12/03/2014 Daily Politics


12/03/2014

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn present live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions and the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Daily Politics. After months of internal

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wrangling, Ed Miliband's given us Labour's policy on an EU referendum.

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He has promised an in/out referendum in the event of any changes, but he

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thinks that there won't be any changes, so it won't happen. You

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could be forgiven for being confused.

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The Prime Minister of Ukraine's gone to the White House to discuss the

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crisis over Crimea. I've asked the country's ambassador in London what

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he makes of the West's response. It's battle of the deputies at PMQs

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today as the Prime Minister is on an official visit to Israel. Clegg

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versus Harman, and all the rest of the action, will be live at midday.

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And speaking of PMQs, we'll take a look at the top five ways to

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confuse, distract and generally tick off your opponent in a noisy Commons

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chamber. All that coming up in the next 90

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minutes of TV so good it'll probably prevent BBC Two being closed down

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and moved online. And joining us for the duration are two of the sharpest

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minds in Westminster, and they're also two of the sharpest dressers.

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Oh, yes. It's Shadow Leader of the House Angela Eagle, who says she

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once went on an official visit without realising she was wearing

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odd shoes. I know the feeling. It's happened to us all. Nobody noticed!

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Just me. And Business Minister Matt Hancock, who's famed for wearing a

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maroon V neck pullover under his suit jacket, a habit described by

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one newspaper recently as "fogeyish". Welcome to both of you.

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After that sartorial introduction, let's turn first to Ed Miliband's

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announcement that he's ruling out a referendum on Britain's membership

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of the EU - except in what he calls the unlikely event that we decide to

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transfer further powers to Brussels. Here's the Labour leader speaking

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earlier this morning. Today I am announcing that the next

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Labour government will legislate for a new lock. Not simply a referendum

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on any treaty change proposing the transfer of powers, because there

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have been too many referenda like that in other countries which have

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been ignored. But a lock that guarantees there will be no transfer

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of powers without an in/out referendum. Without a clear choice

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about whether Britain will stay in the youth.

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Ed Miliband speaking earlier. He had already said as much in the

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financial Times this morning in an article. Today's announcement is a

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big deal, not least because it opens up a major dividing line between the

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two biggest parties, and it has big implications for UKIP and the Lib

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Dems, too. JoCo, remind us where they all now stand.

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Yes, you could be forgiven for losing track of exactly what the

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main parties are offering when it comes to a vote on our relationship

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with the EU. Only last year Ed Miliband decided to back the

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Government's so-called "referendum lock" - a law passed in 2010 which

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would give the public the chance to accept or reject any major new EU

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treaty if it represented a big loss of power to Brussels.

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Today Mr Miliband has gone further. He's said that Labour will legislate

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so that any new transfer of power triggers an in/out referendum on

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Britain's membership of the EU. So is an in/out referendum inevitable

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under Labour? Well, no, not according to... Ed Miliband. He's

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said that it's "unlikely there will be any such proposals for a transfer

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of powers in the next parliament". That marks a clear dividing line

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with the Conservatives. If elected, David Cameron has promised to hold

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an in/out referendum in 2017 after attempting to renegotiate Britain's

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relationship with the EU. Instead Mr Miliband has edged closer to Nick

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Clegg's position on Europe. In the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto, he promised

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to hold an in/out referendum the next time there is a "fundamental

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change" in the EU's treaty arrangements.

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And then there's Nigel Farage. He would hold an immediate referendum

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on Britain's EU membership. But now that the Tories are the only major

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party guaranteeing a vote, how can he persuade people to vote UKIP?

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Andrew. Thank you, JoCo! You covered that

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very well. Angela Eagle, your position was that you would have a

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referendum, but it would be an treaty change, and it would be

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whether we liked the treaty change? Is that correct? We supported the

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conservative legislation last year. Actually, it was 2011. And I believe

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you abstained on it. It is on the statute book. And you supported

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that? What we have done today... We will come to that in a moment. Until

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today, your policy was to support coalition policy, which was that if

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there are treaty changes, they should be put to a vote? Yes. The

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change today in the policy, then, is that if there are treaty changes,

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then it would become not a vote on the changes, but an in/out

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referendum? What we have said is that if there is any further

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transfer of power from the UK to Brussels in any future treaty

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changes, we won't have a treaty -based referendum, we will have an

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in/out referendum. That is Labour's lock, which Ed Miliband announced in

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his speech today. But you also think that it is unlikely in the course of

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a Labour government elected in 2015 and running for five years but there

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would be any treaty changes that would take place? What Ed Miliband

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said today is that it is unlikely but possible, because we don't have

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a crystal ball in which we can completely predict what will happen

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in the future. There are areas where EU members might want to continue

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arrangement, particularly on the fiscal union for those in the

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Eurozone, which might have implications. So what he has said is

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that our priority is a Labour government will be jobs, growth, the

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NHS, and not banging on about Europe. But if there were these

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changes that happened in Europe which looked like they would lead to

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treaty change and more powers to Brussels, first of all we would have

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to agree them, and if we did agree them, we would give the British

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people a choice in an in/out referendum. But you do think it is

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unlikely that there would be the treaty changes, and therefore I'm

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likely under Labour that there would be an in/out referendum? I think Ed

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Miliband has been very upfront today. Our policy isn't to go for

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the treaty change or to bang on about Europe. There are more

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important things to do for a government. So he said we will

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concentrate on them. But he also recognises and acknowledges that

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people are worried about continuing drift of powers to Europe, and he

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has given this commitment on a Labour lock which, if circumstances

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are right, and he thinks it is unlikely, there would be this shift

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of powers, there would be a guarantee, a legislative guarantee,

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of an in/out referendum. Can we also established that they

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couldn't even be a referendum on this and less and Miller band

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government had agreed to treaty changes in the first place? -- and

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Ed Miliband government. Yes. There could be reforms on access to

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benefits, foreign criminals, things you could do to make Europe better

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without treaty change, but if there were an agreement during the next

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Labour government to treaty change, that would buy legislation be put to

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the people in a referendum. And if there were treaty changes, and you

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put these to the British people, which would then be an in/out

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referendum, so the British people would be asked to vote to stay in

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Europe, and to agree the treaty changes as well, how would you vote

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if you didn't like the treaty changes but wanted to stay in

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Europe? I think that the issue is that a lot of the people that want

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to have a referendum are talking about out. I understand that, but

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what about my question? It is entirely theoretical... A lot of

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people might say, I don't want to give any more power to Brussels,

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although that is what they have agreed to, but I don't want to

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leave, I want the status quo. How would you vote? The issue about

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Europe is that nobody wants the status quo. We want to improve the

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way that Europe works. It is clear from talking to all our voters that

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there are things that voters are worried about about Europe.

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Especially on issues like access. How would that person vote? You make

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changes that require a referendum. But if somebody wants to stay in

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Europe but not doesn't want the changes, how would they vote? It is

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entirely hypothetical. We don't know what that would be. What is wrong

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with the position? It is utterly incomprehensible, as we have just

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seen. There is a perfectly reasonable argument for lots of

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people who would say, we don't want to give more powers to Brussels, but

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we don't want to leave, either. I happen to think we want to get

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powers back from Brussels, so we have a very simple proposition at

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the next election, which is that the Conservatives, we now know, are the

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only party that can deliver a referendum. UKIP say they want a

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referendum but can't deliver it. All that a vote for UKIP will do is

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increase the chances of Ed Miliband becoming Prime Minister. The Lib

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Dems say they don't what a referendum at all. It is dead

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straight at the election. If you are in favour of a referendum, the only

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party that can deliver that is a vote for the Conservative Party. And

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your own Conservative Party chairman told us that only 6% of the British

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people think it is the most important issue facing Britain

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today. You are banging on as a Tory obsession on an issue of which the

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British people don't regard it is that important. Of course, it is one

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issue among many that are important for the future of the country. You

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are not giving us a referendum on the 17 issues above it in the list

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on the pole. -- the poll. But this is the sort of issue that you would

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put to a referendum, in the same way that independence for Scotland is

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the sort of issue you would put to a referendum. The Scottish people

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voted for a national government, so that is clearly important to the

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people of Scotland. Even UKIP, who wants to leave Europe, their policy

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is not just to leave Europe, it is immediately to have a referendum. So

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there is a perfectly reasonable argument for referendum. Lord

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Ashcroft says that the promised referendum is a sideshow. You are

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going to give us a referendum anyway. I think that resolving our

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relationship with the European Union is a perfectly reasonable task for a

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government to do, amongst many other tasks. And that is what an elected

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majority Conservative government will do. Of course we have to

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continue turning around the economy, and of course there are

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many other areas of work that we have been working very hard on, that

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are as yet unresolved. Youth unemployment is coming down, there

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is further to go. But a referendum on Europe, you could be guaranteed

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that we are the only party that can deliver that. You might hear a bit

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more of that point over the year ahead! Finally, Angela Eagle, on the

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matter of a referendum on Europe, there is, I'm right in saying, no

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difference between you now and the Lib Dems? I think there is a

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narrower... We have always agreed with the Liberal Democrats that

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Britain's future is best in Europe for strategic reasons, reasons of

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the economy. But you are now the same on how and when and under what

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circumstances we would have a referendum? I think that we are

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closer together with the Liberal Democrats on that. There is no

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difference. But what we are not doing is putting in a huge amount of

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uncertainty, banging on about Europe, uncertainty for business, by

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having an arbitrary date for referendum. There is uncertainty

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because your policy is incomprehensible. It is absolutely

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clear. There is no difference between you and the Lib Dems now on

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the matter of a referendum? No. We are clearly both pro-European

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parties who want to give the British people a say.

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Thank you all very much. The interim Prime Minister of

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Ukraine is travelling to Washington today to discuss the ongoing

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stand-off with Russia over Crimea. Moscow is showing no signs of

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backing down despite pressure from the West. David Cameron warned this

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week of further consequences if Moscow tries to use an independence

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referendum in Crimea this Sunday to strengthen its hold over the region.

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Yesterday I spoke to Ukraine's ambassador to London, Volodymyr

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Khandogiy, and asked him if he accepted that Crimea was on the way

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to becoming part of Russia. We are determined to continue our

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efforts with our partners and friends to prevent Russia from doing

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this. Angela Merkel and David Cameron have

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said that if the referendum which looks highly likely seals the

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annexation of Crimea to Russia, there would be consequences. What

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would Vladimir Putin listen to in terms of consequences?

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Putin and Russia is a nuclear weapon state and posturing itself as a

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super power so it's difficult to draw a list of the actions which

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Russia will be willing to take, but we still have to exert pressure on

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Russia, not only in the economic area, but there are other,

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political, diplomatic and even military, the use of force should be

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considered at this stage. Military action seems unlikely. The

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consequences, the West seemed to have made it clear that that would

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be probably off the table or at least a last resort, but in terms of

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economics, David Cameron famously once said in regard to the Georgia

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conflict that if Russians marched into Georgia he would stop them

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marching into sell bridges. Do you -- Selfridges. Do you think David

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Cameron is prepared to put his money where his mouth is in regard to

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Ukraine? It would make the West to realise that without targeted, but

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very strong economic pressure, Russia would not stop what it's

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doing. But as you mentioned, military response, of course, this

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is a very lylikely thing and no-one would like it. No-one. In the first

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place in Ukraine, no-one would like it. But, again, what we are facing

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now is the blatant violation and very serious situations, which

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amounts to aggression. If Russia continues to ignore the West what

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happened? -- what happens? Do you end up with some sort of stand

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gorilla we're -- guR Rhyl la -- guerilla warfare? There is a real

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poght of further escalation of the -- possibility of further escalation

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of the troubles in Crimea and we would like to avoid that escalation,

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but the country that has to stop it and that has to avoid it in the

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first place the further escalation is Russia. All of us, western

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countries, EU, has to work very hard and demonstrate strength in face of

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the Russian invasion. On that basis, Matt Hancock, how much strength

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should the Government be showing? He talked about the military option. Is

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that true? I think it's absolutely vital to try to de-escalate this

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crisis and that's been the goal of the Government throughout. That

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does, of course, involve considering economic and targeted sanctions.

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Military is off the table? There is no way that will happen? We have

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been trying throughout to de-escalate the crisis. Terms of

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economic sanctions, how far should the Government go, because so far

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it's proven totally useless in terms of persuading Vladimir Putin to back

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down? Think one of the -- I think one of the moments at which he took

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a pause was when the stock market opened and it fell 10% last Monday.

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I think you can see the impact of economic consequences, even though

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that wasn't as a direct consequence of action. It was temporary, because

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it pulled back and recovered? Who knows what the reasons for that are,

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because they may have seen at that point the conflict

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December-escalating. It wasn't direct action from the West or

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Government that forced his hand. What would? We have been absolutely

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clear that we are happeny to consider and meet -- need to

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consider further consequences, not least as the ambassador said, should

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this - What are they? What would do it? You've got the referendum on

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Sunday and after Sunday unless things change dramatically, Crimea

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goes back to Russia. As you said in interviewing the ambassador, there

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are targeted interventions and you will understand why we don't want to

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show our hand too early. Should the Government be tougher? Would Labour

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be tougher? We supported what they've done and said in the

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statement that we had on Monday after the EU council that we were

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supportive of what the Government had done, but we don't want them to

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take things off the tail. We want them - You would have some sort of

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military action? It doesn't help to speculate in diplomatic terms about

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what consequences might be. What you have to do is do the work to ensure

:21:14.:21:20.

that you can create a proper united approach among NATO and the allies

:21:21.:21:25.

around and that's going on, but I think that Putin isn't going to be

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worried by us stopping indulliging in -- indulging about talks or not

:21:36.:21:39.

going to Sochi or the G8. It's not going to do it, so I think we need

:21:40.:21:45.

to put in place a situation where the crisis can be de-escalated, but

:21:46.:21:49.

at the same time we have to ensure that the NATO allies are in step

:21:50.:22:00.

with each other. It's a gross violation of international law and

:22:01.:22:02.

the treaties that they've signed with the Ukraine. It can't go

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unpunished and I think the Prime Minister's going to have to think

:22:08.:22:11.

about other actions that are slightly more serious than stopping

:22:12.:22:18.

talks about visas. It's clear that's not going to make a difference. We

:22:19.:22:21.

had a Russian journalist on yesterday. He said Putin doesn't

:22:22.:22:26.

care. I don't think the leak from Downing Street saying we wouldn't

:22:27.:22:30.

consider sanctions, that photograph of the briefing paper that went into

:22:31.:22:34.

the National Security Council was very helpful. That did weaken us,

:22:35.:22:40.

did it? I don't think a part of a photographed piece of paper is an

:22:41.:22:42.

indication of the Government's position. Well, is it not? It's very

:22:43.:22:49.

clear. William Hague is very clear in response to questions about that

:22:50.:22:53.

that half a photographed piece of paper from one official, no matter

:22:54.:22:57.

how senior, is not an indication of the Government's position. You'll

:22:58.:23:01.

understand why, when considering what further action to take,

:23:02.:23:06.

especially because of the importance to get the international dimension

:23:07.:23:10.

of this, linking with the Germans and the French and the Americans in

:23:11.:23:15.

terms of response, in particular and others, that's why we are not

:23:16.:23:21.

speculating about what further action is and could be taken.

:23:22.:23:25.

Actually, we are getting on with getting to a position when we can

:23:26.:23:29.

make sure that those consequences do follow. A lot of German members of

:23:30.:23:36.

Parliament in Angela Merkel's party made it clear they were worried

:23:37.:23:42.

about the economic impact. How nervous is the City here about

:23:43.:23:47.

action that might harm interests? Obviously, there has been volatility

:23:48.:23:54.

in the markets. We have had poor diplomatic relations in the past

:23:55.:23:58.

with Russia and traders have continued. The question is how

:23:59.:24:03.

targeted too. Targeting individuals as opposed to trade across the board

:24:04.:24:06.

and how to strike that balance is an important question. Of course,

:24:07.:24:11.

that's one consideration, especially for some of the other countries

:24:12.:24:14.

involved, as you mentioned. We have to make sure that it is absolutely

:24:15.:24:19.

made clear to President Putin that this is un cceptable behaviour and

:24:20.:24:27.

the cross-party consensus on this is strong. Happy birthday the interweb.

:24:28.:24:34.

Yes, it's been over 25 years since Tim Berners Lee hooked up the

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fastest-growing medium of all time, the World Wide Web. He didn't

:24:42.:24:46.

actually invent the internet. That's apparently entirely different, but

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without the web there would be no Twitter, Facebook or talking cats

:24:52.:24:54.

and worst of all, you would have to write in with your Guess the Year

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entry instead of emailing. To a tribute to the invention that

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changed the world we are going to transmit to the winner an

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interactive 2D version. Mug. It will be beamed straight to your desk top.

:25:12.:25:15.

We are going to e-mail you a picture of one and we'll chuck in the real

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-- real one in the post by snail mail. We'll see if you can remember

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when this happened. # Your eyes have promised sweet

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:26:06.:26:27.

the draft... # # Pardon me boy is that the

:26:28.:26:35.

Chatanooga... # They've declared they're making war

:26:36.:26:37.

upon you. Taking us back a bit. To be in with

:26:38.:26:48.

a chance of winning the mug, send your answer to our special quiz

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e-mail address: You can see the full terms and conditions on the website.

:26:56.:27:01.

Coming up to midday. We'll look at Big Ben. It's behind me. There it

:27:02.:27:09.

is. Prime Minister's questions is on its way. If you would like to

:27:10.:27:17.

comment you can e-mail us. You can also tweet your thoughts. What's

:27:18.:27:25.

that I hear you cry, where is Nick Robinson? The whole nation wants to

:27:26.:27:28.

know that. He's taking advantage of the spring sunshine and he's with

:27:29.:27:33.

the daffodils in St James' Park. We are joined by another big man, The

:27:34.:27:40.

Telegraph's Ben Brogan. He's never been seen with the daffodils on a

:27:41.:27:49.

spring morning. Where we come on to questions today, what so far has

:27:50.:27:52.

been the immediate fallout of Mr Miliband's new policy on the

:27:53.:27:57.

referendum in Europe? It seems to be a degree of argument whether it's a

:27:58.:28:03.

policy and clear and precise, or whether there is confusion to it.

:28:04.:28:06.

Whether there will be a referendum or there isn't if Labour win. I

:28:07.:28:10.

think he's having to manage his way through that. There will be if

:28:11.:28:14.

there's going to be treaty change, there won't be if there isn't treaty

:28:15.:28:19.

change? It seems to be a policy that's cake and eat it. He bants to

:28:20.:28:23.

sound -- he wants to sound like he's going to have a referendum and also

:28:24.:28:28.

reassuring everyone he wouldn't have a referendum. He has set the exam

:28:29.:28:34.

question and provided the answer. He wants those who might be thinking

:28:35.:28:38.

about whether or not to vote Labour to be assured he does believe in a

:28:39.:28:47.

referendum. It sounds a bit opportunistic. It doesn't sound

:28:48.:28:52.

clear. Really? Triangular, that has never happened before! Hard to

:28:53.:28:58.

believe! The Mirror had a strange headline this morning. Almost

:28:59.:29:02.

implying he's going to give you a referendum, which is very different

:29:03.:29:07.

from the FT headline, in which the article appeared - surely, it was

:29:08.:29:12.

the Mirror headline that was the misleading? I wouldn't dare to

:29:13.:29:17.

suggest that the Mirror is into misleading headlines. Ed Miliband is

:29:18.:29:23.

trying to develop a policy that can be all things to all people and

:29:24.:29:26.

suits him given the moment. He wants us to think that he might offer a

:29:27.:29:30.

referendum, while also saying there won't be a referendum. That doesn't

:29:31.:29:35.

sound clear. It's perfectly clear as I explained before, if circumstances

:29:36.:29:40.

arise in which powers are transferred to the EU and the then

:29:41.:29:49.

Labour Government agrees with that, there will be an in/out referendum.

:29:50.:29:57.

Only a vote for the Conservatives can deliver you a referendum. Did I

:29:58.:30:01.

say it before? I'm going to say it again. We'll give you a tenner every

:30:02.:30:06.

time you say it. We'll be rich. I would suggest that that means to use

:30:07.:30:10.

Mr Miliband's own words, a referendum under Labour is unlikely?

:30:11.:30:15.

Because I think it is unlikely that Mr Miliband is going to agree to

:30:16.:30:19.

something that would be deeply unpopular in this country, which

:30:20.:30:24.

would be the further moving of powers from the UK to Brussels?

:30:25.:30:29.

Indeed. He seems to be posing a hypothetical question, because he

:30:30.:30:32.

says it's unlikely to happen. What is more telling is that it indicates

:30:33.:30:36.

to us the extent to which party policy for all is being driven by a

:30:37.:30:40.

view of Europe that wants to put Britain in a position to be able to

:30:41.:30:45.

opt to leave Europe. It's the euro scepticism of politics which is

:30:46.:30:48.

driving all the political leaders and UKIP is contributing to that,

:30:49.:30:52.

which has forced Labour's hands and David Cameron's hands and Nick

:30:53.:30:56.

Clegg's hands. It is true that in the last election the Labour Party

:30:57.:31:00.

stood on a referendum only on joining the euro. Not anything else.

:31:01.:31:07.

Doesn't what he said this morning, the Conservatives I understand are

:31:08.:31:12.

quite happy with it, because Mr Farage has said that Ed Miliband

:31:13.:31:16.

would promise a referendum too, similar to the Tories. The box has

:31:17.:31:22.

been -- Mr Farage's fox has been shot. Only the Tories will deliver

:31:23.:31:26.

now? That policy applies and it is the case at the moment. It's only

:31:27.:31:29.

the Conservative Government that is guaranteed to deliver a referendum

:31:30.:31:32.

on whether or not Britain should continue to be a member of the EU.

:31:33.:31:36.

There's no doubt about that. What we need to keep remind ourselves is

:31:37.:31:42.

about, on the current polls the chances of the Conservatives being

:31:43.:31:45.

in office is still a matter for debate and the fact is we can talk

:31:46.:31:48.

about a referendum all we like, but the statistical outcome suggests we

:31:49.:31:52.

are not going to get one. That's why we are pouring over what Ed Miliband

:31:53.:31:55.

has to say, because if it isn't the Tories it will be him, so we like to

:31:56.:32:00.

know what he's going to do. What is Harriet Harman going to say? Don't

:32:01.:32:03.

answer that, because we're going over now.

:32:04.:32:44.

I wish to congratulate Team GB at the Sochi Games. I have had meetings

:32:45.:32:53.

with ministerial colleagues and others, and I will have further such

:32:54.:33:06.

meetings today. Our congratulations to Kelly

:33:07.:33:09.

Gallagher, from Northern Ireland, who won the first medal. Mr Speaker,

:33:10.:33:17.

given rising racism and xenophobia, including recent racist attacks in

:33:18.:33:22.

my own east Belfast can is chintzy, what more can Government do to

:33:23.:33:26.

ensure that the public debate on issues such as EU membership and

:33:27.:33:29.

immigration are more balanced and celebrate the positive contribution

:33:30.:33:38.

of immigrants in the run-up to the election? I agree with her, we need

:33:39.:33:42.

to strike the right balance between explaining to the public that we are

:33:43.:33:47.

running a tough but firm immigration system but also open to those who

:33:48.:33:50.

want to come here and make a contribution and pay their taxes and

:33:51.:33:57.

contribute to our way of life. I was deeply saddened and shocked to hear

:33:58.:34:01.

about the incidents that happened to members of the Polish and Chinese

:34:02.:34:05.

community in her constituency, and even more so what has happened to

:34:06.:34:16.

her colleague. I understand that the first Chinese Minister in Europe is

:34:17.:34:21.

being subject to racist abuse, and I rang her a few weeks ago to express

:34:22.:34:31.

my support. Since a ?700 tax cut, free school meals and the pupil

:34:32.:34:34.

premium will improve the opportunities and lives of many of

:34:35.:34:39.

my constituents, even though these ideas were not entirely welcome to

:34:40.:34:44.

some among our coalition partners, will he welcomed the fact that

:34:45.:34:47.

coalition Government and the compromises that go with it can

:34:48.:34:53.

deliver sound policies? I strongly agree with him,

:34:54.:34:59.

especially on those policies. And one of them, as he will know, is in

:35:00.:35:03.

the papers this morning because of the slightly in X bookable views of

:35:04.:35:08.

an entirely unknown if highly opinionated -- inexplicable views of

:35:09.:35:21.

a former member. Free school meals from September will save families

:35:22.:35:25.

money and improve education for children. We should be celebrating

:35:26.:35:31.

the policy. I would like to join the deputy and

:35:32.:35:36.

in paying tribute to sap that either morally from 32 engineer Regiment --

:35:37.:35:49.

Adam Morely, and pay tribute to his family and friends who mourn him.

:35:50.:35:53.

And I also congratulate our Paralympic medal winners. Mr

:35:54.:36:00.

Speaker, at the last general election, the Deputy Prime Minister

:36:01.:36:03.

said that local people should have more control over their health

:36:04.:36:08.

services. Can he explain to the House and the public while last

:36:09.:36:16.

night he voted against that? Actually, we voted for measures to

:36:17.:36:20.

make sure that there is local consultation. I am intrigued by her

:36:21.:36:26.

line of enquiry, given their record in the NHS. We don't seem to get any

:36:27.:36:33.

further than what is happening in Wales, where they haven't met their

:36:34.:36:46.

target since 2009. I really don't think after the Francis Report and

:36:47.:36:49.

all of the other revelations of what happened in the NHS under Labour,

:36:50.:36:56.

they have much to stand on. He is not even prepared to justify what he

:36:57.:37:07.

spoke about last night, when the Lib Dems could have stepped in and stop

:37:08.:37:13.

it what happened. First they said they were against the change, then

:37:14.:37:17.

they put down an amendment, then they sold out to the Tories, and the

:37:18.:37:22.

Tories got their way again. Is there any logic to how the Lib Dems vote

:37:23.:37:25.

other than self-interest? Mr Speaker, this from a party that

:37:26.:37:39.

spent a quarter of ?1 billion, ?250 million, on sweetheart deals for the

:37:40.:37:44.

private sector, which alleged operations and procedures which

:37:45.:37:48.

didn't help a single patient. A party which ranks in Wales against

:37:49.:37:55.

competition in the NHS, a party which suffers from collective

:37:56.:37:58.

amnesia about the terrible suffering of the patients in Mid Staffs and

:37:59.:38:03.

other parts of the NHS mismanaged by them. Hospitals are under threat and

:38:04.:38:14.

they want people to remember what the deputy prime ministers said in

:38:15.:38:18.

the House today. Last week Lib Dem ministers were falling over

:38:19.:38:21.

themselves at their spring conference to denounce government

:38:22.:38:24.

policies and even their own departmental colleagues, describing

:38:25.:38:27.

them variously as unfair, absurd and hated. Yet they keep supporting

:38:28.:38:35.

them, take the bedroom tax. His own party president says the bedroom tax

:38:36.:38:38.

is wrong, unnecessary and causing misery. But they voted for it. Now

:38:39.:38:44.

they say they want to abolish it. Are they for the bedroom tax against

:38:45.:38:52.

it? Which is it? Mr Speaker, there are 1.7 million

:38:53.:38:55.

people on the housing waiting list in the country, and 1.5 million

:38:56.:39:04.

spare bedrooms. That is a problem we inherited, like so many problems,

:39:05.:39:08.

from them. On this side of the House, we are trying to sort out the

:39:09.:39:14.

mess that they created. If they are incapable of taking any

:39:15.:39:16.

responsibility or expressing any apology for the mess they have

:39:17.:39:20.

created, why should we take any of their questions seriously at all?

:39:21.:39:26.

They are for it, and only Labour will scrap the bedroom tax. The Lib

:39:27.:39:33.

Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury said cutting the top rate of tax

:39:34.:39:40.

would be cloud cuckoo land. If the Lib Dems were against this tax cut,

:39:41.:39:47.

why did they vote for it? Guess what the top rate of tax was under

:39:48.:39:52.

Labour. Anybody? Anybody? Was at 50? Was it 45? 40p for 13 years! And

:39:53.:40:04.

now she is complaining it 5p higher. If she is going to try to make

:40:05.:40:07.

consistency of virtue, how about this? This week the Labour Party has

:40:08.:40:11.

been talking about the need to give young people jobs opportunities.

:40:12.:40:15.

Last week they tabled an amendment to the Deregulation Bill which will

:40:16.:40:21.

tell half a million young apprentices that they are no longer

:40:22.:40:26.

apprentices. And worse than that, they issued a report a few months

:40:27.:40:29.

ago that says that hundreds of thousands of youngsters on level two

:40:30.:40:35.

apprentices are dead weight. What a kick in the teeth for the young

:40:36.:40:37.

people we should be helping onto apprenticeships. We will have a

:40:38.:40:49.

bankers bonus tax for youth jobs, because youth unemployment has

:40:50.:40:53.

doubled. THE SPEAKER: There is far too much

:40:54.:41:01.

noise. People ought to be able to hear the questions and hear the

:41:02.:41:05.

answers. Whether members respect each other, they ought to respect

:41:06.:41:13.

the public. Harriet Harman. Long-term youth unemployment has

:41:14.:41:16.

doubled under his government, and with so many people struggling to

:41:17.:41:19.

make ends meet, and many driven to relying on food banks, it is an

:41:20.:41:24.

absolute disgrace that the Lib Dems voted through a tax cut for the

:41:25.:41:28.

richest. Mr Speaker, on Sunday, the Deputy Prime Minister shared with us

:41:29.:41:34.

everything he loves about Britain. He loves his cup of tea. He loves

:41:35.:41:42.

the shipping forecast. And he loves flip-flops. Not so much footwear for

:41:43.:41:45.

the Debbie Prime Minister, but certainly a way of life. -- the

:41:46.:41:51.

Deputy Prime Minister. With his posturing... With his broken

:41:52.:41:59.

promises and posturing, doesn't he relies that he might love written,

:42:00.:42:09.

but Britain doesn't love him back. The punch line was a long time in

:42:10.:42:12.

the delivery, and it wasn't really worth waiting for. I know she

:42:13.:42:17.

doesn't want the facts to get in the way of a preprepared joke, but how

:42:18.:42:21.

about this? Youth unemployment is lower now than it was in her last

:42:22.:42:29.

year in office. 1 million more people in relative poverty then than

:42:30.:42:37.

there are now. 150,000 people more employed now. What we know is that

:42:38.:42:44.

they are the party of 40p. They are the Porteous sweetheart deals for

:42:45.:42:49.

the private sector and the NHS. They are the party of Fred Goodwin. And

:42:50.:42:52.

now they are the party against apprenticeship Crewe. Mr Speaker, he

:42:53.:42:59.

is siding with the Tories and totally out of touch. So whatever

:43:00.:43:04.

was said last weekend, no one is going to be fooled by the Lib Dems'

:43:05.:43:12.

phoney rows with the Tories when they are trotting through the

:43:13.:43:16.

lobbies with them. They used to dog about two parties

:43:17.:43:19.

coming together in the national interest. Now they are two parties

:43:20.:43:24.

bound together by mutual terror of the electorate.

:43:25.:43:30.

Mr Speaker, however she wishes to characterise things, she has a

:43:31.:43:34.

record which she needs to defend room and bust, of sucking up to the

:43:35.:43:39.

City... THE SPEAKER: Order! The deputy prime

:43:40.:43:46.

and as to's response must be heard. A record of increasing youth

:43:47.:43:55.

unemployment and bequeathing to this generation the country's worst

:43:56.:43:59.

peacetime deficit ever. Is that really a record that she is proud

:44:00.:44:03.

of? As ever, we are clearing up the mess that she left behind.

:44:04.:44:09.

Mr Speaker, the Government's response to the recent storm damage

:44:10.:44:12.

to help fishermen and restore the link to Dawlish is appreciated, but

:44:13.:44:20.

the vital transport links to the Isles of Scilly and its damage has

:44:21.:44:25.

largely gone unnoticed, not something local authorities can

:44:26.:44:27.

resolve on their own. Will the Deputy Prime Minister ensure that

:44:28.:44:32.

delegations can meet the appropriate ministers so that we can seek to

:44:33.:44:40.

support for a long-term and resilient solution to this problem?

:44:41.:44:46.

I visited his constituency to see for myself and here for myself the

:44:47.:44:51.

damage done to many communities by the terrible floods and the extreme

:44:52.:44:58.

weather in recent times, and I know how long he has been campaigning on

:44:59.:45:02.

this issue. I will ensure that that meeting does take place with the

:45:03.:45:07.

relevant Minister. We should also extend condolences to

:45:08.:45:12.

the family and friends of Bob Crow. The Secretary of State for defence

:45:13.:45:17.

has issued a ministerial correction where he corrects the full third

:45:18.:45:22.

that there was no measurable change in the radiation discharge at HMS

:45:23.:45:30.

Vulcan near Dounreay. Does he agree that the Ministry of Defence should

:45:31.:45:33.

be fully answerable to the Scottish environmental protection agency? I

:45:34.:45:39.

would also like to express my condolences to the family and

:45:40.:45:42.

friends of growth. Whether you agreed with him or not, he had

:45:43.:45:46.

forthright views and worked tirelessly for what he believed in

:45:47.:45:49.

and the people he represented. On the issue of Dounreay, the Ministry

:45:50.:45:55.

of Defence sought to be as open as possible. It is important that all

:45:56.:46:00.

of us work together in order to ensure that the nuclear deterrent is

:46:01.:46:05.

managed and maintained safely, and that is exactly what everyone is

:46:06.:46:17.

seeking to do. We now know that the Leader of the Opposition is opposed

:46:18.:46:20.

to an EU referendum and won't deliver one. The Deputy Prime

:46:21.:46:24.

Minister is opposed to an EU referendum and won't deliver one.

:46:25.:46:29.

The leader of the UKIP party wants an EU referendum, but can't deliver

:46:30.:46:35.

one. The Prime Minister wants an EU referendum and will deliver it by

:46:36.:46:42.

2017. Would the stand-in Prime Minister tell the House which of the

:46:43.:46:46.

party leaders trust the British people and is a real Democrat? As

:46:47.:46:55.

ever, a pleasure. I'm glad to see he has fans on the other side of the

:46:56.:47:00.

House too. Since he mentions my right honourable friend, the Prime

:47:01.:47:03.

Minister, let me quote what he said a couple of years ago at this

:47:04.:47:07.

Despatch Box when we voted together. "My clear view it is when this

:47:08.:47:12.

Parliament proposes to give up powers there should be a referendum.

:47:13.:47:14.

That is the guarantee we have written into law. It is important we

:47:15.:47:22.

establish clear use for the -- rules for the use of referendums." That is

:47:23.:47:31.

remains my view. That's what we legislated on. A recent survey of

:47:32.:47:41.

the TUC reckoned that 67% of hard-working people working in the

:47:42.:47:45.

private industry will not get a rise this year. How does that square with

:47:46.:47:50.

the fat cats in the banks getting the big bonuses? The richest in

:47:51.:47:57.

society are paying more in every year of this Parliament than they

:47:58.:48:02.

did under any year under Labour. It was his party that let the bankers

:48:03.:48:08.

run amuck and the party of Fred Goodwin that went on a prawn

:48:09.:48:11.

cocktail offensive to suck up to them and they wiped off so much of

:48:12.:48:15.

the value of the British economy it amounts to ?3,000 lost to every

:48:16.:48:19.

household in the United Kingdom. Is that a record he's proud of? Does

:48:20.:48:28.

the Deputy Prime Minister accept that the measures that have been

:48:29.:48:32.

announced so far have had no impact on President Putin? They are

:48:33.:48:37.

refusing to negotiate with the Ukraine Government and continue to

:48:38.:48:41.

strengthen their hold on crime? Will the Government press the targeted

:48:42.:48:46.

economic sanctions against senior members of the Government there and

:48:47.:48:48.

their supporters in order to reinforce the message that the

:48:49.:48:52.

annexation of Crimea is unacceptable and is wholly in breach of

:48:53.:48:59.

international law. I'm sure my honourable friend speaks for

:49:00.:49:03.

everybody on all sides when we says that we should seek to do everything

:49:04.:49:07.

to deter the Russians from making the situation any worse, but also

:49:08.:49:12.

de-escalate and that is why it's terribly important we work together

:49:13.:49:15.

with our American allies and with countries across the EU and to use

:49:16.:49:20.

the collective clout of the EU, political and economic, to set out

:49:21.:49:24.

as we have done a ratchet of sanctions which can be and will be

:49:25.:49:30.

deployed if de-escalation doesn't happen. Starting, I stress this, I

:49:31.:49:39.

hope have soon with Russian agreement to enter into contact

:49:40.:49:47.

talks. On his party's recent defeat by the bus pass Elvis candidate can

:49:48.:49:56.

his message be summarised by par phrasing the words of a song, "You

:49:57.:50:06.

ain't nothing but a lap dog." ? Mr Speaker, at least we are not the lap

:50:07.:50:10.

dog of the bankers, which is what Labour was in office. At least we

:50:11.:50:17.

didn't crash the British economy. At least we didn't cost every household

:50:18.:50:22.

?3,000. At least we didn't preside over an increase in relative poverty

:50:23.:50:28.

and youth unemployment. We are creating a stronger economy and

:50:29.:50:32.

fairer society that his party failed to do. The Deputy Prime Minister

:50:33.:50:39.

will be encouraged that the economy is growing faster than expected,

:50:40.:50:43.

showing the value of this Government's long-term economic

:50:44.:50:47.

plans. Does he share my satisfaction that it's been achieved through a

:50:48.:50:53.

resurgence in manufacturing, with companies such as those in my

:50:54.:50:56.

constituency who have more than doubled in size over the past three

:50:57.:51:02.

years and are investing in a new ?65 square foot factory in Rugby? I

:51:03.:51:07.

strongly agree with him. By sticking to the plan, despite all the

:51:08.:51:11.

overtures from the members opposite to abandon it, we have provided

:51:12.:51:15.

growth that otherwise would not have taken place. In the car sector we

:51:16.:51:21.

have seen spectacular success. There is now a vehicle rolling off a

:51:22.:51:25.

British production line every 20 seconds. We are producing more cars

:51:26.:51:30.

than ever before. The party opposite presided over decline in

:51:31.:51:34.

manufacturing, three times as great as what happened in the 1980s. Last

:51:35.:51:42.

week, my constituents elected a new Labour councillor. Does the Deputy

:51:43.:51:47.

Prime Minister think it was his party's support for the bedroom tax,

:51:48.:51:51.

the trebling of tuition fees, unfair cuts to the poor families or

:51:52.:51:57.

betrayal of the NHS which led them to put bus pass Elvis ahead of the

:51:58.:52:05.

Liberal Democrats? Putting bus pass Elvis aside for one moment, which I

:52:06.:52:12.

admit was a novel experience for us as it was for the people of Clifton,

:52:13.:52:20.

I am wondering did the Labour candidate admit to how much they had

:52:21.:52:24.

cost every household in Clifton? Did they admit they allowed the bankers

:52:25.:52:29.

to run amuck in 2008? Did they admit to the fact they were the party that

:52:30.:52:33.

crashed the British economy? Did anyone on the doorstep apologise to

:52:34.:52:37.

the people who are the -- for what the Labour Party did to this

:52:38.:52:47.

country? The Cotswolds is a very special place because of the

:52:48.:52:50.

stewardship and planning, yet in the last year this is threatened because

:52:51.:52:54.

of the number of applications for new houses amounting to thousands.

:52:55.:53:02.

What can my right honourable friend friend do to help resolve this? I

:53:03.:53:07.

know he feels very strongly about this and there are of course strong

:53:08.:53:11.

planning protections in place for areas of outstanding natural beauty

:53:12.:53:17.

and it's some of the country's most important treasures. The framework

:53:18.:53:20.

makes clear that great weight should be given to conserving areas of

:53:21.:53:24.

outstanding natural beauty, which have the highest levels of

:53:25.:53:27.

protection and we announced last week, that areas of outstanding

:53:28.:53:32.

beauty and national parks will be excluded from new legislation

:53:33.:53:36.

allowing agriculture buildings to be converted to housing without the

:53:37.:53:43.

need for application. Can the Deputy Prime Minister confirm that if the

:53:44.:53:48.

independent review body on Health Service staff pay recommends an

:53:49.:53:53.

increase the Government will accept that advice or will they freeze the

:53:54.:53:58.

pay of some of the lowest earners in the NHS for yet another year? We

:53:59.:54:09.

will make the announcement shortly about the views on the pay review

:54:10.:54:14.

body recommendations. We want to protect what is the highest number

:54:15.:54:18.

of nurses employed in the NHS since the NHS was founded. We need to make

:54:19.:54:23.

sure the NHS continues to employ more rather than the few you are

:54:24.:54:26.

clinical staff that are employed under Labour to ensure that patients

:54:27.:54:30.

get the best possible treatment under the NHS. On Monday South

:54:31.:54:36.

Korean newspapers said that North Korea was due to execute 33 people

:54:37.:54:42.

for having had contact with a Christian missionary. Given that

:54:43.:54:46.

there are 250,000 people in prison camps, would the Deputy Prime

:54:47.:54:50.

Minister urge the BBC World Service to use its existing transmitters to

:54:51.:54:55.

broadcast into North Korea, especially as more and more North

:54:56.:55:02.

Koreans have access to radios? He raises a very important issue and as

:55:03.:55:10.

he knows our embassy in Pyongyang continues to engage critically with

:55:11.:55:13.

the regime to ensure that there are as many opportunities for dialogue

:55:14.:55:16.

as possible, including information coming into the country. The BBC

:55:17.:55:23.

World Service is operationally independent and I understand at the

:55:24.:55:27.

end of last year they decided that they couldn't continue to offer an

:55:28.:55:32.

effective and affordable Korean language service. That is a matter

:55:33.:55:41.

for them itself. One of my constituents died after GPs failed

:55:42.:55:50.

to uncover her cancer. There are many other who are trying to get

:55:51.:55:54.

appointments and they are victims too of the dep Prime Minister's

:55:55.:55:59.

shameless, spineless cap titchlation to the Tories on the NHS? It was his

:56:00.:56:08.

party that wasted a quarter of a billion of money on deals with the

:56:09.:56:13.

private sector to undermine the NHS on tariffs which the NHS could not

:56:14.:56:17.

meet for operations which weren't delivered. Why can't he tell the

:56:18.:56:21.

House why he tabled the amendment just last week to tell 500,000

:56:22.:56:28.

youngsters that they can no longer be called apprentices. We stand up

:56:29.:56:32.

for fairness, we stand up for a strong NHS, he doesn't. Has the

:56:33.:56:42.

Deputy Prime Minister read the testimony in yesterday's tribunal in

:56:43.:56:50.

Wales? Does he has sympathy with people with less access to drugs and

:56:51.:56:54.

does he agree it's the time to give them the opportunity to access the

:56:55.:57:04.

services. I was appalled and I'm sure everybody would be about the

:57:05.:57:09.

experiences of one of the honourable gentleman's constituents. In Wales,

:57:10.:57:14.

the NHS run by Labour, 33% of patients wait more than eight weeks

:57:15.:57:20.

to access dying no, sir ticks. -- dying no, sirrics. In England it's

:57:21.:57:25.

only 1%. I think the comparison speaks for itself. This week marks

:57:26.:57:32.

three years since the bloodshed began in Syria. More than 2.5

:57:33.:57:36.

million people have fled the country and the dead can no longer even be

:57:37.:57:40.

counted. We must all bear responsibility for or shameful

:57:41.:57:47.

famure to intervene, but they are the ones running the country. What

:57:48.:57:54.

we -- what renewed effort will his Government make to end the slaughter

:57:55.:57:59.

before all hope fails? He knows my own views. I felt there was a case

:58:00.:58:03.

for intervention at the time when we voted on this. His party voted

:58:04.:58:08.

against it, but if he wants to speak with his own party leadership on

:58:09.:58:12.

that matter he's more than welcome. I agree, the humanitarian

:58:13.:58:17.

catastrophe there is of an unimaginable scale. We must do

:58:18.:58:19.

everything we can to help. That is why I think I'm right in saying,

:58:20.:58:23.

that our humanitarian effort is now the largest this country has ever

:58:24.:58:27.

delivered. Why also the Home Secretary and others in Government

:58:28.:58:31.

are now administering in conjunction with the UN a new programme where we

:58:32.:58:36.

allow the most destitute and desperate refugees some refuge in

:58:37.:58:42.

this country as well. During the recent floods, the Prime Minister

:58:43.:58:47.

announced grants of ?5,000 for those homes flooded to put in flood

:58:48.:58:50.

defence measures in their homes. You can imagine the disappointment then

:58:51.:58:57.

of people from the 1,000 homes in my constituency who were only flooded

:58:58.:59:02.

18 months prior who got no such support. Will he look at this policy

:59:03.:59:05.

with the Prime Minister to see whether the same grants can be made

:59:06.:59:09.

available to those people who were flooded too? Of course, I will do

:59:10.:59:16.

so. As someone who witnessed the terrible flooding in my own

:59:17.:59:19.

constituency some years ago, flooding can hit different parts of

:59:20.:59:22.

the country in different ways and we must, as we adapt to this new very

:59:23.:59:29.

difficult reality, we must make sure we build up resilience in all parts

:59:30.:59:32.

of the country and provide assistance as fully as we can across

:59:33.:59:38.

the country too. The honourable member for Westmorland agrees with

:59:39.:59:42.

me that the hated bedroom tax is caing misery for those affected.

:59:43.:59:46.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree with the President of his party or

:59:47.:59:50.

is friend -- or his friend the Prime Minister? I think and everybody

:59:51.:59:56.

thinks that we need to deal with this mismatch between large numbers

:59:57.:59:58.

of people on the housing waiting list, something her party never did

:59:59.:00:02.

anything to address in 13 years and the fact there are a large numbers

:00:03.:00:05.

of spare bedrooms which are not being used. Her Government presided

:00:06.:00:10.

over the change which we are now delivering in the social rented

:00:11.:00:15.

sector in the private sector. She needs to explain why they want to

:00:16.:00:18.

support the change in one part and not the other. Portsmouth FC made

:00:19.:00:30.

history by becoming the UK's largest 100% community buyout. Today, many

:00:31.:00:33.

clubs face an uncertain future due to lack of financial transparency,

:00:34.:00:42.

opaque F rules and a structure that promotes irresponsibility in

:00:43.:00:45.

business and doesn't promote sporting excellence in a woman's

:00:46.:00:50.

team. We need to lessons, the Select Committee's report and the work of

:00:51.:00:53.

Supporters Direct and act to protect the interest of clubs, their fans

:00:54.:00:59.

and ultimately the national game? I certainly agree. I think fans across

:01:00.:01:02.

the country feel this is a really important issue. We can't just have

:01:03.:01:08.

big-money hollowouts of the game that everyone loves. I know somes

:01:09.:01:13.

something that the Secretary of State for culture, media and sport

:01:14.:01:16.

is looking at on an on going basis and I urge her to take up this

:01:17.:01:20.

issue. I think it's something we need to keep a close eye so that

:01:21.:01:25.

sports clubs large and small can thrive in the country. There are

:01:26.:01:30.

reports that the Department for Work and Pensions is proposing stopping

:01:31.:01:34.

paying benefits into the Post Office card account. Does the Deputy Prime

:01:35.:01:42.

Minister support that policy? I don't think it's true and I will

:01:43.:01:46.

certain confirm it with him, but that's not something which I'm aware

:01:47.:01:53.

of. Last Thursday 16-year-old Sam from Romsey collapsed in a school PE

:01:54.:01:57.

lesson. One of the reasons he's still alive is bought the excellent

:01:58.:02:03.

school already had a defibrillator. They've ordered two more. What steps

:02:04.:02:07.

is he prepared to take to encourage more schools to have them and will

:02:08.:02:11.

he command the work of the foundation who have been leading the

:02:12.:02:15.

way on this issue? I certainly and I'm sure many honourable members

:02:16.:02:20.

across the House have also come across this issue in schools and

:02:21.:02:24.

sporting clubs and other recreational facilities in their

:02:25.:02:28.

constituencies. There are some great organisations. They promote the need

:02:29.:02:32.

to make them more available and I certainly think we should all work

:02:33.:02:36.

with the campaign groups to raise the profile of this important issue.

:02:37.:02:45.

The average nursery cost is now higher than the average mortgage.

:02:46.:02:50.

Childcare costs have risen five times faster than wages since the

:02:51.:02:54.

election. Given that we are expecting his long-awaited tax-free

:02:55.:02:59.

child scare scheme to be announced, can I ask him what discussions he

:03:00.:03:04.

has had about relationships of this scheme with universal credits and

:03:05.:03:08.

the cliff edges it creates? What assessment he has made of this

:03:09.:03:12.

scheme and its impact on price inflation? She raises a very

:03:13.:03:18.

important issue. As it happens, childcare costs have come down in

:03:19.:03:22.

England, but they go up in Labour-run Wales. We must do all we

:03:23.:03:29.

can to help parents and families with the costs, that's why we are

:03:30.:03:33.

delivering 15 hours of free childcare to all three and

:03:34.:03:36.

four-year-olds in the country and for the first time ever to

:03:37.:03:40.

two-year-olds for the most deprived families. You are right, we need to

:03:41.:03:44.

do more, that's why we will announce the details of the tax-free

:03:45.:03:48.

childcare offer which will benefit many, many families with the very

:03:49.:03:49.

high costs across the country. The study end of Deputy Prime

:03:50.:04:07.

Minister's Questions. Harriet Harman chose areas such as the closure of

:04:08.:04:13.

accident and emergency, taking away local control from hospitals. She

:04:14.:04:18.

then moved onto the bedroom tax, which she thought wasn't that

:04:19.:04:22.

popular among Lib voters. She then moved on to why the live donors had

:04:23.:04:27.

agreed to cut the top rate of tax to 45p. -- why the Lib Dems had agreed.

:04:28.:04:40.

Many of you have been saying that Nick Clegg sounded just like David

:04:41.:04:43.

Cameron when he answered these questions. Viewers were not overly

:04:44.:04:48.

impressed by the performance on either side. This from a viewer:

:04:49.:04:57.

Harriet Harman didn't answer a single question, she just made short

:04:58.:05:01.

speeches. Helen Manning said, Harriet reads the script and Nick

:05:02.:05:05.

Eaves the answers. I never thought I would want David Cameron back. Alan

:05:06.:05:14.

says Mr Clegg will need a much better show when he meets Nigel

:05:15.:05:22.

Farage in April's debates. Poor performance, says Geoffrey J. I hope

:05:23.:05:30.

this isn't the future of the Nick Clegg /Nigel Farage debate.

:05:31.:05:35.

Given that we have that debate coming up, what did we learn that of

:05:36.:05:42.

Mr Clegg's performance? He faces a continuing difficulty, which is, is

:05:43.:05:47.

he proud to be part of the coalition or angry or embarrassed about it? He

:05:48.:05:55.

has always argued that come election day, voters would give him credit

:05:56.:05:59.

for doing things that were unpopular as part of a coalition. Of course

:06:00.:06:03.

his party are very anxious about that, and you often hear them

:06:04.:06:08.

complaining about the Tories because they want to create distance. What

:06:09.:06:13.

was telling was the way Labour MPs clearly had a strategy for the half

:06:14.:06:16.

hour which was to stick it to Nick Clegg at every opportunity the idea

:06:17.:06:20.

that he is a friend of David Cameron and is collaborating with him.

:06:21.:06:27.

Kingussie Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman sitting around the same table

:06:28.:06:39.

after that? -- can you see? The obvious answer is that we are going

:06:40.:06:44.

for a majority! I am glad to be so boring and predictable. But why did

:06:45.:06:47.

Harriet Harman not say anything about Bob Crow? I have no idea. I

:06:48.:06:57.

tweeted yesterday about Bob Crow when I found out the sudden news. He

:06:58.:07:07.

wasn't a Labour person. He wasn't a Labour member. He was a very

:07:08.:07:16.

effective trade union leader, and I think Ed put out a tribute to him

:07:17.:07:21.

yesterday. Due think she just forgot? I have no idea. And it fell

:07:22.:07:29.

to a Scottish National Party raise it. I think everybody was shocked

:07:30.:07:39.

with Bob's sudden death. What did you make of Nick Clegg's

:07:40.:07:46.

performance? He spent a lot of time pointing out the flaws of the last

:07:47.:07:54.

Labour government, and explaining that the argument at the start, two

:07:55.:07:57.

parties coming together in the national interest. But he also

:07:58.:08:02.

pointed out all the things that have been achieved on the things Harriet

:08:03.:08:07.

Harman asked about, the fact that there waiting list times are down,

:08:08.:08:14.

more nurses and doctors. But in the chamber, especially if you are the

:08:15.:08:19.

Lib Dem leader, you have got to make the coalition argument, because you

:08:20.:08:22.

have a bank of Tory MPs behind you, and you need that support. The funny

:08:23.:08:28.

thing was watching George Osborne's face, because he didn't know where

:08:29.:08:32.

to look, and he wasn't necessarily agreeing with what the deputy was

:08:33.:08:38.

saying. Especially the bus pass and Elvis stuff. He was going to

:08:39.:08:43.

explode. But everybody was laughing, because they did come fifth behind

:08:44.:08:52.

the bus pass Elvis party. Hasn't Nick Clegg with that performance

:08:53.:08:57.

flown in the face of everything that his tactic has been in recent

:08:58.:09:01.

months? The tactics of the Lib Dems from Mr Clegg down has been what

:09:02.:09:06.

they call aggressive differentiation, that they go out of

:09:07.:09:09.

their way to pick issues where they are different from the Tories, and

:09:10.:09:13.

they attack the Tories. Danny Alexander at the weekend said there

:09:14.:09:18.

would be no increase in the threshold for paying income tax if

:09:19.:09:24.

it hadn't been for the Lib Dems. We had Iain Duncan Smith on immediately

:09:25.:09:32.

afterwards who totally denied that. But today on PMQs, on network

:09:33.:09:36.

television, no differentiation at all. It is Deputy Prime Minister's

:09:37.:09:46.

Questions, not Lib Dem leader's questions. So he is there to

:09:47.:09:52.

represent the government. And the labour questions will be hostile,

:09:53.:09:55.

and statistically he gets mainly Tory questions from that side of the

:09:56.:09:58.

House. What was telling was that he never found a way of turning his

:09:59.:10:04.

answers into statements about what the Lib Dems have done and what they

:10:05.:10:09.

hope to do. He never found a way to politicise them, and instead went on

:10:10.:10:12.

the attack against Labour, and that didn't work. He did have a go at

:10:13.:10:20.

Dominic Cummings, the special adviser to Michael Gove. And he was

:10:21.:10:25.

quite personal about it. We are going to have at the election the

:10:26.:10:29.

unusual position of two parties standing on the same record.

:10:30.:10:33.

Whatever we set out for the future, the point is that both the Lib Dems

:10:34.:10:37.

and the Conservatives are going to stand on a record in government. You

:10:38.:10:41.

support what you have done in government. From our point of view,

:10:42.:10:48.

the record is increasingly strong. So are there things you are not

:10:49.:10:51.

proud of? I am proud of everything we have done. And as a government

:10:52.:10:55.

Minister, I take full responsibility. Fight and fight and

:10:56.:11:01.

fight again to get you locked to agree to raise the income tax, he

:11:02.:11:07.

said. I remember reading the pamphlet in 2001 arguing for an

:11:08.:11:15.

increase in the tax threshold for a Tory manifesto. But it wasn't George

:11:16.:11:21.

Osborne promising it. Mr Cameron said in 2010, we can't afford it.

:11:22.:11:26.

No, he said he couldn't afford to promise it. That debate was all

:11:27.:11:34.

about how you deal with the deficit. Did you resist it or didn't you? I

:11:35.:11:41.

wasn't in those discussions, but is -- as far as I know, we didn't

:11:42.:11:46.

resist it, and we are thrilled to put it through because it is a tax

:11:47.:11:51.

cut for 24 million people. We believe in people having more of

:11:52.:11:54.

their own money, so to try to argue that people resist a tax cut for 20

:11:55.:12:01.

formally in people is never going to fly. It was a Lib Dem policy, you

:12:02.:12:08.

will give them credit for that, surely? Remap it was a coalition

:12:09.:12:16.

agreement. So Danny Alexander was being economical with the truth when

:12:17.:12:20.

he said he had to fight it through opposition from the Conservatives? I

:12:21.:12:25.

don't know why Danny said that. What I do know is that at the election,

:12:26.:12:29.

we will have cut tax for 25 million people, put more money in their

:12:30.:12:31.

pockets, which wouldn't have happened under a Labour government.

:12:32.:12:40.

Increased poverty. There will be a united record on which... Nobody

:12:41.:12:46.

ever tells Matt finish a sentence, do they?

:12:47.:12:54.

He is arguing for the coalition to be standing at the next election. I

:12:55.:13:00.

am saying, no matter what the two different future offers, and ours

:13:01.:13:04.

will be better, we stand on the same record. But we are the only party

:13:05.:13:09.

who can deliver a referendum on Europe. Is it not the case that a

:13:10.:13:16.

lot of conservatives, if there was money around the income tax cuts,

:13:17.:13:19.

and clearly there was, because raising the threshold cost a tonne

:13:20.:13:26.

of money, if there was money around to do it, a lot of Tories would like

:13:27.:13:30.

to have seen the threshold where the 40p rate clicks in raised, because

:13:31.:13:36.

this is a threshold that originally took in only 1.5 million people, and

:13:37.:13:39.

has now risen to almost 5 million people. A lot of conservatives are

:13:40.:13:46.

troubled with the way George Osborne approaches this. They are very

:13:47.:13:50.

concerned about cuts at the bottom of the income scale, and they are

:13:51.:13:53.

very concerned about more people being drawn into the 50p rate of

:13:54.:14:00.

tax. Lets not forget the tax cuts for

:14:01.:14:06.

millionaires. But it benefits people on the 40p rate as well, because the

:14:07.:14:15.

change more than offset... More people are paying a higher rate of

:14:16.:14:17.

tax under the Conservative government, that is one of your

:14:18.:14:21.

achievements. If you look at national insurance as well, then

:14:22.:14:26.

adding in the national insurance contributions, as soon as you are

:14:27.:14:32.

into paying tax at 20p, you have to then adding the national insurance

:14:33.:14:36.

as well, so the change in the gap between what your employer pays you

:14:37.:14:39.

and what you take home in your pay packet, there is not much change.

:14:40.:14:45.

But the focus of the tax cuts has been on people who are working hard.

:14:46.:14:51.

But do you accept now that the first ?10,000 or so is tax-free, any rise

:14:52.:14:55.

now doesn't help the poorest any more, because they are not paying

:14:56.:15:00.

tax. Any rise in that tax threshold is not designed to help the poorest,

:15:01.:15:03.

and if you really wanted to help the working poor, you should raise the

:15:04.:15:07.

level where national insurance start, which at the moment you only

:15:08.:15:12.

have to earn ?5,000 a year before you start paying it. ?10,000 is

:15:13.:15:21.

still not well paid. The minimum wage, full-time, gets you about

:15:22.:15:29.

?12,500. So that area is still very much targeted. For millions of

:15:30.:15:32.

people who are working part-time who would love to earn ?12,500 a year,

:15:33.:15:37.

they can't get the extra hours. What we need to do is have an economic

:15:38.:15:40.

recovery that works for working people, not just for those few at

:15:41.:15:46.

the top. They say they have the fastest recovery of the G-7 country.

:15:47.:15:51.

And a million more jobs. You are talking about the numbers, but what

:15:52.:15:58.

I am talking about is underemployment. There are millions

:15:59.:16:01.

of people who are having a real struggle in this country to make

:16:02.:16:04.

ends meet who want to work more hours and can't get them. Your tax

:16:05.:16:10.

cuts are doing nothing to help them. I am talking about the millions of

:16:11.:16:13.

people who are getting more financial security because of the

:16:14.:16:19.

way that this works. I am talking about moving on, because this is a

:16:20.:16:24.

foretaste of the debate we will have next week when it is budget day.

:16:25.:16:28.

Working forward to it! Ben, thank you very much.

:16:29.:16:31.

Now, politicians seem to have a rough old time of it. No one likes

:16:32.:16:35.

them and many voters just can't be bothered. But Kevin Meagher from the

:16:36.:16:38.

Labour Uncut blog isn't blaming politicians, he's blaming you - yes,

:16:39.:16:41.

you, the electorate! So should we be dragged kicking and screaming to the

:16:42.:16:43.

ballot box? Here's his soapbox. Politics and pliions have taken a

:16:44.:17:02.

bark from the public. For me, it's not always their fault. It's not

:17:03.:17:08.

just a new politics, but a new electorate. We have become a nation

:17:09.:17:13.

of the wilful ignorance. We don't understand the decisions taken or

:17:14.:17:17.

the alternatives and sometimes it feels we don't want to. We don't

:17:18.:17:21.

follow current affairs like previous generations did. Ignorance isn't so

:17:22.:17:26.

much bliss as standard these days. According to a recent poll, 47% are

:17:27.:17:31.

angry with politicians. While 25% of us are bored with them. Only 2% are

:17:32.:17:44.

inspired. It wasn't always this way. Labour's 1945 election landslide has

:17:45.:17:49.

been eS described to politically motivated servicemen casting their

:17:50.:17:54.

votes on behalf of a better world. The idea of voting for a better

:17:55.:18:07.

world doesn't compute. Politicians therefore try a different tactic.

:18:08.:18:10.

There is a limit how to dumbed down the system should become. Remember

:18:11.:18:15.

Gordon Brown proclaiming his love of the Arctic monkies, why can't they

:18:16.:18:20.

respond by real people? Why not say, "I'm a middle-aged man. I prefer

:18:21.:18:26.

Radio 4." Then there was Tony Blair dropping his Hs and who can remember

:18:27.:18:31.

David Cameron on Jonathan Ross's sofa being requested a question I

:18:32.:18:35.

can't repeat on the BBC. It doesn't work. It's not that I'm not voting

:18:36.:18:50.

out of apathy, but it's indifference and exhaustion from the political

:18:51.:18:54.

class that has been going on for generations now. My answer to fixing

:18:55.:19:00.

this is greater compulsion, or duty is a defining characteristic of

:19:01.:19:05.

adulthood. Pay attention because it matters, contribute because it adds

:19:06.:19:07.

to the common good. Vote to put whoever you want in here or face a

:19:08.:19:14.

fine. Brave words from Kevin. He's with us now. What has been the

:19:15.:19:20.

reaction to your proposal? We'll come to that of a fine, but first,

:19:21.:19:24.

saying the electorate is ignorant and not into current affairs. It's

:19:25.:19:30.

slightly more nuanced. I've had an interesting reaction this morning.

:19:31.:19:33.

It's ranged from he's right, to the man's a complete idiot and

:19:34.:19:36.

everything in between. It's good. That's what it should be about.

:19:37.:19:40.

People are interested in issues and debating things, but they've turned

:19:41.:19:45.

off party politics and I think it's really bad because there are - there

:19:46.:19:56.

are limits. There are only other limits. People are interested in

:19:57.:20:02.

issues, but not in party politics. Isn't that the fault of the system

:20:03.:20:05.

and politicians who are in it than the people? We the public have got

:20:06.:20:12.

to take the culpability. We need to do something about it. You look at

:20:13.:20:15.

membership of political parties. It's fallen off the Clive. We now

:20:16.:20:20.

have four out of ten adults routinely not voting in jexes. There

:20:21.:20:24.

is something going wrong. We have -- general elections. There is

:20:25.:20:27.

something going wrong. We have to look at the way it is practised.

:20:28.:20:32.

Labour and Ed Miliband think they are going to entice loads more

:20:33.:20:38.

people to sign up in this era We have the aspiration. Whose fault is

:20:39.:20:44.

it? I believe that the people are right and when they give us messages

:20:45.:20:48.

we have to listen and try to change the way we do things. I've been

:20:49.:20:53.

doing a thing called the People's Politics inquiry where I've talked

:20:54.:20:56.

to people who have stopped voting and the really interesting thing is

:20:57.:21:00.

they are engaged in the local community. It's like someone has

:21:01.:21:03.

unplugged them from party politics and we have to find new ways of

:21:04.:21:07.

actually engaging with them. I also think it's part of the cynicism of

:21:08.:21:12.

our age. It's part of the fact that we aren't having big philosophical

:21:13.:21:17.

arguments about the nature of politics and I also think some

:21:18.:21:21.

people don't think that they can affect things any more. We have to

:21:22.:21:27.

re-engage people by having them develop the self-belief that

:21:28.:21:30.

politics is about changing the way the country works and if you

:21:31.:21:33.

contribute and you get involved then you'll be able to help. The message

:21:34.:21:37.

is not getting through. Do you think a level of conpull shun would turn

:21:38.:21:46.

it -- cople pull shun would turn -- come plunges turn it around? I don't

:21:47.:21:50.

think so. If people have a strong view one way are the other and vote

:21:51.:21:57.

to express that view, that is different to abstaining, by staying

:21:58.:22:02.

at home. The world has changed in so many ways, especially to allow

:22:03.:22:07.

people to pick and mix in many parts of their life and a party political

:22:08.:22:13.

system inevitably presents packages rather than individual sections. I

:22:14.:22:18.

strongly agree with the point that people aren't engaged. They are

:22:19.:22:21.

engaged in issues and wanting to change individual things, but where

:22:22.:22:26.

that traditionally would have led to engagement in a party package - The

:22:27.:22:35.

choice isn't there. If they don't like the three parties or the five,

:22:36.:22:44.

they don't vote? There are hundreds of parties. There is an abundance.

:22:45.:22:54.

The day after the general election either the leader of the

:22:55.:22:56.

Conservative Party or Labour Party will be Prime Minister. That is just

:22:57.:22:59.

a fact. We can talk - perhaps we should change the system, but to

:23:00.:23:04.

paraphrase Churchill this is the least worst system that we have. The

:23:05.:23:09.

issue is we can reform politics and we should have weekend voting and

:23:10.:23:14.

electronic voting. Shut the country down for a weekend and say it

:23:15.:23:18.

matters. We should stop running elections on a Thursday to suit

:23:19.:23:25.

Civil Servants. It came out strongly in my inquiry. Lots of people said

:23:26.:23:29.

this morning there should be a box on the ballot paper saying, "None of

:23:30.:23:33.

the above." I agree with that. That is a kind of informed opposition to

:23:34.:23:39.

the system. There should be a suggestions box too. Do you accept

:23:40.:23:44.

that compulsory voting will not happen here? The parties don't

:23:45.:23:48.

embrace this, but all we are seeing is a system that is diminishing. We

:23:49.:23:55.

have to revive the way that we reach out as political parties to

:23:56.:23:58.

communities and that's what we are doing in the Labour Party. We are

:23:59.:24:01.

doing it with the community development work we are doing, and

:24:02.:24:06.

we are the only party that has put members on since 2010. We have got

:24:07.:24:12.

big aspirations to do so with the changes we made last week. Thank

:24:13.:24:18.

you, Kevin. Imagine you are an MP. I've done it. It's Wednesday. It is,

:24:19.:24:23.

you know. You've slipped on your tie, your marine jumper and suit

:24:24.:24:32.

jacket. You've got - I'm not wearing a tie. I'm talking about him. You

:24:33.:24:36.

check your phone and you realise you've not been invited on to the

:24:37.:24:41.

Daily Politics, so you truth off to Prime Minister's questions, but with

:24:42.:24:46.

all the noise in the chamber do you annoy the MPs on the other side?

:24:47.:24:53.

Here is Giles with our top five tips for getting up the opposition's

:24:54.:25:04.

nose. There's always the good old-fashioned heckle which isn't

:25:05.:25:08.

picked up by the microphones, but can be by a bat-erred Speaker. If

:25:09.:25:18.

one minister is heckling another you yourself Mr Hancock are undergoing

:25:19.:25:22.

an apprenticeship to become a statesman but I think there are some

:25:23.:25:31.

years to run. Order, order. If things get really Badu can always

:25:32.:25:36.

walk. The Lib Dems followed Ed Davey when he was eventually kicked out of

:25:37.:25:40.

the chamber back in 2008. Why, because they wanted a referendum on

:25:41.:25:46.

the UK's membership of the E. How times change. Just like in space,

:25:47.:25:56.

no-one can hear you scream. Why not adopt a visual gesture to wind up

:25:57.:26:01.

your opposite nun, but be careful you don't strie to a salute and you

:26:02.:26:05.

are left high and dry when the economy isn't flight lining at all.

:26:06.:26:11.

Or you can take a tip from your colleagues from the House of Lords

:26:12.:26:15.

and opt for another type of hand gesture altogether and they say the

:26:16.:26:18.

Lords is a more gentile sort of place. Or, adopt a form of attack

:26:19.:26:28.

that's both silent and deadly. Yes, it's Angela ekele and her chilling

:26:29.:26:36.

combination of a pointed finger and a paralysing death stare. She later

:26:37.:26:45.

tweeted, "Hashtag power of silence." Do it again. I can do it again. Who

:26:46.:26:51.

were you staring at? The Prime Minister's PPS who was yelling nasty

:26:52.:26:54.

things at Ed during his questions and we were all trying to be quiet.

:26:55.:27:01.

He shut up. Was he frightened? I think he was very frightened. Be

:27:02.:27:06.

very afraid. That lasted 12.6 seconds. I think it trended on

:27:07.:27:13.

Twitter. You must have done it intentionally? Yes. I'm a chess

:27:14.:27:17.

player. I grew up being able to stare at things for long amounts of

:27:18.:27:21.

time. How long have you been practising? 53 years. Is the PPS

:27:22.:27:31.

still alive? , but he has never yelled at heed. Why were you

:27:32.:27:36.

heckling one of your coalition ministers? I Wayne. I was -- I

:27:37.:27:46.

wasn't. I was making a comment at the member wanting to be a Shadow

:27:47.:27:50.

Chancellor and I obviously got - I wasn't saying that Joe Swinson

:27:51.:27:53.

didn't want it. How did you feel when you were ticked off by the

:27:54.:27:58.

speaker? I thought it was an amusing put-down. You have to take the rough

:27:59.:28:02.

with the smooth. And you weren't shouting at Joe Swinson? I wasn't,

:28:03.:28:07.

no. She thought you were. Really? I was having a go. Where is the

:28:08.:28:15.

jumper? It's warmed up. Just time before we go to give you the answer,

:28:16.:28:22.

1941, the year FDR was sworn in for a third time. He won a peace ticket

:28:23.:28:28.

and of course by November he was at war with Japan and then Germany.

:28:29.:28:33.

Westminster damaged by a bomb that year. Press the button. Hans pB

:28:34.:28:46.

lesage from Wirral. That's it. Thanks to our guests. The news is on

:28:47.:28:50.

BBC One. Joe will be back tomorrow at noon with all the big stories. I

:28:51.:28:54.

am. :

:28:55.:28:57.

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