25/02/2014 Daily Politics


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Afternoon folks, welcome to the Daily Politics.


Pressure is mounting on Harriet Harman - she says she now "regrets"


that a civil liberties group she used to work for had links to


pro-paedophile campaigners. We'll look at the details of the claims.


Labour wants to show they can be responsible bank managers, but do


their sums add up? We need more housing, but where on


earth do we put it? We'll look at how to square the circle between


giving local communities more power, and the need to build more


infrastructure. And celebrities and politics -


shouldn't they just leave it to the professionals?


All that in the next hour, and with us for the whole programme today is


the presenter, writer, comedian and all round good egg Griff Rhys Jones,


welcome to the show. Not a celebrity, I have to say, or I


wouldn't be able to give my opinion. So let's start today with the


pressure that's mounting on Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman. In


recent weeks, the Daily Mail has published a series of reports on the


links between a civil liberties group she used to work for and


paedophile rights campaigners in the 1970s. The Mail has repeatedly


questioned the Labour MP, her husband the MP Jack Dromey and the


former Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt about their time working for


the National Council for Civil Liberties because of its connection


to the Paedophile Information Exchange. That group, which lobbied


on behalf of paedophiles, was granted affiliate status to the


NCCL. There's no evidence to suggest that Ms Harman, Mr Dromey or Ms


Hewitt personally supported the views of the group, but the Mail


says she has repeatedly refused to answer its questions and has called


her an "apologist for paedophilia". Well, yesterday, Ms Harman said the


newspaper's claims were "horrific" and she denied all of them. Here she


is on the BBC's Newsnight programme last night. There wasn't an


affiliation between the two groups. You make it sound as if there was a


mutuality. There wasn't. Technically, there was an


affiliation. They were part of the wider group. Was that a mistake?


They paid their money to NCCL. NCCL takes money from any lawful


organisation and individual. Was it a mistake, to have that affiliation?


I think what was right was to dispel them from the conference and to make


sure their views were never taken forward. It is a very simple


question. Yes or no, was it a mistake to allow an overt group who


were publicly campaigning for paedophiles to be affiliated, which


is the term they used, to the NCCL when you were the legal officer? I


think on the basis it has created somehow a sense that NCCL's work was


tainted by them, yes, obviously, that is a very unfortunate inference


to have. But it is not the case that my work when I was at NCCL was


influenced by them, was apologising all colluding with paedophilia. That


is an unfair inference and it is a smear. We can speak to the BBC's


James Landale. Why did she not just say it was a mistake? She was caught


between two strategies. Her first strategy was to say nothing and hope


it would fizzle out. It hasn't, so she was forced to give that


interview. I think she didn't want to be seen to give an inch to the


Daily Mail. She and other Labour Party members see this as a battle


with the Daily Mail in the same way the Labour Party had a battle with


regard to articles written about Ralph Miliband. Since she did not


want to give an inch, she has expressed regret in a statement at


the involvement of Paedophile Information Exchange in the NCCL,


but she does not go further than that. She does not want to give any


more ground to the Daily Mail. Just to prove that point, Harriet Harman


has this morning issued a tweet with a picture in which she says: When it


comes to decency and sexualisation of children, would you take lessons


from the Daily Mail? And she has a picture which was on the website


showing very young women in bikinis. So Harriet Harman is making a clear


point that this is now a battle over who is right and wrong. But how much


pressure is she now under? This story is escalating. It is not


toning down. I remember the police are already investigating


information as part of existing operations. There is also a separate


Home Office enquiry as to whether public money was channelled through


the Paedophile Information Exchange. Tom Watson the Labour MP has tweeted


this morning saying: Producing this into a row between Harriet Harman


and the Daily Mail is not the point. So the story has not reached its end


by any means. Joining me now is the femmist writer Julie Bindel. Should


Harriet Harman now apologise properly for allowing this


affiliation with the Paedophile Information Exchange? Absolutely. It


was a huge mistake and it ricocheted across the left at the time. I am a


great admirer of Harriet Harman. She has done wonderful work in


Parliament as a feminist and she has vilified -- she has been vilified


because of that. But the NCCL were absolutely wrong to allow the


Paedophile Information Exchange to affiliate. They were using the


language of an oppressed when a team, language that oppressed gay


groups were using. She should absolutely own up to her mistake.


Why was it not challenged more rigorous Lee at the time? You were


very much part of the left at that time, why was it not challenged


more? I think because, as I said, the Paedophile Information Exchange


use the language of liberation struggles. They also suggested this


was about a fight for children -- for freedom. Why do you think


Harriet Harman is finding it difficult? We heard there that this


has been categorised as a battle with the Daily Mail. But generally


wide would she find it difficult to say, it was wrong, it was a mistake


and I'm sorry? Quite frankly I've no idea and this is not the Harriet


Harman I know and admire. It strikes me she is refusing to take


responsibility and certainly she shouldn't have to take personal


responsibility across the board. But she was part of that decision-making


process. We know that in the NCCL at the time there were a minority who


are challenging this alliance, and we also know that outsiders


challenged the fact that they were affiliated with the NCCL. But as I


say at the time it was seen as almost homophobic teen named gay men


within these child abuse rings as child rapists. People were living in


a climate of fear, and was a cultural relativism so people were


terrified of being accused of some kind of sexual moralist. We are


talking about at the time. This was the 70s. I remember the Paedophile


Information Exchange starting this campaign and I think at the time


paedophilia was not much on the agenda. People did not have a strong


and attitude about it as they do today. There's been a considerable


change in our sort of attitude to this, partly as a result of cases


coming out. However, I think part of the reason there was such ignorance


about this was the terminology. Paedophilia means a lover of


children, which is how this organisation presented themselves.


It is child rape. Feminists at the time were fighting tooth and nail,


some of them within the NCCL, some without, to say, all sex is not good


sex. There is nonconsensual sex. You cannot possibly campaign as some gay


libertarian men were for the abolition of the age of consent


because some men grow up and say they enjoyed abuses children. The


language of liberation was what I think really muddied the waters. But


it was of course a lawful organisation at the time. The Iraq


has changed. -- the era. We're going to leave it there, but thank you.


If there's one area more than any other that Labour have had to claw


back credibility on during their time in opposition, it's been their


handling of the economy. In particular it's their record on


spending, that critics say ran out of control towards the end of their


time in office and helped contribute to the financial crash and


subsequent recession. Well, now Labour have come over all prudent


once again, and are promising not only to balance the books in the


next parliament, but even to run a surplus on the current budget by


2020. In fact, as bank manager in chief Ed Balls is so eager to prove,


Labour can be trusted on the economy that they would even pass a law to


make sure the Government sticks to tough fiscal rules. But running a


current budget surplus wouldn't include borrowing additional money


for long-term investments, whereas the Tories have said they'd go


further and run an absolute surplus - meaning total Government spending


is less than revenue raised. The IFS concluded this would mean Ed Balls


could still borrow ?25 billion a year more than George Osborne, as


the Tories would be forced to make deeper cuts to public spending from


2016. Labour are conducting what they call a zero-based review


looking at how every pound in spent by Government, and this morning


Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie announced


Labour would reform public services to make them more efficient. This


includes Fire And Rescue Services sharing buildings with police


forces, co-locating County Courts and Magistrates' Courts on the same


site, and even the posibilty of scrapping police and crime


commissioners which have been introduced by the Coalition


Government. Chris Leslie the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury is


with us now, along with Treasury Minister Sajid Javid and Ian Swales


from the Liberal Democrats. Welcome to all of you. After that very long


introduction, Chris Leslie, you said you would make sure to stick to your


own fiscal rules you want your manifesto pledges to be audited. All


of that, laudable though it may be, is a tacit admission that you lost


control of the economy, for which you will now have to be child


minded. It is an acknowledgement that, if we win the next general


election, on the current plan, we would inherit a ?79 billion


deficit. That is a deficit they promised to eradicate. They said we


would balance the books completely. It looks as though that will be


quite challenging. We've said the Conservatives and Liberals have


tried unsuccessfully to balance the books. We will make sure we finished


that job in the next Parliament. We are committed to getting the current


budget into surplus as soon as possible by the time of the general


election after next. That does not answer my question as to why you


can't, it seems, be trusted to do this without being checked by the


bodies that you are asking to bet your plans. That is an admission


that you make mistakes before and you don't think the public will give


you the reins second time. Sajid is here because he is on a PR campaign


and you will hear from him shortly. I am here today to set out the


proposals we have. One aspect of savings needs to come from


decluttering public services, because, quite frankly, the lack of


reform we've seen from this Government has added bureaucracy and


administration. They have not decluttering policing. There are


other ways they have added to the cost of the tax payer. Sajid, do you


want to respond to that? This is a PR exercise to slander the Labour


card -- Labour Party, to keep going back to 2010, when, as we know,


there was a global banking crash which did not have anything to do


with. That is what the Labour Party want


you to believe. But the public knows the reality. This has been billed as


a major speech, but hardly anyone has picked up on it, and I think


people realise it is another set of gimmicks. They would also rather


judge Labour by their actions rather than the cheap words they use now.


Back in 1996 there was another Labour Shadow Chancellor called


Gordon Brown that promise, in his words, iron discipline with the


public finances -- that promised. He stuck to Conservative spending plans


and then there was a boom. He stuck to them for a year, but then he let


spending gun, and the result was the largest rate of overspending of any


developed country in the world -- spending go. The biggest bust the


country saw in a hundred years and the largest bank bailout the world


ever saw. You are saying that Labour Party spending in the UK cause the


financial crash that affected the rest of the world? It was a major


contributing factor that -- to the troubles we face, and overspending


was huge by the beginning of 2007, according to the IMF, and many


others, Britain was running the largest deficit of any developed


country and what is called a structural deficit. That is a huge


rate of overspending, and that was happening before the banking crisis.


How is the level of debt going now after four years of coalition


government in terms of proportion of GDP? The rate of borrowing is down.


What about the debt? When the government took office, you heard


Chris talking about what they inherited. The rate of borrowing was


?116 billion per year. I'm not asking about borrowing, I'm talking


about the debt. Which direction is it going in? Anyone would understand


that when you inherit a rate of borrowing it will take time to turn


around. George Osborne said he would balance the books by the end of the


parliament, so at the end of this, the public is out there thinking,


who do we trust to do what they say they will do, bring down borrowing


and bring down the levels of debt. It hasn't happened yet with the


debt. That is misleading. You can't reduce borrowing until you reduce


the rate of borrowing, and that is the deficit. People understand


that. Labour don't want people to understand that. What you are not


being clear about is that you say you will have this balancing of the


books, but you are leaving yourself room to borrow vast amounts of money


on what we call capital spending, on infrastructure projects. So on the


day-to-day, current spending, you say you will balance the books, but


you will spend to invest? It is the same target the current Chancellor


has said. He said in this Parliament that his aim was to get the current


budget into surplus, and now we have said for the next Parliament that we


would target the current budget. It's true we want to reserve the to


state of the economy when we get closer to 2015. How much would you


like to spend? Capital infrastructure spend is a good way


to stimulate the economy, but we've also committed to reduce the level


of national debt by the end of the next Parliament. What about the


Liberal Democrats? Which planned the fancy, Ian Swales? The Liberal


Democrats have not been as clear. Would you have an absolute budget


surplus, so you'd include capital spending, or would you allow


yourself room to spend more with capital spending? As you might


expect, I'm saying we'd be somewhere in the middle. We do believe in a


stronger economy and we want to see the deficit brought down to zero,


but we also believe, as Chris does, that investing in infrastructure is


a good way to go forward, and we are doing more of that now when this


government, as recent plans have shown. I also think we do need a


change. Page one of the document Chris was speaking about this


morning says that the Labour Party would need to govern in a very


different way to how they have in the past. I would certainly agree


with that. But the test is, can they actually do it, and does anybody


believe that they will? If we get elected, we will be saddled with a


?79 billion deficit, so we have to make some tough choices. What would


they be? That is what everyone is dying to know. You're going to but


the 50p tax rate back in. That is one decision that won't be popular


with the rich, but it has to be done. It also won't raise any


revenue. That's debatable. It is only ?100 million per year, which


isn't very much. But today I was talking about the need to get


serious about decluttering the number of local bodies we have. We


spend ?3 billion on the whole commissioning of architecture in the


NHS, and it needs to be Lena. -- it needs to be more lean. Does it make


sense that the new Police Commissioner arrangements cost more


than the police authorities than they replaced? We don't think it


does. We also have the same number of police and fire authorities. At


the same time we are looking at losing front line police officers.


It were going to make savings, take those costs out of management and


bureaucracy rather than the front line. That is something that this


government's spending approach has failed to do. Let's look at the tax


and spend and departmental spending. Do you think that the departments


that are not ring fenced will be able to withstand 7% cuts in their


current spending, year on year? Can I correct something Chris has said.


The commitment is Shadow Chancellor made -- his Shadow Chancellor made


was about current spending, but we are talking about total spending


much over the next few years, by 2019, we plan to eliminate the


deficit whether it is capital spending or current spending. We


believe that a country must live within its means, and what it spends


must be covered by tax. We will not sign up to the gimmicks that the


Labour Party use, like differentiating between capital and


current. Can I ask, if you're going to try and balance the books, you


will not spend to invest, so how are you going to build the houses for


the future and the schools for the future and the hospitals if you


won't spend to invest? We are going to spend to invest that we will make


sure it's raised through taxes. Broadly we have had a decade of flat


spending for the NHS, so are you saying over the next Parliament we


will have to reduce public spending to a level never seen before because


public spending investment is going to generally come down? I'm not


saying that, I'm saying we are reducing the rate of borrowing that


means we have to keep looking at finding ways to find more savings,


and I don't doubt for a minute that it will be difficult as it has been


in the last few years. But we are determined to make the tough


decisions. Labour had opportunity after opportunity in the last few


years to support some of the tough decisions, such as welfare spending,


and they voted against every single one of the initiatives. On welfare


spending do you support the idea of another ?12 billion being taken out


of the welfare budget after 2015? Frankly, no, we have to look


carefully at welfare spending. We want to have a fair society and we


think those that need help should get it, but we also accept that some


changes were needed and we have supported the changes that have


already taken place. Would you go into another coalition with the


Conservatives with George Osborne saying they need to take another ?12


billion? We will be fighting the next election with independent


programmes. If we go into coalition again, we will fight out a programme


like last time but that does not mean we accept everything in the


Tory party manifesto. You seem to ally yourself closer to the Labour


Party. I did ask you a specific question, but you want to spend to


invest, but your not keen on the welfare cuts at George Osborne


suggested. What about the personal tax allowance? If we are talking


about the raising of the threshold for basic rate, we would like to see


it go further. We would like to get it up to the minimum wage level


which would bring it roughly in line with the living wage, which I think


is an important milestone. Is that affordable? We want to see lower


taxes. A lot of money to raise the threshold. Yes, but we still want to


reduce taxes for people who have the lowest take-home pay. Take it away


through VAT and cuts to tax credits then? Come on. I want to ask you


about Harriet Harman which is the story mainly being discussed today.


Should she fully apologise to the organisation that she worked for


having the Paedophile Information Exchange as an affiliate


organisation? Harriet has been under a lot of attack by the Daily Mail on


this and she has said that she regrets that this odious


organisation had this affiliation with the NCCL 30 years ago. Is that


enough? She's being accused of being an apologist for paedophilia. There


can be nothing more absurd or hurtful. It is an appalling thing


for her to deal with. I'm sure nobody round this table really


thinks that that is the essence of Harriet Harman. But to draw a line,


should she make a full apology? I actually think she said the right


thing in terms of regretting that this organisation has now been


allowed to besmirch a lot of the good work that the organisation she


was with at the time was doing. That is a different order of issue as to


whether she is an apologist for paedophilia, which has been on the


front page of the Daily Mail for the past four days. You think they are


running a smear campaign? Undoubtedly. There are many things


going on in politics but I hope none of us would never resort to that


level of mudslinging, that sort of ridiculous accusation. It is just


absurd. Thank you, gentlemen. It is a perennial headache for governments


of all persuasions. We the public want more homes, improved transport


links and a new generation of power plants, but just not in the


backyard. Get it wrong, and ministers stand accused of drawing


up a charter for not in my backyard types, or concreting over England.


But can the balance be pulled off? Here's David.


If only planning was this simple. The Piper Central London model.


Neat, and not a protest inside. When the coalition came to power they


promised people are much greater say in the things that really mattered


to them, like what's get built -- what gets built and where. But they


also need to do the big things like transport links, power stations and


of course, a lot more housing. So how do they do that and keep the


locals happy at the same time? In England, the government has scrapped


regional planning targets and given community greater input into what


gets built in their areas. But they've also slimmed down planning


policy from literally thousands of pages to just over 50, and they want


to see thousands of homes built in the coming years. That has led some


to wonder what local is really means. The trouble with localism is


that it means all things to all men and women, and we created a


situation of unreasonable expectations. People thought it


meant they could say no when sometimes they can't, and also, it's


about having localism introduced in planning without it being introduced


in some other areas which are very centralised. The government have


also made it harder to use judicial reviews as a way of stalling


development, yet some people feel that the dice is loaded in the


favour of those opposed to new schemes rather than those who need


somewhere to live. We need local, trusted champions, making the same


sort of case for housing in their area as say, for example, the Royal


Society for the Protection of Birds does for birds. At the same time as


championing localism, control over infrastructure projects has been


moved to ministers, which might make the more democratic, but also more


difficult to stop. Is there actually a way of squaring the circle? The


problem at the moment is that local communities and councils have very


little financial incentive to allow building of any kind, commercial or


residential or infrastructure, in their areas. We have to change that


and allow those local communities to reap the benefits of development


were not just to feel the pain. We all, collectively, did not really


make the case for housing, but what we need in terms of


telecommunications infrastructure, what we need in terms of energy to


keep the lights on, what we need to build in terms of connectivity,


getting people from a to B. We have to persuade the public that not only


do we need these things as a nation, and in their place, but it


actually translates to stuff in their area. Ministers get paid to


take the big decisions, the ones which shape a nation. In planning,


they have to decide to what extent they are on the side of the little


guy. Our guest of the day, Griff Rhys Jones, is president of Civic


Voice, and we are joined by the Conservative MP John Howell. Griff


Rhys Jones, would you say as a civic minded person that you automatically


and not in my backyard type? I am in that I think that they are a good


idea. Where it is important that people take a concern or interest in


what happens in their local environment, that's a valid and


important thing. It was set up by a Conservative government, the civic


movement, Duncan Sands put it in in order to help people to be involved


in what is happening in their own area. Too often is the idea that


it's perpetrated by a group of people stopping everything


happening. What most people feel is they think, how did that happen?


What is earthy -- on earth is happening question why do I live in


an area where there is a derelict site that has been a derelict site


for maybe getting on for 50 years in central London? We can walk around


central London and wonder why that happens, and why is that the case,


so it's not just a question looking at people from the point of view of


saying they are naysayers. They are people who might be concerned about


what's happening in their area. And are you concerned about planning


reforms? I'm concerned about aspects of them. I worry there might be an


idea we can reduce planning legislation to 65 pages when that


cannot be the case. Planning starts at the front gate and the way it


evolved over the last 50 years is effectively to deal with all the


different conditions that came into play, with different and local


considerations will stop --. If we chop that down then there will be


additions in the future because simple sentences are open to


complicated interpretations, even when they are good sentences. And


erosion of the green belt. The point about reducing the legislation, as


it were, the guidance, down to 50 pages, is I think a misunderstood


one. What we did is to take over 1000 pages, and through an


enormously long process, boil it down to 50 pages of concise


information that is compressible. But it is ambiguous and can be


interpreted then in lots of different ways. Also, as many in


your own party feel, it gives developers the right. I don't think


it does at all. National policy framework introduces practically


nothing do. -- new. All it does is take existing guidance and boil it


down to 50 pages. That has been of enormous value to people and in my


own constituency neighbourhood planning has been introduced and is


going very well. The civic interest has been shown enormously by people


in my constituency. One in ten people turned up to the same polling


booth and only voted for the referendum, they did not vote for


the County Council election on the same day. Is John Howell right when


he says it does not give builders more right to interpret the guidance


to their advantage? I don't think he is right. The framework is an


interesting and worthwhile document. What is more complicated as some of


the guidelines that have gone out to local authorities. They need a


five-year land plan and some have not been given enough time to do


that. Consequently, there are gaps which are being exploited by


developers, because, effectively, they are saying, look, there is a


piece of secondary legislation which says if you as a council have not


done this, these guidelines will apply willy-nilly. As a result,


there are some bad developments happening. We must never forget that


over 90% of planning applications did go through. It is the 10% of


rather bad planning applications which are now... Let me pick you up


on Matt. 76% of councils have at least a draft planning process. --


pick you up on that. That is a good thing. Without that plan, people are


exposed to this. All we're asking them to do is, when they are putting


forward their plans, we asked them to prove they deliver them. Do you


accept you have ditched this idea of Brownfield only sites first. No, not


in the slightest. You are not said that they had to be looked at first.


The National Trust says its research shows that half of councils with


green belt land are preparing to allocate some of it to development


while Brownfield sites are overlooked. Not at all. They are


still the priority. Priority is not the same as saying it has to be. I


can give you an example. In Bradford, people have gone to the


council and said it is not financially viable for us to develop


Brownfield sites. It is only financially viable for us to develop


in other places, areas of rather beautiful green field values, around


existing villages. So they had been allocated to expansion for the


simple reason that developers have set a standard for themselves.


They've said, we could not possibly make profit out of this. Councils do


not have too accept what developers tell them and they do not accept.


They have to test viability arguments. Are they able to actually


fight those decisions? Under planning regulations, they become


liable for failed appeals, and therefore when they are strapped for


cash... They always have been! I know they always have been, but the


presumption is, actually, with the developer. It is also to people


fighting bad ideas. They becoming sourced it and may simply be


appealed. The presumption is neighbourhood planning is the way


forward. We have almost 800 communities around the country


engaging in neighbourhood planning. They are engaging with your civic


pride. The worry is that will not result in anything because it will


all be called off. We have to leave it there, but thank you.


The IT company ATOS, which delivers disability benefit assessments, was


repeatedly warned by the Government to improve its service, according to


the disabilities minister Mike Penning. ATOS has said it wants to


leave its Government contract early and when asked yesterday in the


Commons, Mr Penning said he intends to get out of the deal and claimed


it won't cost the taxpayer extra money. The issue is to do would be


an acceptable backlog that ATOS have built up. -- to do with the


unacceptable backlog. Given that ATOS have announced they want to


withdraw from the contract negotiated with the party opposite,


will he agree with me it would be a disgrace if the hard-pressed


taxpayer had to pay any form of compensation to this company? ATOS


has acted as a lightning rod for all that is wrong with this assessment.


They are delivering a contract to Government specified guidelines. It


is no surprise to many that ATOS, appointed by the last Labour


Government, have now failed their own work capability assessment.


Considering appeals upheld were 40% of original decisions, what can be


done now to make sure those original decisions in the first place are far


more accurate? We're joined now by Anne Begg, who's


chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, and you saw her


there speaking in the debate. Is Labour to blame for this? We signed


the original contract, but this company -- this coalition


renegotiated that. Also what this Government did was roll out much


more quickly the migration from incapacity benefit on to employment


and allowance. But there are flaws in the contract. ATOS say they want


to terminate the contract because of persistent threats against their


staff. Do you think they are justified in pulling the plug? I


would've liked the Government to pull the plug earlier. We've been


calling for that for some time now. If ATOS failed to deliver, they


don't actually seem to suffer any penalty. In this case, I feel


slightly sorry for the company. They've become the lightning rod


which has attracted all the unhappiness about the work


capability assessments have been carried out. All the hatred and


upset has been poured on them. As the week there were demonstrations


outside many of their officers. So I can understand as a company they


must fear their reputation -- fear for their reputation. It is


perfectly understandable why the people who have been failed by the


system are feeling very annoyed. They want help, many of them want to


go back to work. In the media, they are portrayed as lazy. They are


not, they want help, but also to do a job they can do. And when they are


ill, they do not want to be badgered into always having to go back into


the job centre to sign-on. The Government has been keen to reduce


the welfare bill. They say tests were not stringent enough, too many


were on incapacity benefits. Then you hear these terrible stories of


people being put through what are probably humiliating experiences to


get benefits they feel they rightly deserve. I once met a doctor in


Northern Ireland who explained one of the problems with new legislation


which was designed to catch cheats or people exploiting the system is


that the actual people exploiting the system continue to find their


way around it. The people who really suffer those who deserve assistance


and help the most. Putting in some safeguards against that happening is


part of the business of making sure the contract is well done. On the


other hand, this is a farce that is happening democratically and is a


useful bus -- is useful tool to bring it into the public eye. We


have to continue looking at these things. Who will foot the Bill? I


honestly don't know, I haven't seen the contract because of


confidentiality. So the select committee has not been able to study


the contract. The minister was saying yesterday they could not get


out of the contract in 2010 because it would cost a lot of money, but


they don't seem to be saying it now. So I don't know if that is true or


not. The taxpayer at the moment is paying a huge amount for a flawed


system. Huge amounts are being paid to reassess people that really


should not be reassessed. I had a 64-year-old person about to go


through his assessment this week. By the time he goes through the system,


he will be on the state pension. That is a waste of money and a lot


of activists are saying this is wasting huge amounts of Government


money and is not getting the right result. Thank you.


Scottish Independence is understandably dominating the news


agenda at the moment, but in Wales there are also important debates


underway about how the country is run. Since devolution, Wales has


gone its own way in a number of areas, not least in health and


education, so should the nation be seen as a trailblazer for the rest


of the UK? Devolution can create laboratory of


ideas for the rest of the UK. It is an idea which has long been


articulated. Wales has been busy experimenting since 1999.


Prescriptions in Wales have been free since 2007, an idea adopted by


governments in Northern Ireland and Scotland, who also followed the lead


of Wales in charging plastic bags. The ban on smoking was first


introduced in Scotland, but Welsh Assembly members had voted for it


three years earlier. A snapshot of policy development across the UK.


But do we learn enough from each other? It is difficult at the moment


for the devolved governments to speak to and learn from each other.


We still have a bit of a risk where we are not learning from others as


quickly as we code, both in terms of best practice and policy failure. It


would be good to have more definite mechanisms in place so the


governments of the nations can learn more effectively from each other.


With governments of a different colour at both ends of the M4, there


is unlikely to be too much policy adoption. They are frequently at


loggerheads over big-ticket items such as education and welfare. We


have to make it clear that Blair's speech was for England only, not for


Wales. Then we widened it into a broad and back broader issue, just


to make it clear to the people of Wales that there was a distinct


Welsh emphasis to the programme we would be drawing up to put in a


A distinctive Welsh programme that rejects the marketisation of


services but with Wales languishing at the bottom of education tables


and regularly missing key health targets, critics argue it is the


wrong programme. Nevertheless, Wales voted in 2011 to give the assembly


the necessary tools to make further changes. The referendum to give the


Assembly full lawmaking powers hardly caught the imagination, but


it did mark a significant step in the devolution journey. I would love


to have the powers that Carwyn Jones has now. Had it been available to me


in the year 2000 when I took over as First Minister, because it was quite


frustrating having to ask Westminster to pass legislation on


our behalf. And powers and the possible devolution of further


policy areas could see the Welsh laboratory become more experimental


in the years to come, but has it so far produced any eureka moments?


That is a matter of debate. After all, policy development can be more


of an art than a science. We have heard about the record of devolution


in Wales, but what about the Labour run Welsh government? How are they


faring? Well we can speak now to Jeff Cuthbert, Communities Minister


in the Welsh government, and Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh


Conservatives. Welcome to both of you. Jeff Cuthbert, why do Welsh


hospitals underperform? I think we need to be careful with statements


like that. What that does is create a lot of mistrust and fright amongst


patients. Patient satisfaction, those using the NHS in Wales, that


shows a satisfaction rate of over 90% so it's not fair to say


hospitals are underperforming. There will be incidents from time to


time, and those are investigated, as is happening at the moment with a


couple of hospitals. There are figures here I'd say 50% of Welsh


patients wait six weeks for bowel cancer scans compared to 2% in


England, simile for MRI scans, and 80% of patients were waiting similar


for your ring tests which can be used to detect bladder cancer. --


your ring test. You are comparing apples and pears. The issue of


waiting times in England is calculated in a different way from


waiting times in Wales. That doesn't mean we don't look at the issue and


try and improve matters, but the raw comparison is unfair, and it doesn't


produce realistic comparisons. That has been accepted by the medical


profession. Andrew Davies, this is a political football, isn't it? We


often hear in Prime Minister's Question Time, look at the Labour


record in Wales, it's just an easy slogan to bash the Labour Party? I


don't think that's the case at all. If you look at the big ticket items


like the economy, health, education, regrettably Wales does lag behind


other parts of the UK. It's not because the Welsh aren't in --


aspiring to be the best at everything, it's just the Welsh


government policy lead since they took power in 1999. So surely you


and your colleagues are accountable? Let's be clear, Andrew Davies


mentions the economy. The latest figures show that unemployment in


Wales is lower than in the rest of the UK, and in the crucial area of


young people, 16 and 17-year-old, there has been a 22% drop in the


numbers out of work. A lot down to the successful growth scheme which


is creating 10,000 opportunities. As I am talking to you, the First


Minister is in the US looking to win good contracts for Wales, inward


investment, and promoting Wales as a tourist centre. We are doing our


best to raise the profile. It is disappointing that the leader of the


opposition continues to talk Wales down. Andrew RT Davies, are you


talking Wales down because it is politically expedient? Far from it.


I see huge ambition in Wales but the facts speak for themselves. If you


look at GBA -- GVA, we are 70% less than the rest of the UK. The


government set a goal of 90% GVA. Look out waiting times in the NHS,


one in seven people in Wales are on a waiting list, and the cancer


waiting times have not been met since 2009. And education, if you


take the internationally recognised standard, regrettably, year on year,


we have got worse in those assessments. It's not because the


people of Wales don't have the ambition, or because the


professionals in the areas haven't got the desire to get on in life,


it's because the policy direction that the Welsh Labour government


have set and been responsible for since 1999 since the assembly came


into being. Griff Rhys Jones, had you think Wales is faring? I have to


speak to somebody who runs two businesses in Wales, both of which


are run by people who are very dedicated and very good people, so I


don't find any sense in which the idea that Wales is not a place where


business can thrive has any validity. But also, what's important


for Wales is to be aware that, just like any other country, if it has a


priority about its economy and about its organisation. Do you think the


priorities right in Wales at the moment? It's all raise the wrong


thing to stand back and say we are fine, don't pick on us because we


are Welsh. There is a sense in which we ought to be trying to achieve


better standards, and I hope that that would be something that is


important. There is a tendency in Wales to think of yourself as a


subject nation, repressed place, special case, and I think that's


very negative and not usable. Why don't you think there is a clamour


for independence by a section of the population as there is in Scotland?


I think, possibly, Welsh people are too sensible. There is a sense in


which if you turn independence movements into a reverse racism,


then we have a problem. What's important about independence is a


pride in what is achievable and has been achieved, not a sense of being


hard done by, which is one of the primary factors that drives the


strong independence movements. Jeff Cuthbert, do you agree with that?


Does it come down to attitude? Should the Welsh not be seeing


themselves as a subject nation and should be striving more, whoever is


in power? Yes, I agree that the situation is different to that in


Scotland. Let me make it clear, we hope very much that the people of


Scotland do not vote to leave us in Wales by separating from the UK. But


there is no appetite for independence in Wales, and I think


Griff Rhys Jones is quite right when he says that we don't want special


consideration in that sense. We are a proud nation, we want to make sure


that the economy is as strong this week can have it, we have a lot of


work to do will stop I want to make some points on the issue of


education, which the leader of the opposition raised, because we take


those matters very, very seriously indeed. Let me ask Andrew RT Davies,


what about your relationship with the Welsh Secretary, David Jones


question mark how would you describe it? We work very well at the end of


the day -- David Jones? How would you describe it? Is the most senior


Welsh politician in London, arguing for a better state for Anglesey and


the electrification that will take ties between London and Swansea. So


why don't you agree on giving or granting Wales tax varying powers,


which David Jones would like to see? You are wrong there. We agree with


the silk commission recommendations that they should be an element of


devolution on income tax. That is in the government strategy. So why did


you sack for members of your team? You are talking about a specific


measure. That is not the principle of devolving income tax in Cardiff


Bay. It's also about devolving stamp duty and other taxes so there is


greater fiscal responsibility. And you don't agree on that? We are at


the draft stage. What David and myself are completely united over is


making sure that future government in Cardiff has an element of fiscal


responsibility because that will create better government and better


responsibility and accountability in Wales. Gentlemen, thank you very


much. Earlier we spoke about Harriet Harman and the links between a civil


liberties group she used to work for and paedophile rights campaigners in


the 1970s. In the last few moments she has spoken to the TV cameras.


Well, I'm not going to apologise, because I've got nothing to


apologise for. I very much regret that this vile organisation ever


existed and that it ever had anything to do with NCCL, but it did


not affect my work at NCCL. They had been pushed to the margins before I


even went to NCCL, and to allege I was involved in collusion with


paedophilia, or apologising for paedophilia is quite wrong and is a


smear. Harriet Harman responding again to the accusations and calls


for her to apologise. What does it take to get an issue into the news?


A well reasoned argument? A petition? A demonstration? Or


perhaps a little bit of stardust. Politicians and campaigners alike


are desperate to get celebrities on board, although as David Bowie


discovered to his cost last week it can land them in a bit of trouble.


The singer ended his acceptance speech at the BRIT Awards with the


words, "Scotland stay with us" and promptly faced a barrage of


criticism from angry pro-independence campaigners. So is


it ever a good thing for celebs to get involved? Here's some who've had


a go. Watching that rogues gallery is the


writer Zoe Williams. Why would celebrities bother to put their


heads above the parapet? They get a hell of a lot of offers, you have to


think about how many times people have gone to Angelina Jolie and said


they would change their lives if she did it. I think she's a special


case, because personally, she has a lot of interest, with those adopted


children and the connections in the countries. She became very


interested in the whole geopolitical area, and it's completely Judith, --


legitimate for her to follow it up. Does it transform the cause really?


That is why you entice the celebrities in, but does it change


anything? The problem is it is used indiscriminately. If you are


somebody with no relevance to the cause, and you're trying to get some


following and hijack the popularity, that's problematic. And it bears


down on the person themselves. But I think that's unfair. We can't have


it both ways. We can't say celebrities cannot intervene,


because you're saying you just need to live in your little bubble and


not care about the world. Do you get lots of offers? Are they causes you


like? There is a big distinction between a political cause and they


cause which effectively -- a cause which effectively needs publicity.


The reason people involved themselves, and celebrities are the


most part, is to get publicity for a forgotten corner or area which needs


focus. When celebrities stand up and say they are just being a billboard


for this particular area which you might not know about, I don't see


that as wrong. I'm afraid we have do end it there. It was short, Zoe, I


apologise. That is it for today. Thanks to our guess. Thanks Zoe for


coming on at the end -- thanks to our guess. I will be back tomorrow


with Andrew. Goodbye.


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