08/04/2014 Daily Politics


08/04/2014

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Good afternoon and welcome to the Daily Politics. It's the expenses

:00:41.:00:51.

row that just won't go away. Maria Miller made a lightning-fast

:00:52.:00:53.

entrance to Cabinet this morning, with reports that senior Tories want

:00:54.:00:57.

her out on the double. So far Number ten is standing by its minister.

:00:58.:01:00.

The Lib Dems promised that all infant school pupils will have free

:01:01.:01:03.

school meals by this September. But are the schools ready? We've been

:01:04.:01:05.

investigating. Speaking of Lib Dems, I've been

:01:06.:01:09.

talking to the former minister Sarah Teather about the direction of the

:01:10.:01:12.

party and her decision to leave Westminster.

:01:13.:01:14.

Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband started off as special advisors, but

:01:15.:01:17.

to many they're overpaid and unaccountable. So just what do they

:01:18.:01:29.

really do? All that in the next hour, you lucky viewers. And with us

:01:30.:01:33.

for the whole programme today is Henry de Zoete. He was adviser to

:01:34.:01:36.

education secretary Michael Gove until last year. He now runs

:01:37.:01:42.

something called the Big Deal which is trying to persuade consumers to

:01:43.:01:45.

join together and force the energy companies to give them a better

:01:46.:01:50.

deal. The Daily Mail also once described him one of Britain's 50

:01:51.:01:56.

most powerful posh people under 30. What an accolade! He is choking!

:01:57.:02:01.

He's since got a bit older so he no longer qualifies. Welcome to the

:02:02.:02:04.

show. Let's start with Maria Miller. It's

:02:05.:02:10.

the sixth day in a row the culture secretary and her expenses have been

:02:11.:02:13.

making the front pages of the papers. Last week Mrs Miller was

:02:14.:02:17.

cleared of funding a home for her parents at taxpayers' expense but

:02:18.:02:19.

was criticised for her obstructive attitude to the inquiry. She gave a

:02:20.:02:25.

short apology to the Commons that has been described as perfunctory by

:02:26.:02:31.

Ed Miliband. She agreed to hand back ?5,800 after a larger sum

:02:32.:02:34.

recommended by an independent watchdog was overruled by a

:02:35.:02:38.

committee of MPs. Still following? Yesterday the MPs tried to raise the

:02:39.:02:43.

matter in the Commons. MP John Mann has been leading the criticism of

:02:44.:02:47.

Maria Miller and raised a point of order. What opportunities might

:02:48.:02:51.

there be for the house to have a discussion, not on the behaviour and

:02:52.:02:56.

actions of individual members, but on the principle of self-regulation

:02:57.:03:02.

of MPs by MPs? What mechanism is possible before the house rises on

:03:03.:03:06.

Thursday for us to discuss this very important issue? Not this particular

:03:07.:03:10.

case, I am not raising that at all, but the general issue of how we

:03:11.:03:16.

regulate ourselves and recognise the amount of criticism justified or

:03:17.:03:20.

otherwise which has been expressed outside. I thought I had better use

:03:21.:03:29.

this before you do. How do you solve a problem called Maria? I can say to

:03:30.:03:33.

the honourable gentleman that governments can make statements to

:03:34.:03:36.

the house when they wish. The Government has not chosen to make a

:03:37.:03:41.

statement today. It is perfectly possible that there could be

:03:42.:03:44.

exchanges on the principles of the issues that concern him and others.

:03:45.:03:48.

That could take place between now and when we rise later this week.

:03:49.:03:55.

The speaker, John Bercow. Maria Miller is still being backed by the

:03:56.:03:59.

Prime Minister, but Tory MPs have not exactly been vocal in their

:04:00.:04:03.

support. According to the Daily Telegraph this morning, the chairman

:04:04.:04:08.

of the 1922 committee of backbench Conservatives, Graham Brady, met

:04:09.:04:11.

David Cameron to tell him he has to go. And last night on ITV, the

:04:12.:04:16.

employment minister Esther McVey had this to say. As to what happened,

:04:17.:04:22.

you are quite right, the fundamental allegation, which an opposition MP

:04:23.:04:27.

brought against her, that was dismissed by an independent

:04:28.:04:31.

commissioner. But there were two things that she had to do, pay it

:04:32.:04:35.

back and make an apology. That was done. I can honestly say that is not

:04:36.:04:42.

how I would have made an apology but different people have different

:04:43.:04:47.

styles and do things in different ways. Very revealing. Esther McVey

:04:48.:04:51.

speaking last night. Yesterday we learned that Speaker John Bercow has

:04:52.:05:00.

allowed a question on possible changes to the way complaints about

:05:01.:05:04.

MPs are handled following this row. Carole Walker joins us now. What

:05:05.:05:09.

will that mean? We are waiting to hear from the leader of the house

:05:10.:05:13.

exactly what will happen but you are right. John Mann, who raised the

:05:14.:05:18.

issue just a moment ago, he has succeeded in forcing Andrew Lansley

:05:19.:05:21.

to come to the House and talk about what is going to happen to this

:05:22.:05:28.

system is investigated Maria Miller. Their concern is that this standards

:05:29.:05:32.

committee, which is made up of MPs, with a few lay members, although

:05:33.:05:38.

they do not have a vote. This committee overruled the independent

:05:39.:05:41.

commissioner, to reduce the amount that Maria Miller had to repay. She

:05:42.:05:47.

is having to repay about ?6,000. The independent commissioner originally

:05:48.:05:52.

suggested around ?40,000. This has led to a lot of concerns that MPs

:05:53.:05:56.

are marking their own homework. Yesterday the Prime Minister said he

:05:57.:06:01.

was open to suggestions about how this should change. It is worth

:06:02.:06:06.

noting there is now a different situation in place for investigating

:06:07.:06:09.

complaints about MPs expenses. There is a new independent compliance

:06:10.:06:15.

office but complaints about MPs on other issues and allegations of

:06:16.:06:19.

misbehaviour are still dealt with by this standards committee. We are

:06:20.:06:24.

expecting to hear from the Leader of the House in an hour, who will

:06:25.:06:27.

signal whether or not the Government is prepared to back changes to make

:06:28.:06:32.

this system more independent. Though the system may change, we don't

:06:33.:06:39.

know, but MPs may not be allowed to judge how other Members of

:06:40.:06:42.

Parliament have behaved. What does that mean for Maria Miller? Is it a

:06:43.:06:47.

device to distract from her or does she still looked in a precarious

:06:48.:06:52.

situation? Maria Miller's case has been dealt with. She has agreed to

:06:53.:06:57.

pay back the money and has made that apology, which many people,

:06:58.:07:00.

including one of her fellow ministers, were not happy about.

:07:01.:07:05.

There is no doubt that she is still under pressure. Talking to

:07:06.:07:10.

Conservative MPs, there is a sense that the mood is hardening against

:07:11.:07:14.

her. I think a lot of MPs are celebrated that they are out and

:07:15.:07:18.

about and campaigning ahead of the local and European elections. They

:07:19.:07:22.

want to be talking about the economy, lifting the tax threshold,

:07:23.:07:26.

changes to benefits and so on. Instead they are being asked again

:07:27.:07:30.

and again about MP expenses and Maria Miller. I think that has led a

:07:31.:07:35.

lot of Conservative MPs to question why, for the sake of the damage she

:07:36.:07:39.

is doing to the rest of the party, she doesn't fall on her sword. It

:07:40.:07:49.

has to be said that at the moment she seems to be digging in her heels

:07:50.:07:52.

and the Prime Minister is standing by her. The urgent question is at

:07:53.:07:54.

12:30pm, I believe. Thank you. Henry, she has been accused of

:07:55.:07:57.

handling this badly, Maria Miller. If you had been her adviser, would

:07:58.:08:01.

you say she has handled it badly and how should she have done it

:08:02.:08:05.

differently? I am quite glad these things are not my problem anymore! I

:08:06.:08:13.

think there could potentially be some concerns raised about the

:08:14.:08:17.

nature of the apology and maybe the full sum of it. But I don't think

:08:18.:08:22.

she could really have done much more at the moment and the truth is that

:08:23.:08:26.

it is in the hands of the Prime Minister and we have to see what he

:08:27.:08:31.

does. There has been some focus on the role of her special adviser and

:08:32.:08:34.

a conversation she had with journalists that the Daily

:08:35.:08:38.

Telegraph, where the issue of the Leveson Inquiry and press regulation

:08:39.:08:42.

was raised. Did she overstepped the mark? I don't know the ins and outs

:08:43.:08:46.

of that. There were accusations flying about that what she did and

:08:47.:08:49.

didn't mean so it is difficult for me to say specifically if that is

:08:50.:08:54.

right or not. I note the special adviser Angie is a lovely person and

:08:55.:09:00.

a adviser. -- I know the special adviser and she is a lovely person.

:09:01.:09:05.

It could come back to haunt her in terms of relations, especially with

:09:06.:09:09.

the press. If Maria Miller makes it to the Eastern recess, do you think

:09:10.:09:17.

she will survive until the next reshuffle which comes up after the

:09:18.:09:22.

European elections? If I was the adviser, I would be holding out for

:09:23.:09:26.

the recess, because that is when the pressure lifts off and the

:09:27.:09:31.

Westminster bubble calms down. The pressure loosens and MPs disappear

:09:32.:09:35.

back to their constituencies. They are not walking round Westminster,

:09:36.:09:38.

talking to each other and bumping into journalists and making the

:09:39.:09:42.

whole thing an issue again. I think if she can get to recess, she will

:09:43.:09:47.

be in a better place. Do you think she can expect to be reshuffled

:09:48.:09:51.

after the European elections? I think that will depend on how the

:09:52.:09:54.

Prime Minister is feeling about everything. We will leave that

:09:55.:09:59.

there. It is now time for the daily quiz. For those of you that have not

:10:00.:10:03.

seen Game Of Thrones, it is about a lot of morally ambiguous and corrupt

:10:04.:10:07.

characters locked in a cut-throat battle for power and influence.

:10:08.:10:18.

Sound familiar? For some reason this reminds the planning minister Nick

:10:19.:10:20.

Boles of Westminster, surprise surprise. And on Twitter yesterday

:10:21.:10:22.

he speculated which MP would best play the character Daenerys

:10:23.:10:24.

Targaryen, who can walk through fire and is the mother of some dragons.

:10:25.:10:30.

So who did he think should play the role? Nadine Dorries, Stella Creasy,

:10:31.:10:36.

Esther McVey, Liz Truss? And at the end of the show, Henry will give us

:10:37.:10:41.

the correct answer. Do you watch Game Of Thrones? Not yet. Everybody

:10:42.:10:46.

is telling me to watch it but I can't quite bring myself to. That is

:10:47.:10:50.

what the box set is for. You may remember one of the big

:10:51.:10:56.

announcements from last year's conference that all primary school

:10:57.:11:01.

children should get free school meals from next year. It made the

:11:02.:11:07.

headlines but as many as 2700 schools in England are not ready to

:11:08.:11:10.

start serving. Many need to upgrade their kitchens and others do not

:11:11.:11:14.

have a kitchen. Alex is the reporter behind the search and Tobacco

:11:15.:11:18.

research, so let's have a look. The time for these pupils and a

:11:19.:11:23.

welcome break from lessons. In Dorset, most children bring their

:11:24.:11:27.

lunch from home and eat in the classroom. From September, these

:11:28.:11:31.

packed lunches should be replaced by a hot meal provided for free for all

:11:32.:11:36.

pupils in their first free school years but that will not happen here.

:11:37.:11:40.

The kitchen and dining hall are too small to serve and feed the pupils

:11:41.:11:43.

and there is not enough money to make the changes needed. We need

:11:44.:11:48.

facilities and certainly schools like us and others in the area need

:11:49.:11:52.

people to serve the food. We are talking about children as young as

:11:53.:11:56.

four walking around with trays of food and we need to be vigilant and

:11:57.:12:01.

that costs money. Instead children will get prepacked sandwiches

:12:02.:12:04.

delivered in. It is not quite what Nick Clegg promised when he launched

:12:05.:12:09.

the policy for English schools last autumn. All families with

:12:10.:12:12.

schoolchildren at primary school in those first crucial three years at

:12:13.:12:16.

infant school, we are going to give everybody, all of the children, a

:12:17.:12:21.

hot and healthy meal at lunchtime. Most headteachers support the idea

:12:22.:12:25.

and investment in children's health, but they say the scheme has been

:12:26.:12:29.

rushed through and puts pressure on some schools. Primary schools are

:12:30.:12:33.

very singular places. Although implementing free school meals would

:12:34.:12:38.

be effortless in many contexts, in some contexts, it provides a

:12:39.:12:43.

significant challenge and in some an insuperable challenge given the

:12:44.:12:46.

existing resources. We asked every council in England about schools in

:12:47.:12:58.

their area. At least 2700 need to upgrade their kitchens, which is

:12:59.:13:00.

anything from a new oven to total refurbishment. That is one third of

:13:01.:13:02.

those assessed. 1700 have no kitchen at all. Meals could be delivered by

:13:03.:13:06.

external companies or nearby schools. Some teachers say they will

:13:07.:13:11.

have to stagger sittings and extend lunchtimes to fit more pupils into

:13:12.:13:17.

smaller halls. ?150 million of funding has been allocated for

:13:18.:13:20.

schools to improve dining halls and kitchens. But the money has been

:13:21.:13:24.

allocated according to how many pupils are in each area, not on what

:13:25.:13:29.

the school needs. So some regions have more than they require and in

:13:30.:13:34.

others the funding falls short. The Government has enlisted the help of

:13:35.:13:40.

experts like members of the lead association for catering in

:13:41.:13:42.

education to help schools, especially small ones, struggling to

:13:43.:13:49.

implement the policy. We are offering support to schools with the

:13:50.:13:53.

help line that we are running. We are supporting schools that various

:13:54.:13:57.

different levels, depending on how much support they need. Whether it

:13:58.:14:01.

is a phone call and pointing them in the right direction or somebody

:14:02.:14:05.

coming in and working with them to find solutions. Come September, all

:14:06.:14:11.

eligible children have to be offered a free meal, even if an interim

:14:12.:14:15.

solution means damages for some instead of the promised hot lunch.

:14:16.:14:23.

-- sandwiches. We asked very nicely to speak to a minister from the

:14:24.:14:27.

Department for Education and nobody was available. Instead we are joined

:14:28.:14:31.

by Malcolm Bruce, I am delighted to say, and Henry deceived, who was an

:14:32.:14:36.

adviser at the education department. Free hot school meals were promised

:14:37.:14:46.

and it is not going to happen. The objective is it will happen. There

:14:47.:14:51.

may be some interim phase in, but that is the objective. The BBC

:14:52.:14:56.

report is entirely consistent with the Department's own information

:14:57.:14:59.

about the situation, for which they provided the money. Accept that some

:15:00.:15:04.

schools are going to get pre-packaged sandwiches from

:15:05.:15:07.

September, not a hot school meal, that wasn't what was promised. That

:15:08.:15:14.

is still his stated objective. It might not be in certain

:15:15.:15:16.

circumstances, although the department tell me they are pretty

:15:17.:15:19.

confident most places will be able to do it by a variety of different

:15:20.:15:25.

needs. Upgrading Kitchens, it could be a minor upgrade. Outside catering

:15:26.:15:28.

possibilities as well. The objective is to ensure every school provides a

:15:29.:15:33.

free meal to every child, a hot meal. You think all the upgrades can

:15:34.:15:38.

be done by September best remark I take your point that some of the

:15:39.:15:41.

changes may be minor, but if you are having to put in a whole new kitchen

:15:42.:15:46.

or upgraded, that is going to take a long time. Enough from my own

:15:47.:15:51.

constituency, where school meal provision has changed over time,

:15:52.:15:54.

some schools have Kitchens, some don't. Some cook for other schools

:15:55.:15:59.

and ship them between them, some use outside catering. There are a

:16:00.:16:04.

variety of ways to do it. It can be done. It wasn't really through

:16:05.:16:18.

properly in terms of the concept to delivery. I think it was. This

:16:19.:16:20.

policy has been in the making for five years. Pilot schemes were done.

:16:21.:16:23.

This isn't just about free school meals. This is about ensuring that

:16:24.:16:25.

children who currently don't get proper nutrition will get it. It

:16:26.:16:27.

also ensures a much better educational output. That's why it's

:16:28.:16:30.

the Department of education that doing it. It's coming out of the

:16:31.:16:34.

education budget because there's an education benefit, which is proven.

:16:35.:16:38.

Do you think it was well thought through? I think there was a problem

:16:39.:16:42.

with implementation of this policy and how the policy came about. I was

:16:43.:16:47.

in the Department for Education in the run-up to the announcement. We

:16:48.:16:50.

didn't know anything about it until just a few hours before it was

:16:51.:16:55.

announced at the Liberal Democrat Conference. What that meant was the

:16:56.:17:01.

kind of hard, detailed work that needs to be done, for when you're

:17:02.:17:05.

doing something of such importance, a national roll-out, the hard graft

:17:06.:17:10.

wasn't there. I think that has been proven by the fact that there has

:17:11.:17:14.

been changes in the position of what can be done and what can't be done,

:17:15.:17:17.

when they had to announce more capital funding, the fact it was

:17:18.:17:21.

announced on a per capita basis. That was done because they didn't

:17:22.:17:24.

have enough time to find out which schools did or didn't have Kitchens.

:17:25.:17:37.

I'm not saying the policy is a bad one. The review that led to the

:17:38.:17:40.

policy was set up by Michael Gove, he is very supportive of the policy,

:17:41.:17:42.

but there were issues around in fermentation. Do you accept that? I

:17:43.:17:46.

don't. The pilot schemes were well tested and the benefit of the policy

:17:47.:17:50.

was proven. The roll-out has been determined according to needs. It

:17:51.:17:55.

was a surprise for the rest of the department in that it was announced

:17:56.:17:59.

with any consultation. Good political announcement sometimes

:18:00.:18:02.

have to be a surprise to get the impact. This was a Liberal Democrat

:18:03.:18:07.

policy. Maybe they thought that you, as they accused the Conservatives,

:18:08.:18:12.

would steal the policy or steal credit for it. There's an

:18:13.:18:16.

interesting dynamic at play in the coalition in particular, and also

:18:17.:18:19.

around party conferences and announcement that happen there.

:18:20.:18:24.

Michael Gove's team had a rule we wouldn't make announcements at party

:18:25.:18:27.

conference because sometimes they were difficult to get right, you are

:18:28.:18:31.

in a bubble away from Westminster, you are not with the department, you

:18:32.:18:35.

can't do the work that needs to be done. But these things happen. But

:18:36.:18:40.

that wasn't just to be Department. We heard that schools have been

:18:41.:18:44.

taken by surprise. The pilot is one thing, rolling it out on the

:18:45.:18:48.

universal bases is quite another. Surely that was a mistake, because

:18:49.:18:52.

now you got schools who have not only got the right facilities, but

:18:53.:18:56.

they are talking about having more teachers at lunchtime, you can't

:18:57.:18:59.

have kids holding the hot trays of food without help, staggering the

:19:00.:19:04.

lunch break, it will have to start at 11:30am to get them through to

:19:05.:19:10.

2pm. If you go back decades, a hot school meal was the normal

:19:11.:19:13.

provision. We moved away from that for a whole variety of reasons. What

:19:14.:19:17.

the policy demonstrates is the consequence of that will stop

:19:18.:19:20.

children from pourer families are not getting good nutrition, and the

:19:21.:19:25.

educational performance of poor children have been undermined. It is

:19:26.:19:29.

a good policy. If there are hiccups they should be accepted and dealt

:19:30.:19:33.

with, but it's not an argument for rubbishing or denigrating the

:19:34.:19:36.

policy, which is a good, sound education policy. I think people

:19:37.:19:42.

were questioning how it was actually presented and not enough thought had

:19:43.:19:46.

gone into it. How do you get over a problem where a school with a

:19:47.:19:54.

certain number of teachers just won't have enough people to

:19:55.:19:56.

facilitate this? Yellow matter what those teachers doing when the

:19:57.:19:58.

children are having lunch at the moment? The responsibility of the

:19:59.:20:01.

school, children still have to be that. I do find that a slight red

:20:02.:20:07.

herring, because I'm sure schools can manage this by reorganising the

:20:08.:20:12.

day. Do you agree they will be able to cope with it, that these problems

:20:13.:20:21.

are merely hiccups? Or do you think those are legitimate concerns, how

:20:22.:20:24.

you deal with it when it's happening at lunch times? I do think they are

:20:25.:20:29.

legitimate concerns. We've heard from people on the ground to spot

:20:30.:20:32.

problems. It's fantastic the department is reaching out to them,

:20:33.:20:36.

but there are other issues abound as policy which I don't think were

:20:37.:20:39.

thought through properly. Like what happens around the Pupil Premium?

:20:40.:20:46.

Also, that's how you measure kids on free school meals, that's how you

:20:47.:20:49.

put out the Pupil Premium. If you are a head teacher you need to know

:20:50.:20:52.

which of your kids are on free school meals and getting them, so

:20:53.:20:56.

you can see the performance of those children and make sure you advance

:20:57.:21:02.

it. Those issues... Getting away from means testing in this context

:21:03.:21:06.

is a good thing. Means testing is difficult. What is happening now is

:21:07.:21:10.

children from poor families sometimes don't qualify for free

:21:11.:21:13.

school meals. The problem is the cost of the free school meals would

:21:14.:21:17.

make them qualified if it came before rather than after. What you

:21:18.:21:21.

are doing is making sure that children who currently don't get

:21:22.:21:25.

school meals to get them. I accept that the criteria for the Pupil

:21:26.:21:29.

Premium, but I'm certain there are ways of administering that. This

:21:30.:21:43.

will all come together, it's about providing support for all children,

:21:44.:21:45.

not just to get them better fed but better educated. Will it affect the

:21:46.:21:48.

Pupil Premium? There are some schools who will claim they really

:21:49.:21:50.

need that for some of them all poor pupils. Will they lose out if they

:21:51.:21:53.

can't identify those pupils in the first instance as a result of this

:21:54.:21:56.

policy? Of the policy is every child is getting a hot meal, you don't

:21:57.:21:59.

know who is on free school meals and who isn't. You, as a parent, sign up

:22:00.:22:04.

your child to do it. One of the incentives is the fact there is a

:22:05.:22:08.

free school meals. Therefore why would you tell the school, there is

:22:09.:22:12.

a lot of stigma with those issues, if you are meeting that criteria?

:22:13.:22:18.

You wouldn't. It is the stigma that discourages people from applying for

:22:19.:22:20.

free school meals, and as a consequence cuts them off from the

:22:21.:22:25.

Pupil Premium. I think there's a real case to ensure we do better and

:22:26.:22:38.

reach more of the kids by doing I think we are improving the

:22:39.:22:40.

performance right across the board. Let's deal with any problems that

:22:41.:22:42.

may be, but that's not undermine this very good policy to improve

:22:43.:22:45.

educational output. What about the other point that was made in the

:22:46.:22:47.

film? Because was allocated on the basis of pupil numbers and not need,

:22:48.:22:50.

you will have money going to some schools where they don't need it.

:22:51.:22:53.

They have the facilities and are ready to go. Whereas the will be

:22:54.:22:56.

other schools who need a full kitchen upgrade who could do with

:22:57.:23:01.

more money. It would be possible it seems to me that you can negotiate

:23:02.:23:06.

across the piece. Those schools that don't need money will make it

:23:07.:23:09.

available to those who do. If those issues do exist, it should be

:23:10.:23:12.

possible to reorganise the funding in a way that we deliver the right

:23:13.:23:17.

result. Former special adviser to Michael Gove, clearly not you,

:23:18.:23:21.

described it as a gimmick. You don't think that's the case? I don't think

:23:22.:23:27.

it was me. The issue for us, they were trying to do things that were

:23:28.:23:31.

improving children's lives, making sure education is better. There's a

:23:32.:23:35.

debate over whether this policy will do that. Michael Gove thinks that is

:23:36.:23:39.

the case, but we have to get the implementation issues right to be

:23:40.:23:44.

able to deliver it. We were told we couldn't raise the tax threshold to

:23:45.:23:49.

?10,000, we raised it. Things can be done. Coalition adds value to policy

:23:50.:23:52.

delivery. With rising energy bills, politicians are keen to encourage

:23:53.:23:55.

people to switch providers if it will save them money. And to help,

:23:56.:23:58.

the energy regulator Ofgem has brought in new rules which it says

:23:59.:24:01.

will ban confusing and complex tariffs and make it easier for

:24:02.:24:06.

consumers. Since January this year, energy suppliers have been limited

:24:07.:24:08.

to offering eight tariffs to customers - four for electricity and

:24:09.:24:14.

four for gas. And they've faced stricter rules on how to advertise

:24:15.:24:19.

these tariffs. Then on 31st of March, new rules came into force to

:24:20.:24:22.

make sure suppliers inform customers of the cheapest available tariff and

:24:23.:24:27.

how much it could save them. Ofgem have also introduced a Tariff

:24:28.:24:30.

Comparison Rate, or TCR, similar to APR for interest rates, which allows

:24:31.:24:34.

customers to compare tariffs at a glance. So, will these changes make

:24:35.:24:41.

it easier for customers to get a better deal on their energy? Joining

:24:42.:24:45.

me now from Birmingham is Ramsay Dunning from Co-operative Energy,

:24:46.:24:48.

and here in the studio is our guest of the day Henry de Zoete. He's

:24:49.:24:56.

behind a company which encourages collective bargaining in the energy

:24:57.:25:00.

market to bring down prices. Also with me here is Alun Rees from

:25:01.:25:13.

Energy UK. According to which, the consumer organisation, only 35% of

:25:14.:25:17.

people pick the cheapest energy deal, despite the tariffs coming in

:25:18.:25:20.

at the beginning of the year which were designed to simplify the

:25:21.:25:25.

system. That's a problem, isn't it? The strange thing is that the

:25:26.:25:28.

research didn't look at the way people switch, which is really easy

:25:29.:25:31.

to do. All you need to do is find how much energy you use, which is on

:25:32.:25:36.

your bill, go to a price comparison website, Bob 's your uncle, it will

:25:37.:25:42.

give you a quote and tell you what the best deal is. If it's that easy,

:25:43.:25:46.

why have more people not switched? Millar about 3.5 million people

:25:47.:25:50.

switched supplier last year. But what we want to do is make it even

:25:51.:25:54.

simpler and easier for people to come -- pair and choose the best

:25:55.:25:59.

deal for them. In 2013, an estimated 5.8 million people switched energy

:26:00.:26:03.

providers. That's one point three 8 million fewer than ten years ago in

:26:04.:26:11.

2003. The recent switches, 2010, eight .30 1 million. Then it

:26:12.:26:17.

declines. 2011, seven .48. 2012, five .62. We are getting fewer and

:26:18.:26:22.

fewer switches, despite you saying it is easier. It's no surprise that

:26:23.:26:27.

switching is a lot less now than it was five or ten years ago. The

:26:28.:26:31.

reason for that is five or ten years ago, suppliers were doing doorstep

:26:32.:26:36.

selling. That was phased out because public concerns. The market is

:26:37.:26:39.

changing and there are innovative new ways to make it easier for

:26:40.:26:43.

customers to switch, like collective switching schemes, like comparison

:26:44.:26:46.

websites and like the new tools energy suppliers are bringing in to

:26:47.:26:50.

make it easier and simpler to compare. It's clearly not quite

:26:51.:26:53.

simple enough. We can put up a graphic to show some of the offers

:26:54.:26:59.

from three companies. Take a look at that. Which one is the cheapest?

:27:00.:27:08.

At a glance, you've only given me a few seconds to look at this. Show.

:27:09.:27:16.

You are saying it's really easy, I looked at that and I couldn't work

:27:17.:27:19.

it out and I'm not sure I could work it out even after I don't know, 40

:27:20.:27:24.

minutes. This isn't the way that most people compared. The most

:27:25.:27:29.

common used way is find out how much they used, which is on their bill,

:27:30.:27:33.

pop it into a price comparison site along with their postcode and

:27:34.:27:36.

straightaway you will get a quote which will tell you the cheapest

:27:37.:27:40.

deal for you. Accept people still aren't taking it up. I have switched

:27:41.:27:46.

once and I went through that process and it is quite straightforward. It

:27:47.:27:49.

still takes quite a long time and you are reliant on the company is

:27:50.:27:54.

doing all the paperwork for you. 60% of people have still never switched.

:27:55.:27:59.

What you've just shown in terms of the different options kind of sums

:28:00.:28:03.

it up. It's really confusing, you are not sure what's going on. Is

:28:04.:28:08.

that going to save you money or not? What we are trying to do is say,

:28:09.:28:12.

actually, if we get a whole bunch of people together, we can demand,

:28:13.:28:17.

through the fact we've got more people, collectively bargain a

:28:18.:28:20.

price. It's the easiest and simplest way of switching. It's easy to do,

:28:21.:28:25.

easy to sign up and we do the difficult job for you by finding the

:28:26.:28:30.

best possible deal. It sounds like a great deal, but Which made the same

:28:31.:28:35.

offer. Is this any different? I think it is different because what

:28:36.:28:38.

we are doing is reaching out to people that have never switched

:28:39.:28:43.

before because we've got over 60% of people involved who never switched

:28:44.:28:47.

before, people who are slightly older. These other groups who have

:28:48.:28:52.

most been badly... I wouldn't want to say exploited, but certainly been

:28:53.:28:55.

the ones who have not been able to save money, they've been ripped off,

:28:56.:28:59.

they are spending up to ?300 more than they should be doing. We think

:29:00.:29:04.

we can get them a really good deal. This is a commercial operation, you

:29:05.:29:07.

will profit from this. How much commission will you take from each

:29:08.:29:13.

person? We don't know what commission we will get at this

:29:14.:29:16.

stage. We will know that when we've done a negotiation with the energy

:29:17.:29:19.

companies and we will be open about that. One of the issues some people

:29:20.:29:22.

have had the price comparison websites is those guys, they are

:29:23.:29:25.

taking commissions but no one knows what they are or what they are

:29:26.:29:29.

doing. The whole point about what we are doing is about saving people

:29:30.:29:33.

money. If we can save them money then we've done what we've aimed to

:29:34.:29:40.

do. Ramsey, thank you for waiting. Should private providers, like Henry

:29:41.:29:43.

de Zoete's be operating in the energy market? I don't think there

:29:44.:29:51.

is a problem with having private providers in the market but previous

:29:52.:29:55.

discussions have highlighted that the public needs a completely

:29:56.:30:00.

independent, dependable and public saving service that provides all the

:30:01.:30:05.

information neutrally. The problem with commercial services is that

:30:06.:30:09.

their primary purpose is to make a profit, and they do that out of

:30:10.:30:14.

commission. They get commission from some companies and not from others,

:30:15.:30:22.

and therefore they will give the customer the best product that they

:30:23.:30:26.

will earn commission on. You are not going to get a private service

:30:27.:30:30.

saying to a customer that this is the very best deal on the market

:30:31.:30:35.

even if we don't make anything from it. The public really needs that

:30:36.:30:40.

completely independent service. Who is going to provide that? A number

:30:41.:30:46.

of people could provide it. I think it needs the Government to come

:30:47.:30:49.

behind it. It does not necessarily need the Government to set it up. It

:30:50.:30:54.

needs to be overseen by the Government or Ofgem. They could set

:30:55.:31:00.

it up. They don't need to. It could go out to a consumer organisation

:31:01.:31:08.

like Which? Or Consumer Focus. Organisations like that. If you can

:31:09.:31:17.

get a better deal and you can negotiate with more clout against

:31:18.:31:20.

the big six, then that would be a benefit, surely? The idea of people

:31:21.:31:25.

coming together collectively to get a better deal for themselves, we

:31:26.:31:30.

absolutely wholeheartedly support. That after all is what co-opts are

:31:31.:31:33.

about. The consumer co-operative model. Private services are not

:31:34.:31:43.

going to give consumers a completely independent and neutral view of what

:31:44.:31:47.

is out there. Well, we try to save people money and if we can do that,

:31:48.:31:52.

yes, we will make some money. We are not like a traditional switching

:31:53.:31:55.

site. We are not about getting people to switch again and again,

:31:56.:31:59.

which is how they make money. The people who have joined us are people

:32:00.:32:02.

that have never switched and have never done it before and don't want

:32:03.:32:13.

to switch every year. They want a longer term deal and have peace of

:32:14.:32:16.

mind and relax, knowing they have a good deal, without worrying about it

:32:17.:32:18.

for several years. Wood energy companies respond to that? Energy

:32:19.:32:24.

companies support anyway to get consumers engaged. Except for

:32:25.:32:29.

charging less. Gas bills have risen by 41% since 2007 and electricity by

:32:30.:32:35.

20%. The prophet of the energy companies has risen from 5% on each

:32:36.:32:42.

bill in 2010 to 6.7% in 2013. Energy companies are working really hard to

:32:43.:32:44.

keep energy prices as low as possible. A loss of the costs within

:32:45.:32:52.

the bill are outside the companies's control. They are all

:32:53.:32:56.

fighting really hard to win business on price and service. What about

:32:57.:33:00.

investment? Investment is really important. This is why we need a

:33:01.:33:05.

healthy energy sector to invest ?100 million over the next three years to

:33:06.:33:08.

build the new power stations that we need to keep the lights on for our

:33:09.:33:13.

children. Do you agree with Labour's plans to break up the big

:33:14.:33:18.

six energy companies? I think there are certainly some issues about

:33:19.:33:21.

vertical integration and suppliers and selling on bits. That plan is a

:33:22.:33:28.

year and a half away from the election and it will take time to

:33:29.:33:32.

implement. But it is the right plan? We would have to see how it will

:33:33.:33:37.

work. The issue for consumers at the moment is that they want price cuts

:33:38.:33:42.

now. We have seen prices doubled. Huge profits from energy companies,

:33:43.:33:48.

quadrupling from the big six. What we want now is a way of saving

:33:49.:33:54.

people money. Thank you very much. When Sarah Teather entered

:33:55.:33:58.

Parliament in a by-election in 2003, she was seen as a rising star. Two

:33:59.:34:03.

years later, she was on the Lib Dem front bench team, and when the

:34:04.:34:08.

coalition was formed, she became minister for children and families.

:34:09.:34:12.

In 2012, she was reshuffled out of the Government and has since said

:34:13.:34:16.

that she will stand down at the next election. She said she feels

:34:17.:34:22.

desolate about some of the Government's policies. Yesterday I

:34:23.:34:24.

joined her in her North London constituency. The London borough of

:34:25.:34:30.

bread is said to be the most ethnically diverse in the country.

:34:31.:34:35.

The MP, Sarah Teather, shocked everyone by saying she would stand

:34:36.:34:38.

down at the next election, disillusioned by the coalition's

:34:39.:34:46.

policies on immigration and welfare. Cases like that of this Nigerian

:34:47.:34:49.

constituent have angered Sarah Teather. She was working legally as

:34:50.:34:53.

a care assistant for three years that her application to stay longer

:34:54.:34:57.

was rejected at first. The Home Office then changed its mind, but

:34:58.:35:01.

left her in limbo for a year. Because the Home Office did not

:35:02.:35:05.

follow the rules, she found herself effectively in the position of being

:35:06.:35:10.

illegal, and denied the right to work and support her family. When

:35:11.:35:14.

the Government talk about wanting to target people that they describe as

:35:15.:35:17.

illegal, they often mean people that they have screwed up. What was it

:35:18.:35:22.

like during that period when you were in limbo waiting for the Home

:35:23.:35:26.

Office to make a final decision about your application? It was hell.

:35:27.:35:33.

I had no access to public funds. No more housing, no more benefits. It

:35:34.:35:41.

was very sad for me. Did you manage to work? I could not work because I

:35:42.:35:48.

was suspended. I had no visa. So what did you live on? Nothing.

:35:49.:35:54.

Sarah, will you be sad to leave your constituency behind? In lots of ways

:35:55.:35:59.

I will be very sad. I have loved being an MP here. Nothing can change

:36:00.:36:04.

your mind? No. I took a long time to make the decision and I thought

:36:05.:36:08.

about it carefully. I am not going to change my mind. Sarah Teather

:36:09.:36:12.

says that she still has friends in the party but does she think Nick

:36:13.:36:17.

Clegg should continue as leader? I mean, I can't see anybody else who

:36:18.:36:23.

would stand in place of him. Hardly a ringing endorsement from someone

:36:24.:36:26.

who feels that the Lib Dems have stopped standing up for what they

:36:27.:36:30.

believe in. Do you agree there should be a limit on immigration? I

:36:31.:36:34.

think the immigration cap is a very silly policy and the end result is

:36:35.:36:39.

what? British families being split up. Students coming here to pay into

:36:40.:36:45.

the system being turned down. Teenagers getting deported. At the

:36:46.:36:48.

same time, people driving around places like this in a van saying go

:36:49.:36:53.

home. That is the end result of making silly policy. Theresa May

:36:54.:36:59.

coined the phrase the nasty party for her own party. Do you think the

:37:00.:37:04.

Tories still are the nasty party? I think it is very difficult to work

:37:05.:37:07.

face to face with people in a constituency like this and see the

:37:08.:37:12.

inhumane decisions that get made to sanction benefits and turned down

:37:13.:37:15.

immigration cases when they have a legitimate right to be here. It is

:37:16.:37:21.

difficult to work face to face with people like that and not see the

:37:22.:37:25.

Conservatives as the nasty party. There is a certain irony with it

:37:26.:37:29.

being Theresa May making the speech, pointing out to the Tory party that

:37:30.:37:33.

they were in danger of being seen as nasty, when it is Theresa May

:37:34.:37:37.

pushing forward a deeply Draconian and unpleasant bill that will have

:37:38.:37:42.

no benefit for the UK. Sarah Teather joins us now along with a

:37:43.:37:46.

Conservative MP Philip Davies. You saw Sarah Teather in the film

:37:47.:37:53.

describing the welfare cap, sorry, the immigration cap as a silly

:37:54.:37:58.

policy. What do you say to that? I want us to control immigration and

:37:59.:38:02.

the general public wants us to control it and my constituents do.

:38:03.:38:06.

Where the Government has got itself into a mess is that while we are

:38:07.:38:10.

still in the European Union, we cannot control immigration into the

:38:11.:38:14.

country. We cannot cap immigration. I am all for having a proper cap,

:38:15.:38:20.

but that only way to do that is to leave the European Union. So you

:38:21.:38:26.

admit that the immigration target is nonsense because the Government

:38:27.:38:30.

cannot control immigration so was it a silly idea? I think it was a

:38:31.:38:34.

mistake to have a cap and a target when you have no control. You can

:38:35.:38:38.

only have an effective target and cap if you have control over it.

:38:39.:38:43.

Absolutely, I think that was a mistake. The policy objective of

:38:44.:38:46.

reducing immigration into the country is a good one and certainly

:38:47.:38:49.

one that the overwhelming majority of my constituents agree with, and I

:38:50.:38:58.

suspect the overwhelming majority of the country. Why shouldn't there be

:38:59.:39:00.

some limit on immigration? Would you like an open door policy with

:39:01.:39:04.

limitless numbers coming in? No, but immigration policy has to be a

:39:05.:39:07.

balance of what is good for the country and for the people coming

:39:08.:39:11.

here. You need to balance those needs and look at individual areas

:39:12.:39:16.

and understand what skills are required and the corrugated ways in

:39:17.:39:18.

which people contribute, which is not always economic. My trouble is

:39:19.:39:24.

that this policy is not looking across the country and thinking

:39:25.:39:28.

about the wider good of the society. It is about opinion polls, which is

:39:29.:39:32.

not a good way of making policy. That is how people feel. Should they

:39:33.:39:36.

not feel the burden of pressure on schools and hospitals as people do

:39:37.:39:40.

in constituencies where there are high levels of immigration and the

:39:41.:39:45.

place is too small to absorb immigrants? In places like London,

:39:46.:39:50.

the difficulty is caused by the draw of the South East. People are moving

:39:51.:39:54.

from all over the country not just all over the world. People want

:39:55.:40:01.

politicians to show colour -- courage and leadership and not just

:40:02.:40:05.

to do what was in favour at the last opinion poll. You were a minister

:40:06.:40:08.

taking decisions in the last Government so what were you and your

:40:09.:40:13.

Lib Dem colleagues doing? I was certainly fighting a lot of them

:40:14.:40:16.

behind the scenes. Many colleagues still are. That you failed to make

:40:17.:40:21.

an impact. A lot of things were changed but I would like to see more

:40:22.:40:24.

change. That was the price of coalition, if you like. You got your

:40:25.:40:29.

way on having some kind of immigration target, even if the Lib

:40:30.:40:38.

Dems were not wholly supportive of it. You have admitted that it was a

:40:39.:40:41.

complete waste of time. How else would you bring down immigration? At

:40:42.:40:44.

the moment the only way is to leave the EU. We need people with the

:40:45.:40:47.

right skills for the economy and I totally agree with that but with an

:40:48.:40:52.

open border policy, with the EU, anybody can come in whether they

:40:53.:40:55.

have the skills or not. Most people coming from the EU are coming to do

:40:56.:41:02.

low skilled jobs, entry-level jobs, while we have 900,000 people aged 16

:41:03.:41:05.

to 24 who are unemployed and capable of doing the jobs. It is the low

:41:06.:41:10.

paid people in this country that have suffered as a result. I think

:41:11.:41:15.

it is more complicated than that. A lot of people are struggling to get

:41:16.:41:21.

a job and they are frightened and nervous. We need to focus more on

:41:22.:41:25.

what we can do to get them chances of getting into work. School

:41:26.:41:29.

reforms, apprenticeships, where there has been enormous investment

:41:30.:41:32.

from this Government in making sure people have the skills to get the

:41:33.:41:36.

right kinds of work. But I am not sure pulling out of the EU will be

:41:37.:41:40.

good for Britain as a whole. What will happen to all the jobs that we

:41:41.:41:43.

hope will be available for people if we pull out of the EU? That is not

:41:44.:41:50.

sensible policy either. We have a trade deficit with the EU. We buy

:41:51.:41:55.

much more from them than they buy from us. The idea that Mercedes and

:41:56.:41:59.

BMW will stop the German Government trading freely with us is utter

:42:00.:42:05.

nonsense. We want free trade with Europe but we do not want to be run

:42:06.:42:09.

by them and have unlimited immigration coming in from the EU.

:42:10.:42:14.

Do you think the Tory party is the nasty party? I never did and I would

:42:15.:42:18.

not want to be part of a nasty party. We have a different

:42:19.:42:23.

perspective on things. I think Sarah's views are stupid on many

:42:24.:42:27.

things. But she is entitled to have an opinion, we live in a democracy.

:42:28.:42:33.

Cheers! Just because we disagree does not make one of us nasty and

:42:34.:42:39.

one more pleasant. So why the nasty party? When you asked me the

:42:40.:42:42.

question yesterday, when you work face to face of people and see the

:42:43.:42:46.

consequences in their lives, and you see people left destitute by changes

:42:47.:42:51.

in welfare, people left destitute who want to work, and really had the

:42:52.:42:55.

right to work, and eventually the Home Office accented that my

:42:56.:42:58.

constituents should have been able to remain and to work and they had

:42:59.:43:03.

made a series of errors. -- accepted that my constituent. They had made a

:43:04.:43:10.

series of boxes, which is the Home Office, unfortunately. Do you accept

:43:11.:43:16.

that these policies are leaving some people destitute? Look at the

:43:17.:43:20.

welfare cap. You have to burn ?35,000 a year to get their welfare

:43:21.:43:26.

cap of ?26,000. I think it is nasty to get people to go out and work for

:43:27.:43:30.

less than they are paying in their taxes for somebody else to get food

:43:31.:43:36.

without working at all. I think that is nasty. We have a different

:43:37.:43:39.

perspective on what is nice and nasty. I don't see any great

:43:40.:43:43.

pleasantness about expecting people to go out to work and earn less than

:43:44.:43:49.

people on benefits. The sanctions regime which we were talking about

:43:50.:43:53.

yesterday in the context of that conversation, I have seen people

:43:54.:43:57.

have their benefits removed for having missed their appointments

:43:58.:44:00.

because they were having surgery for a tumour. That is just inhumane. It

:44:01.:44:05.

does not do any good for society and it causes huge damage to that

:44:06.:44:10.

individual. OK. Let's look briefly at the party itself. You have

:44:11.:44:14.

announced that he will step down. Jeremy Browne has said that the

:44:15.:44:20.

Liberal Democrats are too timid, but coming at it from a different

:44:21.:44:26.

political perspective, what do you say to him? He wants profit free

:44:27.:44:34.

schools. Henry is delighted! It see more of a Conservative than Liberal

:44:35.:44:38.

Democrat, Jeremy Browne? I am not going to get into that stuff. Do!

:44:39.:44:44.

You don't agree with him on any of that? I don't. I felt awkward about

:44:45.:44:50.

the way that video was cut to make it look like I am attacking Nick

:44:51.:44:54.

Clegg. I don't want to get into personal politics. But he is talking

:44:55.:44:58.

about policies. You don't agree with cutting the top rate of tax. I don't

:44:59.:45:08.

think cutting the top rate of tax is going to help those people in my

:45:09.:45:12.

constituency to get on or pay into the system, to make sure we can

:45:13.:45:17.

provide quality public services. This is a dilemma for the Liberal

:45:18.:45:21.

Democrats. Is generally mean Brown looking more like a conservative

:45:22.:45:26.

these days with those policy suggestions? -- Jeremy Browne.

:45:27.:45:31.

Looking at the Liberal Democrats over the last four years of the

:45:32.:45:36.

coalition, there's been an internal battle from the very start. I think

:45:37.:45:40.

it was first formed when the decision to go into the coalition

:45:41.:45:44.

happened. Perhaps the grassroots of the party, looking at the

:45:45.:45:48.

conferences and seeing the motions they passed, knowing that wasn't

:45:49.:45:52.

exactly what they wanted or the direction that is. There's always

:45:53.:45:56.

been tension between the Jeromy Brown's in the party and the

:45:57.:46:00.

grassroots, Sarah Teather Dunne views within the party. I think

:46:01.:46:04.

that's healthy, but fundamentally, they are going to have to make a

:46:05.:46:08.

decision quite soon about where they are going to go and what's going to

:46:09.:46:14.

happen. It doesn't seem like it can carry on. You are on the culture

:46:15.:46:19.

committee, should Maria Miller stay or go? Like Sarah, she said we

:46:20.:46:23.

shouldn't get into personalities and views. This is the biggest issue

:46:24.:46:27.

that's been running in Westminster. Rune whether she resigned as a

:46:28.:46:31.

matter for her. The whole thing is extremely damaging for the

:46:32.:46:34.

Conservative Party, it's damaging for Parliament as a whole and

:46:35.:46:39.

politicians, we all get tarnished by the same brush. It's damaging for

:46:40.:46:42.

the Government and the Prime Minister. The sooner the matter is

:46:43.:46:47.

resolved the better. What would resolve it? It's for the Prime

:46:48.:46:52.

Minister and Maria Miller to sort out themselves. It's incredibly

:46:53.:46:56.

damaging for the party, the Government and for all of us in

:46:57.:47:01.

Parliament. The rules have all changed. What has happened couldn't

:47:02.:47:05.

happen now. This is a spill-over from the previous regime. But it

:47:06.:47:14.

still tarnishes all. Ed Miliband has been making a speech in Birmingham

:47:15.:47:17.

this morning and it's all about giving the cities and regions of

:47:18.:47:20.

England more control over housing, transport and employment. Labour

:47:21.:47:23.

says ?20 billion that's currently controlled by Whitehall will instead

:47:24.:47:26.

be handed to local bodies over the lifetime of the next Parliament.

:47:27.:47:31.

Here he is speaking earlier. Labour's message at the next

:47:32.:47:36.

election will be clear. It is about devolving power from Whitehall to

:47:37.:47:40.

our towns and cities. Because it is essential to generate the jobs we

:47:41.:47:44.

need. We propose a new bargain. Cities and towns come together with

:47:45.:47:48.

local businesses will be given historic, new powers over

:47:49.:47:53.

transport, housing, skills and economic development. We're joined

:47:54.:48:01.

now by Andrew Adonis, he's the man behind this plan and he's also

:48:02.:48:07.

shadow Infrastructure Minister. He is in Birmingham.

:48:08.:48:17.

Sometimes you do interviews with people who aren't even in London.

:48:18.:48:23.

Explain this in everyday language. We are talking about devolving more

:48:24.:48:28.

budgets to the level of the cities and the areas around the cities, the

:48:29.:48:31.

city regions and the counties where that make sense, so they can take

:48:32.:48:38.

charge of their own provision in two key areas. Skills and

:48:39.:48:41.

infrastructure, being transport and housing above all. If we are going

:48:42.:48:45.

to drive growth and get more growth companies, we've got to raise our

:48:46.:48:50.

skill levels and have better local infrastructure. We need decisions

:48:51.:48:53.

taken closer to the scene of the action, closer to the companies and

:48:54.:48:59.

areas affected. Departments have been too centralised for too long in

:49:00.:49:04.

this country. I hear every politician saying that, particularly

:49:05.:49:08.

in opposition. All oppositions talk about giving away power until they

:49:09.:49:11.

get power. It will probably not happen if you win the Lex

:49:12.:49:15.

collection. You'll a-macro to be fair, Labour in government took two

:49:16.:49:19.

very big steps on the road to devolution. We set up the devolved

:49:20.:49:24.

governments of Scotland and Wales. We also set up the Mayor of London

:49:25.:49:29.

and the Greater London authority. What happened to regional

:49:30.:49:34.

assemblies? The big issue for us is how we get properly functioning

:49:35.:49:37.

devolution in the cities and counties of England. But that didn't

:49:38.:49:43.

work. It was never implemented. The attempts in the North East to create

:49:44.:49:47.

a regional assembly, we're not talking about that, not a wholly new

:49:48.:49:50.

tier of government. We are talking about bringing together local

:49:51.:49:54.

enterprise partnerships which exist at the moment. We will not do what

:49:55.:49:57.

the present government did and abolish what was there before when

:49:58.:50:02.

we abolished -- they abolished the agencies. We will take those

:50:03.:50:06.

partnerships, which are doing good work and need more power and four

:50:07.:50:09.

budget, and put them together with the local authority leaders that

:50:10.:50:12.

cover their area so they can make decisions jointly and have joint

:50:13.:50:16.

control over budgets, which puts business leaders and local authority

:50:17.:50:21.

leaders in charge. In Birmingham, the local enterprise partnership

:50:22.:50:24.

covers Birmingham, the area around it and Solihull. That is a travel to

:50:25.:50:28.

work area with a really important growth driver in terms of jobs. They

:50:29.:50:34.

would then be able to do much more of the planning of their

:50:35.:50:38.

infrastructure and their skill set. If this were to work that would be

:50:39.:50:42.

great, but in terms of grabbing voters, in terms of it being one of

:50:43.:50:47.

your headlines in your manifesto, when people are still going to be

:50:48.:50:50.

worried about one of Labour's other themes, the cost of living, and

:50:51.:50:54.

generally about the economy, it's just not going to do it, is it? You

:50:55.:51:00.

need a manifesto full of policies. The key game here is putting in

:51:01.:51:05.

place arrangements that will promote more and better jobs. Let's take a

:51:06.:51:09.

concrete example. There's a message -- massive shortage of youth

:51:10.:51:14.

apprenticeships in this country. The number has fallen since 2010, which

:51:15.:51:19.

is why we have mass youth unemployment and local employers,

:51:20.:51:21.

including employers here in Birmingham, crying out for young

:51:22.:51:26.

people with skills. One of the key functions we want to devolved is

:51:27.:51:30.

responsibility for promoting apprenticeship to local employers.

:51:31.:51:33.

We've got Jaguar Land Rover, a fantastic local employer here,

:51:34.:51:37.

expanding and wanting to create new jobs in companies that supply them,

:51:38.:51:41.

but they are desperately short of apprentices. Who is more likely to

:51:42.:51:46.

deliver those apprentice? A business body with strong roots in the

:51:47.:51:51.

locality or quango in London? The quango in London has clearly failed.

:51:52.:51:55.

Let's put local people in charge. How much money would you have to put

:51:56.:52:01.

into the city and county regions? We haven't been precise because we are

:52:02.:52:05.

looking at it individually. The present government is devolving only

:52:06.:52:11.

a tiny sum... So you'd have to cut at the Department's budgets to pay

:52:12.:52:16.

for it? We're not talking about cutting budgets but devolving them.

:52:17.:52:20.

If you just take skills, a budget held centrally of more than ?1

:52:21.:52:25.

billion. It's all run by a quango which sits in Whitehall. The

:52:26.:52:29.

question which is facing us is whether that money would be better

:52:30.:52:34.

spent and produce much better results for companies and young

:52:35.:52:40.

people if it were devolved locally, so that local business leaders and

:52:41.:52:42.

local authorities, which are much closer to the scene of the action

:52:43.:52:45.

and they would have a much bigger say and how it is spent. When

:52:46.:52:55.

special advisers are in the news it's safe to say it's probably for

:52:56.:52:59.

the wrong reasons. Spads, as they're known, are meant to help ministers

:53:00.:53:02.

with the kind of sticky issues that are too political for the civil

:53:03.:53:06.

servants to touch. It could be briefing the media or injecting the

:53:07.:53:09.

party line into a new policy. It doesn't always go smoothly - let's

:53:10.:53:13.

take a look. If they ever get into the press at all, which they

:53:14.:53:15.

shouldn't, it's always an episode of when Spads go bad! Joe Hind Lee is

:53:16.:53:19.

this week's flak magnet, special adviser to Maria Miller who did or

:53:20.:53:24.

did not threaten a newspaper. Maria has been having quite a lot of

:53:25.:53:31.

meetings around leaves on. But she still standing tall and in a job,

:53:32.:53:39.

unlike her predecessor as a culture secretary Spad. He went into hiding

:53:40.:53:49.

and the press hunted him down. It looks like a Spad, walks like a

:53:50.:53:56.

Spad, talks like a Spad, but he wasn't and lost Liam Fox's job.

:53:57.:54:02.

Damian McBride was the ultimate killer Spad. Ruthless, reckless,

:54:03.:54:06.

ready and refreshed. He came a cropper after a career of mailing

:54:07.:54:11.

opponents. He made up stories then resurfaced to tell his own in a

:54:12.:54:17.

book. Message to Stephen Byers' special adviser, there is no good

:54:18.:54:23.

day to bury bad news, as she famously, callously e-mailed

:54:24.:54:27.

colleagues. And, with spectacular irony, promptly became bad news and

:54:28.:54:32.

was buried. If ever there was a Spad and from a young age was born to the

:54:33.:54:37.

calling, branded crazy zealot by his enemies and a reforming profit by

:54:38.:54:41.

his supporters, Dominic Cummings, this disciple of the Lord Michael

:54:42.:54:45.

Gove Almighty, has now himself consigned his Spad Korea to the

:54:46.:54:52.

grave. After that trip down memory lane, we're joined by the Daily

:54:53.:54:55.

Telegraph's Whitehall watcher Sue Cameron, and Henry de Zoete is a

:54:56.:54:58.

former special adviser. How crucial is your old role to a cabinet

:54:59.:55:01.

secretary? I think special advisers are very important, but I think

:55:02.:55:05.

there's a bit of a misunderstanding about what we do. Of course there

:55:06.:55:10.

are the examples that were picked up on film, which is fair enough. To

:55:11.:55:14.

give you what I was doing in the department and what Dominic Cummings

:55:15.:55:19.

was doing, we work... Well, we were mainly focusing on the priorities of

:55:20.:55:23.

the Secretary of State and project managing them to the department.

:55:24.:55:27.

Dominic basically spent probably about 1% of his time on any sort of

:55:28.:55:31.

media issue, I spent a bit more because I was more of a media

:55:32.:55:35.

special adviser. But what we have to do was pick out the policies we

:55:36.:55:39.

wanted to get most traction to get through the department, to happen on

:55:40.:55:43.

the ground as quickly as possible. Then we will project managing those

:55:44.:55:54.

through the system. Do you accept there was a level of ideological

:55:55.:55:56.

zeal being injected by you and Dominic Cummings in the education

:55:57.:55:58.

department to get Michael Gove's point across? Absolutely not.

:55:59.:56:00.

Obviously we believed in our policies, but what we were trying to

:56:01.:56:05.

do and, unfortunately, I worked with some brilliant civil servants and

:56:06.:56:10.

they are brilliant, but the system itself that they are in, it makes it

:56:11.:56:15.

very difficult to ensure that the project goes through and is

:56:16.:56:19.

delivered properly at the end. There are countless examples where we had

:56:20.:56:23.

to do it ourselves. There were reported highly personal attacks on

:56:24.:56:28.

a certain journalist, that came from the education department and a

:56:29.:56:32.

Twitter feed. Those things were reported as coming from a Twitter

:56:33.:56:38.

feed. They weren't from you? It was nothing to do with us. Is that a

:56:39.:56:43.

more sanitised view of what a special adviser does? I think it

:56:44.:56:48.

partly reflect the fact they are a very mixed bunch. A lot of them do

:56:49.:56:52.

very different things. Some of them do concentrate very much on the

:56:53.:56:58.

media, others are more policy. A few, though why they are needed I

:56:59.:57:03.

don't know, politicians should be their own advisers, but some

:57:04.:57:06.

actually advise on the politics of things. One of the problems with

:57:07.:57:12.

them, there are some very good ones but they are not civil servants, who

:57:13.:57:18.

are totally impartial, and nor are they democratically elected. They

:57:19.:57:23.

are basically minister's mates. That is one of the difficulties. Some of

:57:24.:57:28.

them, as the ones you've just seen, go rogue. They were supposed to be

:57:29.:57:34.

cutting the number of Alun Reess but they've increased. -year-old one of

:57:35.:57:37.

the reasons for that is because we are in coalition. Poor old Nick

:57:38.:57:41.

Clegg was sitting in Downing Street and he's meant to keep an eye on

:57:42.:57:46.

everything in every department. He had one man and a dog to help him.

:57:47.:57:51.

That's one of the reasons why there is more of them. Is it up to

:57:52.:57:55.

ministers to rein in special advisers who do end up doing things

:57:56.:58:00.

that are unacceptable? Yes, I think it is up to ministers. But I think

:58:01.:58:04.

it is an unsatisfactory situation. I think there needs to be some way of

:58:05.:58:08.

bringing special advisers into the democratic setup. Whether they have

:58:09.:58:15.

to be approved by backbench MPs or by the civil service commission,

:58:16.:58:22.

some kind of system. Watt -- I think the idea of getting more highly

:58:23.:58:26.

qualified people into those roles is a good one. What about the vetting

:58:27.:58:33.

side a bit? There is such a crucial role they play next to a Secretary

:58:34.:58:37.

of State, that the Secretary of State has to be able to decide who

:58:38.:58:40.

that is. If there is some sort of system, it should be looked at. I

:58:41.:58:45.

remember sitting, when I wasn't in government but I used to work with a

:58:46.:58:50.

whole load of Labour special advisers, and David Cameron

:58:51.:58:53.

announced he was cutting the number of special advisers. They all said

:58:54.:58:56.

that was the worst decision he'd made. The question was, who did Nick

:58:57.:59:05.

Boles speculate might be the best MP to play the game of Thrones

:59:06.:59:13.

character Daenerys Targaryen? I can only think of Nadine. Nadine Dorries

:59:14.:59:21.

is the right answer. That's all for today. Thanks to our guests. Andrew

:59:22.:59:27.

and I will be back tomorrow. Goodbye.

:59:28.:59:30.

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