23/11/2015 Daily Politics


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.


British warplanes could be joining the French


But will British bombs make a significant difference


?12 billion extra for military hardware and two


After cuts to the MOD budget five years ago, has


the government decided it now needs to spend more to keep us safe?


Schools and the metro are closed in the third day of lockdown


in Brussels with one of the Paris suspects still on the run.


It's a familiar backdrop to many state occasions,


but now Admiralty Arch has been sold to foreign investors as a hotel.


Should we be selling off Britain's architectural crown jewels to


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


of the programme today the Conservative MP, Johnny Mercer


First this afternoon, the prospect of British warplanes


bombing targets is Syria controlled by so-called Islamic State


This morning David Cameron visited Paris, laying a flower


and paying his respects, along with French President,


Francois Hollande, at the Bataclan theatre where 89 people died at the


Later he appeared at a joint press conference at the


Elysee Palace, where he made the case for British warplanes joining


We must also do more to defeat Isil in their heartlands,


The UK is already playing its part as a member


of the counter-Isil coalition, striking targets in Iraq, providing


intelligence over the skies of Syria, and helping out allies


On Friday, the United Nations unanimously backed action


Later this week, I will set out in Parliament our comprehensive


I firmly support the action President Hollande has


taken to strike Isil in Syria, and it is my firm conviction that


Of course, that will be a decision for Parliament to make.


Today, I have offered President Hollande the use of


RAF Akrotori for French aircraft engaged in counter-Isil operations.


It is clear the world is coming together to


That was clear on Friday night, when, almost one week after the


brutal terrorists murdered people here in Paris, and sought to divide


We showed our firm resolve and, together,


David, and -- David Cameron at that press conference with Francois


Hollande. The Prime Minister and Chancellor at the weekend said they


would not bring forward a proposal for air strikes to the House of


Commons unless they were sure they could win it. Are we presuming they


have the numbers now? It looks very much as though that is the case.


Clearly the mood in the house has shifted quite dramatically. We had


that boat and the United Nations in New York on Friday night, calling on


all the countries that could use all possible means to confront and


defeat IS -- vote. That will be an important factor as MPs weigh up the


decision whether or not to support military strikes into Syria. You


have had in the whole mood after Paris attacks, as we saw David


Cameron standing alongside Francois Hollande. He knows how important the


symbolism of that will be and how MPs will want to do all they can to


try to support France. You also have increasing indications from the


Labour Party that they may have to accept a free vote amongst Labour


MPs on whether or not to support military strikes into Syria. We know


Jeremy Corbyn has a very strong misgivings about it but it appears


that the Shadow Cabinet, so many of them, would be prepared to support


strikes that it might be that the leadership simply accepts it would


be better to give them a free vote rather than try to impose discipline


when that simply might not work, and clearly if there was to be a free


vote in the Labour Party, that would make it easier for Labour MPs to


support David Cameron. But it will depend on the case that David


Cameron sets out later this week. He is going to make the unusual step of


actually answering the report by one of the select committees. So is he,


in the response, going to set out more than just a case for military


air strikes? I think what he will try to do is answer all of the


points that the foreign affairs select committee made. What they


said is that air strikes on their own would not be sufficient. But it


has to be part of a wider, coherent strategy. What David Cameron will do


will be to say, yes, the committee asked for assurances about wider


international support. You have got the vote in the United Nations. The


committee asked for greater efforts to try and find a diplomatic


solution to resolve the difficulties and civil war that is raging inside


Syria. You now have that process underway, starting with the talks in


Vienna. You have the Russians involved and engaged. And at least


the start of a process that could looked away wider political


solution. He will point to the efforts that the UK is making, along


with other countries, to provide help in the camps and so on. And he


will say, that is part of the wider strategy, Britain should be


involved, along with the United States, the French and many others


in extending those strikes into Syria, because that is where Islamic


State has its base. Where David Cameron will struggle, and where


some members of the foreign affairs select committee are still waiting


to hear greater reassurance is on the question if there are air


strikes, who is going to follow up with boots on the ground? It is not


clear who would carry out that role. Thank you very much.


And we're joined now by the SNP's Patrick Grady.


What material difference would British warplanes making of bombing


IS and Syria? The Prime Minister has specific weapons that other forces


don't have. We have been asked to provide the capability because it


provides a way that coalition don't have of targeting people. We are


being asked to do it in Syria, and that is why we should get on with it


and get it done. How many planes are we talking about? We are looking at


between four and eight Tornadoes, but it's not about numbers, it is


the effect on the ground and what we are delivering to speed up the


conflict and making sure we can have time and space for a political


settlement. But if it is not about the numbers, with the Americans,


French and Russians and others bombing in Syria, and you say it has


special capability, but would it change the course of the battle we


are engaged in? Of course it would. If you can accelerate the process of


targeting and accelerate the process is on the ground, by extension, you


will increase the chances of a peaceful political situation. That


will give them the time and space to operate. If you give yourself a


number of extra weapons and capabilities, of course it means you


can achieve what you are trying to do more quickly. Johnny Mercer, you


have some here. You say it will make a material difference? There are a


large number of countries already bombing so we're waiting to more


detailed case about how that will have an impact. You just heard that,


so would you be open to listening to that sort of military case? We said


we would listen to the case for action but we need a full case for


the range of action necessary, and that also includes building the


peace. The UK Government spent 13 times as much money bombing Libya as


it did with the humanitarian reconstruction effort in the


country. Look at the legacy that has left. We want to see a very detailed


case from the Prime Minister when he makes his statement. But you are


open to it and the idea, following the UN resolution on Friday? We said


we needed to hear the full detail from the Prime Minister. We have


already taken a cautious approach to military intervention, especially in


a situation when there are so many different actors. The UK is


currently chairing the Security Council and it should be trying to


build peace and a diplomatic solution before it becomes engaged


in conflict. Let's look at what happens after the air strikes. We


have heard from various military experts and commanders that air


strikes will only achieve so much. It will contain IS to an extent, but


not defeat them. Do you accept that in order to defeat IS in the way the


Prime Minister is talking about, ground troops are needed? Some sort


of ground troops are needed. Do we need US and UK ground troops? Of


course not. But there has to be a ground war? It has to be part of a


wider strategy. It is part of the aid we have done, and training the


indigenous forces, but you are right. Air strikes need to be


alongside a coercive and full-blown strategy to contain so-called


Islamic State. At the moment we don't have that, so if we have the


air strikes, what is the point? They have been going on for many months


and IS is still able to hit and hit hard. There is no prospect of ground


troops or any sort of ground troop force being put together by other


countries in the region, and unless there is, what is the point of


continuing? Forgive me, but there is a ground force. The Kurds are there.


But they are only interested in certain parts of the territory. We


have to work hard to build a broader coalition, and if we can do that by


saying we will provide air support, they may come forward. Yes, but


again, we could add the few planes to the air force and the Kurds are


only interested in territory they would like. There is no widespread


coalition of ground forces that will ultimately defeat IS on the ground.


You are right, there isn't on the ground and at the moment. That is


what we are trying to build. If we provide the capability, we will get


people coming forward. Billy -- there are the Kurds and other groups


who want to see a peaceful Syria. They want to see a peaceful society


as before. If you give them the tools to do it, that's all we're


trying to do. The idea that we can go in and take ground forces and do


the whole thing, it doesn't work like that any more. It will be an


indigenous solution, and if we can help with very specific


capabilities, we should. We talked about the UN resolution. There is


one, and the SNP say they want UN support for air strikes and you have


got that. We expect the prime ministers to set out clearly a


comprehensive plan, not just about the air strikes but some of the


stuff that Johnny Mercer has been talking about. Surely air strikes is


now at the first stage in order to contain IS before some sort of


ground Force goes in? What has come from the UN is not a chapter seven


declaration, it's a broader mandate for countries to take action to


defeat Isil. In 2013, the government wanted us to bomb Syria to stop


President Assad, and now it seems they want to do it to support


President Assad. A lot of contradictions. In your mind, the UN


resolution does not invoke military action? We have to see what kind of


military action will be made. That is not the question I am asking. For


the SNP, does the UN resolution passed on Friday which says to take


all necessary measures on the territory to suppress terrorist


acts, does that not in your mind... It depends on the nature of action


proposed, whether it is the UN coalition which would require


support under Commission number seven. But what is being proposed by


the Prime Minister, we are yet to see the detail and we are not in a


position to make a final decision. -- we are not yet. In your mind,


does it invoke military action? Does it seem enough for you, Wes


Streeting, to see a green light for British air strikes? I think it was


abroad and unexpected mandate. Patrick is right that if there is a


UN force, it needs further resolution. I don't think our forces


or anyone else needs further sanction from the UN. I was


personally surprised that we got that degree of unanimity from the


UN, and now it is how it is implemented rather than whether it


gives consent. Does it change the Labour position on air strikes? Not


yet because we're waiting to see what the Prime Minister says on


Thursday. From my point of view, I've had a sceptical view about


whether air strikes would be desirable or effective. It certainly


helped me along the way. What I want to see from the Prime Minister on


Thursday, and Johnny made the military case, and the capability


that Brimstone can offer other countries in the coalition. You


think it will change the military outcome? Britain has a unique


capability, and that is there, but I need to see if there is a diplomatic


strategy that brings residents are sad to the table and a plan for a


post Assad Syria. Is the humanitarian response there? And how


can we learn the lessons from recent interventions which haven't gone so


well? If he has a comp defensive strategy, I'm open to supporting the


Prime Minister. So you would be prepared if you are convinced, and


it sounds like you could be, and you would vote against your party if the


line from the Labour leadership is to not to vote for air strikes? I'm


not sure we are there yet, but I put this above other issues, and I think


about what is in the best interests of my constituency and the national


interest and the people of Syria. If I believe it is right to support air


strikes and the Labour whip says something else, reluctantly I will


vote with my conscience. Has Michael Fallon provided you into


the MOD to persuade you? Recently, there has been another


briefing offered to opposition MPs. This is not a persuasion exercise


but educating us into the complexity of Syria. We're not famous for


humility as politicians. But it is so context even people


with extensive military, diplomatic expertise will struggle to


understand all the dimensions. Particularly for myself, these


information briefings are welcome. It comes back to the logic of


bombing in Iraq, IS, but somehow not bombing them in Syria where they do


not respect borders, why should we? There is a question of mandates. The


coalition has asked... Who would invite us to bomb in Syria?


That is precisely the question which is why the legal case has to be


strong. President Assad will not invite us,


neither IS, the question does not arise, there is a legitimate


Government there. This is the heart of the current --


the question. The situation is complex on the ground. Is British


military action going to add anything, or should we continue to


use our diplomatic strength to work for a broader, more peaceful


solution. If there is to be military action,


there has to be a long-term because deduction plan.


Will the UK have to work with President Assad and the Russians?


They were very people to be bombed when the proposal was put two years


ago. To stay safe at home, we need to do


everything, with our brilliant security services, but an element is


foreign policy intervention and keeping that problem as far away as


we can. We need to move on from Iraq.


People might argue in France it was because of the French bombing IS in


Syria that they became a target. People can argue that but a


fundamental aspect is we need to stay safe at home and part of that


is surgical intervention abroad. Later today, we'll hear from the PM


about how the government plans to spend ?178 billion on the UK's


defence over the next decade. There will also be more details


about a new rapid response force With the threat from IS and a newly


confident Russia, the review will promise new cash with an extra ?12


billion for equipment. There will be nine new patrol aircraft after the


last Spending Review reduced our capability in this area. There will


be two 5000 strong Stryker brigades for deployment in emergencies


similar to those used by the French after the attacks in Paris. There


will be more money for counter-terrorism and cyber


security. In his July budget, the Chancellor


said the Government would the belated target of spending 2% of GDP


on defence every year up to 2020. Today, Michael Fallon summarised


what the Government has committed to.


The Defence Budget is going to rise every year of this Parliament,


and we are going to spend more on giving the Armed Forces


More ships, more planes, better equipment for the special


forces, making sure we have more troops at readiness, ready to go.


And we're joined now by former head of the Army and now


Do you think the Armed Forces will be satisfied with the settlement?


Compared to the slash and burn, this has a lot of things to commend it.


On the back of a commitment of 2% of GDP being spent.


We need to look at the small print. The headlines look encouraging.


How wrong that the Government get it in 2010?


They need credit for the fact it remains controversial but it isn't,


defence of the incoming Galician Government inherited a black hole


from Labour. Over ambitious plans built up over seven years. That


amounted to saving 10% of the defence budget over ten years. The


Chancellor, in the age of austerity, said in 2010, it had to do with 18%


less spending power. Ugly things had to be done. Cancelling the maritime


patrol aircraft. That really was shooting yourself in


the foot. Now they are building new maritime aircraft? Yes and no.


The world look different in 2010. What a waste of money.


I am not sure, that programme had a lot of difficulty.


The new outcome might be better. Looking at things announced today,


on the back of the army having reduced by 20,000 men, we are


talking about two Stryker brigades, this is encouraging. These are not


new ships. They are from the existing forces.


We have gone full circle. In the middle of the previous


decade, we would have fast flexible forces. Then there was extended


campaigning in Afghanistan. That period seems to be over and we are


going back to making our forces more agile.


The strike brigades, like the Americans, we could have had these


ten years ago. Johnny Mercer, slash and burn, it


was a mistake in 2010 to make all those cuts, and now the Government


is plugging those holes left. That is an oversimplification. I am


quitting Richard Dannett. Saying they make these cuts then


putting them straight back in. Not at all. The threat is ever evolving.


They are thinking, how are we best positioned going forward as a nation


to combat these threats which changing.


What has come out today has been encouraging.


Hard decisions had to be made in 2010, it is easy to forget, a ?35


billion black hole in defence spending, we had to do something.


We have finished in Afghanistan. We are looking to the future to think


how can we best go up against this complex and clear threat as we saw


in Paris. Let us look at the announcement,


nine new maritime patrol planes, after the governments scrapped our


capacity into a tent at a cost of ?3.4 billion to the taxpayer. It


went before a select committee. How do explain that when we are spending


billions rebuilding something similar you dismantled.


That is for the MoD to explain. There were serious problems with


that Nimrod programme. We had that capability gap.


We have these aircraft coming online. They provide a great


capability. We need to plug that hole in our defence.


Personnel, there has been an announcement about a lot more money


for military hardware. What about the people who will use that


military hardware? Those numbers have been run right down, you agree?


I agree. It is not about how many people but


capability on the ground. As we increase technological capability,


you need fewer numbers, an inevitable part.


Is that right, fewer numbers? Some military people today are saying,


without the well-trained force, without a long-standing force to


deal with using this military hardware, there is a mismatch.


You need the people. One thing people are talking about now is the


desire to increase the size of our special forces. We will struggle. An


army reduced by 20,000, we recruit special forces from the trained


strength of the Army, Royal Marines and air force. With a smaller pool,


you will struggle. Quantum is actually important. What do you say?


A fair point. The key is to retain the skilled


troops who can operate, it is not about racking up 120,000, but


retaining those skilled people and having that capability to go


after... How do you read tame them? -- retain. If the size has been


reduced since 2010, it is an awful lot you need to find and train.


The key to retaining people is looking after them, giving them


enough money, giving the equipment, increasing their quality of life


across the board. You need that money within defence to do so.


Are they being looked after properly? Reports say personnel are


facing cuts to their benefits. That is not looking after personnel.


Don't let's comment on reports. There is a new programme to be


announced possibly today come later, about how the Armed Forces


will be remunerated and their terms and conditions. It is right they are


reviewed and brought up to date with a more modern approach.


I am relatively comfortable the new model as unfolded will look after


people. Your main point is right. Without


the people who feel they are well looked after and well led and well


focused on, they will vote with their feet. If they are well looked


after, but I think they will be, then we will keep good people.


Do you support this Defence Review? One of the lessons from the Defence


Review, going back to the last one, we need more long-term thinking from


the Government. I do think the Nimrod decision in 2011 was a


mistake, criticised by senior personnel at the time.


We can -- we are in a position without adequate Barone capability.


As we heard the news today about off the coast of Scotland and Russian


submarines. It will take another ten years for


the new going to come on stream and in that time we do not have the


capability we need. There are gaps. Of course the Government across the


whole board of public spending in 2010 had challenges after the


banking crisis, every department has defined savings and we will see that


on Wednesday. There has been too much short-term thinking and the


Chancellor may make the same estate again with the constraints in terms


of the fiscal envelope, making appealing short-term decisions which


costs the taxpayer more in the long term.


Do you support these cuts to the police budget?


When the Government looks at a security review and what it is try


to do within the UK to keep a safe, clearly there will be some taken


away and some given more. Some coming... Should the police be


cut by 20%? That is a general decision by the


people who run the country. Do we need police numbers on the


street? We need as much as we can afford to keep us safe as much


should we be spending... If you can't afford the police, you


can't afford the GCHQ capabilities that we need to put money in to keep


us safe. Should those budgets be cut on


police spending? I am not going to answer because I don't have full


oversight. Would you be happier with fewer


police? We would far rather have more police but you have to do what


you can afford otherwise you are not prepared for the threat.


Richard, is it your view the UK should be bombing in Syria?


The short answer is yes, but only, the capability that our aircraft


bring is useful and sends an important message to Islamic State,


Mr Putin, our allies, we are standing with them. It is important.


Bombing is only a precursor to sorting this issue on the ground


which has to be grappled with. I hope your earlier discussion, we


really have two grip this issue of ground forces.


But not ours? Not until we have done everything else we can do. Who would


they come from? We have to use the Iraqi army, we


have to get our heads around the Syrian regime, President Assad, his


forces, in the same way the Russians have two. The Jordanians, other


countries in the region. We have seen our TV screens filled with


streams of refugees coming in, including a lot of fit young men.


They have come from that region, do they not want to go back? In which


case we should be holding them in refugee camps, putting them into


units, reinforcing local forces, so they can fight for their own peace


and freedom. That is an important thing to think about.


Now, how would the Labour Party as a whole vote on any proposal to extend


There are clearly big splits in the party.


Here's the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell


Cameron is going to come to the House of Commons with his plan,


and there is a bit of confusion over how Labour MPs are


Like you, your leader was in favour of a free vote, matters


of peace and war and conscience, but he now wants a whip to vote.


What will happen is we will consider this in Shadow Cabinet and then go


Most of those MPs will be consulting their local constituency parties.


Then, they will come to a considered view.


My view has always been I think Parliament should act as Parliament


and not on a party political basis, and we should arrive


at a view which is in the best interests of the country.


And we're joined now from Glasgow by the Labour activist Stephen Low.


He was behind the victorious motion at the Scottish Labour conference


last month calling for Trident to be scrapped.


Wes Streeting, first of all, we heard a John McDonnell say Syria


could be a free vote for the Labour Party. Is it really a serious option


to have the Labour Party having a free vote on a massive matter of War


and peace? I think we have to do. We heard the earlier argument from


Jeremy that there was a clear Labour position one way or another. And


ordinarily, that is true, but when Jeremy was elected leader of the


Labour Party, his views are so different to wear the Labour Party


has traditionally been since 1945 on a whole range of issues, but on


this, my big fear on the free vote on this issue is that I don't know


what Jeremy's conclusion will be. We know broadly what his instincts are


on war, but if the Labour whip was to vote against military action in


Syria, the question becomes not what is in the best interests of Syria


and national security, but are the Labour MPs going to undermine Jeremy


Corbyn? Or will they give David Cameron a kicking? I think this


issue is far more important than test of loyalty is far more


important than tests of loyalties Syria as well, but it has to be


about the best interests of this country and the people of Syria.


We've seen recently that there is a debate in the Labour Party on a


broad range of issues. But is it credible that the Labour Party


cannot come to a collective view and cannot show leadership, because the


leadership under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell feels undermined by


many of your parliamentary colleagues, despite having a huge


mandate, that they cannot rely on the support of their own MPs? Your


question reinforces the point I am making. If this issue becomes about


whether we are loyal to Jeremy Corbyn or accepting the mandate, we


are filing Parliament. Isn't that what leadership is about? -- we are


failing Parliament. What about Parliamentary MPs who will not back


there leader on this, if as we suspect, the Jeremy Corbyn will not


back the proposal to bomb Syria? This is not a question of backing


Jeremy Corbyn and it is about Labour Party policy. The Labour Party voted


a few weeks ago to lay down a whole set of structures before air strikes


on Syria would be accepted. It looks very unlikely that anything David


Cameron is likely to come up with in the next week will do that, and I


expect Labour MPs to back Labour Party policy. Jeremy Corbyn is, in


that respect, not a factor. The conference made a decision. I think


we should back that decision. What do you say, Wes Streeting? With


respect to Stephen, we need to get real about whether Labour Party sits


in relation to policies past conferences. Frankly, we don't know


what the Prime Minister will say on Thursday and Stephen doesn't either.


Things in Syria are changing so fast that a policy resolution passed at


the Labour Party conference, I'm afraid, is not good enough for me.


Stephen will want to talk about Trident, I am sure. The Labour Party


conference is in favour, so does he expect Jeremy Corbyn to follow that?


Did he agree with Jeremy Corbyn breaking the whip 500 times as a


backbencher? The sort of technocratic debate about which


conference passed what, these are fascinating questions but they don't


get to the heart of the real issue. The Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn


have to get real says Wes Streeting. What about democracy and


accountability? Wes Streeting should be accountable to the Labour Party


and Labour Party members. That is not a big ask. Particularly when


they have come up with a very considered position. And this is


Hilary Benn's position as well, this list are preconditions. You not


supporting Hilary Benn over the conditions that need to be satisfied


in his mind before Labour can support air strikes? When we first


spoke about Syria I laid out a series of issues that were important


to me that chime identically with what Hilary Benn has said and we


have to see what the view of the front bench is. That is once David


Cameron sets out a position and the Shadow Cabinet, but Stephen is


talking about Labour Party policy. And the policy on Trident, and I


think there are arguments both sides, whether the money could be


better spent on conventional forces, but the conference is in


favour on Trident but he won't be lecturing Jeremy Corbyn. And in


terms of accountability, of course I am accountable to my local Labour


Party, but fundamentally the people I am accountable to it are the


people of Ilford North. They are the people that factor in my decision


making. Then Stephen Lowe, let's come to the issue of Trident.


Official Labour Party policy is to renew Trident. Jeremy Corbyn, John


McDonnell and others should back the current Labour Party policy. That


policy is under review. But the current policy is to renew Trident.


If you look at what was voted through at the UK conference, that


was a year one document of a three-year policy development


process. The second thing is, when Labour Party members had a chance to


vote on the specific issue of Trident, as opposed to four lines in


the 32 page document, that was at the Scottish party conference a few


weeks ago. But it is not a devolved issue. It's not a devolved issue,


but the Scottish Labour Party... In a way, it doesn't count. No, that


was the Scottish Labour Party view that would be fed into the UK policy


process, and that is the mandate from the National policy Forum will


undertake to progress. Incidentally, if that is the vote that the


Scottish Labour Party conference made it is likely to be the vote at


other conferences. Isn't that the point, it is an indication, a strong


indication, that that view and that Jeremy Corbyn on Trident better


reflects the Labour Party and Labour Party membership than those who do


want to renew it? At Labour Party conference, members, delegates,


unions, they all have the opportunity of debating Trident in


detail and a motion that was opposed to Trident, and despite it being a


big issue in the media, they chose not to. I think that is an


indication. Look where Stephen's revolutionary socialism would


leaders. He is talking about a three-year policy-making prose --


process. We are voting on it before Christmas. This isn't a realistic


way for MPs to vote on things or the basis of a credible government. The


Trident will happen when it decides it happens, but I expect Labour MPs


to consult fully with their party members about where we go from here.


I think that the vote at Scottish party conference, which was


overwhelming, 70% across sections of the party, shows where the Labour


Party's feeling is going. I would expect to Labour Party members and


MPs to fully participate in the Trident review the party has set up


and take that as a starting point. How are you going to vote in the


Trident debate tomorrow, Wes Streeting? Tomorrow is an opposition


Day motion. I actually want to hear the arguments for and against. There


are interesting argument saying that the money would be better spent on


conventional forces. The Gateway vote is where I will cast my vote.


So you are not a wholehearted back of the current policy? I've always


been slightly sceptical, which is why I am cross about the lecturing


of Labour MPs from Stephen. These are really big issues facing the


country and they don't need to be boiled down to conference


resolutions. We do need a proper debate. When it comes to the actual


vote, I will vote probably in favour of renewing Trident but I will


consult my party members. The people that matter the most are the people


of Ilford North who sent me to Parliament. Stephen Lowe, thank you.


Now, Brussels is on its third day of lockdown,


with schools and the metro closed, as the Belgian capital remains


Let's talk to our Europe correspondent, Chris Morris,


-- Christian Fraser. Does it look as though it will continue? Yes, I


think so. They are getting to grips with the problem. We have had 21


arrests in the last 24 hours, and we have just had a statement from the


federal prosecutor that since last night they had picked up another


five people and at one of the addresses they recovered 26,000


euros and some other things are currently looking at. You get a


feeling that the network that may have supported the brothers in


Molenbeek is being carefully dissected and they are picking more


and more people up all the time, and the crucial problem for the Fred


prosecutor is that they still don't have their man, Salah Abdeslam is an


unknown quantity and we do not know where he is -- federal prosecutor.


Until he is picked up, the anxiety will remain. I have seen the


pictures along with everyone else. Eerily quiet on the streets of


Brussels, but what is it like to be in a capital city that is literally


emptied of its people? Well, it is quiet. It's a bit busier today given


that it's the start of the working week but it's not normal to see an


armoured personnel carrier -- carrier on the forecourt of train


station. There are soldiers and police at strategic parts of the


city. Some people are getting on with it, the more resilient ones. It


is peculiar how you go about ordinary life. You going to copy


shop and you think about how how you might hide if something happens --


copy shop. You go to hotels and wonder if it is a safe one. We had


colleagues in the centre of Brussels who were locked down in their hotel


for several hours and told to stay away from the windows. Some people


have had quite an anxious time over the last few days. I think that will


continue. As long as the threat level is there. We expect to hear


from the Prime Minister this afternoon, and he will discuss


whether it remains at level for going forward, but as long as Salah


Abdeslam is at large you wonder how he can register threat. I don't know


if you had a chance to talk to people, but do they generally


support the action taken by the government? I think there is some


frustration about the intelligence, and certainly the intelligence


around Molenbeek. It is quite clear by now that they lost track of the


situation. There was a network of people they did not know much about,


and until yesterday people were scratching their heads, saying, why


are people not being picked up this is the threat? I think they have


answered some of those questions in the last 24 hours but there is still


a problem. You feel the pressure that the interior Mission is under


-- interior Minister is under. He said he wanted to know everything


about these districts, even if the local authorities bang on every door


and demand to know who is living there. There is a bit of


finger-pointing between local authorities and the federal state.


They are pumping something like ?400 million into surveillance and better


police resources, but we are eight days on from the Paris attacks and


steel they are not getting to grips -- still they are not. They have


still not found Salah Abdeslam and I think people might be thinking that


in a small area like Brussels, why has that not happened? Christian


Fraser, thank you very much. Now,


it's going to be an exceptionally This afternoon, Mr Cameron will


outline the government's priorities for the Strategic Defence


and Spending Review. On Tuesday,


the Commons will debate an SNP motion on Trident, intended to put


Labour in an awkward position. On Wednesday,


the Chancellor takes centre stage with the Autumn Statement


and Comprehensive Spending Review. You can watch all of that in the


Daily Politics special from 11:30 a.m..


Michael Fallon will also brief opposition MPs


at the MoD to set out the case for military action in Syria.


The Prime Minister is due to publish his response to the Foreign Affairs


Select Committee by Thursday, making the case for expanding UK airstrikes


to Syria with a Commons vote expected in the next two weeks.


We're joined now by the Guardian's Rafael Behr, and Tom Newton Dunn,


Welcome to both of you. The timing, do we expect this boat on air


strikes next week? Well, on Thursday, the Prime Minister will


set out the case and the framing of that is the foreign affairs select


report which was sceptical about military action. Then there will be


time for MPs to formally consider the response with some more briefing


of MPs, and certainly Number ten will be keen to make sure that they


feel enough MPs are persuaded on both times that it is a vote they


can win. There may be 15 or 20 conservatives who need persuading,


and we don't know on Labour MPs, but the feeling is that it is tilting


towards the Prime Minister being able to get it through and therefore


possibly next week or the week after we will have the vote. Do you think


the UN resolution will be a big factor? Absolutely huge. One of the


great problems most MPs have who are undecided, which is a diminishing


number, I think he could have won it in July. It would have been tight


but I think enough Labour MPs would have come over. But they wanted to


win it bigger? They wanted a slam dunk so they can say Britain has


squeaked it through. The UN resolution gives the legal backing,


which is a huge part of it. Even though it does not specifically


invoke the chapter seven that gives military action the green light? To


be honest, they had the legal backing anyway because of the self


defence roles they have used for taking out the likes of Jihadi John.


The UN just makes it copper bottomed.


Has the Government got its priorities right, equipment, but


some debate over a of personnel? We will hear the full details at


3:30pm. We have heard the good stuff from the Prime Minister. Even


Strategic Defence Review is get briefed out a few days in advance.


In DCAL, it seems. Everyone appreciates there is not a


never ending pot. You how to reshape the Armed Forces to fit the threat


it is cyber, terrorists, it sounds like they have a good balance with


this extra kit, the air carriers coming on board and Amanda is good


news. Is there a disconnect between the good news Tom says the Prime


Minister has talked about, while cutting police numbers, in light of


the terrorist threat we now face, and looking at those pictures from


Brussels and Paris and the 20% cut? You heard General Dan it described


the slash and burn approach. This is a broader problem the


Chancellor has with public spending, he embarked on deficits and debt


reduction, shrinking the amount of Government there was, reducing the


supply side. But the demand has not gone down. Now there is a wider


security threat. People will expect more bobbies on the beat, the


security to grow in accordance with the threat.


The message of the Government said five years has been these are


austere times and there is a limit to spending. There is a degree of


spinning around whether the Government is meeting demand with


the money available. If you look at protected departments, health,


defence now with this commitment, adding to the list of international


aid, schools, the logic is non-protected departments will take


a massive hit. A problem the Chancellor will have,


he ought to have if we had an opposition which was effective, is


that he has not come he has delivered the cuts but not reduced


the deficit by the amount he promised. People will realise we


have had a lot of pain but the gain in terms of improving the fiscal


outlook is not that great. Taking that into account, how does


George Osborne square the circle? ?20 billion of savings he wants, on


top of ?12 billion of cuts to welfare, running into problems with


making those cuts in tax credit which is supposed to be lessening


the impact, and achieving preceptors, how does that work?


Someone will get hurt. You forgot about pensions. ?120


billion of ring-fenced money. There are very few departments left


which are not ring-fenced. The most interesting, the Home Office,


Justice, universities and post school training. They will get


massive cuts. The Chancellor can do something else. Tax rises?


Certainly. He has to put a huge amount of tax


rises on councils are giving them permission to raise council tax.


Extraordinary political wing from the Chancellor. There are Government


wide things you can do such as civil servant pay, Armed Forces pay,


costing and enormous amount. A small slice of the hand, some play with


progression across civil service pay could save many billions. Tax


credits will be the big one. I think George Osborne, having messed this


up proudly previously, will push the boat out to make sure he gets


reasonably universal, but something substantial which means spending a


lot of money which means he has to find it from somewhere else.


In the Autumn Statement last year, the target. This was much higher. It


has shrunk down because he realised he overreached. One of the few


Labour effective attacks was to bring Government spending down.


There is essentially a reserve fund and the Chancellor could bring that


down further. He has done a discrete U-turn essentially abandoning his


target. He has a lot of political room for manoeuvre because the


Labour Party hasn't done enough to show it has a credible approach to


dealing with the fiscal situation. He could raid from himself at the


end of parliament and push those targets for a surplus.


But you don't make the savings next year.


Where would he come up with ?4 billion next year. And the next


issue is what an extraordinary timing it will be for the Chancellor


to make the case for war on Syria, just as we try to get our heads


around figures in the Autumn Statement.


Is he being cynical? It pays to be cynical about the way things are


timed in politics but you cannot attribute events in Syria to a


Downing Street grade designed to overcome difficulties over the


fiscal situation with these things colliding.


It is falling well for Downing Street is the polite way to put it.


We look forward to the headlines. We can say this is a big week at


Westminster. Thank you, gentlemen.


We've already been talking about plans for defence spending.


Sounds like the Government is prepared to


But what small change will it find in there?


The Ministry Of Defence owns 1% of all land in the UK.


So, selling of some of it is certainly an option.


In fact, the Government owns ?300 billion


worth of property and land in this country, and is currently involved


Always in the market for a bargain, Ellie has been having a look.


# Our house is a very, very fine house


# With two cats in the yard Life used to be so hard. #


No longer for the admirals.


It is going to be a posh hotel with posh flats,


Even if you are not staying in the hotel, you will be able to


come and enjoy, have a drink, and admire these wonderful views.


The Government sold it in June and made ?65.5 million.


But it is still something of doer-upper.


It is bringing new life to the building.


The building is magnificent also from the inside.


Part of our strategy is to work on the restoration of Admiralty Arch.


When it went on the market, there were concerns public access


The Government is still the freeholder, and has taken advice


In fact, so pleased is the minister in charge, he wants to


In the last Parliament, we managed to raise ?1.8 billion


by selling off about 20% of the property used by the Government.


We think we can go much further and raise about ?6 billion.


After all, it costs a lot to have a civil servant working


Much cheaper to have them working in purpose-built offices.


Aren't you just selling off the family silver?


No, we're allowing the public into these


brilliant, interesting, old buildings the Government no longer


needs. Good for taxpayers, and great for the public to use


These assets are not all in the capital.


It's not everyone's des res but this nuclear bunker is up


For the more architecturally astute, there was the Bidston Observatory


And, fresh onto the market, this programme can reveal, there's


a vacant part of the 19th-century Dulwich Hospital site which could be


We estimate up to a quarter of the brownfield land suitable for housing


There is huge potential to play a major role


Ministers have also introduced a scheme called


the right to contest where the public can demand a Government


building is sold if they can prove it can be put to better use.


Joining us now is the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Wallace.


Wellcome, Matt Hancock has said the month has sold ?1.7 billion of


Government buildings, is this selling off the family silver?


Not entirely but selling to support the current spending is what


companies in trouble do. That is one of our worries. He was selling off


capital assets, you should be putting that into further


investment, that is a first query. What some of them said about is


selling off the historic estate, and concentrating on buildings in


Croydon or Leeds is clearly what you do if you are shrinking the size of


central Government, that is more efficient.


As Government becomes more efficient and smaller, an inevitable part is


you will downsize and some of that real estate will be surplus. There


is a duty to the taxpayer to make sure we are delivering value for


money and with expensive property, you could put it to better use.


Running these officers is expensive. If you want an efficient central


Government, you want Government concentrated, ideally a situation


where ministers and senior officials can walk easily from one department


to the other. The old War office, in the middle of


Whitehall, where you can scatter your senior officials out to Croydon


and beyond, that is not efficient. Do you believe selling of buildings


like Admiralty Arch, the old War office, does that constitute a


security risk? The question I have asked is how far


the Government had assured themselves there was not a security


risk. This was a state position --


possession. When President Bush was here, he


insisted his officials insisted the whole of Whitehall be closed off and


they asked if the Jubilee line underneath could be closed. There


are evident security risks and we were not assured the Government had


thought this through before selling. There -- is this wise in these


times? We leave security to professionals.


Security is left to a brilliant security service structure in this


country. If you start down that route, where


do you stop? You are saying there is a security risk to sell these


buildings because it... We should lead this to the security


professionals. The question is, have the security


professionals looked at it, has been assured. And invisible times I have


no problem with selling off a load of land and property owned by the


state, not least because across London we have a housing crisis.


There is much of that Brownfield capacity. We know what the driver


is, George Osborne has been missing his targets on deficit, debt. He is


lucky he has a busy news because this is not a good week for an


Autumn Statement. A lot of these sales are driven by wanting to plug


the holes in his failures. Look at the seats on tax, terrible.


There is a credible point, Johnny Mercer, he wants to make his surplus


target, and selling of to bring money into the treasury. I do not


think George is going about this by selling the family assets to balance


his books. He is trying to run an efficient


Government to run an efficient economy on scale and on target.


Otherwise you can't do all defence and look after the most vulnerable.


It is part of a larger strategy. It is partly about shrinking the


state. Senior civil servants are being crammed into remarkably small


offices where there are not enough seats for those working there.


That is shrinking the state. Thank you to all of our guests.


The One O'Clock News is starting over on BBC One now.


I'll be here at noon tomorrow with all the big


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