09/04/2014 Daily Politics


09/04/2014

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


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Good morning. This is the Daily Politics. It's taken almost a week

:00:37.:00:43.

but those baying for Maria Miller's blood have got what they wanted. The

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Culture Secretary, who'd been under heavy fire over her expenses,

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resigned early this morning saying the controversy had become a

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distraction. I want to remove what has become an unhelpful and very

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difficult distraction for colleagues but also taking away from being able

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to talk about the achievements of the Government. The Prime Minister

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was expected to come under further pressure over her position during

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Question Time in the Commons. See how he fares at midday. And musician

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and activist Billy Bragg will be here to explain why he thinks

:01:23.:01:24.

restricting prisoners' access to books and guitars is wrong. We

:01:25.:01:35.

believe that music can help offenders to engage in the process

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of rehabilitation. Prisons we work with realise the value of creative

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expression in helping offenders to come to terms with the crimes they

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have committed. All that and more coming up in the next 90 minutes of

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television gold. And with us for the duration, two squeaky clean MPs.

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Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps and Labour's Chuka

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Umunna.He's the Shadow Business Secretary.

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Welcome to you both. Now without further ado, let's talk about the

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resignation of the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller. Her

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resignation was announced a little after 7:30am after almost a week of

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criticism surrounding her expenses. She has finally gone in front of the

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cameras. This is what she said a little earlier. I want to remove

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what has become an unhelpful and difficult distraction for colleagues

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but also taking away from being able to talk about the achievements of

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the Government. In your resignation letter, you mention Leveson. Do you

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think this is part of the media witchhunt? I take responsibility for

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the situation. I fully accent the findings in the Parliamentary

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standards report. This is about that. -- accept. It is important I

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take away this distraction from the work of the Government and I really

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do want to reiterate my full support for the Prime Minister. That was

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Maria Miller speaking this morning. She sounded a bit more contrite than

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she did in her apology in the House of Commons last week. It lasted only

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32 seconds and was not seen as adequate by people on both sides of

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the House. Last night, Maria Miller appeared to be fighting for

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political survival, issuing a fresh apology to her Basingstoke

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constituents through her local newspaper. It has been quite a long

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and protracted saga. Talk us through it. Although it's a story that's

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reached a crescendo and denouement in less than a week, the saga of

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Maria Mller's expense claims has been playing out over the last 14

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months. In December 2012, the Telegraph reported that Mrs Miller

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had claimed over ?90,000 in parliamentary expenses for the

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mortgage and running costs of her second home in South London between

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2005 and 2009. The Telegraph would later allege that Conservative

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advisors tried to warn them off the story, saying they were looking at

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Leveson. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

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investigated and cleared the MP of making false expenses claims but did

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ask her to repay ?45,000 for over-claiming for mortgage interest

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payments and council tax. However, the final say over sanctions rested

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with the Commons Committee for Standards. They asked Mrs Miller to

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pay back just ?5,800 and apologise for her attitude to the

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investigation, which she duly did, for a whole 32 seconds.

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I wish to make a personal statement in relation to today 's report. The

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report resulted from an allegation made by the member for Bassetlaw.

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The committee has dismissed his allegation. The committee has

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recommended that I apologise to the House for my attitude to the

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commissioner 's inquiries and I, of course, unreservedly apologise. I

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fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for

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bringing this matter to an end. Maria Miller and her apology. The

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brief apology didn't win her any friends in either the press or

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politics. Tory grandee Lord Tebbitt accused her of behaving arrogantly

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and called on her to resign, as did former speaker Baroness Boothroyd,

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who was disappointed and outraged about it. And the Telegraph followed

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up with a second allegation that Mrs Miller flipped her second home in

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Wimbledon, designating it as her main residence, avoiding capital

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gains tax when she sold it. The Prime Minister, however, resolutely

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stood by her insisting she had done the right thing by apologising.

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Grassroots Conservatives disagreed. 85% said she should go and, in the

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end, they got their way. We are joined now by: Shapps and Chuck A.

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Has Maria Miller gone because she has done something wrong or you

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could not stand the media and public frenzy for her to go? She was

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becoming the story. It prevented any other story, including for example,

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the International monetary fund saying we have the fastest growth of

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any advanced economy. It was getting in the way. You agree yesterday, the

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IMF said, fast growth, number six on the news, Maria number two. It was

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getting in the wake of that she thought that was becoming

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unsustainable. Did she do anything wrong? That is not for means to say.

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The committee said she had to pay back ?5,800 and apologise for the

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way in which the information was provided, through a lawyer, I think.

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Presumably it was all very legalistic and time-consuming. You

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are unable to say whether in your view she did anything wrong or not?

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she did something wrong in terms of public opinion. If you read the

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report, they come to the conclusion that the rules themselves were also

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part of the problem, in addition to anything else. That is why there was

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a discrepancy between the Commissioner and the outcome of that

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committee. By the way, that was chaired by a Labour MP. They were

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definitely have said if it was wrong. Having decided to stick by

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her, as the Prime Minister originally did, why was there no

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campaign or operation mounted by Downing Street to protect her? I am

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talking about in the start. No Cabinet ministers would come

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forward. Tory MPs could not come forward. You decided to stick with

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her and you left her unprotected. I do not think that is entirely true.

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When it is the Prime Minister, that is important. I do also think, our

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press is able to go without fear anywhere they want. If your job was

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to protect her, that was the original decision taken by your

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Prime Minister. Why didn't you make sure and insist she made a

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semi-decent apology? A lot has been made of the length of the apology. I

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think it is perfectly fair for people to comment upon it. When you

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listen to the words, she used the phrase, I unreservedly apologise. I

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thought the words were right. I do not know the ins and outs. You did

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not know. Downing Street was mounting a protection operation

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which, in the end, left her unprotected. We should explain,

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somebody's personal statement to the House of Commons is exactly that. It

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is a personal statement. The reputation of the Prime Minister is

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on the line. He is defending her. Wouldn't you really like to see,

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could you just run past us exactly how you will apologise? When you go

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to the House of Commons and you speak on a ministerial brief, the

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Government brief comic you want to be clear it is collective

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responsibility of the Government. On a personal statement can you would

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write it down and deliver it. Her political private secretary said it

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was a witchhunt in the media. Do you agree with that? I think the media

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should and can go anywhere they want to. I think that is a very good

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thing. You have no complaints that how the media has handled this in

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the past ten days? Gnome. We are all subject to a lot of scrutiny. -- no.

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That makes me proud to be British. We live in a country where people

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can ask whatever they want and the press can be fearless. I still think

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it is very good. You say that but her private Parliamentary Secretary

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said it was a witchhunt. She said that in a text message. Her own

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special adviser made the link with Leveson, threatening, reminding

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newspapers that she was the woman in charge of the Leveson process.

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Whether she was or not was another matter. That was the threat. Do you

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agree with the behaviour of her special adviser? I have been clear

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on this. I do not think it is the media coming to get revenge. Was it

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right, to raise Leveson as an issue with the media that was trying to

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cover what she was doing with her expenses? When you listen to that

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conversation, you realise the bit the forwards about the elderly

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father of Maria Miller, who had just come out of hospital and had a

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delicate operation. The concern at the time was about press intrusion

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into a member of the public 's life. That was not meant to be a threat.

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In regard to doorstep in her elderly father. Her father was quite happy

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to speak to the press that he joked with them. He had come out of

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hospital. He joked with them. There was no threat. They said, had they

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had known all of this, they would not have done that. With this

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standards committee, made up of MPs, it kind of exonerated or, at least,

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substantially reduce the criticisms of the were four Labour MPs on this

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committee. They all eat it that way. -- voted that way. There is the

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system, this story, Maria Miller, and the way it has been handled by

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the Prime Minister. The best thing to say is, this is bad for all of

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us. Clearly she is a Conservative Cabinet minister. From the point of

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view of your viewers, they put us into the same pot. They are all the

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same. This is bad for all of us. We need to change the system. What this

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has highlighted, if you like, going to your point about the committee,

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there is a perception we are marking our own homework. That is why I

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think, ultimately, when these things are being determined, the further

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away we are from making a determination of that being seen to

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mark our own home work, better. The committee is chaired by a Labour MP.

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There is a majority of government MPs on it. You all voted the same

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way. I do not think it is a good thing that there is a perception

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that there is a gap between where the committee landed and whether

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Parliamentary standards Commissioner went. In respect of Maria, one thing

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I was surprised by, you cannot underestimate how toxic the expenses

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issue is. Never mind retaining her job as Culture Secretary, she will

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have a real battle on her hands to keep her seat. How on she would have

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found the time to do that and run her department at the same time, I

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think from the point of view of A Minister, the problem for him was

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there was a perception he was acting in a party interest and not a

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national interest. This has been a complete diversion. Grant is

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desperate to talk about the IMF. The big economic issue is what he wants

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to talk about. To some extent it is a legacy issue. It was an alleged

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infraction that took place before the new regime came in. There have

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been these complaints about MP should not be marking their own

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homework. In the new regime that is now place, if a similar fence on

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expenses to place, what would now be the role of the standards committee

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of MPs? It would not have a role. That is the key point. People have

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been saying all week it is wrong that MPs mark their own homework. It

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is very frustrating over expenses. It is one of those stories that,

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somehow, has been buried in theirs. Andrew Lansley was on Newsnight last

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night. Other MPs have been on the programme. Let me clear it. The fact

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of the matter is, if it is post-2010 when the Independent Parliamentary

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Standards Authority came in, in future, a case like this would be

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reported to someone independent of itself. If they want to appeal the

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outcome, it would be going to a lower tier tribunal. That is the

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tribunal system useful all sorts of MPs. Another legal process. Until

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this case came up, I was not aware of all those details and all of

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things. Granted, I came into Parliament under this different

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system. It is toxic. This is awful. You decided to defend her and then

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did not mount an operation to give her any defence. The lack of

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perceived humility was a problem. I understand that. She is different

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this morning. She has resigned now. You mentioned her constituency. Well

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Giles is in Maria Miller's constituency. Not a very right day

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for her in Basingstoke. Do you think she should have gone, and if she

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should have gone, should she have gone sooner? I don't think she

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should have gone, she apologised and the allegations were unfounded. So I

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don't think she should have gone, we have lost a fantastic secretary of

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the eight and I think it is a travesty. Who do you blame for it,

:17:14.:17:24.

her, or is it a media witchhunt? Lots of Tory MPs were saying it is

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toxic for us on the doorstep, she has got to go. I don't think she

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should have gone, I think the whole thing has been misunderstood. Isn't

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it the case it is understood by the public that somebody who got tax

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payers money and did not have to pay back what the enormous sum was, only

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?5,000. Lots of people have criticised her apology for a seeming

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lack of contrition, aren't you a bit disappointed she could have stopped

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this before it got out of hand? No, I think Maria handled this extremely

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well. There is a lack of understanding about this whole

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thing. Do you have any understanding? None whatsoever. She

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was caught out. If she had put her hands about the time and said sorry,

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I will pay it all back, I made a mistake. Thousands of people signed

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a petition to get her out and her own MPs did not stand up with her.

:18:26.:18:30.

The committee said she had not done anything wrong she just didn't

:18:31.:18:36.

cooperate fully with the Co-op -- investigation, so what does she put

:18:37.:18:45.

her hands up to? What is the ?5,000? If she had made an apology

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to those people who saved her ?40,000, I can see why do people

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turned on her. Will she be in trouble at the next election? Maria

:18:58.:19:07.

is a fantastic dentist UNC MP. -- constituency MP. When people get to

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the ballot is, they will reflect on council tax being kept low. Why were

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so many of her colleagues not prepared to put their head over the

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parapet? People I have been talking to a very supportive. I am talking

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about the person on the street who have come up to me, asked me

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questions because they don't understand the thing that has gone

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on. When it is explained, they understand and she has their

:19:38.:19:44.

support. Somebody mentioned this, Nigel Farage, stood in a

:19:45.:19:46.

constituency and tried to make something of expenses, do you think

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we will find him here in 2015? We will find him here tonight. Will he

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stand? No, we have a wonderful candidate, Alan Stone. Everyone

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loves him and knows him, he will win. That is the word in

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Basingstoke. There is a feeling she will bubbly resigned, but why didn't

:20:09.:20:20.

she go a little bit sooner? Andrew. Let's move on from Maria Miller in

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her resignation letter. Letter she said she didn't want her "present

:20:31.:20:34.

situation become a distraction from the vital work this Government is

:20:35.:20:38.

doing". Well, we here at the Daily Politics won't allow it to distract

:20:39.:20:42.

us for the WHOLE programme. So we're going to give Grant a breather and

:20:43.:20:45.

spend the next few minutes talking about something else entirely. The

:20:46.:20:47.

International Monetary Fund says the UK economy will be the

:20:48.:20:51.

fastest-growing in the G7 this year. It says the UK will grow 2.9% in

:20:52.:20:54.

2014, up from a January estimate of 2.4%, and will see growth of 2.5% in

:20:55.:21:01.

2015. Chuka you must be delighted we're seeing such robust growth just

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a year ahead of the general election?

:21:05.:21:13.

Their chief economist, at the IMF has admitted we underestimated UK

:21:14.:21:16.

growth, we got it wrong and so did you? Let's hope his forecasts are

:21:17.:21:24.

right this time. All economists have this issue. He has admitted he was

:21:25.:21:30.

overcautious, he underestimated UK growth and Labour did exactly the

:21:31.:21:36.

same? We have got to ensure everybody gets to share in the

:21:37.:21:39.

proceeds of that growth. It is a phrase that has been used in the

:21:40.:21:43.

past and we have people who have faced a big fall in their wages

:21:44.:21:47.

since 2010 who now want a pay rise. What is the nature of the new

:21:48.:21:52.

employment created? We have millions of people on zero hours contracts,

:21:53.:21:58.

1.4 million people working part-time and millions of people working on a

:21:59.:22:02.

part-time basis who want to be full-time. But there is a structural

:22:03.:22:05.

issue and that is, we need to change the shape of our labour market,

:22:06.:22:09.

which is to lower wages and low skill. Compared to the other

:22:10.:22:14.

countries, there are only four others who have a higher incidence

:22:15.:22:19.

of low paid, load skill work. That is the challenge we have got. It is

:22:20.:22:25.

all right having GDP growth, but in terms of peoples lives, it will not

:22:26.:22:30.

change much. We will come onto that, let's go on to the narrative of

:22:31.:22:35.

Labour, it was just about growth. You said it was reckless, they are

:22:36.:22:39.

taking the most reckless, political gamble with the economy, for

:22:40.:22:42.

political reasons. It has not paid off, it has been catastrophic. Who

:22:43.:22:51.

said that in January 2013? The argument has always been, not that

:22:52.:22:56.

there would never be growth, but in 2010 we had falling unemployment. So

:22:57.:23:06.

who said that? Have a guess. I have no idea. It was Ed Balls. If you let

:23:07.:23:15.

me finish my sentence. You did not and so my question. I was about two

:23:16.:23:22.

and the point I was going to make is, we never said there would be no

:23:23.:23:27.

growth ever. You said flat-lining and growth would be choked off. You

:23:28.:23:35.

had three years of saying and we will come onto whether it is the

:23:36.:23:41.

right growth and sustainable, but we had three years of Labour saying it

:23:42.:23:45.

was a flat-lining economy and it was choking off any recovery and any

:23:46.:23:53.

recovery would be minimal. 2.9% this year before returning to its

:23:54.:23:58.

long-term trend of 2.5%. Annual rate of growth in Dring, the strongest in

:23:59.:24:05.

three years. Isn't this investment is predicted to be at 7%. Higher

:24:06.:24:12.

than it was before the crash. Where is the catastrophe? Where is the

:24:13.:24:16.

choking off of any recovery? There was three years of witty much no

:24:17.:24:23.

growth. That was the choking off of growth we were referring to. Let's

:24:24.:24:28.

hope the business investment figures pick-up because what we were

:24:29.:24:33.

promised was a business investment led recovery. Figures are unchanged

:24:34.:24:38.

compared to January and the last three months. We have seen trade

:24:39.:24:46.

falling, particularly in goods. The OBR are saying it will make no net

:24:47.:24:53.

country fusion to growth. In terms of business investment, we have not

:24:54.:24:57.

seen the business investment we would have hoped. Danny Alexander

:24:58.:25:01.

has tried to cajole business and it has not happened. We were promised

:25:02.:25:08.

an export on business in the economy and that has not happened. Let's

:25:09.:25:15.

pick up on the type of recovery. You talked about the labour market.

:25:16.:25:19.

Let's look at the wealth divide and the gap in inequality. The IMF warns

:25:20.:25:24.

about that and if it does not close, there are long-term problems for the

:25:25.:25:27.

future. That is what is happening under this government. It is

:25:28.:25:34.

important gap in inequality does close. Something which was missed

:25:35.:25:37.

last year, I only saw the independent report it, but the gap

:25:38.:25:43.

between rich and poor has closed since 1986, I think it was. One of

:25:44.:25:48.

the things that has helped, raising the bar so you don't pay income tax

:25:49.:25:54.

up to the first ?10,000. It will be even higher next year and that has

:25:55.:25:58.

put more money into the pockets of people who are hardest up. We have

:25:59.:26:03.

had a long-term economic plan which has led to this growth, we have held

:26:04.:26:07.

our nerve and created a situation where we had more jobs in this

:26:08.:26:14.

country, 30 million. But the number of part-time jobs and people want

:26:15.:26:18.

more hours? I do accept those things, but there are fewer 0-hour

:26:19.:26:23.

contracts hours now than there were in 2010. No they're not. The ONS

:26:24.:26:32.

statistics work were less than 200,000 in 2010, the most recent

:26:33.:26:36.

statistics is there are over half a million and they will revisit those

:26:37.:26:41.

figures. They are disputed figures anyway. They are not, it is the ONS.

:26:42.:26:50.

0-hours contract is something that needs to be addressed. Let's look at

:26:51.:26:55.

the inequality gap which the IMF said will be there unless it is

:26:56.:27:02.

sorted out. It is important people have jobs. Another charge that has

:27:03.:27:07.

been made is these are all sometime part-time jobs. They are not, the

:27:08.:27:13.

majority are full-time jobs and they are going to people from overseas.

:27:14.:27:19.

They are not. It is an accusation often made and it is untrue. Nine

:27:20.:27:25.

out of ten of these jobs are going to British people. It will soon be

:27:26.:27:31.

PMQs. Those of you who have been through Maria Miller's expenses with

:27:32.:27:36.

a fine tooth comb will note that the former Culture Secretary is partial

:27:37.:27:41.

to a spot of crockery. The good news Maria, is you'll now have more time

:27:42.:27:44.

to watch the Daily Politics and get your hands on one of these beauties.

:27:45.:27:48.

Every cloud has a silver lining. But remember you'll have to be in it to

:27:49.:27:52.

win it. Very naughty. But let's see if you

:27:53.:27:54.

can remember when this happened. # Alone...why must I be alone?

:27:55.:28:22.

Prince Charles made history by being the first royal to go to this

:28:23.:28:23.

school. To be in with a chance, send your

:28:24.:29:17.

answers to our e-mail address: You can see the full terms and

:29:18.:29:28.

conditions on our website. It's coming up to midday here, just

:29:29.:29:32.

take a look at Big Ben. That can mean only one thing... Yes, Prime

:29:33.:29:35.

Minister's Questions is on its way. If you'd like to comment on

:29:36.:29:37.

proceedings, and try and be polite! We will try and read some out

:29:38.:29:55.

later. Nick Robinson is here. How does this play out PMQs? A phrase

:29:56.:30:04.

that the Prime Minister will be reminded of is, let's leave it

:30:05.:30:09.

there. Meaning his reaction to the Maria Miller affair, is it is over,

:30:10.:30:16.

let's leave it. Ed Miliband will say it is a mistake. He realises the

:30:17.:30:24.

political class have still not, " got it" and there are more changes

:30:25.:30:30.

required to do with expenses. I think the Prime Minister will have a

:30:31.:30:34.

bit to say about the detail of why he did defend Maria Miller and some

:30:35.:30:38.

indication of where we might go next in terms of expenses. Let's go

:30:39.:30:43.

straight over to the House of Commons now.

:30:44.:31:12.

Immigration is down by a third and at its lowest level since 1998. We

:31:13.:31:28.

have seen 2.2 million people over two years. That was unacceptable and

:31:29.:31:31.

we are getting the situation under control. Speaking recently with a

:31:32.:31:39.

constituent of mine who has been diagnosed with dementia, she was

:31:40.:31:42.

frightened about what the future might hold for her. It has made

:31:43.:31:47.

great progress and comes to an end this month. Will the primers to give

:31:48.:31:51.

personal assurances is a new dimension framework will be put in

:31:52.:31:59.

place as soon as possible? -- dementia. I can give my honourable

:32:00.:32:07.

friend that Ashour rinse. We will treat it like a disease, like cancer

:32:08.:32:15.

or heart disease. We will make sure local communities are more dementia

:32:16.:32:25.

friendly. We will continue to use our position in the G-7 to push for

:32:26.:32:38.

this issue globally as well. Mr Speaker, the events of the last week

:32:39.:32:42.

have caused deep concern and anger to the public. What lessons does the

:32:43.:32:50.

Prime Minister -- has the Prime Minister learned from his handling

:32:51.:32:56.

of the situation? There is still very deep concern, public concern

:32:57.:33:03.

which is very raw about the expenses scandal which rocked this Parliament

:33:04.:33:07.

and the last parliament. That anger is still very raw and it needs to be

:33:08.:33:11.

acted upon. I hope the one lesson that will not be learned, the right

:33:12.:33:17.

thing to do as soon as someone as to answer allegations, is that they

:33:18.:33:23.

will be allowed to do that. I was asking about his handling of the

:33:24.:33:26.

situation and the lessons he learned and he had no answer. He wrote in

:33:27.:33:31.

his letter to the Culture Secretary today, I think it is important to be

:33:32.:33:36.

clear that the committee on standards clear due of the unfounded

:33:37.:33:39.

allegations made against you. Can he now explain what, in his view, the

:33:40.:33:45.

Culture Secretary did wrong? The Culture Secretary set out the

:33:46.:33:49.

reasons for her resignation in her letter. He makes an important point.

:33:50.:33:54.

The Culture Secretary was accused of a very serious offence, which was by

:33:55.:33:59.

a member of Parliament. She was accused of housing her parents at

:34:00.:34:03.

the public expense. She was cleared of that allegation. I thought it was

:34:04.:34:07.

right. Others can take their own view. I thought it was right. We

:34:08.:34:13.

needed to allow her to make her apology and continue with her job.

:34:14.:34:17.

That is the way I think is the right way to handle it. Others can take

:34:18.:34:22.

their own view. If people cleared themselves of a serious offence, you

:34:23.:34:25.

let them get on with their job and try to do their job. That is the

:34:26.:34:32.

right thing to do. I have to say to him, it is completely unclear why

:34:33.:34:38.

the Culture Secretary is still not in her job because he think she did

:34:39.:34:44.

nothing wrong. Let me explain to him. Order! This session will be

:34:45.:34:51.

conducted in an orderly way, however long it takes. I happen to know

:34:52.:34:56.

there are children here today observing proceedings who would like

:34:57.:35:00.

to think the House would show a good example. Let's see if we can. What

:35:01.:35:05.

she did wrong was refused to cooperate with an inquiry, she broke

:35:06.:35:11.

the code of conduct for MPs and gave a perfunctory and inadequate apology

:35:12.:35:17.

to the House. He said six days ago she had done the right thing and we

:35:18.:35:21.

should leave it at that. Does he now recognise this was a terrible error

:35:22.:35:26.

of judgment? I think it was right to allow her the chance to get on with

:35:27.:35:31.

her job. There is one weakness in the argument of the right honourable

:35:32.:35:35.

gentleman. If he thinks this was the case, why did he not call on her to

:35:36.:35:41.

resign? In my view, he seems to be the first leader of the opposition

:35:42.:35:48.

probably in history, to come to this house and make the first suggestion

:35:49.:35:50.

that someone should resign after they have already resigned. I have

:35:51.:36:01.

heard everything! It is my job to fire members of his own Cabinet.

:36:02.:36:06.

This is about him and the fact he still does not understand what he

:36:07.:36:14.

did wrong. -- she did wrong. If it had happened in any other business,

:36:15.:36:18.

there would be no question about staying in their job. Why was he the

:36:19.:36:23.

last person in the country to realise the position was untenable?

:36:24.:36:28.

She did do something strong and that is why she was asked to apologise

:36:29.:36:33.

and she did. It was not right not to cooperate properly with the

:36:34.:36:36.

committee and she apologised for that. It is rather extraordinary,

:36:37.:36:42.

the right honourable gentleman, in coming here saying she should have

:36:43.:36:49.

resigned. It shows all the signs of someone seeing a political bandwagon

:36:50.:36:57.

and wanting to jump on it. He is jumping on this bandwagon after the

:36:58.:37:02.

whole circus has left town. Where I agree with the right honourable

:37:03.:37:06.

gentleman is that there is still more that needs to be done to deal

:37:07.:37:10.

with the problems of expenses that we suffered in the last Parliament.

:37:11.:37:15.

We have made some big steps forward. I am not sure everyone knows this.

:37:16.:37:19.

Any expense complaint from 2010 onwards is dealt with by an

:37:20.:37:22.

independent body and not dealt with by MPs. That is right. The committee

:37:23.:37:27.

of MPs that does the work on the path cases now has mothers of the

:37:28.:37:32.

public sitting on it. That is right. I accept, let us do more to reassure

:37:33.:37:36.

the public about the scandal of expenses and how we are dealing with

:37:37.:37:41.

it. I am happy to hold meetings with party leaders, authorities of this

:37:42.:37:45.

house, I think it is right we should do everything we can to show that

:37:46.:37:50.

this is a good and honest Parliament with good and hard working people in

:37:51.:37:55.

it. That is the assumption I'd start off and I make no apology for that.

:37:56.:38:06.

The Prime Minister describes it as a bandwagon and a circus. Let me

:38:07.:38:10.

actually... This is about the members of this country absolutely

:38:11.:38:13.

appalled by the conduct of his government over the last week. That

:38:14.:38:18.

is what it is about. It is about members of the public who cannot

:38:19.:38:23.

understand why he did not act. He said in his forward to the

:38:24.:38:27.

Ministerial Code, British people expect high standards of conduct and

:38:28.:38:34.

we must not let them down. Does he not recognise that his failure to

:38:35.:38:37.

recognise what went wrong has undermined trust, not just in his

:38:38.:38:44.

government, but in politics? He came here today determined to play

:38:45.:38:46.

politics in every single way he could. Absolutely clear. Since

:38:47.:38:58.

2010... The Prime Minister 's answer must and will be heard. Members

:38:59.:39:03.

across this house would know, since 2010, since the last Parliament, a

:39:04.:39:08.

lot of changes have been made. Independent members on the

:39:09.:39:11.

Parliamentary committee, publications of meetings, visits and

:39:12.:39:16.

gifts for ministers, publication of special adviser salaries,

:39:17.:39:18.

publication of government spending. Is there more to do? Absolutely. If

:39:19.:39:24.

he is serious about doing it, he will sit down with other party

:39:25.:39:28.

leaders, the authorities of this House, and letters ask what we can

:39:29.:39:37.

do to put beyond doubt this is a good and honest Parliament with

:39:38.:39:39.

hard-working people. If he wants to play politics and he wants a good

:39:40.:39:42.

sound bite on the news, carry on. If you are serious, get serious. I will

:39:43.:39:47.

have meetings with him any time about how we will reform the systems

:39:48.:39:53.

of this House. Of course I will. He just does not get it. That is what

:39:54.:40:01.

he has shown today. He needs to learn profound lessons. The Culture

:40:02.:40:06.

Secretary went, not because of bad conduct, but because of bad press.

:40:07.:40:11.

He promised to be an apostle of better standards and he has been an

:40:12.:40:14.

apologist for unacceptable behaviour. If the right honourable

:40:15.:40:24.

gentleman thinks that you should not give someone a chance to get on with

:40:25.:40:29.

their job, that is not leadership, that is weakness. If that is his

:40:30.:40:33.

recommendation of leadership, I do not think the country will have any

:40:34.:40:40.

of it. With the Prime Minister agree with me, and the people living

:40:41.:40:48.

in... Order! There should not be a collective groan. The honourable

:40:49.:40:54.

gentleman is good-humoured. The House will hear the honourable

:40:55.:41:03.

gentleman. That is much better. Will the Prime Minister agree with me

:41:04.:41:07.

that people living in rural Britain have as much right to decent quality

:41:08.:41:14.

and safe health care as anyone else? Will he helped to intervene directly

:41:15.:41:19.

if he does and help me personally to ensure the Morecambe Bay hospitals

:41:20.:41:23.

trust does not downgrade or sell-off the hospital? Representing a wall or

:41:24.:41:32.

constituency I know how important it is for access to health services. I

:41:33.:41:36.

know how important it is to get Health and Social Care Bill is his

:41:37.:41:41.

to work together. He asked me to look into the specifics and I am

:41:42.:41:47.

happy to do that. In the light of this week 's historic visit by the

:41:48.:41:54.

Irish president to the UK, building a legacy and the historic visit of

:41:55.:42:01.

her Majesty in 2011, would be Prime Minister agree that Anglo - Irish

:42:02.:42:07.

relationships have never been stronger and to build lasting

:42:08.:42:14.

reconciliation across the islands we need backing by his government and

:42:15.:42:20.

the Irish government to ensure the potential prospects are delivered

:42:21.:42:25.

and implemented? First of all, can I strongly agree that it is a landmark

:42:26.:42:29.

visit of the Irish president to this country, coming three years after

:42:30.:42:34.

the extraordinary visit by the Queen to the Republic of Ireland. I would

:42:35.:42:38.

agree that Anglo /Irish relations are at an all-time high. We are

:42:39.:42:43.

absolutely committed to building on that relationship and all the time

:42:44.:42:47.

of thinking of new things that Britain and Ireland can do as good

:42:48.:42:51.

neighbours and good friends. In terms of the talks, I do think it

:42:52.:42:55.

would be good to make progress on that issue. That is something

:42:56.:42:58.

parties in Northern Ireland have started and I would urge them to

:42:59.:43:07.

continue. On the day when Woman's Our has put Rahman at number three

:43:08.:43:18.

on the power list, it is challenging to suggest that women are

:43:19.:43:21.

underrepresented in science and engineering careers. What is his

:43:22.:43:30.

response... ? The honourable gentleman will be heard. The

:43:31.:43:36.

opposition does not regard this as a serious matter. What is his response

:43:37.:43:41.

to the thoughtful report published last week? Can I pay tribute to my

:43:42.:43:48.

right honourable friend the campaigning and working so hard on

:43:49.:43:52.

this issue? It is important for the future of our country, not just for

:43:53.:43:57.

gender equality but the economic future to get women into Stem

:43:58.:44:03.

subjects and engineering. I support the National Centre target of

:44:04.:44:06.

doubling numbers of female engineering graduates by 2013. We're

:44:07.:44:12.

working with employers, professional bodies and academic institutions to

:44:13.:44:16.

implement the Perkins review. One of the most powerful things is role

:44:17.:44:22.

models. Did the Prime Minister or any of his staff ask the right

:44:23.:44:26.

honourable member for Basingstoke to resign her position as Culture

:44:27.:44:29.

Secretary and, if not, should he have? She has set out the reasons

:44:30.:44:45.

for her resignation in a letter she set out today and I think people

:44:46.:44:50.

should accept that. I have even the best answers I could in my attitude

:44:51.:44:53.

and working with colleagues in giving them a chance to get on with

:44:54.:44:56.

their jobs. That is the right approach. Thanks to this government

:44:57.:45:06.

is long-term economic plan... Youth unemployment has been cut by 42% in

:45:07.:45:15.

my constituency. Does the Prime Minister think the opening of a new

:45:16.:45:18.

university technical College and a new, free sixth form College in

:45:19.:45:25.

Salisbury will enhance the ability of young people in South Wilts to

:45:26.:45:31.

compete in the global race? My honourable friend is entirely right

:45:32.:45:37.

in every word. Because what we see is a decline in youth unemployment.

:45:38.:45:42.

The figures in Salisbury and in the south-west are remarkable. The

:45:43.:45:47.

long-term youth claimant count has come down by 37%. What we need to

:45:48.:45:54.

further drive down youth unemployment is make sure training

:45:55.:45:56.

opportunities and education is there and that is why university technical

:45:57.:46:00.

colleges are important. Youth unemployment is still too high, when

:46:01.:46:06.

we strip out those in full-time education it is 8.7%. It is lower

:46:07.:46:11.

than the EU average, but it is still too high. My constituents, Paul

:46:12.:46:19.

Cowdrey is to lose his home at the raising concerns of over charging by

:46:20.:46:24.

solicitor, Michael Sandler. This solicitor found a loophole in which

:46:25.:46:29.

he could sue my complaining for complaining. The authority have

:46:30.:46:36.

described Michael Sandler as morally reprehensible but are powerful to

:46:37.:46:41.

act. Will the Prime Minister look this case and intervene to stop

:46:42.:46:44.

solicitors are running rings around their regulators? I will be happy to

:46:45.:46:48.

look into this. The legal ombudsman, which were improved over

:46:49.:46:54.

previous years are independent of government. It is not possible to

:46:55.:47:00.

intervene directly but I can arrange a meeting between him and the

:47:01.:47:03.

Minister for legal services to discuss what remedies are open to

:47:04.:47:05.

his constituent. I will put that in place. The Prime Minister for

:47:06.:47:15.

Pakistan is due to visit the United Kingdom later this month. Will the

:47:16.:47:18.

Prime Minister discussed with him the reform of blasphemy laws in

:47:19.:47:23.

Pakistan which are used to prosecute and persecute the minority

:47:24.:47:27.

community, including the Christian community. And Will the Prime

:47:28.:47:32.

Minister make sure all of those people who are prosecuted under

:47:33.:47:36.

these laws get justice, including a British national? I will certainly

:47:37.:47:41.

raise that issue with the Prime Minister when he comes to this

:47:42.:47:47.

country. In the run-up to Easter it is worth remembering how many

:47:48.:47:53.

Christians are persecuted around the world. It is an important issue and

:47:54.:47:56.

I am looking over to meeting with the Pakistan leadership. Is the

:47:57.:48:02.

Prime Minister were that for 3 million, low income families, for

:48:03.:48:06.

every ?3 they gain through the higher personal tax allowance, they

:48:07.:48:11.

will lose ?2 straightaway through universal credit. Isn't the Prime

:48:12.:48:14.

Minister giving with one hand but taking away from low-paid Britain

:48:15.:48:19.

with the other? I think the honourable gentleman is profoundly

:48:20.:48:23.

wrong. The point about universal credit is it you will always keep a

:48:24.:48:28.

reasonable share of any extra pound earned. Difference between universal

:48:29.:48:33.

credit and the last system is you off than face people with over 100%

:48:34.:48:39.

marginal tax rates when they were in work. That is what universal credit

:48:40.:48:47.

will change and that is why I thought the party opposite were in

:48:48.:48:50.

favour of universal credit, but if they have changed their mind on

:48:51.:48:56.

that, they should tell us. The number of apprenticeship starts in

:48:57.:49:01.

my constituency is at a record high. I am hoping -- holding another

:49:02.:49:06.

apprenticeship fair in Raleigh Regis. Will the Prime Minister agree

:49:07.:49:12.

that investing in apprenticeship skills is important in the economic

:49:13.:49:16.

plan to give people in the Black Country to give the skills they need

:49:17.:49:21.

to get good quality jobs and secure their future? I join my honourable

:49:22.:49:28.

friend in what he said. We have seen 180,000 apprenticeships start under

:49:29.:49:36.

this government and we are on target the 2 million under this Parliament.

:49:37.:49:38.

I want to make sure we grow apprenticeships and see an increase

:49:39.:49:44.

in the quality of apprenticeships and there is better information for

:49:45.:49:50.

young people in school about deciding the pathway they want to

:49:51.:49:53.

take. Whether they want to take an academic pathway through university

:49:54.:49:55.

or look at apprenticeships. We will be doing more on this front. Despite

:49:56.:50:01.

the progress achieved in Northern Ireland, recent polls find 67% of 16

:50:02.:50:06.

to 24-year-olds think their future lies outside of Northern Ireland and

:50:07.:50:12.

the youth that local politicians could not agree in the future. Does

:50:13.:50:18.

the Prime Minister agree this should be an wake-up call to start showing

:50:19.:50:21.

real leadership to inspire young people and give them hope for a

:50:22.:50:27.

better future in Northern Ireland? Can I pay tribute to the honourable

:50:28.:50:32.

lady for the work she does on this front? Anyone who believes change is

:50:33.:50:36.

not possible or politicians cannot rise to a challenge in Northern

:50:37.:50:41.

Ireland would have been struck, as I was, seeing Martin McGuinness around

:50:42.:50:45.

the table at the banquet with the Queen last night. People have come a

:50:46.:50:51.

huge way and we need to continue with that vital work, including the

:50:52.:50:56.

work to fight racism and sectarianism. We need politicians in

:50:57.:51:01.

Northern Ireland to build a shared future, take down those walls, make

:51:02.:51:07.

sure the economy can grow and opportunities are there for everyone

:51:08.:51:13.

in Northern Ireland. 35,000 runners in last year's The London Marathon

:51:14.:51:20.

raised ?53 million for good causes. I will be running again this

:51:21.:51:28.

Sunday, but I am running for the Forget-me-not children's hospital in

:51:29.:51:38.

Huddersfield. Over the cornflakes this morning I saw and attract a

:51:39.:51:44.

picture of my honourable friend in his shorts and the Shadow Chancellor

:51:45.:51:47.

in a curiouser pair of black leggings. I know a number of

:51:48.:51:53.

colleagues in this House, I have to say I'd bow down to you, 26 miles is

:51:54.:52:01.

a long way to go. I cannot manage it but full of admiration for the money

:52:02.:52:04.

you raise the excellent causes and pay tribute to all members on all

:52:05.:52:10.

sides of the House. My constituents, Sue Martin is suffering from MJ and

:52:11.:52:22.

is waiting for her claim to be processed. She has to borrow from

:52:23.:52:27.

her 84-year-old mother to get by. All delays in these benefits are

:52:28.:52:33.

unacceptable. What we are trying to do with the Personal Independence

:52:34.:52:35.

Payment, is introduced it gradually so we can ensure decision-making is

:52:36.:52:45.

good. Last week, I was privileged to meet a Holocaust survivor. Is the

:52:46.:52:51.

Prime Minister aware of any reported persecution happening today, ethnic

:52:52.:52:55.

cleansing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A gentle religious Islamic

:52:56.:53:01.

tolerant people who educate their sons and their daughters. Would he

:53:02.:53:09.

meet with a member concerned with this to discuss this situation? We

:53:10.:53:15.

should be absolutely clear the Afghanistan we have been supporting

:53:16.:53:19.

and will continue to support must be a multiracial and multiethnic

:53:20.:53:24.

Afghanistan, that includes different nationalities that make up that

:53:25.:53:29.

country. It is vital for its future. I am happy to look at the

:53:30.:53:33.

evidence he has and arrange any appropriate meetings. 2400 jobs have

:53:34.:53:42.

been destroyed in Leicester, Corby and last Friday, 650 in Newport by

:53:43.:53:50.

one, single firm that specialises in cynically buying up firms, degrading

:53:51.:53:55.

the pay and conditions of their staff and then abandoning them to

:53:56.:53:59.

unemployment. What protection is the government planning to give to those

:54:00.:54:06.

blameless people, hard workers, who suffer from the scourge of this new,

:54:07.:54:15.

vulture capitalism? I am happy to look at the individual case he

:54:16.:54:19.

raises. But the situation in terms of jobs in the UK, if you look at

:54:20.:54:25.

last week we have had eight hours and jobs from Birmingham City

:54:26.:54:29.

airport, 12,000 jobs from Asda, over 1000 jobs from Vodafone. What we are

:54:30.:54:33.

seeing is businesses wanting to locate in Britain, take people on in

:54:34.:54:39.

Britain and grow in Britain. If he has an example of bad practice, I am

:54:40.:54:47.

happy to look at it. In 1967, the abortion time limit was set at 28

:54:48.:54:52.

weeks. In 1990 this was reduced to 24 weeks. Given it is now 2014, a

:54:53.:54:59.

quarter of a century onwards, and given recent breakthroughs in

:55:00.:55:04.

antenatal and neonatal care, does the Prime Minister agree it is now

:55:05.:55:08.

time to reduce the abortion term limit to 22 weeks? I have always

:55:09.:55:13.

made my personal views on this clear and there have been opportunities in

:55:14.:55:19.

Parliament to vote. It is always open to members of Parliament to

:55:20.:55:23.

bring forward legislation, amend existing bills and for the House to

:55:24.:55:28.

debate this. It will continue on this side, and as on the other side

:55:29.:55:34.

to be an entirely free vote issue. Did the Prime Minister or any member

:55:35.:55:39.

of his Cabinet Aske at the member for Basingstoke to resign? The

:55:40.:55:46.

member for Basingstoke took her own decision and has communicated that

:55:47.:55:49.

decision in a letter. I think the members opposite should respect that

:55:50.:56:02.

decision. A cloud hangs over the job prospects of 700 mine workers in my

:56:03.:56:09.

constituency. Can the Prime Minister assure the House this government is

:56:10.:56:13.

doing everything it can to ensure the future for that pit and those

:56:14.:56:19.

livelihoods? I can give him that assurance. It is important, despite

:56:20.:56:26.

the difficulties UK coal faces, the government should do everything it

:56:27.:56:31.

can within the rules, to look at help and assistance we can give. I

:56:32.:56:36.

am being kept up-to-date on their sometimes on a daily basis and I can

:56:37.:56:40.

assure him it is getting the government's attention. In the

:56:41.:56:47.

spirit of the positive case for the union, can the Prime Minister give

:56:48.:56:52.

us his view as to which -- which of the fourth Horseman of the

:56:53.:56:56.

apocalypse will descend on an independent Scotland? My view is a

:56:57.:57:01.

positive one about what this United Kingdom has achieved together in the

:57:02.:57:04.

past and what we can achieve in the future. The ones about take a

:57:05.:57:09.

selfish view about the future are sitting on the bench is over there.

:57:10.:57:19.

The Surgeon General of the Armed Forces has raised concerns over the

:57:20.:57:24.

impact of longer, NHS waiting times on soldiers based in Wales. Does the

:57:25.:57:28.

Prime Minister agree NHS outcomes for my constituents, including

:57:29.:57:33.

soldiers, are not good enough and the Welsh government could be

:57:34.:57:37.

undermining the operations of the Armed Forces and are potentially in

:57:38.:57:43.

breach of the military covenant? I think my honourable friend makes an

:57:44.:57:48.

important point. We have seen an 80% cut to the budget in Wales to the

:57:49.:57:53.

NHS. The last time A targets are met was 2000 mine. The last time

:57:54.:57:59.

cancer treatments were met was 2008 and over a third of people miss out

:58:00.:58:04.

to access of diagnostic services within eight weeks. There is a

:58:05.:58:09.

dreadful record when it comes to Labour's NHS in Wales. You see a

:58:10.:58:14.

huge contrast with the NHS in England, properly funded, well-run

:58:15.:58:18.

and meeting key targets and then the shambles that is in Wales. Five

:58:19.:58:26.

years ago in one of the worst seen since the Good Friday agreement, my

:58:27.:58:31.

constituents, Sapper, Patrick as an part and his colleague, Mark Quincey

:58:32.:58:38.

was shot and killed outside their barracks in County Antrim. Their

:58:39.:58:46.

families still await justice. Will the Prime Minister look at this case

:58:47.:58:51.

and also into the use of different trials in Northern Ireland? Can I

:58:52.:58:55.

take this opportunity to express my sympathy to the families of

:58:56.:59:01.

soldiers. It was a despicable terrorist attack and I share the

:59:02.:59:04.

desire the perpetrators are to justice. Just because we are trying

:59:05.:59:09.

to deal with the legacies of the past does not mean crimes that have

:59:10.:59:12.

been committed should not eat properly prosecuted and those

:59:13.:59:17.

responsible can big. I know the Secretary of State for Northern

:59:18.:59:21.

Ireland met the soldiers parents to discuss their concerns. The trial

:59:22.:59:24.

system in Northern Ireland was abolished in 2007 and allowed

:59:25.:59:29.

revisions for non-jury trials only in specific circumstances. Reviews

:59:30.:59:36.

will take place as to whether they can be renewed in 2015. People in

:59:37.:59:45.

Rossendale and Darwin would have been reassured this week to see the

:59:46.:59:49.

IMF upgrades the country's growth forecast. However, would my right

:59:50.:59:56.

honourable friend agreed that there would be more reassurance to know

:59:57.:00:01.

our long-term economic plan is working in East Lancashire by the

:00:02.:00:06.

announcement this week by red rose dry lining they have created 30 new

:00:07.:00:12.

apprenticeships? I think my honourable friend makes an important

:00:13.:00:15.

point. When we look at what has been happening, we can see the AMF saying

:00:16.:00:22.

the UK will grow faster than any G-7 country, jobs at Birmingham, Asda

:00:23.:00:29.

and Vodafone, the trade deficit is falling. Employment is rising,

:00:30.:00:37.

Britain is on its way back. During the committee stayed of the legal

:00:38.:00:45.

aid punishment offenders act, the Prime Minister assured the committee

:00:46.:00:48.

those refused legal aid would still apply under the new exceptional

:00:49.:00:52.

funding scheme. He said it was a vital safeguard. From April to

:00:53.:00:59.

December 20 13, family law applications have been made, eight

:01:00.:01:04.

has been allowed. What kind of safeguard is that? I will cases he

:01:05.:01:10.

raises, but we have to make sure our legal aid system is affordable. When

:01:11.:01:14.

we compared our legal aid system with other common law countries we

:01:15.:01:20.

still spent more than Australia, New Zealand or others. He shakes his

:01:21.:01:26.

head but it is no good for members of all in to vote against every

:01:27.:01:29.

single spending decision but not recognise we have to get our deficit

:01:30.:01:33.

down in order to help the economy recover. Will Prime Minister take a

:01:34.:01:41.

few minutes over the Easter recess to read the winning entry in the

:01:42.:01:45.

Institute of economic affairs competition which was announced last

:01:46.:01:51.

night. If he does, I am sure it will give my right honourable friend some

:01:52.:01:54.

good ideas as to why leaving the European Union should become part of

:01:55.:02:00.

our long-term economic plan. My honourable friend and I agree on

:02:01.:02:05.

many things, but I am afraid this isn't one of them. I will happily

:02:06.:02:12.

look at the pamphlet as a potential piece of holiday reading and see how

:02:13.:02:17.

it competes with other alternatives, perhaps the novel for

:02:18.:02:25.

my honourable friend from Beds. Order.

:02:26.:02:34.

The leader of the on position -- opposition tried to turn it into a

:02:35.:02:47.

matter of judgment. Was he the last person in Britain to believe her

:02:48.:02:52.

position was still tenable? Up with the line the opposition took. The

:02:53.:02:58.

Prime Minister defended his position. -- that was the line. He

:02:59.:03:04.

did not answer any questions from the Labour backbenchers asked what

:03:05.:03:08.

pressure was put on to Mrs Miller yesterday to fall onto her own

:03:09.:03:12.

sword. Let's hear what you heard about all of this. Dozens of e-mails

:03:13.:03:19.

on Maria Miller. The issue at the core of the Parliamentary expenses

:03:20.:03:22.

row is not the rules or the adjudication of the rules. The core

:03:23.:03:27.

issue is the morality of parliamentarians. Debra says,

:03:28.:03:35.

neither leader performed very well. This one saying that MPs should

:03:36.:03:42.

commit expenses for scrutiny by an independent assessor before they are

:03:43.:03:48.

paid. Maria Miller, ?45,000, how many people 's workplace benefits to

:03:49.:03:54.

this involves? Helen Manning says, Ed and Dave arguing that MPs

:03:55.:03:57.

fiddling expenses is ridiculous. They are all at it. I wonder what

:03:58.:04:06.

the children sitting on the benches think! Who did go to see Maria

:04:07.:04:10.

Miller yesterday to advise her to fall on her sword? My answer is she

:04:11.:04:17.

came to the conclusion that it was in the way of everything else. The

:04:18.:04:24.

Prime Minister said it there. It was her decision. Let me say, my

:04:25.:04:28.

understanding is it was entirely her decision. The Prime Minister stood

:04:29.:04:33.

by her on the basic principle that the claim had been made -- the claim

:04:34.:04:40.

that had been made against had been thrown out. She came to the

:04:41.:04:48.

conclusion to resign. Someone went to see her. She may have come to her

:04:49.:04:56.

own decision. There is a fatuous verse about this each time someone

:04:57.:05:00.

resigns. Was she pushed or did she jump? Can these think of a single

:05:01.:05:08.

time when someone has said, actually, I was shocked? They have

:05:09.:05:13.

to come to an agreement, and accommodation. There had to be words

:05:14.:05:17.

written in letters and said in public to make sure the person going

:05:18.:05:22.

is content. What David Cameron gave to Maria Miller, and I think he

:05:23.:05:27.

believes it, he gave her praise in his letter. He said she had been a

:05:28.:05:31.

Good Minister included on the central charge. He wanted to see her

:05:32.:05:38.

back in office. I have no doubt someone did have a conversation and

:05:39.:05:43.

say what the Prime Minister will have to go through tomorrow to

:05:44.:05:48.

defend you. This happened again and again under the left premiership. Do

:05:49.:05:54.

not make the Prime Minister stand up and defend you, which he is willing

:05:55.:05:59.

to do, do not make him do that and then go a few hours later. And you

:06:00.:06:04.

put him in an absolutely impossible position. If you are going to go,

:06:05.:06:09.

go, because then, at least, there is clarity. I do not think they will

:06:10.:06:13.

get the boat off, what she pushed? Is clear somebody had a conversation

:06:14.:06:24.

to say it was pretty bad. -- it is clear. All Prime Ministers find

:06:25.:06:29.

themselves in this position when a minister is attacked. The lines were

:06:30.:06:35.

not clearly cut. The standards committee agreed something different

:06:36.:06:38.

to what the commissioner had claimed against her. They stick with the

:06:39.:06:42.

Prime Minister, with their Cabinet minister. After a while, the

:06:43.:06:46.

pressure from the press or the public or new development... It

:06:47.:06:54.

happened to Mr Blair, Mr Brown and has now happened to Mr Cameron. It

:06:55.:07:05.

is a way of life. Some of the 1922 Committee may have said he employed

:07:06.:07:10.

at that time to he is impacted by the Mitchell affair. Once the error

:07:11.:07:24.

was exacerbated by the perfunctory apology, after that point, it was

:07:25.:07:27.

going to go in the direction it has headed today. The problem for the

:07:28.:07:31.

Prime Minister, I think, if you're watching this programme, this has

:07:32.:07:34.

consumed the Government in many respects for the last six days.

:07:35.:07:40.

Remember with Peter Mandelson. Actually twice. There does come a

:07:41.:07:47.

point where you need to make a decision about these things. Is Mr

:07:48.:07:52.

Miliband becomes Prime Minister, at some stage the same thing will

:07:53.:07:58.

happen to him? It could be anybody. It could be anybody. I'm not going

:07:59.:08:01.

to sit here and claim these decisions are easy. I am not doing

:08:02.:08:08.

that. It is a matter of leadership. It is the perfunctory apology, the

:08:09.:08:15.

accusation of seeking to believe the Parliamentary standards Commissioner

:08:16.:08:17.

and the substance of the allegations. I think, to allow that

:08:18.:08:21.

to consume and dominate your government, goes against your

:08:22.:08:26.

judgment. Someone was leaning on her to go. The only way the Prime

:08:27.:08:30.

Minister could have got out of this... He was asked it in a most

:08:31.:08:36.

loyal way. He was asked if any member of the Cabinet sought to do

:08:37.:08:46.

that? The reason why Nick, myself and Joe are suspicious is that by

:08:47.:08:56.

the time this had reached a crescendo against Maria Miller, the

:08:57.:08:59.

least bad way out of this for the premise was for her to fall on her

:09:00.:09:05.

sword. That is probably the case all the way through. Pressure had

:09:06.:09:08.

increased. It was probably true from day one. He is not that kind of

:09:09.:09:15.

Prime Minister. He leads by saying, I wanted to get on with the job and

:09:16.:09:19.

do it to the best of your abilities. I had been a minister

:09:20.:09:22.

under this Prime Minister for the last four years. He does not try to

:09:23.:09:26.

intervene on the day-to-day approach. That has been a good

:09:27.:09:29.

thing. The good thing about this government is that ministers have

:09:30.:09:33.

been able to get ahead of their briefs, understand them and put them

:09:34.:09:35.

in place. Not like the days of ministers will come in place. Not

:09:36.:09:38.

like the days of ministers were coming for nine months and move on.

:09:39.:09:43.

The whole thing about this, it is a perception issue. It looks

:09:44.:09:47.

absolutely awful. The point of view of the Prime Minister, the

:09:48.:09:51.

perception is going to be that he did not act in the interests of

:09:52.:09:55.

Maria Miller. Someone did see Maria Miller to talk about that perception

:09:56.:10:02.

yesterday afternoon. I was just asking Grant. I do not have the

:10:03.:10:12.

answer to that. Maria has been clear that she came to the decision that

:10:13.:10:19.

was overshadowing... You are the commentators. You will spend no

:10:20.:10:23.

doubt the rest of the day discussing who, when and how. As far as I am

:10:24.:10:28.

aware, she came to the decision on when. -- her own. It is good the

:10:29.:10:42.

system has changed about expenses. It cannot be said enough, the system

:10:43.:10:48.

of MPs judging each other has gone. That was possibly the most

:10:49.:10:51.

interesting thing about Prime Minister's Questions. It was not

:10:52.:10:59.

particularly surprising that Mr Miliband said what he said. Many

:11:00.:11:03.

people would have been saying, you tell, we are very cross. It was not

:11:04.:11:09.

surprising. What was surprising was for the Prime Minister to use that

:11:10.:11:14.

phrase, a good and honest parliament and to use it more than once. It is

:11:15.:11:21.

a bold thing to do. Some MPs hate the fact that one particular case

:11:22.:11:26.

ends up smearing their reputations. I was interested that he was willing

:11:27.:11:32.

to do that. If you put two the public an opinion poll that

:11:33.:11:37.

question, I do not think that would be their opinion. In a government

:11:38.:11:49.

already seriously short of e-mail Cabinet ministers, you have now got

:11:50.:12:00.

one fewer. -- female. That is true. I cannot argue with the fact. Nicky

:12:01.:12:08.

Morgan has been promoted within the Treasury. She is not in the Cabinet

:12:09.:12:12.

that she will go to the Cabinet to represent women. It means you will

:12:13.:12:18.

have a non-Cabinet minister going to the Cabinet to represent women,

:12:19.:12:23.

which, I guess a lot of people will think, we know where your priorities

:12:24.:12:29.

are. It is not as unusual as people think. Most people do not realise

:12:30.:12:32.

the Chief Whip is a member of the Cabinet. The system of people

:12:33.:12:41.

attending cabinet at a very high level... Why has the Prime Minister

:12:42.:12:45.

chosen to put in mail into this position? It is often said, there is

:12:46.:12:52.

a shortage of Tory women. Particularly with the 2010 intake.

:12:53.:12:56.

On both sides of the House it is true. Robert the House it is true.

:12:57.:12:57.

Robert Beam also with Labour. There are a whole list of formidable

:12:58.:13:18.

Tory women but none of them have been considered with the Prime

:13:19.:13:23.

Minister. What is his problem? You are right to point out the female

:13:24.:13:26.

talent within the Conservative Party. There are many at the middle

:13:27.:13:33.

ranks of government as well. If I had been sat here and a woman had

:13:34.:13:38.

been promoted into that job, without a shadow of a doubt, you would be

:13:39.:13:44.

saying, Grant Shapps, why has he promoted women are not the best

:13:45.:13:49.

person available for the job? Had it been any of the ones I had names, I

:13:50.:13:56.

would not have been asking that question? The Prime Minister has the

:13:57.:14:02.

looking around to find out who would be the best person to fill the

:14:03.:14:05.

position. White Venger if the woman had been put into the job, it would

:14:06.:14:10.

only have been because she was a woman and not because she was good

:14:11.:14:17.

enough. -- if a woman. That is not what I am saying at all. Good try.

:14:18.:14:24.

What I am saying is, you look for the best person for the role. Sajid

:14:25.:14:34.

happens to be the person he thinks is most suitable for the job. There

:14:35.:14:43.

is still time to have a cabinet with other talents. The Conservative

:14:44.:14:53.

Party has a lamentable record for this. The people who have perhaps

:14:54.:14:57.

the worst record in the House of Commons oil coalition partners. That

:14:58.:15:05.

adds to the fact there are only a few women in the Cabinet. Anybody

:15:06.:15:23.

who has a Welsh connection will be getting the job that Maria Miller

:15:24.:15:29.

was pencilled in for after the reshuffle. Who has the current

:15:30.:15:38.

connection? We will leave you to go and find out and who made the visit

:15:39.:15:44.

to Maria Miller yesterday. Should prisoners have free access to

:15:45.:15:49.

guitars and books serving time? The government says restrictions on

:15:50.:15:54.

parcels prisoners received helps to keep prisons drug free. It is

:15:55.:16:01.

introduced restrictions on prisoners having steel ring to guitars in

:16:02.:16:05.

their cells. Billy Bragg tells us why he thinks they are a vital part

:16:06.:16:08.

of rehabilitation. Guitars and books are my lifeblood

:16:09.:16:31.

and they have been important to prisoners also. For the past seven

:16:32.:16:40.

years I have been involved in Jail Guitar Doors and they have delivered

:16:41.:16:44.

guitars to prisoners all over the UK. We believe music can help

:16:45.:16:50.

offenders to engage in rehabilitation and the prisoners we

:16:51.:16:54.

work with recognise the value of creative expression in helping

:16:55.:16:58.

offenders come to terms with the crimes they have committed. New

:16:59.:17:05.

rules introduced by Chris Grayling threaten to undermine our work by

:17:06.:17:10.

banning inmates from using steel strung guitars in their cells. If

:17:11.:17:14.

they can only get their hands on a guitar once a week, the chances of

:17:15.:17:19.

making progress are slim. Our initiative relies on other inmates

:17:20.:17:22.

seen a guitar being played on their landing and asking to join the

:17:23.:17:29.

programme as a result. The government has also tightened rules

:17:30.:17:35.

across prisons on parcels offenders can receive, effectively banning

:17:36.:17:37.

them from receiving books from family and friends. Chris Grayling

:17:38.:17:43.

says the public want to see a regime that is more spartan, unless you do

:17:44.:17:47.

the right thing. I believe people should be punished for their crimes,

:17:48.:17:54.

but we ask to -- have to ask ourselves whether we want is a

:17:55.:17:57.

prison that rehabilitates offenders or one that leads them without

:17:58.:18:11.

rehabilitation. # Redemption song.

:18:12.:18:16.

Billy Bragg is with us now. There was a question asked about the

:18:17.:18:25.

banning of steel string guitars and electric guitars in prisons. Have

:18:26.:18:30.

you had an ants? No, apparently there is a 20 day time. There is a

:18:31.:18:38.

whole list. What else is on the list? Lots of things, it seems to be

:18:39.:18:45.

geared to making the prison experience a more Spartan. The

:18:46.:18:50.

problem with that is, in my experience, in the 50 prisons I have

:18:51.:18:55.

been in in the last seven years, each prison is an island in itself.

:18:56.:19:00.

Although they are different categories, they have different

:19:01.:19:04.

regimes. The way that works is it you have to give someone on the

:19:05.:19:07.

ground in the prison the right to decide what can and cannot be done.

:19:08.:19:12.

I believe it should be an issue for the governor of the prison rather

:19:13.:19:15.

than the Minister of Justice to be managing from above. Presumably the

:19:16.:19:24.

main thrust of the reason is safety? Is there a feeling that guitar

:19:25.:19:29.

strings could be used as a dangerous weapon? Of course and there are some

:19:30.:19:35.

prisons to get guitars into. There are unacceptable levels of self harm

:19:36.:19:39.

going on. You want to be careful about what you introduce so we do

:19:40.:19:47.

tend to send keyboards. But every prison we send guitars to make a

:19:48.:19:52.

security assessment. Sometimes I sit down and meet with the security

:19:53.:19:56.

staff to talk about these things. Every prison House to have

:19:57.:19:58.

protocols, but also who will be allowed to use the instruments. But

:19:59.:20:03.

it should be an issue to the governor and not the government?

:20:04.:20:08.

What do you say about back Grant Shapps? Why should it be Chris

:20:09.:20:13.

Grayling's assessment? The problem with books, not so sure about

:20:14.:20:21.

guitars. It has never happened. It has never happened so there is not a

:20:22.:20:27.

case? It has never happened. There are things you can hide in books. We

:20:28.:20:35.

are talking about parcels, but answer the question about guitars

:20:36.:20:38.

and strings, if there has never been an incident reported and presumably

:20:39.:20:45.

Billy Bragg would know, wide ban it? Things have to be brought into

:20:46.:20:50.

prisons and they have to be scammed. Then there is the issue of people

:20:51.:20:53.

having access to things they would be able to do on the outside and the

:20:54.:20:59.

point of risen is to restrict some freedoms. I know Chris Grayling's

:21:00.:21:03.

view, but you should earn these things done automatically have the

:21:04.:21:08.

right to access them. With the books, they are freely available

:21:09.:21:13.

from a library from which you can order virtually any book that you

:21:14.:21:19.

want. It has been a bit misreported. Parcels could contain other things.

:21:20.:21:25.

That is different to musical instruments unless you are stuffing

:21:26.:21:30.

stuff into the guitars. If they are left to borrow books from the

:21:31.:21:35.

library, why is that a big deal? I have fixed in prison in my

:21:36.:21:39.

constituency and one of our problems is we have people bear for a short

:21:40.:21:44.

term. It is like a revolving door and it is hard to rehabilitate in

:21:45.:21:49.

that situation. And so the spin about this book announcement, the

:21:50.:21:54.

more books people are reading in that the more rehab we see

:21:55.:21:59.

happening. The issue is, the announcement Chris may did not talk

:22:00.:22:02.

about smuggling drugs, that came after the event. It came with a view

:22:03.:22:11.

to appearing tough on prisoners. Being tough can be

:22:12.:22:14.

counter-productive because you are trying to rehabilitate people using

:22:15.:22:17.

books? I believe people should do the time if they have done the

:22:18.:22:24.

crime, totally. The punishment is losing your liberty. Once we have

:22:25.:22:27.

people in custody on the state, it costs more to keep a prisoner behind

:22:28.:22:32.

a jail door than it does to privately educate a child. One of

:22:33.:22:35.

the things we should he doing is making it an issue of privation. You

:22:36.:22:42.

can't have probation and less you can read and write. I agree with

:22:43.:22:51.

that, but the issue is not having an access to books, you can take the

:22:52.:22:57.

library book out. If it is not there, you can order it. With

:22:58.:23:04.

guitars there is an opportunity to engage prisoners. You cannot keep

:23:05.:23:07.

beating people with a stick, otherwise we will end up like the

:23:08.:23:13.

USA where we are just warehousing criminality. We should be taking

:23:14.:23:20.

every opportunity to ensure Abbas Khan whatever viewers might feel at

:23:21.:23:24.

home, 75% of people in prison will come out and they may come and live

:23:25.:23:29.

next door to you. Don't you want them to be rehabilitated? I do, I am

:23:30.:23:35.

paying for the service. You are absolutely right about the

:23:36.:23:37.

rehabilitation, it is the way it is done, not allowing goods into

:23:38.:23:42.

prisons which could cause harm. Billy Bragg, thanks very much. Women

:23:43.:23:49.

in the Cabinet, France, 52%, Sweden, 52%, Germany, 37, the USA,

:23:50.:24:01.

36, Rwanda 36, the United Kingdom, 13.6% and Maria Miller has resigned.

:24:02.:24:06.

Was it the length and fashion of her Parliamentary apology that made her

:24:07.:24:08.

more enemies than friends? Apparently there is an art to saying

:24:09.:24:17.

sorry. There is no easy way to say this. We made a pledge, we did not

:24:18.:24:22.

stick to it, and for that I am sorry. I sincerely, sincerely,

:24:23.:24:33.

sincerely apologise. I accept mistakes were made and I should not

:24:34.:24:38.

allow the impression of wrongdoing to arise. I am very sorry for that.

:24:39.:24:47.

I therefore apologise to the House. I have apologised to the police, I

:24:48.:24:53.

have apologised to the police officer involved on the gate Handy

:24:54.:24:56.

has accepted my apology. I hope very much we can draw a line and leave it

:24:57.:25:05.

there. It was a moment of madness for which I have paid a heavy price

:25:06.:25:12.

and I am deeply sorry. I apologise to the House fully and unreservedly

:25:13.:25:15.

which was a breach of the rules which I have at all times, sort to

:25:16.:25:21.

comply with. I have missed is leading you, including my wife and I

:25:22.:25:29.

deeply regret that. It all depends what the meaning is. Do you think a

:25:30.:25:36.

more heartfelt and fulsome apology would have saved Maria Miller? It

:25:37.:25:44.

wasn't a very convincing apology from Maria Miller. The brevity of it

:25:45.:25:49.

did not help. But it was the blandness of the language. She is a

:25:50.:25:54.

churchgoer, apparently if she had reached into the book of Common

:25:55.:26:01.

prayer, and use more interesting language, that would have cut

:26:02.:26:05.

through and made us think she was actually sorry. But she used

:26:06.:26:12.

terribly boring official language and it contributed a large part.

:26:13.:26:21.

What is the art of a good apology? To be unusual helps. But I

:26:22.:26:26.

understand the speaker hast to approve. John Bercow would have had

:26:27.:26:34.

to look at it and say it is fine. He has to look at it make sure there is

:26:35.:26:37.

nothing unparliamentary. But it would not done Parliamentary to use

:26:38.:26:42.

more expressive language. Look at Bill Clinton, he was so plainly

:26:43.:26:48.

hamming it up. What did Benjamin Franklin say about apologies? I have

:26:49.:26:57.

no idea. Never ruin an apology with an excuse. That might be a good

:26:58.:27:03.

point also. 32 seconds, and even shorter one might have been better,

:27:04.:27:08.

but I am truly, humbly contrite. You could go along the Japanese banker

:27:09.:27:13.

line and have somebody entering at the far end of the House, grovelling

:27:14.:27:17.

and bowing on the floor to the speaker. That might be a bit too

:27:18.:27:20.

far. But there was a Scottish cardinal about two years ago who

:27:21.:27:25.

resigned in a memorable way and talked about his own fears and then

:27:26.:27:28.

said he was going to pray and pray for people. That was done more

:27:29.:27:33.

convincingly than Maria Miller. When Henry IV apologise to Pope Gregory

:27:34.:27:41.

the seventh for church state conflicts in 1077, how did he

:27:42.:27:48.

apologise? I dread to think. You need to ask your parents to get

:27:49.:27:52.

their money back from your school fees. He stood barefoot in the snow

:27:53.:28:01.

the three days. Is that a lesson for Maria Miller? Imagine if anyone

:28:02.:28:09.

follows that advice, you will have a good sketch to write. Where does the

:28:10.:28:21.

word apology come from? It is Greek. It means defence. So Latin wasn't

:28:22.:28:31.

your strong point at school. Now time for the cancer to Guess The

:28:32.:28:41.

Year, it was back in 1957 when Quentin was in short trousers. That

:28:42.:28:47.

is because he was a public school. Press the button to see who has one.

:28:48.:28:55.

That is it, thanks to our guests. The one o'clock news is starting on

:28:56.:29:00.

BBC One. I will be back tomorrow as usual. Goodbye.

:29:01.:29:08.

Some businessmen have turned failing companies around.

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Some have steered massive global firms.

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