26/03/2014 Daily Politics


26/03/2014

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn with coverage of Prime Minister's Questions and the latest news and debate. With defence minister Anna Soubry and shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds.


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Morning, folks, and welcome to The Daily Politics. The Government set a

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welfare cap trap for Ed Miliband - Labour will back it, but can they

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get back on the front foot after last week's budget?

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Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage square up to each other for the first of

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two debates on Europe - who'll come out on top? Born clever, born

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stupid? Should our genetic make-up play any part in education policy?

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Mmm - looks good, doesn't it? But it's bad for you. Right? Is the

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Government giving us "unbelievably stupid" healthy eating advice?

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All that coming up, plus Prime Minister's Questions at noon. And

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with us for the duration, two of Westminster's big cheeses - the

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tangy yet mellow blue Anna Soubry and the smooth but sharp red Emma

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Reynolds. Welcome to the programme. First this morning, hundreds of

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schools across England and Wales are closed today because of a one day

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strike by members of the National Union of Teachers. They're

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protesting against the UK government's changes to pay and

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conditions including a new performance-related pay structure

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and tougher pension package. We're joined now by the general secretary

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of the NUT, Christine Blower. Welcome to the programme. Seven

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unions are involved in talks with the Government, why is the NUT the

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only one going on strike? Well, we are one of only three of the unions

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which has a dispute, so the others would not be in a position to go on

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strike because they are not involved in a dispute with the Government. We

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are, and we have been for two years or so. We are involved in talks, but

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we feel that insufficient progress has been made. We were offered these

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talks way before Christmas. We stood down the action that we were there

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to take in November and February as well. But although the talks have

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started, we are not seeing the progress that we need to see. Which

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is why we are taking action today. Hugely disruptive of course. The

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Department for Education says it will hold back the education of

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children, and rummage the reputation of the profession. What is your

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response? I think what is damaging to the profession is the fact that

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Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, says that two out of five teachers

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coming into depression -- coming into the profession, leave by the

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end of their 50 year. We cannot manage with a profession where that

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many people are leaving. -- of their fifth year. They are leaving because

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primary classroom teachers are having to work 60 hours a week. And

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this is not work which contributes positively to their teaching. And

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also we do not think that classroom teachers can work until they are 68.

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These are contributory reasons for why we are on strike today. I think,

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I know, from some of the figures that I have read, that we have the

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support of many, although I accept not all, of parents. But we feel

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that this was a time when we had to take this action. You say you have

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the support of parents, a poll by populous last year found 70% either

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opposed the strikes or found teachers should not be allowed to

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strike at all. That is not an overwhelming endorsement? I have to

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tell you, if you pick out one poll, you may get that view, but if you

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have been speaking to people recently, you will see that that is

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not generally the margin at all. One thing we have been doing, which is

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nothing at all to do with strike action, is that for the past six

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weeks we have been on the streets on Saturday mornings, talking to

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parents and the general public about not the issues which are in the

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trade dispute but other issues, which we think are very serious

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problems, in terms of education policy. Like, for example, the --

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the fact that teachers will no longer have to be qualified, fact

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that schools are opening in places where we do not need them, like free

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schools, but local authorities are not in a position to open schools

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where there is a schools prices crisis. So we have a coincidence of

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interests with the general public and parents across a lot of these

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policy areas. Before we move on, in terms of support, the Department for

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Education says well under a quarter of schools are closed, compared to

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60% in the last strikes. It is the lowest level of support for a

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national strike since 2010. There are reports, as you will know, from

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the NASUWT, one of the other big unions, which have accused your

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union of threats, insults and attempts to intimidate teachers to

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join the action - is there any truth to that? You would have to deal with

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them about that matter. I am not going to comment on it. If there had

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been problems with any of my members, I would have expected them

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to have been brought to my attention, and they have not. So, I

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really cannot comment. Of course we expect members of trade unions to

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behave in a proper fashion towards each other. Will you try and get to

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the bottom of this? It is a leaked internal e-mail from the NASUWT. So

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I presume there is some evidence there? If she wants to get in touch

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with me, that is fine, and we will deal with it. But it has not been

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brought to my attention. What is the attitude of Labour

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towards this college we think this strike is highly disruptive for

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parents, obviously, but more importantly for children, who are

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missing a day of school. We know that attendance is highly correlated

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with attainment. We need kids to do well at school. I think there has

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been a breakdown on both sides, with Michael Gove saying that teachers

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are the enemies of promise, that is not going to help in any

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negotiations. But also I do think that the trade unions need to come

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around the table and continue with these talks. So you would rather the

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NUT have not gone on strike today? I would rather they were still

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negotiating around the table. Could relations between the Education

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Secretary, Mr Gove, and the unions be any worse? I do not think they

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are in a bad state at all. Michael Gove's policies are exhausting and

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demoralising teachers, says the deputy general secretary of the NUT.

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Firstly, I am not sure if Labour is actually condemning this strike, and

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I think they ought to be clear. Secondly, the fact that the NUT is

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the only trade union representing teachers which is taking this action

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speaks words about the NUT. They are the last great dinosaur of the

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teaching professions. I used to be a shop steward for the NUJ, and I

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always made sure that I took my team with me, and represented my members.

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Taking strike action should be an absolute last resort. I do not know

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the figures, but I think I am right in saying that the majority of

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people did not take part in the vote, and of them, therefore, you

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get a fraction of the NUT actually supporting strike action. But that

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is the law as it stands. Absolutely, but it shows the validity of it,

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which is even more undermined. I have just told you our position, I

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was very clear about it. I do not want them to be on strike today, I

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want them to be around the table. But I also think the Government has

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done an awful job on this, and Michael Gove is playing political

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games. The kids and parents are paying the price. Why is he saying

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things like enemies of promise? It is the fact that the other unions

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are at the table, doing the right thing, which I think is telling. The

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NUT has gone on strike, ticketed schools which want to look at

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becoming academies. That is the reality of a union which is living

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back in the 1970s. Take the union's own diary, it now reveals government

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data, primary school teachers are working nearly a 60 hour week. A lot

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of our teachers are working very hard, it is a lot, and they find it

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a very rewarding job, but you have got to get the balance right. I go

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into my primary schools in my constituency, and I speak to heads

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and teachers... Do you think 60 hours is too much? I have not seen

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the analyst, -- the analysis, so I cannot comment. It is tough, but you

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have got to accept that our schools are doing a brilliant job, and we

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are seeing real progress as a result of the reforms we have made. We will

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have to leave it there. Now, it's a week since George

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Osborne unveiled this year's Budget. The next day's headlines, and the

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polls, suggested it was a good day for the Chancellor and a pretty

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awful one for Labour leader Ed Miliband. So what happened next?

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Here's Jo Co. Now, with a year to go before the

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general election George, Osborne has set out a full throttle Budget. The

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Chancellor gave pensioners the opportunity to spend their pension

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pots when they want and on whatever they choose - even on a fast car

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like a Lamborghini. Ed Miliband appeared to stutter and stall in his

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response to the Budget. But Labour have now indicated that they won't

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oppose the pension changes, and today the Labour leader will drive

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his MPs through the yes lobby to support the Government's welfare

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cap. But what do the public think? Well, Labour are still ahead, but

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their poll lead has been cut back - the Tories have their foot on the

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gas and are now as little as 1% behind. That's prompted a number of

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back seat critics to tell Mr Miliband to get a grip on the wheel

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and a sense of direction. And now there's another headache for the

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Labour leader. Latest figures show that inflation has fallen to 1.7% -

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is Mr Miliband's "cost of living crisis" mantra running out of road?

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Emma Reynolds, what do you make of this latest poll from YouGov which

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shows that less than a fifth of voters see Ed Miliband as a Prime

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Minister in waiting? The only polls which count are in May this year,

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and in the general election next year. We have got some very bold

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policies, if anyone has got direction and vision, it is Ed

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Miliband, not David Cameron. The Labour Party, like other parties,

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would not spend thousands of pounds on this kind of poll... Polls go up

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and down. All parties spend money on polls. Not only does it seem that

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only a fifth seed him as a Prime Minister in waiting, but fewer than

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half of Labour voters see him as a Prime Minister in waiting just why

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do you think that is? I think Ed Miliband is the only party leader

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who has the ideas, the values and the policies to address the problems

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that people face across the country. Why don't the voters agree with

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you? We had the second worst election defeat in the last 100

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years in 2010. We are in contention for the next general election. We

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have framed the debate around the cost of living, despite what the

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inflation figures say, people are facing a real score ways. -- a real

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squeeze. So why are a fifth of people only seeing Mr Miliband as a

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Prime Minister in waiting? If you were winning the argument is, why

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are the people not responding? Ed Miliband has been clear, and we

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know... Not clear enough! The next general election will be close, and

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we have been honest about that. People are less tribal than they

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used to be. Unfortunately people do not trust politicians like us, and

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we can have a wider discussion about that. We are working hard to get our

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message across. There is a long way to go before the general election in

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2015. I am confident that we have got the right policies, we have got

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a leader who is determined to make Britain a better place to live. What

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I was trying to find out was why this was not cutting through to the

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voters. David Lammy, a colleague of yours in the Labour Party in the

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Commons, says, we, the Labour Party, have not crossed the Rubicon yet to

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be regarded as a government in waiting. Do you agree with that? No,

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I totally disagree. We are the only party out of the three big parties

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which has ideas about an energy price freeze, a jobs guarantee, a

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real vision about improving people's lives in the UK. Obviously, we have

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to that message to people, and obviously, polls go up and down. At

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the moment they are just going down. Well, I do not agree with

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David. I think that colleagues in the Labour Party should not be

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talking like that, they should hold their nerve. Of course polls go up

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and down, we know that. Let me come to you, Anna Soubry. The Chancellor

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set this welfare trap for Labour, putting a cap on welfare spending,

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but they did not fall for it. They are going to vote for it. And it is

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meaningless anyway, it is only the amount you are already spending on

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welfare, excluding the job-seekers allowance and pensions, and then it

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is inflation linked for the years ahead, there is nothing to it? No, I

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do not agree with you at all. Forgive me, the description of it

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being a for Miliband are your words, that is not what we are on about. It

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is not about trying to trap Labour. That is what the spin people were

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saying at a briefing last week. That is why we speak to them. It was

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clearly seen as a trap. But they have not fallen for it, they voted

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for it. They say one thing, I think they are all over the place on the

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Basingstoke. But going back to the welfare cap, I listened to Iain

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Duncan Smith on the radio this morning, and I think it is the right

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thing to do. The great British public do not know the huge amounts

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of money which are spent on welfare. What we saw in the last government

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was huge increases in welfare spending, but without any proper

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debate and without people either understanding it, or, more

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importantly, agreeing to it. Get to the point of the cap. Welfare

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continues to rise. Yes, but if Labour are true to their commitment,

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which is to abolish what they call the bedroom tax, what we call the

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spare room subsidy, they will have to explain that, they will have to

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go into the House of Commons and deal with that argument. This cap

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has more holes in it than the cheese were going to be talking about

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later. It does not include state pensions, all any government has to

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do is get a majority in the House of Commons. Mr Blair could have done it

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at any time, it is just you are not used to a majority. And there is 2%

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wiggle room in it as well. You can be up or down 2% before you even

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have to go to the Commons. But it is the right thing to do, isn't it? I

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believe it is. We cannot live any longer in a society where our

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welfare budget is spiralling out of control. The welfare cap will be set

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at 119 million per 1516. That is to take account of inflation. But you

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are not cutting the welfare budget then, are you? What we're saying is,

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you put that cap there so you did a responsible thing. It is an

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inflatable cap, it goes up every year. You keep interrupting me. It

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ensures you are held to account. When people hear those figures and

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compare them to the amount of money spent on schools, 51 billion is

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spent on schools, and when they find out how much is being spent on

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welfare... But you are increasing it. Emma, is Labour committing

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itself to caps in future years as well? We are committed to a cap. You

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have committed to be 119 billion the 2015 and 2016. What about after

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that? I think it is right that inflation is taken into account. We

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will wait to see what the detail is. We are committed to the cap and

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taking into account inflation. Your problem is, if you are going to

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stick to your promise, you cannot stick to those figures, so you to go

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back to the House of Commons and the argument. I'm willing to have a

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large about what this means in practice. It means tackling the

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underlying causes of increases in the bill. Housing benefit is going

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up even for people in work because they are not earning enough in work

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in wages and because rents are increasing because of the housing

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crisis with a shortage of homes. So why cut the affordable homes budget

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by 16% and then be surprised that housing benefit is increasing? It is

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about getting people into work. Of course it is, but it is also about

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rent amounts and people being paid enough. The Chancellor's big

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announcement was to build what is being called a new garden city in

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Kent. This is a promise to build 15,000 homes. How is this different

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from a press release from the community 's department in 2012 that

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promised 20,000 new homes in that same place? Now it is down to

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15,000. It is all smoke and mirrors. I've no idea. I don't know about a

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press release in 2012. My point is, there is nothing new. This is a

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commitment. Well, the commitment in December 2012 was that there would

:19:56.:20:03.

be 20,000 homes. Now there is the actual detail of it. It is a

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downgrade to 5000 fewer homes. Even I worked that out! I did know about

:20:13.:20:24.

2012 press releases. Why not? You are running the country. I'm not

:20:25.:20:30.

responsible but every single press release published by Parliament.

:20:31.:20:38.

Well, they're weighing in and limbering up for the big fight.

:20:39.:20:41.

Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg meet for the first of two contests -

:20:42.:20:45.

tonight's on LBC radio - to debate Europe. The in versus out showdown

:20:46.:20:51.

seems to have got the UKIP leader excited. I've waited 20 years to

:20:52.:20:59.

have a proper debate on national media about whether we should be a

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member of the yuan not. -- the EU or not. It's like going to a party,

:21:11.:21:17.

sometimes you asked, will it be good? Or will it be flat? We don't

:21:18.:21:23.

know. I hope we can stick to the arguments. But it will be fun. Nick

:21:24.:21:30.

Clegg was more tight-lipped. Yes, I'm looking forward to it

:21:31.:21:34.

enormously. Thank you. So did we mention the TV debate

:21:35.:21:37.

between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage is at 7pm next Wednesday here on BBC

:21:38.:21:44.

Two? I think we may have done. But what would you ask them? For your

:21:45.:21:48.

chance to be part of the studio audience on the night and put your

:21:49.:21:52.

question to the two party leaders, email the question you would like to

:21:53.:21:55.

ask to [email protected], or tweet it using the hashtag

:21:56.:22:01.

#europedebate. Who do you want to win? I don't really care. I'm a

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passionate pro-European. I believe jobs would be at risk, and

:22:10.:22:13.

investment, if we were to leave. However, I also know most of my

:22:14.:22:17.

constituents don't really care either way who wins this debate

:22:18.:22:20.

because what they are facing every day of their lives is a cost of

:22:21.:22:24.

living crisis, they worried about their energy bills, are worried

:22:25.:22:29.

about putting food on the table. Many are resorting to food banks.

:22:30.:22:33.

Deliberately care about a debate of our membership of the youth? --the

:22:34.:22:49.

EU? You have said you are passionate about being pro-European. Surely

:22:50.:22:54.

then you will support Nick Clegg. I think there's a distraction from

:22:55.:22:57.

important issues. It is an important issues and I've said I do agree with

:22:58.:23:03.

the pro-European argument. So you would rather Nick Clegg one. I don't

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really care but I do agree we are better in the European Union than

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out of it. So we will take that adds that you sort of support those

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arguments. One reason why we have a problem with the idea that

:23:24.:23:26.

politicians can be trusted is that we don't give a straight answer. Of

:23:27.:23:31.

course I want Nick Clegg's views on Europe to win. I don't agree with

:23:32.:23:34.

his party's policy on Europe in the sense that he will not give us a

:23:35.:23:38.

referendum, but this is absolutely the debate I want. Only we will

:23:39.:23:44.

deliver a referendum, because Nigel Farage can't. I want a healthy

:23:45.:23:48.

debate and I'm sorry, maybe I'm wrong, but I think you also want a

:23:49.:23:53.

proper debate about the union. I'm in favour of our partnership. But I

:23:54.:24:00.

want a debate. I tell you what, it's on to night. So why doesn't David

:24:01.:24:14.

Cameron take part? I don't think he should have to take part, otherwise

:24:15.:24:18.

we would Ed Miliband and God knows who else. If these two want to have

:24:19.:24:22.

a debate, that's up to them. I want to have a referendum so that this

:24:23.:24:25.

country finally has a proper, informed debate about the union. We

:24:26.:24:30.

get the reforms that we want, we put it to the people. In my opinion, the

:24:31.:24:35.

people of Britain will vote in favour of staying within their

:24:36.:24:39.

European Union because most of us are sensible and moderate and we

:24:40.:24:44.

will see the benefits. Who are your fellow Conservatives MPs wanting to

:24:45.:24:59.

win? Idaho. -- I don't know. Because there is a divide within your party,

:25:00.:25:05.

is in there? The media often comment on this but I don't think the media

:25:06.:25:11.

really understand the backbenches. People say we are against the EU. It

:25:12.:25:19.

is not as simple as that. There are a significant number of us who are

:25:20.:25:26.

in favour of our membership. Of course some want us to leave. So it

:25:27.:25:38.

is a deep divide. This is a rehearsal for tonight? We have to

:25:39.:25:41.

leave it there. Now, a survey out this week revealed

:25:42.:25:45.

the great British tea round is on its way out. 2.5 million workers

:25:46.:25:48.

claim they are simply too busy to put the kettle on and wait around to

:25:49.:25:53.

make tea or coffee for everyone. A third said they would rather just

:25:54.:25:56.

make themselves a drink and get back to work, the selfish so-and-sos. And

:25:57.:26:00.

to avoid making a cuppa for others, they'll even go so far as to make a

:26:01.:26:04.

rubbish cup of tea so they're never asked again. That probably explains

:26:05.:26:12.

why Jo's tea is undrinkable. Well, we'd like to do our bit to reverse

:26:13.:26:16.

this shocking trend - and regular viewers will know where this is

:26:17.:26:19.

going - by giving you the chance to win something that you'll be so keen

:26:20.:26:23.

to show off to colleagues you'll end up making round after round. Yes,

:26:24.:26:28.

it's the Daily Politics mug. And it works for tea and coffee. We haven't

:26:29.:26:32.

tested it with other liquids. We'll remind you how to enter in a

:26:33.:26:37.

minute, but let's see if you can remember when this happened.

:26:38.:27:30.

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

:27:31.:27:53.

to our special quiz email address - that's [email protected] And you can

:27:54.:27:59.

see the full terms and conditions for Guess The Year on our website.

:28:00.:28:05.

It's coming up to midday here - just take a look at Big Ben - and that

:28:06.:28:09.

can mean only one thing. Yes, Prime Minister's Questions is on its way.

:28:10.:28:12.

If you'd like to comment on proceedings, you can email us at

:28:13.:28:15.

[email protected] or tweet your thoughts using the hashtag

:28:16.:28:18.

#bbcdp - we'll read some out after PMQs.

:28:19.:28:24.

And that's not all - fresh from Manchester's victory in that soccer

:28:25.:28:27.

match last night, Nick Robinson is here.

:28:28.:28:42.

# Blue moon, you saw me standing alone...

:28:43.:28:56.

You changing jobs, Nick? Are you a commentator? Sports pundit. Not that

:28:57.:29:06.

I care, but let's have a listen to what you had to say. What is your

:29:07.:29:16.

prediction of the score? I'm going to settle. 6-1 would do me. Did you

:29:17.:29:31.

say which way round? I heard Robert Preston being interviewed about

:29:32.:29:35.

Arsenal's manager as well. Having you guys got day jobs? We have, but

:29:36.:29:45.

we like to spread our wings. What about tonight, that is the biggest

:29:46.:29:52.

battle. You are asking a man United if they want Liverpool to win. So

:29:53.:30:00.

did Manchester United not win last night?

:30:01.:30:11.

I shall have further such meetings later today.

:30:12.:30:18.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. What assurances can the Prime Minister

:30:19.:30:22.

give to residents in West Lancashire that localism will give them a fair

:30:23.:30:27.

chance against greed and profit, when it comes to their wish to end

:30:28.:30:32.

hazardous waste dumping, given that there is no evidence of need, a

:30:33.:30:37.

promise it would end in 1995, and a community, including its MP, were

:30:38.:30:43.

repeatedly saying, no more dumping. Those the Prime Minister really

:30:44.:30:49.

believe in localism? I do believe in localism, which is why we got rid of

:30:50.:30:52.

a lot of the regional strategies and organisations. We did a number of

:30:53.:31:00.

things that local councils have been asking for, in terms of empowering

:31:01.:31:05.

them, not least giving them a duty of competence, so that they can act

:31:06.:31:09.

where necessary. On that specific issue, I will look at it and write

:31:10.:31:17.

to her. I know my Right Honourable Friend

:31:18.:31:22.

will be as concerned as I am about potential job losses at Honda in my

:31:23.:31:26.

constituency. Will he work with myself and my colleague for South

:31:27.:31:29.

Swindon to help at this difficult time? I completely understand My

:31:30.:31:36.

Honourable Friend's concern, and we will be working with local partners

:31:37.:31:40.

to minimise the impact of these job losses. Honda have assured us that

:31:41.:31:43.

they are committed to the long-term success of this plant in Swindon,

:31:44.:31:47.

which I have been to, and it is a remarkable plant. I know Honda

:31:48.:31:52.

remains committed to the UK, and we will work with the local council and

:31:53.:31:55.

local people to make sure Swindon continues to have a strong and

:31:56.:32:00.

successful economic future. Mr Edwin van!

:32:01.:32:12.

-- Ed Miliband! This morning, we learned that the energy company SSE

:32:13.:32:16.

will be freezing its energy prices for 20 months. Would we be right to

:32:17.:32:23.

assume that the Prime Minister believes that this price freeze is

:32:24.:32:28.

unworkable, impossible to implement and probably a communist plot? It is

:32:29.:32:37.

hugely welcome in our country that energy companies are cutting and

:32:38.:32:44.

freezing bells. As ever, with the Right Honourable gentleman, he has

:32:45.:32:48.

failed to read the small print. This is what SSE say about why they have

:32:49.:32:53.

been able to cut bills in this way... Yes. This is what they say.

:32:54.:33:01.

The decisions taken by the Government to reduce the costs of

:33:02.:33:09.

the environment levy were a crucial factor... That is what is happening

:33:10.:33:16.

under this government. And what a contrast, with the doubling of the

:33:17.:33:23.

gas bills and the 50% increase in electricity bills when Labour were

:33:24.:33:29.

in power. So, Mr Speaker, over the last six months, we have obviously

:33:30.:33:35.

misunderstood the Prime Minister. He is the champion of the price

:33:36.:33:39.

freeze! That is what he wants us to understand. Week after week, he

:33:40.:33:45.

denounced Labour 's call for an energy price freeze to help families

:33:46.:33:49.

and businesses, and now, apparently, he supports a price freeze. Can he

:33:50.:33:55.

explain why a price freeze was wrong six months ago, but it is the right

:33:56.:34:00.

thing to do today? What we have done is reduce the costs of energy

:34:01.:34:04.

charges, so that companies are able to their bills. -- to cap their

:34:05.:34:15.

bills. Since I made the announcement about rolling back the costs of

:34:16.:34:20.

green charges... We must be able to hear both the questions and the

:34:21.:34:24.

answers. You're right, Mr Speaker, they shout about him in support in

:34:25.:34:29.

here and then they brief against him outside. That is what happens. This

:34:30.:34:35.

is what happened since I made that announcement. For dual fuel users,

:34:36.:34:40.

British Gas have cut ?50 off bills, ScottishPower, ?54 off bills, aeon,

:34:41.:34:49.

?54, EDF, ?65 off bills, and the other three have all announced that

:34:50.:34:53.

prices will not go up further in 2014. So, can I thank him for the

:34:54.:34:59.

opportunity to demonstrate how this part of our long-term economic man

:35:00.:35:03.

is as successful as all the other parts? But once again, Mr Speaker,

:35:04.:35:12.

he shows how totally out of touch he is. The OBR it self says that energy

:35:13.:35:16.

prices are rising by more than double the rate of inflation. That

:35:17.:35:23.

is the reality. But I am interested in his position now on price

:35:24.:35:26.

freezes, because the Energy Secretary said this morning, I will

:35:27.:35:32.

tell them what is weak, it is not standing up to the energy companies.

:35:33.:35:39.

The Energy Secretary, who I see over there, the Energy Secretary said

:35:40.:35:50.

this morning that he was calling on other suppliers to do the same and

:35:51.:35:55.

freeze their bills. Is it now the Prime Minister's policy that we

:35:56.:36:01.

should freeze bills? It is our policy that bills should be, and

:36:02.:36:05.

bills are being capped by this government. That is what is

:36:06.:36:08.

happening just when we come to the small print, let's have a look at

:36:09.:36:11.

what Scottish southern said about the Labour policy. I will tell you

:36:12.:36:17.

what is weak. Week is not having an economic policy. Week is not

:36:18.:36:22.

responding to the budget. Weak is having no long-term plan for

:36:23.:36:26.

Britain. That is what is weak. This is what SSE safe. They say, on

:36:27.:36:35.

Labour policy, it does not appear to include a clear commitment or a

:36:36.:36:38.

long-term solution to reduce the costs of supplying electricity and

:36:39.:36:45.

gas. An externally imposed 20 month price freeze would not reduce the

:36:46.:36:48.

cost of supplying energy. That is what SSE say. And that is why I

:36:49.:36:57.

assume I have found a Labour business supporter. He is called

:36:58.:37:01.

John Mills, and this is what he said about Labour's policy yesterday. EZ,

:37:02.:37:05.

I do not think the Labour Party would do that if it were in power.

:37:06.:37:11.

If they cannot convince their one business supporter, how can they

:37:12.:37:17.

convince the country? Mr Speaker, he is not the Prime Minister at all, he

:37:18.:37:21.

is the PR man for the energy companies. That is what he is. Bills

:37:22.:37:27.

are rising. And what is clear is that his argument against a freeze

:37:28.:37:32.

has been totally demolished today. A price freeze for households and

:37:33.:37:37.

businesses is feasible, workable, and it will happen under a Labour

:37:38.:37:44.

government. And all of this shows he just does not get the cost of living

:37:45.:37:47.

crisis which is happening around this country. Can he confirmed that

:37:48.:37:54.

the OBR it self has said that over the course of this Parliament,

:37:55.:37:57.

living standards will be falling, and it is the first time that has

:37:58.:38:02.

happened since the war? Isn't it great, after a week, we have finally

:38:03.:38:08.

got to the Budget! He has finally got something to say about the

:38:09.:38:12.

Budget. He might want to explain why he has voted against a Budget that

:38:13.:38:18.

has a ?7 billion cut for energy prices for businesses and consumers

:38:19.:38:21.

around the country. Why did they vote against that? Is he is

:38:22.:38:27.

concerned about the cost of living? Why did they vote against a personal

:38:28.:38:34.

allowance of ?10,500? If they are concerned about the cost of living,

:38:35.:38:38.

why did they vote against giving pensioners the right to spend their

:38:39.:38:42.

own money as they choose? If you care about the cost of living, why

:38:43.:38:46.

did you vote against abolishing the savings tax, paid for by the poorest

:38:47.:38:50.

people in our country and no not a clue about how to help working

:38:51.:39:05.

people. No clue about the Budget. Not for the first time, calm down,

:39:06.:39:14.

dear, calm down. Or should I say, for the benefit of the Chancellor,

:39:15.:39:20.

eyes down, dear. Eyes down, dear. The truth is that living standards

:39:21.:39:25.

are falling over this Parliament. And he talks about what the

:39:26.:39:28.

Chancellor did on energy. It is classic give with one he introduced

:39:29.:39:37.

a carbon price floor, and now he wants credit for giving part of it

:39:38.:39:40.

back to families and businesses. Let's try him again - can he

:39:41.:39:46.

confirmed that page 87 of the OBR document says that living standards

:39:47.:39:48.

are falling over the Parliament, yes or no? The figures he quotes time

:39:49.:39:55.

and again at this dispatch box say... Order! Let's hear the

:39:56.:40:04.

answers. Of course we were made poorer by the great recession which

:40:05.:40:08.

they presided over. I am happy to compare the record on the cost of

:40:09.:40:14.

living any time. We are cutting income tax for 25 million people.

:40:15.:40:18.

They voted against it. We have taken 3.2 million people out of income tax

:40:19.:40:22.

altogether, they voted against it. We voted to freeze council tax, they

:40:23.:40:28.

voted against it. We are freezing fuel duty, they voted against it. We

:40:29.:40:32.

are cutting spending so we can cut taxes for hard-working people - they

:40:33.:40:35.

have voted against every single change. Their vote against the

:40:36.:40:42.

Budget last night will go down in the history of this Parliament as a

:40:43.:40:47.

massive own goal for Labour. He will go down in history as the Prime

:40:48.:40:53.

Minister who cut people's living standards over the course of this

:40:54.:40:57.

Parliament, and he cannot deny it. He cannot solve the cost of living

:40:58.:41:01.

crisis, Mr Speaker, when he does not think there is one. He will not

:41:02.:41:06.

freeze energy bills, because it has nothing to do with government. The

:41:07.:41:10.

thing you can always rely on with this prime minister, he will always

:41:11.:41:14.

stand up for the wrong people. What is happening under this government

:41:15.:41:18.

is, inflation is falling, unemployment is coming down, 1.3

:41:19.:41:22.

million more people in work, 400,000 more businesses we are helping this

:41:23.:41:27.

economy recover from the ravages that it was left under Labour. That

:41:28.:41:33.

is the truth, Mr Speaker. Everyone can see that we have a plan for a

:41:34.:41:37.

better future for our country, and everyone can see, he is flailing

:41:38.:41:43.

around, a man with no plan, and increasingly, no future.

:41:44.:41:55.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Children with cancer are being denied new life

:41:56.:42:02.

saving drugs because of out of date rules governing clinical trials,

:42:03.:42:07.

allowing companies to exclude children even when the drugs could

:42:08.:42:12.

treat childhood cancer. Will he'd join with me to try to get these

:42:13.:42:17.

rules changed, to give families hope? I am very happy to listen to

:42:18.:42:28.

his suggestions. He and I both support the Cancer Drugs Fund, which

:42:29.:42:34.

has made a huge difference, but I am happy to listen to his suggestion.

:42:35.:42:47.

Can I have some calm, please? Mr Speaker, beer and bingo may not

:42:48.:42:53.

exactly be the bread and circuses of our age, but as leading lights of

:42:54.:42:58.

the coalition rush forward to express their love for them, will

:42:59.:43:02.

the Prime Minister dissociate himself from the snobbish and

:43:03.:43:05.

disdainful comments made by his party chairman? Can I thank the

:43:06.:43:11.

Honourable Gentleman for once again advertising the fact that this

:43:12.:43:17.

government is cutting the tax on bingo, and quite right, because

:43:18.:43:21.

their industry was decimated by Labour. Can I thank him also for

:43:22.:43:24.

pointing out the Chancellor's approach of cutting the duty,

:43:25.:43:29.

because we want to back responsible drinkers, and because we back the

:43:30.:43:34.

pub trade. Yes, I am sure the Right Honourable gentleman sitting

:43:35.:43:36.

opposite enjoys a game of bingo, it is the only time he ever gets close

:43:37.:43:38.

to number ten. Mr Speaker, yesterday, in the

:43:39.:44:00.

all-party group, we heard a powerful and moving account of the effects of

:44:01.:44:04.

post traumatic stress disorder. Will my Right Honourable Friend join me

:44:05.:44:08.

in paying tribute to Simon and Louisa, who completed their epic run

:44:09.:44:15.

from Leeds to Parliament yesterday, to support their organisation which

:44:16.:44:18.

seeks greater research into this. As well as being one of the hidden

:44:19.:44:22.

costs of armed conflict, it affects thousands of people who have been

:44:23.:44:26.

the vicar hymns of rape, sexual assault and other life changing

:44:27.:44:31.

trauma, . -- the victims of rape. I am happy to join him in paying

:44:32.:44:36.

tribute to the many people who achieved so much through their run.

:44:37.:44:40.

Organisations like combat stress to an extraordinary job in our

:44:41.:44:44.

country. We have to face up to the fact that because of the conflicts

:44:45.:44:46.

in Iraq and Afghanistan, we will have many all people -- many more

:44:47.:44:52.

people needing our help long into the future. That is why I think the

:44:53.:44:56.

Chancellor's decision to take the money from the LIBOR finds and use

:44:57.:45:02.

that to back military charities like this is very far-sighted. The 25th

:45:03.:45:09.

anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster is less than three weeks

:45:10.:45:13.

away, and the fresh inquests are due to start. Does the Prime Minister

:45:14.:45:17.

agree with me that it is a scandal that some police officers who were

:45:18.:45:22.

on duty on the day of the disaster are refusing to co-operate with the

:45:23.:45:24.

investigation, and can he say what he will do to prevent such a

:45:25.:45:34.

situation happening again? He knows the IPCC is investigating all of

:45:35.:45:40.

these complaints. In addition, families can complain to the

:45:41.:45:46.

tribunal as well. Letters have been written to asked that police

:45:47.:45:49.

officers provide all the information they can. Does the Prime Minister

:45:50.:45:59.

agree we should assist in investment to ensure a competitive and

:46:00.:46:09.

sustainable future? We should certainly do that. We have seen a

:46:10.:46:13.

huge recovery in our automotive industry. If we look at component

:46:14.:46:18.

supplies and manufacture for the industry we have some huge success

:46:19.:46:24.

stories. The programme in the budget of helping energy intensive

:46:25.:46:26.

industries will obviously help some of the companies involved, but the

:46:27.:46:30.

broader help, the ?7 billion I referred to earlier, will help all

:46:31.:46:35.

businesses involved in automated supply. One month ago I asked about

:46:36.:46:41.

ambulance response times and the Prime Minister read out an answer

:46:42.:46:45.

that did not and so the question at all. Since then, an elderly

:46:46.:46:53.

Darlington woman was left for more than four hours vomiting blood

:46:54.:46:56.

before an ambulance arrived. This time can I please not have a

:46:57.:46:59.

preprepared answer. Can we please have some action? I'm very happy to

:47:00.:47:04.

look at the case the Honourable Lady mentions. She says she does not one

:47:05.:47:08.

that but I think that is the right thing to do, to see what this

:47:09.:47:13.

individual case involved. What we have in all areas are waiting times

:47:14.:47:16.

that ambulances are meant to meet. I'm happy to look what happened and

:47:17.:47:20.

this case and whether lessons can be learned. With consent is breaking

:47:21.:47:29.

out in support of budget measures to help those providing for themselves,

:47:30.:47:35.

will my right honourable friend join me in seeking a new consensus

:47:36.:47:39.

against imposing taxes on houses that have risen in value but whose

:47:40.:47:45.

owners may well be retired? What we want to see in our system is a fair

:47:46.:47:50.

tax system. Under this Government, the rich have paid more in tax,

:47:51.:47:55.

specifically, more in income tax, than in any year they ever did under

:47:56.:48:01.

Labour. We've made sure we raised taxes fairly, not least through sax

:48:02.:48:13.

duty. -- stamp duty. 70% of stay at home mums say going back to work

:48:14.:48:16.

does not add up because of rising childcare costs leaving them worse.

:48:17.:48:21.

With maternal employment rates going down on his watch, why is he doing

:48:22.:48:26.

nothing to help with the issue of rising childcare costs before the

:48:27.:48:35.

general election? We are helping childcare by giving 15 hours. That

:48:36.:48:39.

is happening and that this Government, in this Parliament. 15

:48:40.:48:46.

hours of free card can -- childcare and nursery care but three and

:48:47.:48:49.

four-year-olds. This aid is not enough, it is more than Labour ever

:48:50.:48:58.

provided. The Shadow Chancellor will be out in a minute briefing against

:48:59.:49:08.

it! Mr Speaker, the whole world has watched with grave concern events in

:49:09.:49:11.

the Crimea and the amassing of Russian troops on the eastern border

:49:12.:49:16.

of the Ukraine. Coming on top of other instability in the world,

:49:17.:49:23.

Styria -- Syria, northern Africa, is it not time the Prime Minister may

:49:24.:49:28.

be thought about reversing some of the deep and damaging defence cuts?

:49:29.:49:33.

We will review the National defence strategy on the four-year rolling

:49:34.:49:36.

basis we established. I think that is the right thing to do. In terms

:49:37.:49:45.

of defence spending, we started top to five -- we still have big top

:49:46.:49:50.

five defence spending of any country in the world. Would set out 160

:49:51.:49:56.

billion to spend on equipment. We would not be able to do if we had

:49:57.:50:02.

not taken difficult long-term decisions at the start of this

:50:03.:50:09.

Parliament. Over 80% of spending on transport infrastructure will be on

:50:10.:50:12.

London in the south-east, with nearly ?5,000 per head with

:50:13.:50:18.

Achenbach with ?250 in the north-east. This gross disparity

:50:19.:50:22.

does nothing to help constituencies like Middlesbrough pursue ambitions

:50:23.:50:26.

the growth. Should not the distribution be more equitable

:50:27.:50:29.

across the region 's? When I look at what this Government has done in

:50:30.:50:34.

terms of transport infrastructure, in the North of England, we spent 8

:50:35.:50:38.

billion on transport in the North of England in the first two years of

:50:39.:50:42.

this Parliament. The modernisation of the Tyne Wear Metro, a new Tyne

:50:43.:50:49.

Crossing, 850 million to upgrade the A1 and feasibility studies to

:50:50.:50:56.

improve the A1 north of Newcastle - all proposals put forward under this

:50:57.:51:00.

Government. We are rebalancing our economy, we are investing in

:51:01.:51:04.

infrastructure and we're making sure the North of England gets its fair

:51:05.:51:10.

share. And employment in my constituency has fallen by over 20%

:51:11.:51:16.

in the last 12 months. With inflation recently falling as well,

:51:17.:51:20.

that is providing welcome our upward pressure on living standards. Would

:51:21.:51:23.

my right honourable friend therefore agree that we should take no lessons

:51:24.:51:26.

from the persistent negativity of the party opposite talking our

:51:27.:51:31.

country down? We should stick to our long-term economic plan. An absolute

:51:32.:51:37.

key part of our long-term plan is helping business to create the jobs

:51:38.:51:44.

that our country needs. We got 1.3 million in work, 1.7 million more

:51:45.:51:47.

private-sector jobs compared to 2010. What that means the people is

:51:48.:51:55.

the safety and security of having a payback get at the end of the week

:51:56.:51:58.

so they can support their families. That is what is changing our

:51:59.:52:06.

country. Despite what the Government have said about cutting energy

:52:07.:52:13.

costs, 71% of people in North Tyneside survey say they are still

:52:14.:52:17.

worried about their bills and want a full price freeze now. Will a Prime

:52:18.:52:21.

Minister listened to the people of North Tyneside and meet that demand?

:52:22.:52:26.

The most important thing we can do is to help the energy companies

:52:27.:52:30.

reduce bills by rolling back the costs of these green levies and

:52:31.:52:33.

charges. It is only since we done at that we'd seen energy company after

:52:34.:52:39.

energy company reduce the costs for people's bills. We went to see a

:52:40.:52:45.

more competitive market with more players. These things were having to

:52:46.:52:48.

correct from the disastrous stewardship of the Department of

:52:49.:52:51.

energy when the right Honourable Gentleman was in charge. Eg,

:52:52.:52:58.

thousands of lives are needlessly lost in this country because we

:52:59.:53:02.

diagnose their cancer is far too late. The all-party group on cancer

:53:03.:53:06.

and the wider cancer community has successfully lobbied the Government

:53:07.:53:14.

to make sure local and national NHS authorities are measured by one year

:53:15.:53:17.

survival rates, in order to promote early diagnosis. The Government

:53:18.:53:23.

deserves great credit the listening, but twice now, at late notice, the

:53:24.:53:29.

publication of the one-year figures has been postponed. Will the Prime

:53:30.:53:32.

Minister do what he can to ensure that we meet the next deadline? On

:53:33.:53:38.

the specific point my honourable friend says, yes, we will be

:53:39.:53:41.

publishing those important figures in June. What we're doing in terms

:53:42.:53:49.

of cancer is backing the NHS with extra money. We have a cancer drugs

:53:50.:53:53.

find which has helped over 44,000 people since this Government came to

:53:54.:53:58.

office. There is no cancer drugs find in Wales made available for

:53:59.:54:03.

people, but it is here in England. We are spending 750 million on

:54:04.:54:07.

cancer services but he is absolutely right about early diagnosis. That is

:54:08.:54:11.

why it is important to make sure we doing everything we can with GPs to

:54:12.:54:16.

make sure it is diagnosed earlier. The whole House will be well aware

:54:17.:54:21.

of the contribution to the immense suffering of thousands of innocent

:54:22.:54:25.

victims across the UK made by the Gaddafi regime's state sponsorship

:54:26.:54:31.

by a terrorism and the supply of arms sent over many years to

:54:32.:54:34.

republican groups. Does he agree with what he previously said, that

:54:35.:54:38.

the issue of compensation from Libya remains a priority for this

:54:39.:54:41.

Government? Willie agreed to meet with me to review the case under

:54:42.:54:55.

discussion? -- will he agree? The Libyan operatives Rian --

:54:56.:55:02.

authorities are in no doubt about the importance we are placed on

:55:03.:55:05.

that. It is difficult to make progress on this issue given the

:55:06.:55:09.

situation but I am happy to meet with the Honourable Gentleman to

:55:10.:55:13.

discuss that. Does the boy minister welcomed the change from the last

:55:14.:55:16.

Labour Government which talked loosely about British jobs for

:55:17.:55:26.

British workers? 90% of new jobs went to foreign nationals. This

:55:27.:55:32.

Government has the at -- let the success of its economic plan do the

:55:33.:55:37.

talking. Last year, nearly 90% of new jobs went to British workers. My

:55:38.:55:44.

honourable friend is absolutely right. Last year, employment went up

:55:45.:55:54.

by 425,000 people. 420 by thousand more breadwinners earning for their

:55:55.:55:59.

families. I believe 80% of those jobs went to British nationals.

:56:00.:56:03.

There is much more we are aiming to do. We have more announcements this

:56:04.:56:12.

week is -- about the creation of jobs and apprenticeships. We want to

:56:13.:56:17.

make sure young people are available and train for those jobs. That means

:56:18.:56:20.

improving schools and skills and investing in apprenticeships.

:56:21.:56:26.

Westminster is awash with the rim of the Government is considering an

:56:27.:56:33.

amendment to the hunting act. -- with the rumour. Will the Prime

:56:34.:56:41.

Minister confirm his commitment to the coalition agreement which only

:56:42.:56:49.

allows for a free vote on the repeal of the legislation? It's a good

:56:50.:56:55.

moment to talk about rumours. As she knows, proposals were made on a

:56:56.:57:02.

cross-party basis to the Environment Secretary about an amendment to the

:57:03.:57:06.

hunting act that would help in particular upland farmers deal with

:57:07.:57:14.

the problem of fax -- fox predation on their land. I regret to say I

:57:15.:57:17.

don't think there will be Government agreement to go forward. Members are

:57:18.:57:31.

in a state of high excitement but one hopes that is because of the

:57:32.:57:37.

honourable member. I thank the Prime Minister for visiting my

:57:38.:57:40.

constituency of Tewkesbury during the recent floods. We met in a

:57:41.:57:45.

village which blood is very badly and yet there are plans to build

:57:46.:57:50.

3500 houses in that very area. Will the Prime Minister look at

:57:51.:57:54.

strengthening the planning guidance he gives with regards to flooding?

:57:55.:57:58.

Willie gives stronger guidance to the Environment Agency? -- will he

:57:59.:58:05.

give? There is a big difference between the rhetoric and what is

:58:06.:58:12.

happening. I know my honourable member's constituency has suffered

:58:13.:58:15.

repeatedly from flooding and I have visited to discuss this with local

:58:16.:58:19.

people and businesses. Any future developments have to comply with the

:58:20.:58:23.

National planning policy which makes clear that inappropriate development

:58:24.:58:26.

in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided. Secondly, in 95% of

:58:27.:58:32.

cases where the Environment Agency objects to planning on flood risk

:58:33.:58:35.

grounds, the final decision is in line with agency advice. When the

:58:36.:58:44.

salary of bankers have gone up five times the rate of ordinary workers

:58:45.:58:48.

and the top 100 chief executive officers are reigning 133 times the

:58:49.:58:52.

average workers employed in their companies, is it not right those on

:58:53.:58:59.

the higher incomes are contributing the most intact? With that in mind,

:59:00.:59:05.

will he then rule out any consideration of a further cut in

:59:06.:59:08.

the highest rate of tax for the richest 1%? We said that is not a

:59:09.:59:13.

priority, but I agree with the Honourable Gentleman that the rich

:59:14.:59:17.

should be paying more in income tax and making a bigger contribution.

:59:18.:59:20.

Under this Government, that is exactly what is happening. In a way,

:59:21.:59:26.

that is what is interesting about the Labour arguments. They can't

:59:27.:59:29.

talk about jobs because there are more of them. They can't about

:59:30.:59:32.

inflation because it has gone down. They've got one argument you --

:59:33.:59:39.

left, which is about fairness. But actually, inequality is at its

:59:40.:59:43.

lowest level since 1986, there are a million fewer people in relative

:59:44.:59:47.

poverty then when they were in the Cabinet. Half a million fewer

:59:48.:59:51.

children in poverty. The facts show this is not only a Government that

:59:52.:59:56.

is delivering recovery, it is a Government delivering it in a fair

:59:57.:00:05.

way as well. I never Prime Minister is acutely aware it is coming up to

:00:06.:00:12.

30 years anniversary of the appalling carnage at the Temple in

:00:13.:00:15.

Amritsar. I wonder what more can be done to last bring someone to

:00:16.:00:19.

justice for the appalling events that across India. My honourable

:00:20.:00:25.

friend is right. What happened in Amritsar Bedi is a gay lead to a

:00:26.:00:28.

tragic loss of life. It remains a deep source of pain. -- in Amritsar

:00:29.:00:54.

30 years ago lead to a tragic loss. He is so keen on boasting. If the

:00:55.:01:01.

proud of the back so many elderly people are no longer able to get

:01:02.:01:06.

assistance, essential assistance, because of the policies being

:01:07.:01:10.

pursued by this Government? Why is it that a Cabinet made up of so many

:01:11.:01:15.

multimillionaires are so indifferent to the needs of people are the most

:01:16.:01:24.

vulnerable in our society? I remember when Labour gave pensioners

:01:25.:01:27.

a 70 by p increase. Don't think we've forgotten about that. Don't

:01:28.:01:32.

think we and the rotten about the abolition of the tempi income tax as

:01:33.:01:36.

well. It is this Government that has taken 3 million of the poorest

:01:37.:01:43.

people out of tax. We are putting money into the social care system

:01:44.:01:48.

because we protected the NHS. That is a record that compares favourably

:01:49.:01:56.

with the party opposite. In the week of my 50th birthday, it is the 50th

:01:57.:02:08.

anniversary of a new town. Will you join me in congratulating Ken

:02:09.:02:13.

Williams for helping me to organise the anniversary? Also, my first

:02:14.:02:17.

apprenticeship fair which will see more apprenticeships on top of the

:02:18.:02:21.

3000 we've already had since this Government came to power. I publicly

:02:22.:02:30.

wish her a very happy 50th birthday. I also wish everyone in our town are

:02:31.:02:34.

happy birthday and thank her for the kind present she gave me the

:02:35.:02:38.

monopoly sat with Redditch as its basis which was a very kind gift.

:02:39.:02:44.

I'd better put that into the register of members' interests. She

:02:45.:02:52.

is absolutely right about the importance of apprenticeship fares.

:02:53.:02:55.

We 1.6 million already trained and it is one of the most important

:02:56.:02:59.

things we can do to provide a strong future bride country.

:03:00.:03:07.

So, that was familiar territory between the two frontbenchers,

:03:08.:03:13.

talking about energy price freezes, sparked off one of the big energy

:03:14.:03:17.

companies, SSE, freezing its prices into next year. And Mr Miliband

:03:18.:03:22.

wanted to know if that was a good idea, why was his idea of an overall

:03:23.:03:29.

energy price freeze not a good idea? And so it went on, back and forth.

:03:30.:03:37.

But I guess it was a repeat of many exchanges that we have had on the

:03:38.:03:43.

front benches? Our viewers reflected the conversation between the two

:03:44.:03:48.

leaders about energy prices. Well done, head, says Sara Evans in

:03:49.:03:56.

Surrey. She says she has never seen a leader of the opposition have such

:03:57.:03:58.

an influence on a private sector company. But another one says, the

:03:59.:04:06.

arguments were spurious. A fry sprees imposed by a government is a

:04:07.:04:11.

totally different thing from an announcement by a private company.

:04:12.:04:17.

-- a price freeze. This one says David Cameron continues to be

:04:18.:04:20.

economic with the truth regarding the true cost to the British people

:04:21.:04:24.

of the cost of living. Philip Jones says, Ed Miliband shows the change

:04:25.:04:30.

he is influencing in the UK by rightly raising the issue of energy

:04:31.:04:36.

price freezes. But Robert says, if I remember rightly, Ed Miliband was

:04:37.:04:39.

the Energy Secretary who left us with the big six energy companies,

:04:40.:04:42.

rather than a functioning free market. So, the cost of living issue

:04:43.:04:50.

is still the Labour Party's main attack line on the government? It

:04:51.:04:55.

is, and I think that announcement by SSE will have come as a massive

:04:56.:04:59.

relief to Ed Miliband this morning. The media were beginning to build up

:05:00.:05:02.

a narrative which said Miliband was in trouble. His poll weightings were

:05:03.:05:08.

not good. The reaction to the Budget was widely regarded as poor, well

:05:09.:05:12.

delivered, but free of content. There were think tanks and other

:05:13.:05:15.

pressure groups related to the Labour Party, who were beginning to

:05:16.:05:18.

say, the plans for the Labour manifesto look too quiet, not bold

:05:19.:05:24.

enough. Along comes a market announcement which highlights the

:05:25.:05:27.

single most popular thing he has ever announced, the energy freeze,

:05:28.:05:32.

gave him the chance to revive that, to revive the attack on David

:05:33.:05:36.

Cameron about it, and regardless of whether you think David Cameron had

:05:37.:05:41.

answers or did not, and plenty of my colleagues in the press gallery

:05:42.:05:44.

thought he did pretty well, that is not the point. Tonight on the

:05:45.:05:48.

evening news, Ed Miliband will be talking about a price freeze, he is

:05:49.:05:52.

associated with it, it is a popular issue, it is something the public

:05:53.:05:57.

care about. So that for me is a net gain for the Labour leader, because

:05:58.:06:00.

otherwise, they might have been talking about his leadership. Can

:06:01.:06:06.

the cost of living crisis line from the Labour Party last all the way

:06:07.:06:10.

until the election? We are just reflecting the concerns that we here

:06:11.:06:20.

in my constituency and across the country. There are 350,000 people

:06:21.:06:24.

resorting to food banks, which, frankly, for a country which is

:06:25.:06:28.

supposed to be one of the richest in the world, is an indictment on this

:06:29.:06:32.

government. Yes, I think it will be a recurrent theme. Over the next

:06:33.:06:40.

couple of months, and in the private sector it has already happened,

:06:41.:06:45.

wages are set to be starting to rise more quickly than prices, so will

:06:46.:06:51.

that affect things? We want that to happen. But is there not a risk that

:06:52.:06:55.

that will undermine the potency of your position? No, because people

:06:56.:07:01.

are already ?1600 a year worse off under this government, because wages

:07:02.:07:04.

are not keeping up with price rises. That is the simple truth just

:07:05.:07:09.

so, I do think it is still a very potent argent. And I think the fact

:07:10.:07:16.

that SSE have announced a price freeze today is due to our

:07:17.:07:20.

announcement in the autumn. I do not think there would be so much public

:07:21.:07:24.

focus on this had Ed Miliband not said in his conference speech that

:07:25.:07:28.

we were going to introduce a price freeze on energy. Will it not be a

:07:29.:07:32.

problem for the Conservatives, that although things may now be moving in

:07:33.:07:37.

the right direction, by the time of the election, that by most measures,

:07:38.:07:46.

people will be worse off in 2015 than they were in 2010? I think, if

:07:47.:07:52.

I may say, as somebody with a very marginal seat, what I find is that

:07:53.:07:58.

when you talk to people, they did not expect anything other than that

:07:59.:08:04.

things were going to be tough, given where things were in 2010. If we

:08:05.:08:09.

look at the polling, truthfully, Labour should be storming ahead.

:08:10.:08:15.

Anyone old enough to know what polls tell us when governments do things

:08:16.:08:18.

which are tough, the opposition does well. And I genuinely could not

:08:19.:08:25.

believe the weekend's polls, because Labour should be storming ahead. I

:08:26.:08:29.

do not want to get into the personality stuff about Miliband,

:08:30.:08:32.

but one reason why they are not is because people realised it was going

:08:33.:08:37.

to be really tough, they have supported what the Government is

:08:38.:08:40.

doing in taking those really difficult decisions, and they know

:08:41.:08:44.

they are going to have some pain, but they will slowly begin to see

:08:45.:08:48.

the fruits of it. If I may say so, I think the real test is not whether

:08:49.:08:53.

you as an individual are better off in 2015, it is whether the prospects

:08:54.:08:56.

for your children and your grandchildren are better than they

:08:57.:09:02.

were in 2010. That is what I find on the doorstep. I think people get

:09:03.:09:07.

that. There are senior figures in the shadow cabinet who have been

:09:08.:09:10.

saying to Ed Miliband, enough already, you are right about living

:09:11.:09:14.

standards, but stop banging on about just that. There is real pressure

:09:15.:09:18.

within the party for him to have more of an offer about the future.

:09:19.:09:23.

But politicians always have to make the calculation, particularly

:09:24.:09:27.

opposition politicians, that when we are bored, the political classes,

:09:28.:09:30.

the public may be only just about to hear something for the first time.

:09:31.:09:35.

And I think for the moment, he will be thinking, this is still working

:09:36.:09:38.

for me. And also, we forget, there is effectively an extra year, we

:09:39.:09:44.

have five years till the election, we are still more than a year away.

:09:45.:09:50.

So there is a fidgeting as amongst politicians and journalists around

:09:51.:09:54.

Westminster, who by this kind of time would be expecting to write

:09:55.:09:58.

stories about, when is the Prime Minister going to call the election,

:09:59.:10:03.

what are the campaign topics? But it is still quite a long way away. So,

:10:04.:10:07.

I think this argument is going on behind the scenes in the Labour

:10:08.:10:12.

Party. Is there a danger that this sounds like a one trick pony? Do

:10:13.:10:16.

they have two talk more about the future? The phrase from Chuka

:10:17.:10:20.

Umunna, which he has tried to get up and running, and troubled a little

:10:21.:10:28.

bit, I think, about Agenda 2030. Is that an attempt to have a Labour

:10:29.:10:32.

answer? The debate behind the scenes is, when is it right to switch to

:10:33.:10:38.

start that move? I do not think it is one or the other. I think it is

:10:39.:10:42.

both. What we need is an economy which delivers for working people,

:10:43.:10:45.

and our argument about this current recovery is that it is fragile, and

:10:46.:10:51.

it is based on consumption. It is not based on better business

:10:52.:10:54.

investment, which has been very, very sluggish. Hold on, that is not

:10:55.:11:01.

true until the end of the year. It has picked up but it has been very,

:11:02.:11:05.

very sluggish. I understand that, but the problem for you is that

:11:06.:11:09.

every time you identify a weakness in this recovery, and you have a

:11:10.:11:15.

number of them, events have then conspired to put the weakness

:11:16.:11:18.

right. The recovery is now sustainable, nobody denies that.

:11:19.:11:26.

Everybody believes it will last through the election, and business

:11:27.:11:29.

investment is now clicking in, it rose by 8%, and it is thought that

:11:30.:11:38.

it will rise by another 8%. The cost of living crisis, as you call it, is

:11:39.:11:44.

one thing, but is there not the danger that a lot of people still

:11:45.:11:47.

blame you for the squeeze in living standards? I would remind and that

:11:48.:11:54.

in 2010, when she won her marginal seat, the economy was growing,

:11:55.:12:00.

unemployment was coming down. This is the problem, if you believed

:12:01.:12:04.

this, -- if people believe this, then you would not have these

:12:05.:12:07.

results in the polls. When you talk about the cost of living crisis,

:12:08.:12:11.

people think, hang on, I am not going to blame the Government for

:12:12.:12:13.

this, it reminds them of your failings. It throws up the fact that

:12:14.:12:19.

in reality, you guys do not have any credibility on the economy, which is

:12:20.:12:22.

the single most dominant factor, and actually, people do not know what

:12:23.:12:25.

you would do which would be different. I think the next election

:12:26.:12:31.

will be won or lost on what both parties will say about what they are

:12:32.:12:35.

going to do in the future on the economy. I think Chuka Umunna is

:12:36.:12:40.

right to speak about Agenda 2030. It is going to be about what we are

:12:41.:12:43.

promising for the future. Can we just establish that it is true that

:12:44.:12:50.

come the election next May, you will be fighting on living standards

:12:51.:12:59.

being lower than they were in 2010? No, you are wanting me to say that

:13:00.:13:04.

and admit that. That is what the OBR says, which is what you base your

:13:05.:13:09.

economic plans on. If I may, I do not know what it is kind to be like

:13:10.:13:13.

then. But I do not think it is as simple as that. One of the biggest

:13:14.:13:17.

drivers I am finding is that it is not just about me here now today,

:13:18.:13:22.

and that was the power of the deficit, was that people understood

:13:23.:13:26.

that those who would suffer as a result of the mess that Labour made

:13:27.:13:30.

of the economy was actually our children and grandchildren. Final

:13:31.:13:36.

thought? Not connected but worth noting, the Prime Minister, who had

:13:37.:13:40.

talked about amending the law on hunting in order to allow farmers to

:13:41.:13:43.

get packs of dogs in, now says he has not got government support,

:13:44.:13:47.

which is code for, the Lib Dems will not wear it. It is just not

:13:48.:13:52.

necessary. We have got other important things to do. We look

:13:53.:13:59.

forward to seeing how PMQs appears on the Ten O'Clock News tonight. And

:14:00.:14:05.

I shall be doing the debate. Will you not be watching the football?!

:14:06.:14:10.

More importantly, I shall be looking at how the Ten O'Clock News watches

:14:11.:14:13.

events in the Max Clifford trial today. I will be interested in how

:14:14.:14:21.

the Ten O'Clock News covers it. That is all I am saying. Next, what

:14:22.:14:26.

happens when you give a packet of cornflakes a good shake costume in

:14:27.:14:29.

the words of the Mayor of London, it will be easier for some cornflakes

:14:30.:14:37.

to get to the top. Not a revelation, but Boris's comments last year

:14:38.:14:42.

caused a stir, because he was talking about IQ, and allowing the

:14:43.:14:47.

brightest to be able to flourish, particularly in relation to grammar

:14:48.:14:50.

schools. He went on to say that differing IQ levels in the

:14:51.:14:53.

population are "surely relevant to a conversation about equality". So are

:14:54.:14:56.

we condemned by our genes to success or failure? In our soapbox this

:14:57.:14:59.

week, the geneticist Professor Steve Jones gives his take.

:15:00.:15:27.

When I was 11, I was given a genetic test. It was 1955 and this, the

:15:28.:15:36.

double helix, had only been discovered two years earlier. In

:15:37.:15:43.

fact, the idea came from the 1944 education act which set up the 11

:15:44.:15:47.

plus examination. It was based on the idea there was a pool of natural

:15:48.:15:51.

talent in British children was being missed. They did not have DNA

:15:52.:15:58.

sequencing machines but they had tests which they thought would do

:15:59.:16:04.

the job. Find the odd word out. Firm, rough, solid, hard. Complex

:16:05.:16:09.

shapes to move around, difficult sums. In fact, the idea goes back to

:16:10.:16:19.

Charles Darwin's cousin, who in 1869 wrote a book called him Redditch

:16:20.:16:23.

re-genius which said more the same thing about intellectualism and even

:16:24.:16:32.

about wrestling. Boris Johnson today thinks most differences in

:16:33.:16:37.

intellectual levels are inborn. In his words, the harder you shake the

:16:38.:16:41.

pack, the easier it will be for some complex to get to the top. That is

:16:42.:16:49.

based on a deep misunderstanding of genetics. It is about the

:16:50.:16:52.

interaction between nature and nurture which is more subtle than it

:16:53.:16:56.

seems. Education policy has no need to bow down to the merciless treat

:16:57.:17:01.

of genetics, because, however important DNA might be,

:17:02.:17:04.

environmental factors such as teachers are always involved. Any

:17:05.:17:10.

plant breeder wanting to identify the best genes always keeps the

:17:11.:17:13.

subject in exactly the same environment. British schools

:17:14.:17:22.

certainly cannot do that. Steve Jones joins us now. This is

:17:23.:17:27.

fascinating. Which is more important? They always work

:17:28.:17:35.

together. The irony is, the more you understand about nature, DNA, the

:17:36.:17:42.

more important nurture, the environment, seems to be. People get

:17:43.:17:47.

worked up about IQ and it is certainly heritable. Nobody really

:17:48.:17:54.

cares about height but it is highly inherited. About 80% of the

:17:55.:17:59.

variation in a population is genetic. But the average height of

:18:00.:18:03.

children has gone up three inches since the Second World War. That is

:18:04.:18:08.

the environment. The average height of privately educated children is

:18:09.:18:11.

more than that of state educated children. That is not genetic. Is it

:18:12.:18:20.

overstated? A former adviser to the Education Secretary said it is all

:18:21.:18:24.

about genetics, it is the ITU take from your intelligent or not

:18:25.:18:27.

intelligent parents that really counts. -- the IQ you take. Many

:18:28.:18:39.

people would certainly think that. One of the most strongly inherited

:18:40.:18:46.

attributes is bank balance. To go to a really good school like eating you

:18:47.:18:49.

don't just have to be clever, your parents have to be rich. I went to a

:18:50.:18:56.

perfectly reasonable state grammar school. My brother failed that exam

:18:57.:19:01.

and went to a secondary modern and went to a bricklayer. Would you

:19:02.:19:08.

agree with Boris Johnson we should reintroduce grammar schools to allow

:19:09.:19:13.

the most intelligent to thrive? No. I don't think the grammar school

:19:14.:19:17.

system worked particularly well. The comment you made about, Nvidia says

:19:18.:19:22.

bring back their secondary moderns is very important. I spent most of

:19:23.:19:29.

my school in a comprehensive and it was not a particularly good one. I

:19:30.:19:34.

had a good time and I was lucky. I managed to get to a big university.

:19:35.:19:41.

That was in the past. We talk too much about the past rather than what

:19:42.:19:48.

is happening now. I look at the way abroad are my own children and what

:19:49.:19:54.

I've expected of them. -- the way I've brought up my own children. I

:19:55.:20:01.

just want them to maximise their potential, do the best they can. It

:20:02.:20:08.

fascinates me that children change. I don't want to talk too much about

:20:09.:20:13.

my own daughters, but we all have experiences in our lives of people

:20:14.:20:18.

who did not pass the 11 plus or were not in a certain place, and by the

:20:19.:20:23.

time they get to 14, they can be different. Or people who were stars

:20:24.:20:28.

at 11 burn out and buy a levels they are not in the same place. I don't

:20:29.:20:34.

know if there is a period back to a theory on that. -- a theory on that.

:20:35.:20:54.

When you are 11 and you didn't pass and you went to secondary modern, I

:20:55.:21:00.

think these are pretty awful terms. There were many who were then almost

:21:01.:21:07.

condemned to that. But the bank balance is important. And without

:21:08.:21:11.

that, many in your party feel the hidden pool is not being discovered.

:21:12.:21:17.

I do agree with that. I think the many years the banks have determined

:21:18.:21:26.

how well people do. I was lucky enough to get into Oxford. I was at

:21:27.:21:30.

a state school. Most of the people I knew at Oxford did not go to state

:21:31.:21:34.

school. They are totally overrepresented. One of my best

:21:35.:21:40.

friends said to me that what her private school taught her with

:21:41.:21:44.

intellectual confidence. It is a great shame that state school kids

:21:45.:21:48.

are still so underrepresented at the best universities. What is the cause

:21:49.:21:56.

that not enough state school pupils are competing against the much

:21:57.:21:59.

smaller percentage of pupils at private and public schools? I don't

:22:00.:22:05.

think many state schools know how to prepare their kids for the

:22:06.:22:08.

interviews. I think the private schools most have a separate

:22:09.:22:11.

industry going on to prepare their kids. I think we need qualified

:22:12.:22:18.

teachers in our classrooms, we need to attach -- attract the brightest

:22:19.:22:28.

and best. You guys had 13 years to sort that out. In four years, we

:22:29.:22:35.

made huge strides. I think you are letting unqualified teachers in the

:22:36.:22:41.

classroom which is the wrong thing. If you come to constituencies like

:22:42.:22:45.

mine and see the huge progress being made... I took Michael Gove to a

:22:46.:22:48.

school in my constituency and it still blows me away. The real

:22:49.:22:53.

progress they've made is because they are able to become an academy.

:22:54.:22:58.

It has put teachers in charge. We will have to leave it there. We have

:22:59.:23:05.

a clip that you might remember. Have a look at this. Honestly, you lot.

:23:06.:23:13.

What are you putting into your body is? Let me show you. Come on. This

:23:14.:23:19.

is the amount of fat in that whole pizza. There are 17 cubes of sugar

:23:20.:23:29.

in that drink. It could lead to heart disease, type two diabetes and

:23:30.:23:43.

cancer. Let's get food smart. Anna, what are your aims? It is to educate

:23:44.:23:50.

people. Make people aware of some of the things that are in their food

:23:51.:23:53.

that are not necessarily good the user that people can make better

:23:54.:23:59.

choices. That was our Guest of the Day, Anna

:24:00.:24:03.

Soubry, on the programme last year when she was a public health

:24:04.:24:06.

minister, launching the government's healthy eating campaign Food Smart.

:24:07.:24:08.

Now, though ministers in the Department of Agriculture have

:24:09.:24:11.

branded the Department for Health campaign "unbelievably stupid" for

:24:12.:24:13.

undermining home grown producers of dairy products by encouraging people

:24:14.:24:17.

to swap cheese in their diet for alternatives which are lower in

:24:18.:24:20.

saturated fat. A fridge magnet produced by the campaign reads:

:24:21.:24:26.

"Reduced fat cheese, if you please." Well, you'll be glad to hear that we

:24:27.:24:30.

have not been scared off by that warning on this programme. Joining

:24:31.:24:33.

us is the artisan cheesemaker Tim Jones. And his cheese, Lincolnshire

:24:34.:24:42.

Poacher. These cheeses are delicious and varied. As part of a balanced

:24:43.:24:47.

diet, they would be good for anybody. That is the important part.

:24:48.:24:55.

You told us not to be this stuff. No, I didn't. The campaign says,

:24:56.:25:03.

leave off-the-shelf butter, cream, cheese, full fat milk. I didn't say

:25:04.:25:10.

that. We want people to eat a healthy, balanced diet. We don't say

:25:11.:25:17.

you must not do this. What we're giving people is information. Let's

:25:18.:25:21.

get real about this. This campaign is because we have a serious problem

:25:22.:25:25.

in our country with overweight people. A third of our children

:25:26.:25:29.

leave primary school overweight or obese. We need to redress that. My

:25:30.:25:37.

point is, your advice may be wrong, because the campaign leaflet says

:25:38.:25:40.

you should leave butter, cream, cheddar cheese, full fat milk and

:25:41.:25:46.

ice cream on the shelf. Earlier this month, Cambridge University

:25:47.:25:49.

researchers said giving up butter or fatty meat is unlikely to improve

:25:50.:25:56.

health. That is a recent binding. So your advice could be wrong. Of

:25:57.:26:02.

course it could be wrong. There is still a real debate about it. But

:26:03.:26:07.

the one thing you cannot deny is we have a problem with overweight. So

:26:08.:26:15.

the government has the duty to help people to make educated choices. The

:26:16.:26:19.

government does not have a duty to give wrong advice. You recommended

:26:20.:26:32.

reduced back -- that Greek yoghurt. Every time you see reduced VAT,

:26:33.:26:42.

there is more sugar. No should -- not always. The government has put

:26:43.:26:48.

labelling so we give people real information about sugar and salt. It

:26:49.:26:53.

is a great shame to include cheese in this group of products. Cheese is

:26:54.:26:58.

such a nutritious product. It is good the people and children, for

:26:59.:27:02.

their bones and teeth. When you compare it to the other products you

:27:03.:27:07.

are talking about, they are completely different animals. We

:27:08.:27:15.

mustn't get sidetracked by that. When I was the Minister for Public

:27:16.:27:18.

health, and I do have two advice on the advice of my officials, but I

:27:19.:27:27.

met with the cheese industry. You use salt and some people who are

:27:28.:27:32.

keen to reduce salt said, therefore we need to attack cheese. But if you

:27:33.:27:36.

are making cheese you will have a higher level of salt. What do you

:27:37.:27:42.

make of the official advice, we should reduce full fat cheese for

:27:43.:27:47.

reduced fat? I think it is a sad world. I think if we had a lifeless

:27:48.:27:52.

block of half fat cheddar sitting on a plate it would pale into

:27:53.:27:55.

insignificance compared to the cheese we have. I personally would

:27:56.:27:59.

not want to eat it. I'd rather not eat it than have a small amount of a

:28:00.:28:04.

delicious cheese. I don't either and I suspect a lot of people watching

:28:05.:28:08.

this programme agreed. But we're talking about people who are

:28:09.:28:14.

overweight and abuse. Don't eat Artisan cheeses necessarily in small

:28:15.:28:21.

amounts. Don't you think the debate has gone back to sugar? It should go

:28:22.:28:29.

to sugar. There's just time before we go to find out the answer to

:28:30.:28:36.

Guess the Year. Anna, hit that button. It was 1972. We'll be back

:28:37.:28:51.

tomorrow.

:28:52.:28:55.

Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn with live coverage of Prime Minister's Questions and the latest news and debate. With defence minister Anna Soubry and shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds.


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