work that is needed to


help them with their houses, to help them deal with the floods. That is


what this government is doing. We are deploying the military when we


have been asked for the military, deploying more pumps, raising the


compensation to local government to 100%, because that is what local


communities should have. I'm sorry he seeks to divide the House when we


should be coming together for the nation. Can I thank my right


honourable friend for his recent visit to Plymouth to discuss our


broken rail link? Will he commit our government to finding long-term


solutions to rail resilience in the far south-west? Will he join me


today in sending a very clear signal to the rest of the country that


despite our current problems, Devon and Cornwall is firmly open the


business? My honourable friend is right. That message needs to go out


loud and clear. Businesses, including tourist businesses, want


to see people's custom and want people to know that the peninsular


Devon and Cornwall -- that the peninsula is open for business. We


are finding ?31 million to fund ten rail resilient projects in the


south-west. This will include work at Cowley Bridge junction, Chipping


Sodbury, white walled tunnel, and a number of other places, and clearly


the most important thing is that Dawlish rail link, which I saw for


myself yesterday, the intense damage done to backtrack, and the huge


destruction that was wrought by the waves. That will take up to six


weeks. Network Rail are working as hard as they can, and any help they


need, they only need to ask. Number three, Mr Speaker. We are the first


government to name and shame employers who fail to pave the


minimum wage. The name of the first company was published in 2011. We


have revised the skin to make publication easier. I'm not


satisfied this has been going fast enough. Their density of those


companies found breaking the law will be made public very, very soon.


Can I thank the prime minister for his response but say to him that two


employment agencies in my constituency have been found not to


be paying the minimum wage to their workers and they have had to pay


penalties but the government says they got to protect the


confidentiality of these companies. My constituents think the government


is standing up for the wrong people. Will he look at it? We will be


publishing the name of these companies, something that never


happened under Labour. We are taking the action. When it comes to


penalties for not paying the mid-wage, if we look at the


penalties last year, over 700 employees received penalties for


failing to comply with minimum wage law, and the value of those


penalties was almost seven times higher than in the final year of the


last Labour government. So, we are hearing a lot of talk about


enforcing the minimum wage from the party opposite, and you see a lot of


action from the government right here. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Crime


is down 10%, and our excellent Home Secretary's police reforms are


allowing good offices to do more with less. But will the Prime


Minister immediately implement the Normington reforms of the Police


Federation said that police culture can be further improved? We are


working with the Police Federation on this issue. The Police Federation


is clearly an organisation in need of reform. To be fair to the new


head of the Police Federation, whom I met with, he recognises this and


he wants to act. We need to support him in sorting his organisation


out. Two weeks ago, the chief secretary to the Treasury ruled out


any further tax cats. Last week, he said it would be over his dead body.


Can the Prime Minister helped out by ruling out tax cats? Well, I saw him


this this morning at COBRA. Our priority is to cut taxes for low and


middle earners. That is what we have done. When it comes to April this


year, her constituents will be able to earn ?10,000 without paying any


income tax at all. That is equivalent to a 10% increase in the


minimum wage. It means their income tax bill will have gone down by two


thirds under this Government. Those are the sort of tax cuts we are


interested in. Can I thank the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister


for their personal engagement with our issues on the Somerset Levels.


But, asking a question which identify the Secretary of State for


communities and local government grasped on Monday. Which is this.


When the emergency, the crisis phase of this problem, is over, we have to


have sustainable plans to protect people on the Somerset Levels. That


will require a revenue stream which will come through local government,


and that means changes to the way that is administered. When we have


those detailed plans, will the Prime Minister meet with me and others


from Somerset to ensure we have a sustainable future? I am very happy


to meet with him and other MPs from Somerset. I have visited twice


myself to see for myself. But the problem is, as we know, the pumping


capacity, which is taking 3 million tonnes, soon 5 million, of water off


the Somerset Levels, but because there is 65 million tonnes or more


of water it will take time. What we need to do, once that water level


stars to come down, is get the dredging going and work out the


long-term programme for making sure this man-made environment is


properly looked after by man so it is sustainable for the future. I am


very happy to meet with him and discuss that. Conditions outside our


dreadful. The voluntary sector, emergency services and individuals


have been amazing but people and businesses are angry and in the


south-west, they are angry because of the excessive costs they see of


HS2 when we have the whole of the West Country without a resilient


rail network. And the money announced today is welcome but not


enough. Will he commit in the medium term to ensuring support of growth


and... Recovery in the region, that Plymouth is put onto the strategic


transport network? It is not there at the moment and it should be. I


make three points to her. I understand the concern of her and


her constituents. Firstly, don't want anybody to be under the


misapprehension that HS2 will be built at the expense of the West


Country. In the next Parliament, we will spend three times more on other


road and rail schemes as we will spend on HS2, and some of those will


direct a benefit people in the West Country. Secondly, while we are


working as fast as we can to restore the Dawlish link, we do need to look


at longer term alternatives, and I have discussed this with Network


Rail and First Great Western, to see what more can be done. Thirdly, in


the meantime, while Dawlish is at -- as it is, we need to look at other


measures, and we have taken ?5 of the cost of flights, for example,


but we'll so need to make sure replacement bus services are as good


as they can be. -- we also. If we can do these things, it will lessen


the impact for the West Country. With flooding in front and for


residents and businesses, and more risk to my constituency with the


risk warnings for the Severn estuary, does the Prime Minister


agree that the action taken so far by various agencies and councils has


been helpful, and can he reassure my constituents that the Government


will continue to invest in flood defences? I can certainly give him


that assurance. He is right to mention the difficulties on the


River Severn, because several rivers, including the River Thames,


the River Tame and Areva why, are expecting flood fall. The pig is


expected on Sunday and Monday that -- the peak is expected on Sunday


and Monday and that could affect many people. It is worth making the


point, and this is to be fair to the last government as well as this one,


if you take the 2007 floods, when 55,000 homes were flooded, since


that time, if you look at the schemes that have been built, they


are actually protecting well over 1 million properties which would have


been flooded this time around were it not for the important work that


has been done. This week, Shelter found house prices have been rising.


And wages in most parts of the country. Does the Prime Minister not


agree that the lack of affordable housing is making the cost of living


crisis worse for millions of people across our country, and will he


confirm that this Government has presided over the fewest number of


homes built since the 1920s? Housing starts are up from the dreadful


situation we were left with and now we are investing huge amounts into


affordable housing. But make no apology that it is right to deal


with the demand side of housing as well as the supply side. Things like


help to buy schemes are helping to get builders building, because


builders will not build unless they believe buyers are able to buy.


I just want to put on record that the volunteer flood wardens, to


thank them for the work they are doing to help my constituents. I


welcome the schemes he has talked about. Will he ensure that the


detail for these schemes is made available to everybody affected so


they can make use of them? I think he makes an important point and I


know he is working very hard to bring people together in his own


constituency to make sure that everything can be done in Reading is


done. We will publish details on all of these announcements I have made


and we will add into that the fact that the major banks are coming


forward with over ?750 million of financial support, which will mean


repayment holidays, reduced or waived fees, loan extensions and


increased flexibility of terms and specialist support teams deployed on


the ground for businesses and farmers who desperately need help.


It is a time for our insurance companies and banks to demonstrate


real social responsibility. I believe they are beginning to do


that and we should encourage them to do so. Does the Prime Minister agree


that after months of letting energy companies get away with increasing


their profits on the back of hard-working people across this


country that the Energy Secretary's letter this week was simply too


little too late? I think he was right to write to Ofgem because they


are part of this competitive review which we have announced. But it is


on this side of the House that we have delivered the ?50 off else by


rolling back the cost of the green levies. That is the right approach


rather than promising a freeze to then see prices go back up. Does he


agree that policies creating more jobs than forecast is very


encouraging? But would you also agree that in order to get sustained


growth, we need businesses to invest more? So will he do all he can to


support my right honourable friend, the Chief Secretary, in encouraging


more business investment? In this next stage of the recovery, it is an


increase in business investment that we need to see. I think there are


positive signs from the last GDP numbers. She talks about there being


more jobs than forecast and it is whether bring the Leader of the


Opposition told the CBI in October 2010 they have a programme that will


lead to the disappearance of 1 million jobs. -- it is worth


remembering. Since then, we have seen 1.6 million private sector jobs


and 1.3 million more people in work. More forecasts like that,


please! With almost 1 million young people unemployed and a work


programme in the Chancellor's own words underperforming, Wilbur


Promina is to think again and introduce Labour's youth jobs


guarantee? -- will be Prime Minister think again? If you look at the job


creation record under this Government, as I have just said, 1.3


million more people in work and a reduction in youth unemployment, a


reduction in long-term unemployment, more people in our


workforce than ever before. There is always more to do to get young


people into work. I think the best schemes we have had our ones like


the work experience scheme that seem to be providing real hope and jobs


for our young people. Can I thank my right honourable friend for coming


to Plymouth on Monday to see for himself how hard First Great Western


is working to try to get trains back on track. One thing that will be in


credibly helpful is to make sure we actually have a timetable for these


actions so we can deliver a resilient railway line as well? I


completely understand his concern. The gap in the rail provision


created by the Dawlish disaster is going to take time to deal with, and


above and beyond that, I know what he wants and people in Plymouth want


is a timetable of getting to a three-hour service implement to see


more trains arriving early in the morning. We have a longer term


programme of looking at rail alternatives and at the same time,


restoring the Dawlish line. With economic growth delayed for three


years after the election, we have been left... We have been left with


more young people. With more young people out of work long-term than at


any time for 20 years. Surely we must do more so we don't waste the


potential of a generation? I can only think the honourable gentleman


is suffering from a form of memory loss. He was a Treasury Minister


when we lost 7% of our GDP! When youth unemployment doubled! When


people were being thrown out of work! What has happened under this


Government, the economy is growing, 1.3 million more people in work with


young people getting back to work, while countries elsewhere are


struggling, and our economy is growing, and that is partly because


we took tough and difficult decisions to get the budget deficit,


which he and his henchmen left us, under control. Unfortunately, some


tourist concerns in my constituency reported lost bookings. Partly as a


result of over sensationalising the crisis that we have. When the crisis


is over, Wilbur Prime Minister talked to the Treasury about


allocating a sum of money to market the far south-west to potential


visitors and businesses, to get the message across we really are open


for business? -- will be Prime Minister? This is a concern of a


number of businesses that I have visited, all wanting to see much


more advertising and publicity about how Devon and Cornwall is open for


business. So I will take every opportunity I have to help with that


issue. When the Dawlish line is restored that will be a big moment


to really market the benefits of Devon and Cornwall wherever been on


holiday myself. -- where I have been. Can I ask to recall the day


when he asked the country to imagine a Tory government that would be the


most family-friendly in Europe? And when he reflects on that... When he


reflects on that day, will he consider the more recent report from


the centre for economic and business research, which shows the cost of


raising a child and getting that child through university has


actually risen by ?5,000 in one year? Does he think that for most


families, money is no object? Many families have faced a very tough


time in this country, not least because of the appalling recession


we had under the party opposite. But what this Government has introduced


is, we have taken steps to increase flexible working, we are introducing


tax free childcare, we have supported more childcare for


families and the last government did, helping to-year-olds,


three-year-olds and four-year-olds. We have the new rules on potential


shared leaf and now we have more people in work because the economy


is moving, businesses are employing people and those 1.3 million extra


jobs is 1.3 million extra families with the security and peace of mind


of a regular pay cheque coming in. And that is the best way to help our


families. Thank you. Through you, can I remind the Prime Minister that


in 1998, Northampton suffered serious floods, killing two people


and impact on upon 2000 houses. Since that time, I have noticed we


have not over bothered not to build upon flood plains. Will the Prime


Minister, after this episode has been dealt with, and his time is


more readily available, ensure we do not build on flood plains so people


are not inconvenienced in this way? I think the figures suggest that in


terms of applications for properties being built on flood rains, the


official advice, that includes advice from the Environment Agency,


that the advice is followed in 99% of situations. Areas like London are


part of a flood line so I do not think it is possible to say that no


house can ever be built on a flood plain, but what we need to do is


look at the walls, listen to the experts and only build where we can


protect. -- look at the rules. Thanks to the Parliament, Scots may


soon be free of the bedroom tax. So will he today even sure went to the


House and Scottish people that he will work with the Scottish


Government to help bring this about? -- will he today ensure?


Because if he won't, we will! Under our devolved system, different parts


of the United Kingdom can make different decisions to spend money


as they choose, but in my view it is not fair to say to some of the in


private rented accommodation that you don't get money for extra


bedrooms when you say to someone in social accommodation that you do. I


think it is a basic issue of fairness and that is why it has


overwhelming public support. I undertook a one and a half hour walk


to experience the real difficulties that blind and partially sighted


people experience as pedestrians. It was very tricky. Will my right


honourable friend look very carefully at the recommendations of


that organisation for shared street surfaces? I will look carefully at


what my honourable friend says. I think everyone has noticed how huge


amount of improvements have been made to the way streets and traffic


lights on pavements and everything arranged for particularly this


purpose and I'm very happy to look at what he says and what more needs


to be done. If the Prime Minister believes that flood defences are so


important, why did he cut the budget? As I've explained, we will


be spending ?2.4 billion in this four-year period, compared with ?2.2


billion under Labour. He will find 2.4 is more than 2.2. Also, by


setting up the spending figures all the way up to 2020, he has to ask


the Shadow Chancellor who is backing majestic elation game, if he's going


to have a 0-based budget review, doesn't he have to admit to his


colleagues that he cannot guarantee to match any of the spending we have


announced? Silence. The Prime Minister is aware of a cross-party


group of some 80 MPs campaigning for recognition of our nuclear test


veterans. Given the UK compares poorly as to how other countries


treat their veterans, and the very high incidence of ill health


suffered by their descendants, would the Prime Minister meet with us,


given we have hit a brick wall with the MoD, and given this


government's good track record at recognising past wrongs? I know my


honourable friend has consistently campaigned on this issue and I have


discussed it with him before, and director him a month ago, setting up


the government's view about this. This and previous governments


frequently stated as issue is that there is no peer review residence of


mortality, but it is right to look at going on this issue -- to go on


looking at Prime ministers questions, dominated


by the floods. It is expected to get worse with more rain on its way. The


exchange between Mr Miliband and Mr Cameron began with discussions about


what could be done to help people who are currently suffering and


those who might suffer as it gets worse. They moved on to questions


about how much has been spent, has the government cut, is it spending


more than Labour, what did the Prime Minister turned a little bit nasty.


The Prime Minister maintaining he is spending more in the five-year


period than Labour did in an equivalent five-year period. And


also saying that the figures we gave this morning are right. And also


spending up to 2020. There was floods. What else? Quite a few of


the viewers noticed the preponderance of women on the Tory


front bench. A week late? They say that. One says, an impressive Mr


Miliband capturing the country's concern and anger in the right


proportions. I can't help but think the Prime Minister has made it


political gaffe. That is visited about the floods. Another, Ed


Miliband is trying his best, but he is out of his depth. This from John


Morris in Worcester, Mr Cameron is like King Canute - a load of ladies


appearing too late on his front flood defences to lead. Will David


Cameron reiterate his comments on insurance companies paying quickly?


And this one from Julie, look at them. Look at that build-up.


Westminster needs dredging. I think they are talking about us. This


could be a long while away because of the weather, and how sodden the


ground is, but when this ceases to be an immediate problem, when it all


dies down, what will the political consequences be? I think two. The


first is whether a leader looks like he has got grip. Lots of people are


not obsessed with politics, but when trains are cancelled, homes flooded,


they suddenly zone in on the guy in charge and think, does he look like


he has got it, is he doing the right thing? One of the reasons every


single politician has been donning their wellies in the last couple of


days, they know that the election is coming up. They know that particular


in areas of the South and West, the competition sometimes involving


Labour, but it is a Tory and Lib Dem battle. And the impressions formed


now harden, not just for the elections this May, but also the


general election next year. And Ed Miliband was talking about do you


not just spend money to repair the damage done now, do you spend money


no object to actually deal with the potential of future floods caused by


climate change, and the figure I put to the Prime Minister yesterday of


about half ?1 billion estimated by the climate change committee at what


they say would be necessary to improve that. And what was


interesting, he was asked about that and the cuts to the staff of the


Environment Agency, and he repeatedly did not answer the


question. Will the Prime Minister come to regret money no object? We


have a contingency fund in government. It is entirely right it


is spent at this time... Yes, but that is limited, and money no


object? He's offering money to householders and businesses so that


they can get their houses repaired, putting measures to make sure they


are less likely to flood in the future. These are all welcome


measures. I think there is a debate that we have to have. Outside that


sort of environment. But with real experts to sort of see different


ways of getting much more money into making our whole economy more


resilient against the weather. That is going to require politicians to


work together, it is going to have to be big, and we need to recognise


that if we don't do this and don't have a 25 year plan, we are going to


consign future generations to real problems. Picking up Nick's point,


money is no object, he has committed himself to that. The cameras are


around. Now adding, "for relief. " and he said he wants a resilient


country in the future. That I think is something we have to hold him to


account for. We have to be strategic so that in two or three years time,


perhaps something like this might happen again, we need to make sure


we are prepared. It may be the reason the Prime Minister is not


promising to reverse the job cuts at the Environment Agency is he thinks


they don't need to cut them. But if they cut jobs at headquarters, if


they did less of the things they do at headquarters, they could spend


more on the front line. The Environment Agency does a lot of


different work and people have been drawn in from all the other areas, a


quality in all the other things, to deal with this problem. -- air


quality. The senior management needs to say, yes, we can cope we don't


need thousand people. It added 1000 people in the past year. For


example, on the capital funding, the Darling plan at the end of the last


Labour government was going to see a 50% cut in departments like DEFRA.


They would probably say they would knew once that as far as flat --


flooding is concerned. As we need to find a way to pay for the huge


amount of work that needs to be done over two or three decades to make


sure we are resilient. But as the recommendation to spend twice as


much money than we are at the moment to protect us from the floods? We


have to make a hard-nosed decision. How much will you spend to protect


us from the droughts? This is the problem you all face. If you are


telling us that climate change, global warming, can mean anything at


all, it could be the polar vortex coming into Chicago in the middle of


America, or the hottest temperatures in Australia, or it can be flooding


and drought, I have no idea how you can respond. Many people will say


don't talk about droughts, it will make you look out of touch. But I


will talk about them. If we had a dry year in 2012, if the Duke of


Edinburgh hadn't been made to stand in the rate on that memorable day at


the Jubilee, we would have faced more anger. In the six largest -- we


other sixth-largest economy in the world, we would have seen people


collecting water from tanks. I want concentrate on the floods. They are


now moving into a richer part of the country, closest to the national


media. That means they are getting a lot more coverage. A lot of people


in the North... Yes, a lot more deaths and damage in the north, I


did remember this wall-to-wall coverage in 2007. The governor of


the Bank of England made an amazing announcement this morning, which, if


true, it has huge potential. The Bank of England is forecasting the


economy will grow by 3.4% this year! Gangbusters, I think is the


technical term. It is way above trend and might be filed under


room. He's saying business investment is going to rise by 11%,


which is what we have been waiting for because this growth is not


sustainable on consumer spending alone. I put a caveat here, because


the Bank of England forecasts don't come out as planned, especially when


it involves inflation, but if that is true, that is a potential


political game changer. Absolutely, that is what it would be.


Politicians of all parties and economies have been saying, when


will businesses spend the money they've got in their bank accounts?


I did mean small businesses, big corporations who have got fast


cash. ?750 billion. The only defence of what is a consumer led growth at


the moment has been the hope that the consumer will persuade companies


to unlock their bank balances. If not, we are in trouble because we


will be in debt. If he is right, if his forecast is right, this totally


changes the nature of the economic debate. It's interesting the Tories


couldn't even prime, because of the floods, they couldn't even prime a


Tory backbencher to mention this. The backbenchers are primed to ask


questions at PMQs? What would anybody say about that? They have to


look to not be complacent. When you talk to people, they feel that the


growth in the economy doesn't affect them. They are finding the cost of


living is making life more and more difficult, every month, they are


poorer. I am well aware of the squeeze on the middle and below


middle incomes in recent years, but what your party cannot answer is if


it is a crisis, if it is as bad as you make out, how come people are


spending more than ever? Why our retail sales at record levels? It


has been driven by house prices in London and the south-east. Why would


that mean people are spending more? Because they are selling houses, it


is worth employing people to do their places up. Have you been to


Gateshead? It is packed with people! In Birmingham, Manchester. It is not


just in London. It is a South East centric picture. I was in Plymouth,


in the shopping centre there, and people do not feel the boom has hit


there. I don't think there is a boom because it hasn't hit yet. They are


finding it as more and more difficult to make ends meet. The


whole debate has changed. Ed Balls' comments about an increase in


unemployment and an increase in problems have been proved wrong. The


trend growth as they call it is 2.5%, so it is massively above


trend. There will be an national cull of economists because nobody


told us it was coming. What did you predict? I predicted it would be


above 3%. Where did the Queen go when she said, why did none of you


see it coming? Shoes at the Bank of England. Nobody saw it coming.


Anyway, we will see. Now, half the country might be flooded...


Well, not quite as much as half! But there has been concerned that


certain establishments popular with the Westminster elite might be


drying up. Get the connection? First, the restaurant known as the


Labour Party canteen was put up for sale. Then there were rumours it


might become a wine bar. I think they might be right. I prefer wine


bars to pubs. They were saying it might be a pub. But for the flow of


the narrative, Andrew! We sent former Labour spin doctor Charlie


Whelan on a trip down memory lane, and, needless to say, there were a


few drinks along the way! Ah! Those were the days! Well, for


some of us at least. Now, we have all heard about what went on behind


closed doors of Downing Street, but where did the real business go on?


The red Lion, Westminster's most notorious watering hole. Some said


it would be turned into a trendy wine bar but it isn't. Apparently,


it is just getting a face-lift. It was in here where spin doctors,


politicians and civil servants would meet after a hard day's work. I was


enjoying a drink in the Red Lion when Tony Blair phoned me on my


mobile. Obviously I couldn't speak to the premise in the pub so I came


here he wanted to know why the time was splashing on Britain and the


euro. This was the restaurant where I met Gordon Brown to talk about the


leadership of the Labour Party after Tony Blair. He came back and was


hungry because it was a trendy restaurant and they don't eat there!


He said, I have done a deal with Tony Blair. I'd just laughed my head


off! -- I. So, the two chairman, where I would meet for more intimate


chats. New Labour needed a story to show that we, too, could be tough on


public spending. The Royal yacht! Yeah. A few of us came up with that


idea. And we did splash in a few of the Sunday papers but the problem


was, nobody bothered to tell Tony Blair! Or the Queen! Could you


remember things after you had had a few? Yes. After a few white wines


precursors, a few beers and some soda water. I still think it was you


rather than me writing it down. It was in the telling rather than the


hearing. What was that? I think it was unemployment... I remember


before one Budget, I'd nicked into the press gallery bar. Only about


half an hour before Gordon was about to step up and speak. -- I nipped. I


said, can I have about 5000 cigarettes, please? I think they got


the message that he was going to put up tax on cigarettes! Over to Soho,


and a politicians' favourite restaurant. If you already famous,


you got your picture on the wall. ICU have Michael Foot up here. Sadly


missed. -- I see you have. Tony Blair's book up there. Did Tony ever


come here? I don't think I saw him. Gordon and Damien Duff this place,


too. I always thought, who is this? Charlie! Unbelievable! Doesn't look


anything like me! You look so much healthier now. My ugly mug up here!


Who is this? Andrew Neil! Tell us a few stories about Andrew Neil. I'm a


Saint! He would kill me! -- I must not. Oh, I am filled up now! -- full


up. Following that attractive portrait,


we have the man here in the flesh. Do you miss it all? Certainly not! I


enjoyed fishing in the Highlands of Scotland! Is it not true? Do you not


feel some warmth in your heart as you watch that film, thinking, I


could be briefing with those friendly journalists in the pubs and


watering holes around Westminster? It was certainly fun to go back but


today there is a lot more pressure. You have the whole social media that


wasn't around then. And you were speaking on your phone and you


thought, somebody is bound to be listening in. So it was a matter of


meeting in pubs and it was fun, I will be honest. So it has changed.


With Twitter it is so instant, so did you have a bit more ease of


pressure to sit, brief journalists in your favourite pubs, and spend


the afternoon talking about politics? We certainly did. It is


not just me. The journalists today, there are few of them, there is


pressure and they all have to produce instant stories for their


websites. They have to tweak themselves. So the journalists don't


have time. They cannot spend an afternoon with Charlie Whelan in the


pub! But we used to. And did it work? Clearly books have been


written about the successful spin operation but did it work for you?


Yes, because sometimes... You know, a couple of journalists who came up


with that Royal yacht story. They came up with that. Journalists know


what makes a good story. Could you survive into day's environment? I


don't think so! Of course you could! You think it will be difficult to


get that sort of operation that Labour were? Could you do that now?


I think we could but you would probably have to cut out the


drinking a bit! So you would have to be a bit more healthy. I love that


story -5000 cigarettes before the Budget! Well, it was just not knows


bagging every day from Westminster. Do you think it is better that


Westminster has cleaned up a bit? It is cafe lottos and sparkly water?


Well, I don't know. When you told the Prime Minister we were joining


the euro, what did he say? Gordon Brown said he had never been so


shocked in all his life ever than to be told by Charlie Whelan. But I had


assumed that Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair knew about it. And the


reason why the Prime Minister rang me was because Alistair Campbell had


gone a while, and I don't blame him! -- had gone missing. I think we


had briefed The Times. So they had forgotten to tell Alistair Campbell


and Tony Blair? So the Prime Minister was the last man to know!


You were accused of leaking information that led to the


resigning of Lord Mandelson. Home alone? Did he leak it? I suspect he


leaked it against himself! Was that not you, the first time? I would


never do anything to damage Peter Mandelson's career! Say that hand on


heart! What about now? And Miliband's operation - do you think


it runs a tight ship? He seems to be doing the right things. There was


talk yesterday of going to India. I did a tweet saying, of course he


cannot go to India. And then he is not going. So they are aware of


things like the floods and how to deal with them. A great training


ground reporting on me as a councillor! Don't go away because,


Charlie, cast your mind back to the sum of 2007. A little while but we


can remember. Britain had a new Prime Minister. It was Gordon Brown!


A surge in popularity called the Brown Bounce! Where did that come


from, you ask? It was down to his response to the tough floods at the


time. He is talking to Nick Robinson about how the saving of a power


station in Gloucester was so important. I think people would be


very worried if the damning didn't work and they weren't able to use


the heavy pumps to get water out, because then that electricity power


station would deprive millions of people of power and that would have


a run-off effect to hospitals, shops and stores. And therefore it would


cause a huge additional problem, not just for people who had lost their


electricity but people then losing water and ability to get supplies,


so it was a very important effort last night and I was involved right


up till 11pm. So, that was the then Prime Minister on the floods of


2007. Why should point out 13 people died in these floods and 40 44,600


homes were flooded. What about how Gordon Brown handled that at the


time? Well, maybe they should have worked with people who dealt with


those floods. The main thing is working swiftly... He put pickles --


Eric Pickles up. You don't really want him in charge of a flood


disaster. He has taken control himself now so he is coming back but


he has been forced to go of a flood disaster. He has taken control


himself now so he is coming back but he has been forced to go bit further


than he wanted to by saying, money is no object, which he will come to


regret. It is a crazy thing to say but another Prime Minister is


saying, it is not a blank cheque. And you can imagine the Treasury


pulling their hair out with the Prime Minister saying, money is no


object! We have had conflicting signals from the Government. Some


say Cameron was slow to get into this and there is still the question


of what they mean by money. But people do not want to see


politicians give conflicting messages. They don't fully want to


see politicians, to be honest. It is a very important point because we


used to debate this the whole time and DEFRA, but if you go too soon,


you are in the way, if you go too late, you are behind the curve, but


you have to go. As a junior minister, that timing... But did


they have to put their Wellington boots on and go? They have to go?


Did Gordon Brown go? Yes. And bringing in the troops is always a


good idea. But one thing you have to run the is, and I think you


mentioned it earlier, that this is only affecting a small part of


southern England. The whole of the North and Scotland, they will be


saying, oh! Well, we have to hold you there, because this is what the


answer was. You have won a mild! Thanks to all of our guests, and in


particular, Emily and Richard. The one o'clock News is starting over on


BBC One now. We will be joined by Scotland's Deputy First Minister,


Nicola Sturgeon. Until then, goodbye.


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