10/03/2017 Daily Politics


10/03/2017

Andrew Neil is joined by writer Iain Martin and columnist Jenni Russell to discuss the fallout from the chancellor's announced National Insurance rise.


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Transcript


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Hello and welcome to the Daily Politics.

:00:00.:00:40.

Theresa May backs her Chancellor on his National Insurance hike

:00:41.:00:44.

for the self-employed but delays legislation for the change

:00:45.:00:48.

So has the PM managed to kill off a backbench rebellion?

:00:49.:00:54.

European leaders continue their summit in Brussels without Mrs May.

:00:55.:00:57.

We'll get the latest from the meeting of the EU27

:00:58.:01:01.

as they discuss the European Union's future post-Brexit.

:01:02.:01:06.

MPs and peers should move out of parliament for six years to allow

:01:07.:01:11.

urgent repairs costing ?4 billion to take place, that's the view

:01:12.:01:15.

We'll hear from its chair, Meg Hillier, and an

:01:16.:01:21.

And, tax returns, lordly sackings and budget numbers -

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we look back on the political week, in just 60 seconds.

:01:29.:01:35.

All that in the next hour and with us for the duration

:01:36.:01:38.

Jenni Russell who writes for the Times, and Iain Martin,

:01:39.:01:43.

So, just 24 hours after the budget, Theresa May signals the possibility

:01:44.:01:58.

of a re-think on Philip Hammond's national insurance increase.

:01:59.:02:04.

We'll examine the options open to the Chancellor in just a moment.

:02:05.:02:09.

First though, David Cameron finds himself in the thick of it

:02:10.:02:15.

with comments he seems to have made while chatting to the Defence

:02:16.:02:19.

Eagle-eyed ITV correspondent Chris Ship spotted the former

:02:20.:02:27.

Prime Minister talking to Mr Fallon at yesterday's memorial service

:02:28.:02:32.

for members of the armed services in Horse Guards Parade in central

:02:33.:02:35.

Amateur lip-readers suggested Mr Cameron may have been commenting

:02:36.:02:40.

on Philip Hammond's decision to break the Conservative's

:02:41.:02:44.

manifesto commitment not to raise national insurance.

:02:45.:02:49.

So can we know for certain what David Cameron was saying?

:02:50.:02:54.

We're joined now by Tina Lannin, a forensic lip

:02:55.:02:57.

And you've brought Bailey along as well? I have. Fantastic. I should

:02:58.:03:09.

have brought iris Bailey along and they could have met. Anyway, let me

:03:10.:03:14.

just ask you this - how accurate, before we look at it, is

:03:15.:03:24.

lip-reading? It really does depend on the ability of the lip reader to

:03:25.:03:28.

pick up what he's saying, the fluency of the language and also on

:03:29.:03:35.

the quality of the TV clip, whether it's good quality and whether the

:03:36.:03:40.

camera goes away from the speaker, whether the camera is shaky, blurry,

:03:41.:03:43.

all that kind of thing. That would add to the difficulty if it was. But

:03:44.:03:47.

if the quality is reasonably good, and we'll see it in a minute, a

:03:48.:03:53.

professional lip-reader like yourself, we'd have a fair idea of

:03:54.:03:57.

what was being said? Yes, I would have a fairly good idea. Somebody

:03:58.:04:01.

who had been lip-reading everybody around them every day of their life,

:04:02.:04:06.

you'll have a fairly good idea and I rely on lip-reading and I'm

:04:07.:04:10.

lip-reading you now, I'm totally deaf but I can understand what you

:04:11.:04:15.

are saying because I'm lip-reading. My lip-reading skills are quite

:04:16.:04:19.

accurate. I would certainly say that. We are going to get your

:04:20.:04:24.

professional opinion in a minute. We have had a number of amateur

:04:25.:04:29.

opinions already. Can anyone lip read? I would have thought it's

:04:30.:04:33.

really a skill, is it not? It is a skill, it's an art and everybody can

:04:34.:04:39.

lip read to some extent but it's a question of how good you are and

:04:40.:04:42.

that only comes with practise. I'm told we have got the best with

:04:43.:04:46.

you, so let's have a look at the clip again and then we'll get your

:04:47.:04:50.

expert opinion. Let's see what David Cameron's saying.

:04:51.:05:02.

Tina, I would say that was pretty good quality there, not blurry, the

:05:03.:05:09.

camera's not shaking, it's pretty good broadcast TV qualities,

:05:10.:05:14.

slightly in the distance. So, in your professional opinion, what did

:05:15.:05:24.

Mr Cameron say? I interpret him by saying breaking the manifesto

:05:25.:05:29.

promise, how stupid can you get. So he did say, breaking a manifesto

:05:30.:05:32.

promise, how stupid can you get? Yes. Right. Well, we thank you. Give

:05:33.:05:41.

us your reaction to this professional authentication. First

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of all, I'm amazed because I would look at that and wouldn't have a

:05:48.:05:50.

clue, I would say it was just complaining about the weather. It

:05:51.:05:53.

was a silly promise in the first place and it was the one that he

:05:54.:05:58.

made. He made it, not thinking that his Government would ever have to

:05:59.:06:01.

stand by it because he didn't expect to win the last majority with an

:06:02.:06:04.

election and therefore be responsible for the policies that

:06:05.:06:07.

followed. But they didn't tell us that at the time. For voters, a

:06:08.:06:14.

promise is a promise. But it's a bit much for him to be the person

:06:15.:06:20.

criticising. He thought he'd be part of a coalition. Theresa May is bound

:06:21.:06:24.

by a promise that she didn't make. Nevertheless, I do think it was very

:06:25.:06:28.

foolish of her Government to think that you could get away. Without the

:06:29.:06:33.

big row that we have seen? But not eeven acknowledge that you are

:06:34.:06:36.

breaking it, pretend it wasn't in the pledge and to look as though you

:06:37.:06:40.

are splitting hairs. That's what didn't work, that's what made people

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feel that they were dancing on the head of a pin. There's something

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magnificent about that clip, it still looks as though Cameron is in

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charge. He's summoning over the Defence Secretary saying, now look

:06:53.:06:55.

here Fallon, what's all this rubbish. That's amusing. I think

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Cameron's right to be angry. I think it's still a bit of a puzzle as to

:07:03.:07:07.

what on earth the Government thought they were doing. I mean, you can

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take the view that it's a stupid pledge, I understand that, and you

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can take a wider view to rule out any income tax rises and national

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insurance to freeze fuel duty. It seems in perpetuity, you are really

:07:26.:07:31.

eroding the tax base. The point on trust is, they may have not once,

:07:32.:07:37.

not twice, not thrice, but four times in this manifesto... And they

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legislated on it. They excluded the self-employed from the legislation

:07:46.:07:49.

but it looked as if they were putting it absolutely in a solid

:07:50.:07:53.

form and it couldn't be taken away. The difficulty for this, for the

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Government, is that this is a perfect storm really, in the fact

:08:00.:08:04.

that it's not one group, the self-employed, but the

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self-employed, the upper end who're paid via dividends, that runs from

:08:09.:08:11.

white van driver and plumbers all the way through the economy at every

:08:12.:08:17.

salary level so it's extraordinary that a Tory Chancellor didn't see

:08:18.:08:22.

this. Are we being fair to Mr Cameron in the sense that we are

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reading his lips from a distance, he's having a private conversation,

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the cameras are on him. If you are in the public eye, we have to just

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accept this, do we? You have to accept it. I believe Tina, but the

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wider issue here is one about trust. In an era of alternative facts,

:08:40.:08:42.

politicians have got to be trustworthy and they have to learn

:08:43.:08:46.

that if you say something to the public, you can't wriggle out of it.

:08:47.:08:50.

You have to be frank about why you are breaking a promise or you just

:08:51.:08:54.

build cynicism. We showed you the clip again there. Tina, you have

:08:55.:08:57.

settled one of the controversies of the week, we are very grateful to

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you and Bailey for coming in. Bye-bye, see you soon, Bailey.

:09:04.:09:08.

This row over the Government's plans to raise the rate of Class 4

:09:09.:09:15.

National Insurance contributions is now in its third day.

:09:16.:09:17.

Let's remind ourselves what's been happening.

:09:18.:09:20.

In his budget speech on Wednesday, Philip Hammond said the changes

:09:21.:09:23.

are necessary because the current lower rate of National Insurance

:09:24.:09:26.

"undermines the fairness of the tax system".

:09:27.:09:32.

But that left Tory MPs queuing up to criticise the government's plans.

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Conservative MP Stephen McPartland said on this programme yesterday.

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"We need to get a U-turn and we need one quickly."

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Guto Bebb, a minister in the Wales Office

:09:44.:09:48.

But Matthew Taylor, the former adviser to Tony Blair,

:09:49.:10:00.

Mr Taylor is currently carrying out a government review looking at how

:10:01.:10:09.

the state treats self-employed people and other issues.

:10:10.:10:12.

Theresa May signalled last night that she and the Government

:10:13.:10:16.

But Labour weren't pleased with that.

:10:17.:10:29.

The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said Theresa May should.

:10:30.:10:34.

Let's have a look at what Theresa May said last night,

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speaking at a press conference in Brussels.

:10:38.:10:46.

And I think it is fair to close the gap in contributions between two

:10:47.:10:54.

people doing the same work and using the same public

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services to make the same contribution to wider society.

:10:57.:10:58.

And then I think the final question you ask is is it progressive?

:10:59.:11:01.

And the changes that will be built through on NICS

:11:02.:11:04.

to Class 2 and Class 4, taken together, under those,

:11:05.:11:07.

the lowest paid self-employed workers will be better off and half

:11:08.:11:10.

the revenues raised will be paid by the best off, by the wealthiest.

:11:11.:11:19.

We've been joined from Gloucester by the Conservative MP Neil Carmichael.

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And in the studio by the director of the Resolution

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Michael, the Prime Minister says she's in listening mode, so what do

:11:26.:11:36.

you want to tell her? I first of all think it's absolutely

:11:37.:11:40.

necessary for us to raise as much tax as we possibly can. This is the

:11:41.:11:44.

time of Brexit and we are going to be needing extra money in the

:11:45.:11:49.

long-term. The second point is, we've got to, however, make sure our

:11:50.:11:55.

entrepreneurs, our consultants, those people who're basically

:11:56.:11:59.

self-employed feel that the risks they take are ones which the

:12:00.:12:02.

Government are going to acknowledge. I think that's part of a tailoring

:12:03.:12:06.

review. What do you want to tell her on this - that's very general, I

:12:07.:12:10.

asked you a specific question. Well, what I would say is that I think the

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delay towards the autumn is wise. I think that tapering would be

:12:16.:12:18.

appropriate because I think that there will be a group, as far as I

:12:19.:12:23.

can see from the figures, that are going to be effectively asked to pay

:12:24.:12:27.

a sizeable chunk. Which group would that be? That would be the high

:12:28.:12:34.

earner chunk. The higher earnings who are employed are paying high

:12:35.:12:38.

national insurance at the moment, so if you look at a management

:12:39.:12:43.

consultant on ?52,000 a year, they would pay another ?600 or so. Yes.

:12:44.:12:49.

On national insurance contributions a year, they are on over ?50,000 a

:12:50.:12:56.

wouldn't be paying anything like the national insurance that an employee

:12:57.:12:59.

would pay, particularly when you add in the employee contribution? But

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you have to balance what a self-employed person isn't getting

:13:04.:13:06.

through the benefits system or risk to his position or her position if

:13:07.:13:10.

things went wrong. You've also got to factor in things like business

:13:11.:13:13.

rates which might actually be a problem too. Everybody is paying

:13:14.:13:19.

business rates. But the biggest amount of money in this country goes

:13:20.:13:23.

on the Health Service and social care and welfare, if you are

:13:24.:13:27.

self-employed, last time I looked you were entitled to the NHS. Yes.

:13:28.:13:31.

And to social care, such as there is in this country these days, so why

:13:32.:13:36.

shouldn't you pay a bit more? And I thought you were against them paying

:13:37.:13:39.

more, which side of the fence are you on? I'm on the side of the fence

:13:40.:13:44.

which in the long run we have to raise more revenue... You've said

:13:45.:13:48.

all that, but what do you want us to do on NICS? What do you want the got

:13:49.:13:54.

to do, what should the country be doing on national insurance What I

:13:55.:13:57.

want the Government to be doing on national insurance is delaying a

:13:58.:14:02.

decision which I think it's effectively said because we are not

:14:03.:14:05.

voting on this until the awe Tim, quite rightly, between thousand and

:14:06.:14:09.

then, we need a rebust look at the figures so that we can actually say

:14:10.:14:14.

to those people affected that this is not going to be as bad as is

:14:15.:14:18.

currently predicted -- autumn. So in other words there should be some

:14:19.:14:24.

changes made in the next six months. But unless it's some kind of

:14:25.:14:29.

compromise and, if your words, if it's not as bad as was outlined on

:14:30.:14:33.

Wednesday, whatever compromise, if national insurance is to rise, it's

:14:34.:14:36.

a breach of your manifesto commitment. It may not be as bad a

:14:37.:14:39.

breach but it's still a breach? Well, you know, we said in the

:14:40.:14:42.

manifesto we are going to stay in the single market and that's plainly

:14:43.:14:47.

not going to happen, so... But you thought you were going to win the

:14:48.:14:50.

referendum to remain too so things did change there. What's changed to

:14:51.:14:54.

force national insurance contributions up? The politics have

:14:55.:14:58.

changed, the economics have changed. We voted to leave the European

:14:59.:15:01.

Union. That's going to have an impact on our membership of the

:15:02.:15:04.

single market by simply saying we are not going to be in it. That's

:15:05.:15:09.

clearly on the cards. So that is something which is at variance with

:15:10.:15:12.

the manifesto and this too is add variance with the manifesto.

:15:13.:15:15.

Actually for the same reason, that we are needing to find more money to

:15:16.:15:22.

prepare a cushion for whilst we prepare to leave the European Union.

:15:23.:15:27.

They're linked. Stick with us, you will get a chance to sort out your

:15:28.:15:30.

ear piece too. We are spending ?400 million gives

:15:31.:16:28.

the self-employed a tax cut, abolishing class 2, the flat rate,

:16:29.:16:32.

?150 a year that all self-employed pay. That is why the losers are only

:16:33.:16:38.

over ?16,000. It's not about raising money. This is about saying we have

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a fundamental problem in the tax system and we need to keep up with

:16:42.:16:47.

the world of world which is working -- world of work. The key thing you

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you were talking about, about the people being entitled to use the NHS

:16:53.:16:55.

and the social care, the real issue is the state pension. Historically,

:16:56.:17:00.

the reason why people pay lower national insurance, the

:17:01.:17:03.

self-employed, is they used to get a better pension. That has been ended.

:17:04.:17:06.

They get the same pension as employees and, as a result, the gap

:17:07.:17:09.

on the national insurance needs to be closed.

:17:10.:17:16.

Right, but it may be true, as your foundation, I think it's been said

:17:17.:17:21.

too, that if you are earning less than ?16,000, you are unaffected by

:17:22.:17:25.

this. Some people will be better off. The real increase, the example

:17:26.:17:33.

of the management consultant that I gave, they're in the top 50% of

:17:34.:17:37.

households, but there are a group of people who'll be paying more,

:17:38.:17:45.

earning between ?16,000 and ?25-?26,000 a year, but they are the

:17:46.:17:49.

just about managing classes, so why put any extra burden on them since

:17:50.:17:52.

your own foundation's said the living standards are now going to be

:17:53.:17:56.

squeezed even without this. Why put a further burden on them no matter

:17:57.:18:01.

how small? That is a good point, Andrew. What you are getting at

:18:02.:18:05.

there... What is the answer? I'll come to it. Policies are difficult.

:18:06.:18:13.

They have pros and cons, you have probably already done them. If tax

:18:14.:18:18.

rises in particular, unless you are a saint, you don't want to

:18:19.:18:21.

particularly have any less money in your pocket, so would I ideally like

:18:22.:18:26.

a policy that somehow had a fairer tax system between self-employed and

:18:27.:18:30.

employees and didn't lead to any extra money being taken on the

:18:31.:18:33.

earnings and salaries you are talking about - yes. Is that

:18:34.:18:37.

possible in the real world and is it responsible for people who want a

:18:38.:18:41.

better country to ignore those ambiguities - no. For three days,

:18:42.:18:46.

your party, your government, has had a complete kicking, even in the Tory

:18:47.:18:50.

press, is it worth it for another ?200 million a year. That's not even

:18:51.:18:57.

a rounding error? I think it's worth having the debates. I said is it

:18:58.:19:02.

worth it for ?200 million. The Chancellor will drop that down the

:19:03.:19:05.

back of the sofa on a Friday afternoon. Well, you say that to a

:19:06.:19:09.

school struggling to pay an extra teacher and you would think, well

:19:10.:19:13.

?200 million will go some distance. It would help make sure that the

:19:14.:19:18.

national funding formula had a better floor than currently is

:19:19.:19:22.

projected and so on. So ?200 million is... It's worth all this political

:19:23.:19:26.

pain then? Well, I think what we have to do is take the whole budget

:19:27.:19:30.

together, you know. This is more than just this issue about national

:19:31.:19:36.

insurance contributions. It's about actually rebalancing the economy

:19:37.:19:38.

towards being more productive and so on, so that does matter. The key

:19:39.:19:43.

point about the fairness angle is still a relevant one. We have to

:19:44.:19:46.

bear in mind that the employment patterns are changing and the

:19:47.:19:49.

taxation system really has to reflect that. But you are a Tory,

:19:50.:19:53.

you are meant to be in favour of people being self-employed and

:19:54.:19:56.

entrepreneurial and not dependent on the state. Why is it the policy of a

:19:57.:20:00.

Tory Government to say, you are going to have to pay more tax in the

:20:01.:20:06.

form of national insurance, but in return the state will give you more

:20:07.:20:11.

benefits. Isn't that what the Labour Party is meant to believe? Well,

:20:12.:20:17.

those benefits are around sort of conditions if you fell out of your

:20:18.:20:21.

position as a self-employed person. I think that's fair to recognise

:20:22.:20:25.

that there are risks there. You've actually already answered your own

:20:26.:20:28.

question because you... That doesn't happen very often... The more

:20:29.:20:33.

youern, the more you'll pay, because down at the ?16,000 level you

:20:34.:20:36.

wouldn't pay at all and you would benefit. One more thing because you

:20:37.:20:40.

are struggling with that ear piece, and I'm grateful for you sticking

:20:41.:20:44.

with it, but let me ask you one more thing. I'm still not clear what you

:20:45.:20:49.

want to Government to do compared to what the Chancellor announced and we

:20:50.:20:53.

are going to have until autumn to decide that, but do you get the

:20:54.:20:57.

sense there is compromise in the air that what the Chancellor announced

:20:58.:21:00.

will not in the end be what is legislated for in the autumn? I

:21:01.:21:06.

think there's scope for compromise, that's helpful. That's what we need.

:21:07.:21:11.

This is about tapering and levels and we have some discussions, six

:21:12.:21:14.

months in order to have them, the argument is on the table. The

:21:15.:21:18.

principle is one we'll salute. The Prime Minister said that last night.

:21:19.:21:21.

It's just a question of how we do it. I think that is what the

:21:22.:21:24.

discussions will be around during the course of the period up to and

:21:25.:21:29.

including the final vote when this is decided in the autumn. Let me try

:21:30.:21:34.

one more time with you - what would you like the Government to do to

:21:35.:21:38.

make this acceptable to you and some of your colleagues? Make absolutely

:21:39.:21:45.

clear what self-employed people will be benefitting from if changes are

:21:46.:21:49.

made in the Taylor review and doeth we don't know exactly what they are

:21:50.:21:52.

but that's an important aspect. This is two sides of the same coin. It's

:21:53.:21:55.

paying for something but knowing what you are going to get in return

:21:56.:21:59.

so there needs be clarity there and there isn't any clarity really at

:22:00.:22:04.

the moment. Also this issue about tapering, that's an important word

:22:05.:22:07.

in this conversation. I don't know what it means though in this

:22:08.:22:12.

context. What it means is that we'll probably have a situation where the

:22:13.:22:16.

introduction of this scheme was more gradual and less... But it is

:22:17.:22:21.

tapered at the moment, it's only 1% starting next year then another 1%

:22:22.:22:26.

starting the year after that, it's a gradual introduction. That's why I'm

:22:27.:22:30.

everysizing there should be more discussion about that. More

:22:31.:22:36.

tapering? Yes, I think so. -- emphasising. Anyway, I'm sure we'll

:22:37.:22:43.

discuss more about this as the summer comes about. I can hardly

:22:44.:22:47.

wait! Plenty to talk about. Thank you very much! Thank you and thank

:22:48.:22:51.

you again for dealing with that pesky ear piece that you've got

:22:52.:23:01.

there! What do you think of this? I think Torsten Bell should be

:23:02.:23:08.

advising more on this. Most people think they work is unpredictable and

:23:09.:23:12.

they don't get holiday pay or sick pay. There seems to be radical

:23:13.:23:17.

disadvantages and it seems to be radically unfair to say your life is

:23:18.:23:23.

the same as a working person. So his argument about saying you are

:23:24.:23:25.

getting an equal state pension now and you never had that before is a

:23:26.:23:29.

much more powerful argument than anything else that has been put

:23:30.:23:33.

forward? Iain We should acknowledge there is a bias on the part of

:23:34.:23:37.

newspaper columnists and freelance journalists. Disproportionate... Who

:23:38.:23:43.

is going to speak up for the self-employed? To the barricades.

:23:44.:23:59.

There was an interesting thing the Chancellor said in the budget about

:24:00.:24:04.

how technology is reshaping the economy and he says he's going to

:24:05.:24:09.

come back to it. This would have been almost fine if he'd said let's

:24:10.:24:15.

have a proper review of how employment is structured, headed not

:24:16.:24:18.

by someone like Matthew Taylor with instincts always to raise taxation.

:24:19.:24:22.

You never know... I don't think that's fair. The answer, heaven

:24:23.:24:29.

know, mite come back to reduce the national insurance of the employed

:24:30.:24:33.

and maybe spend a little less and borrow a little less. Balancing the

:24:34.:24:41.

budget into the 2030s. Yes. It's already been kicked sideways, so why

:24:42.:24:46.

not? ! It's become very complicated. Life is complicated. But our tax

:24:47.:24:54.

system is complicated. The tax guide is taller than you now and you are

:24:55.:25:00.

quite tall. Why do we have national insurance, it's just income tax by

:25:01.:25:04.

another name and yet there's no talk any more among policy-makers at the

:25:05.:25:08.

top level of just rolling the two together and simplifying things It's

:25:09.:25:12.

not exactly the same in one big way. You pay income tax but you don't pay

:25:13.:25:17.

national insurance. You look like you're... You are wasted in the

:25:18.:25:23.

resolution foundation, you should be in the diplomatic corps! But you

:25:24.:25:27.

would be paying a lot more money. I understand that. That may be the

:25:28.:25:31.

case, but you would have to then live with some consequences. The

:25:32.:25:35.

over 65s in real terms are doing much better than people in their 20s

:25:36.:25:39.

and 30s at the moment. It's an unnecessary complication and you

:25:40.:25:42.

could come up with a formula which rolled the two together. It's not a

:25:43.:25:47.

hypothecating tax any more. George Osborne asked the office for similar

:25:48.:25:50.

police officercation, which was designed for reasons you are

:25:51.:25:52.

highlighting. They did a report, they say it could be done,

:25:53.:25:56.

complicated ways of doing it and the Government said no, thank you, have

:25:57.:26:01.

you met the over 60s. So we have given them a lot, a triple lot as

:26:02.:26:08.

well -- a triple lock. We can help deal with the self-employed. Can I

:26:09.:26:12.

ask a question, do you have any idea how much you would raise if you

:26:13.:26:16.

taxed people like Andrew, the over 65s. Andrew would raise a lot of

:26:17.:26:24.

money! That's very easy to find out. Would it be more than ?200 million

:26:25.:26:29.

do you think? Oh, billions! There we are, we have solved the problem. One

:26:30.:26:34.

billion from Andrew and billions from the rest of the population.

:26:35.:26:38.

Thank you for coming in and we'll see you again around 2026 when

:26:39.:26:42.

you'll probably be getting your pension. Look forward to it. And the

:26:43.:26:47.

taxes will have gone up. I'll be speaking to Matthew Taylor on the

:26:48.:26:51.

Sunday Politics this Sunday on this very issue and we'll look at some of

:26:52.:26:56.

the principles behind this problem of how do you tax the self-employed,

:26:57.:27:03.

indeed, how do you stop the tax base from eroding with the decade coming

:27:04.:27:08.

up when the demands on health, social care and other things are

:27:09.:27:10.

going to be huge. Today EU leaders are meeting

:27:11.:27:12.

in Brussels in the new Europa But the question is what has that

:27:13.:27:17.

building been nicknamed? At the end of the show,

:27:18.:27:21.

Iain and Jenni will give So, the EU summit in Brussels

:27:22.:27:33.

continues today without Theresa May. The remaining 27 leaders are due

:27:34.:27:41.

to discuss the future development Our correspondent Ben Wright joins

:27:42.:27:46.

us now from Brussels. Ben, Mrs May's not there, I assume

:27:47.:28:06.

Brexit is not high up the discussions at the moment because

:28:07.:28:10.

Article 50 hasn't been triggered. So what are they talking about? Well, I

:28:11.:28:16.

think there's party planning going on this morning, the 27 sitting

:28:17.:28:20.

around working out how this big event they're planning for the 25th

:28:21.:28:24.

in Italy is going to work which they want to look like a huge show of

:28:25.:28:30.

unity by the European Union to mark 60 years since the Treaty of Rome

:28:31.:28:33.

was signed. So they'll be talking about that today. They'll be talking

:28:34.:28:38.

about recent plans put forward by the European Commission President

:28:39.:28:41.

Jean-Claude Juncker for the ten year plan. Various option force the

:28:42.:28:45.

future direction of the EU. And I imagine too, oh to be in that room,

:28:46.:28:49.

I mean they'll probably be talking about Brexit. They are not talking

:28:50.:28:53.

about negotiations in public, they won't do that until Article 50 is

:28:54.:28:57.

triggered, but once Theresa May does that and writes her letter to the

:28:58.:29:03.

European Council, then the EU 27 then have to work out their

:29:04.:29:06.

negotiating mandate. How they are going to approach these talks and

:29:07.:29:09.

those talks have been going on behind-the-scenes and I'm sure they

:29:10.:29:12.

are touching on it this morning. Is there a sense of you covering a

:29:13.:29:20.

Marie Antoinette party there, as you talk about that and Geert wilders is

:29:21.:29:25.

against the EU on the hard right, marine Le Pen is doing far better

:29:26.:29:30.

than her father, will almost certainly be in the next round of

:29:31.:29:34.

the French elections and four out of five big parties are against the

:29:35.:29:38.

euro. Do they ever think about any of that?

:29:39.:29:42.

Thoreau Trump into the mix as well. The great American ally of the EU,

:29:43.:29:50.

the USA, has decidedly gone wobbly since Donald Trump entered the White

:29:51.:29:53.

House. Their access then shall challenges wherever you look. --

:29:54.:30:01.

existential challenges. I think they got to get the tone of the party

:30:02.:30:04.

quite right which is why they don't want Theresa May to trigger Brexit

:30:05.:30:07.

in the immediate days before all the media days after this big event in

:30:08.:30:12.

Rome and that has been made quite clear. To the British government.

:30:13.:30:18.

Look, they know that this is a very difficult time for the European

:30:19.:30:21.

Union. Is no getting around that at all. And that will colour their

:30:22.:30:27.

approach to Brexit. People around here, you hear them saying it's all

:30:28.:30:30.

very well for the UK to keep saying they would get the best deal for

:30:31.:30:33.

Britain but people here are saying they would get the best deal for the

:30:34.:30:36.

European Union and one which acts as a warning to others not to leave the

:30:37.:30:41.

club. In the absence of specific about what the European Union are

:30:42.:30:43.

going to put on the table, that's what you have to go on. But we don't

:30:44.:30:49.

know if there is agreement among the 27 about what the best deal for the

:30:50.:30:54.

remaining European Union would mean. We don't know if the polls agree

:30:55.:30:58.

with the French, in fact, we're pretty sure they don't. We don't

:30:59.:31:03.

know what Emmanuel Macron's idea would be, or Mr Schultz, if he was

:31:04.:31:11.

to become the Chancellor. I don't know what a good deal would look

:31:12.:31:18.

like for all 27 to agree on. You are absolutely right, we also hear that

:31:19.:31:22.

Germany is certainly trying to restrain countries who want this to

:31:23.:31:28.

be sort of a process of punishment for the UK. The Germans are very

:31:29.:31:30.

worried about what might happen to the City of London if there is a

:31:31.:31:35.

punitive approach taken on the question of financial services for

:31:36.:31:38.

instance, but each country has different interests which is why

:31:39.:31:41.

there is a suspicion here that the EU, sorry the UK may try to divide

:31:42.:31:47.

and rule a bit when negotiations begin. And they think the EU was

:31:48.:31:51.

very aware of that and at the moment is stressing they are going to go

:31:52.:31:55.

into this as one united bloc. Certainly after the Malta summit all

:31:56.:31:59.

EU leaders were stressing that they would be negotiating as a bloc and

:32:00.:32:04.

the UK would not be able to peel off individual countries and played to

:32:05.:32:08.

individual interests. One final thing, coming out of negotiators

:32:09.:32:14.

negotiating as a bloc. Some in the British government are saying that

:32:15.:32:18.

once Article 50 is triggered, a deal, not much will happen, because

:32:19.:32:23.

of all the elections I mentioned, but a deal on reciprocal rights will

:32:24.:32:28.

be done quickly for EU nationals here and UK nationals in the rest of

:32:29.:32:32.

the EU. And that will partly be done to keep Eastern Europe on board and

:32:33.:32:36.

they do think that that will happen quickly, but then there will be a

:32:37.:32:40.

hiatus as the French elections get underway followed by the others. Is

:32:41.:32:45.

there any indication about where you are that the EU may be on board for

:32:46.:32:52.

this too? Look, not in concrete terms, but I think it would make

:32:53.:32:56.

sense. There is an eagerness in the UK to get this done and they went

:32:57.:33:01.

conceded outside the formal negotiations and I think the feeling

:33:02.:33:05.

is within the EU the same approach has to be taken so it could well be

:33:06.:33:08.

that has taken off the table quickly and then the EU knuckles down and

:33:09.:33:13.

work out how it's going to negotiate but you are right. I think we can

:33:14.:33:18.

expect a lag until proper negotiations begin. We've got to

:33:19.:33:22.

expect to get the elections out of way first. Until the summer,

:33:23.:33:27.

actually. There was a tussle going on here between the council, the

:33:28.:33:31.

leaders, and the commission about the priorities and certainly the

:33:32.:33:36.

feeling of the commission want this issue around money sorted very early

:33:37.:33:41.

on. They think there is this bill, the numbers are disputed, perhaps,

:33:42.:33:44.

and it needs to be settled before you can move onto other aspects of a

:33:45.:33:48.

negotiation including a possible parallel talks on traditional trade

:33:49.:33:52.

agreement. What's going to be fascinating of the next few weeks is

:33:53.:33:55.

trying to work out who is winning that fight between the institutions

:33:56.:33:59.

in the European Union as they approach this negotiation. Thank you

:34:00.:34:02.

very much, good to talk to you in Brussels. Ben finishes on what is

:34:03.:34:06.

going to be putting the EU reciprocal rights to one side and

:34:07.:34:12.

the British government has become confident it can do a good deal on

:34:13.:34:16.

that, but then nothing else. There is then, we've done that, on the

:34:17.:34:22.

other hand, this demand between the Europeans saying you have got to

:34:23.:34:26.

saddle the Brexit divorce bill before we talk about free trade. If

:34:27.:34:30.

you speak to our government is a deal-breaker and they won't do that.

:34:31.:34:33.

They want the two things to go in parallel. At the same time, there's

:34:34.:34:38.

no way the British government will get itself into a situation where it

:34:39.:34:44.

says how much do you want? Call it 30, said Lon 45, dear is a large

:34:45.:34:48.

cheque and let's talk about future terms. It's a nonstarter. The reason

:34:49.:34:55.

the government has talked in much blunter terms about no deal being

:34:56.:35:00.

better than a bad deal, preparing people for the possibility of hard

:35:01.:35:06.

Brexit, the reality is, which the analysis illustrator, if it was a

:35:07.:35:09.

straightforward deal between Germany and the UK, that's not

:35:10.:35:15.

straightforward but much easier to envisage how such a deal could be

:35:16.:35:20.

concluded. The Germans are terrified of the eurozone being disrupted. The

:35:21.:35:25.

eurozone debt machine, 75% of it, is run out of London, so they want...

:35:26.:35:30.

They essentially don't want the Eurozone settlements disturbed at

:35:31.:35:36.

least not in the short term, but it becomes apparent from the European

:35:37.:35:39.

Parliament is saying that even if you get a deal like that done, and

:35:40.:35:45.

Germany and Britain, but two largest competitors agree, it can go to the

:35:46.:35:48.

European Parliament and be voted down, so I think the government have

:35:49.:35:53.

consciously prepared people for the possibility of chaos on the

:35:54.:35:59.

continent and a deal, even if it agreed, somehow being vetoed. The

:36:00.:36:05.

way ahead is as clear as mud. Yes, life in politics is, located but we

:36:06.:36:09.

haven't seen anything yet with the interests of all institutions and

:36:10.:36:14.

the 27 nations all quarrelling with one another and, of course, if you

:36:15.:36:17.

turn around to the EU and say we're not interested in settling the bill,

:36:18.:36:21.

much of it for the pensions of British people who have worked in

:36:22.:36:25.

the EU and much of it is also for the costs of ongoing EU programmes

:36:26.:36:28.

in Britain which won't wrap up overnight... That we could deal

:36:29.:36:34.

with. We don't know about the pensions. It will be put at the

:36:35.:36:37.

difficult for a government to agree to a massive bill for pensions for

:36:38.:36:40.

EU bureaucrats whose pensions are three times the average wages in

:36:41.:36:45.

Britain. I'm not saying it's not difficult but if you're standing

:36:46.:36:48.

firm and saying we're not going to cooperate, than the one thing you

:36:49.:36:51.

did from those 27 nations is the feeling that we are not just an

:36:52.:36:55.

almighty irritant that is delaying everything they want to do with the

:36:56.:37:00.

EU over the next couple of years. I think it is accepted that we will

:37:01.:37:05.

have to settle, but in what order it happens? What's impossible to

:37:06.:37:11.

envisage is the government paying the money before it has any idea

:37:12.:37:15.

what the deal is. The money will become a Thorogood payment to access

:37:16.:37:23.

payment to EU access -- sorry but payment. There's a difference

:37:24.:37:28.

between three years, for his contribution from the UK which

:37:29.:37:33.

settles the programmes we got into before the referendum. A big

:37:34.:37:36.

difference between that and an ongoing payment. I think that is

:37:37.:37:42.

probably, year after year, payments something Tory backbenchers would

:37:43.:37:43.

not stomach. Now it has asbestos, leaks,

:37:44.:37:45.

fraying electrical cables and the whole place is at high risk

:37:46.:37:51.

of a catastrophic failure. No, I'm not talking about the Daily

:37:52.:37:55.

Politics studio but rather, that other World Heritage Site,

:37:56.:37:58.

the Palace of Westminster, home Now today the Public Accounts

:37:59.:38:00.

Committee has said the Palace should be vacated while urgent restoration

:38:01.:38:13.

work is carried out. Parliament's spending watchdog

:38:14.:38:15.

argues that moving MPs and peers down the road rather than keeping

:38:16.:38:17.

them on site during a renovation is the most economic

:38:18.:38:20.

and efficient option. The Public Accounts Committee

:38:21.:38:24.

is backing a call by a joint parliamentary committee for a full

:38:25.:38:27.

decant of the palace, meaning it would be closed for six

:38:28.:38:29.

years while work is carried out. This option, which would see MPs

:38:30.:38:41.

move into a temporary debating chamber in the Department of Health

:38:42.:38:44.

and peers to the QE2 conference centre, would

:38:45.:38:47.

cost around ?4 billion. A partial decant -

:38:48.:38:57.

vacating first the Commons and then the Lords -

:38:58.:39:01.

would take 11 years and add approximately

:39:02.:39:04.

?500 million to the cost. While keeping everyone on site

:39:05.:39:13.

during the repairs would mean it was 32 years before

:39:14.:39:19.

the work was completed. The PAC pointed out that also

:39:20.:39:21.

between ?50 million and ?60 million was already being spent

:39:22.:39:26.

on maintaining the building every year and urged parliamentarians

:39:27.:39:29.

to have a vote on the options sooner rather than later, pointing out that

:39:30.:39:33.

further delays may add up to ?85 million a year to the bill

:39:34.:39:37.

for capital costs. And I'm joined now by the chair

:39:38.:39:48.

of the Public Accounts And the Conservative MP

:39:49.:39:53.

Shailesh Vara, who wants MPs to remain in the Palace,

:39:54.:39:56.

moving over to the House of Lords The cheapest option and the quickest

:39:57.:40:13.

option, if it could be described as cheap, is for everybody to get out,

:40:14.:40:19.

right? Absolutely. That would take how long? The estimate is six years

:40:20.:40:24.

but you've got to make the decision in principle. The full business case

:40:25.:40:27.

we worked out will deal with this uncertain issue but we've known,

:40:28.:40:32.

having major projects that the Public Accounts Committee looks at,

:40:33.:40:35.

there's good evidence to do it in one hit, rather than dribble it out

:40:36.:40:39.

over a long period of time, and that sort of thing will add costs just

:40:40.:40:44.

like if you had a house extension. If the cost of moving the peers out

:40:45.:40:50.

and moving the MPs to the Lords while you get on with all of it,

:40:51.:40:53.

that side of the Palace, I'd put this in quotes, only 500 million, it

:40:54.:41:00.

would be advertised over 11 years now, so it's about 50 million a

:41:01.:41:04.

year, which, in the scheme of things, given the spending, is not

:41:05.:41:13.

huge, but that symbolically be more acceptable that the MPs would stay

:41:14.:41:18.

in a chamber which looks a bit like the one they have got, just rather

:41:19.:41:24.

more glittery? These are not actual costs, let's be care about that. It

:41:25.:41:28.

means they have done some work to analyse what the costs will be and

:41:29.:41:33.

to extrapolate like that, quite robustly, but to do a proper

:41:34.:41:36.

business case on the project you can't be sure of all of these

:41:37.:41:39.

figures. They are pretty robust as they can be at this stage which is

:41:40.:41:43.

why we need to settle on one because the cost of doing the business case

:41:44.:41:46.

is quite something. From our experience, get on with it.

:41:47.:41:51.

Crucially, make a decision. A bit like the one we've taken for the

:41:52.:41:55.

third runway at Heathrow. Exactly, you raise the case in point. We have

:41:56.:41:59.

a bit of a habit of delaying long-term decisions but we got to

:42:00.:42:04.

get on with it. What is your view? It needs to be done urgently, but

:42:05.:42:08.

when you've got an eight acre site, there is room for Parliament to set

:42:09.:42:13.

on the premises, on the Palace, while work is being carried out. All

:42:14.:42:19.

of Parliament? I think both houses Oskars Melbardis addressed one has

:42:20.:42:24.

has a footprint. That important for a number of reasons. At the time of

:42:25.:42:28.

Brexit, in the years after Brexit, we will be out there on the

:42:29.:42:33.

international scene trying to curry favour, make closer friendships with

:42:34.:42:35.

other countries, secure favourable trade agreements and where will we

:42:36.:42:42.

be operating from? Basically a Portakabin in the courtyard of the

:42:43.:42:46.

Department of the government, and also it's important to remember that

:42:47.:42:51.

in the longer run, the costs are neutral whether we decamped or we do

:42:52.:42:59.

it quickly. Clarify one thing. I understand the plan that you get the

:43:00.:43:05.

Lords to move, because nobody really cares where they go, and you move

:43:06.:43:09.

the Commons into their chamber but if you keep both, what would you do

:43:10.:43:13.

with them? That's one of the options, Andrew. You have raised it.

:43:14.:43:19.

If you can't move the Commons into the Lords and the Lords into the

:43:20.:43:22.

Commons, where would they go? The other option is keep both of them

:43:23.:43:26.

and Westminster Hall could be an option. It is vast and massive and

:43:27.:43:32.

the reason that the joint committee report says we shouldn't have the

:43:33.:43:38.

House of Commons there is the slabs on the floor are weak. That is an

:43:39.:43:42.

absurd reason. It's been around for a long time. As far as the roof is

:43:43.:43:49.

concerned, it is so high, they can conveniently build a dome around it.

:43:50.:43:55.

Within. Last time we did that it was a real success! I want to get your

:43:56.:44:02.

response. What do you make of that? It's a nice idea but it's really

:44:03.:44:05.

impractical for the Westminster will, by the time you add the

:44:06.:44:08.

equipment to support everybody, there are structural issues. And it

:44:09.:44:15.

is a World Heritage site, that's the oldest most historic part of the

:44:16.:44:18.

Palace. The government is responsible for the World Heritage

:44:19.:44:24.

site and it is an internationally iconic building, so it unthinkable

:44:25.:44:28.

we don't do anything about it. Doing nothing is not an option but we need

:44:29.:44:34.

to move on. Your suggestion is very complicated and could be very

:44:35.:44:37.

costly. It does mean the building would effectively be at a full

:44:38.:44:40.

commission for at least 11 years whereas the do it fast option is the

:44:41.:44:46.

public could get back into it quicker, and is for the public, too,

:44:47.:44:52.

not just MPs. Its tax payers money. Their time estimates are based on

:44:53.:44:56.

one shift per day, 95. If they did three shifts, and much of the work

:44:57.:45:01.

is underground, cables and electable cables and so on, they will have to

:45:02.:45:06.

work with lights anyway, so the time frame can be shortened

:45:07.:45:09.

substantially. The other important thing to remember if I'm saying we

:45:10.:45:15.

do this this summer. The full decamped option says we should all

:45:16.:45:19.

decamped in six years' time and in the meantime, we continue to spend

:45:20.:45:23.

?600 million for patch up work and it is a complete waste of money. It

:45:24.:45:26.

would be crazy to start this summer because they got a full properly

:45:27.:45:32.

worked out spec. You can start some of the work. If you are building an

:45:33.:45:35.

extension at home, you wouldn't allow people to shift the agenda.

:45:36.:45:38.

You would have a clear spec. There is other work going on. That's

:45:39.:45:49.

partly because we haven't made the decision up to now and we can't be

:45:50.:45:52.

held responsible. We need to plan it. I want to come back to the

:45:53.:45:58.

decision process in a moment. Let me get Jenni's reaction? I'm in almost

:45:59.:46:02.

full hearted agreement with you, which doesn't happen very often. I

:46:03.:46:09.

find myself thinking that you are absolute lit right that it matters

:46:10.:46:13.

particularly at a tame of Brexit. Do you think both Chambers would stay

:46:14.:46:19.

or move out? Inclined to think, to let go of all the rituals that go

:46:20.:46:25.

along with Parliament, is part of Britain's sense of who we are and

:46:26.:46:29.

what matters. They'll be in a different thing. It's like a

:46:30.:46:35.

Portakabin. Not really. Slight exaggeration but it's worth some

:46:36.:46:38.

delay in order to have the continuity of keeping the Commons in

:46:39.:46:41.

one part of the Palace of Westminster. I'm not being

:46:42.:46:44.

knowledgeable here, just emotional. A lot of decisions are. You could

:46:45.:46:48.

also, as part of deech luges and making sure Parliament reengages

:46:49.:46:52.

with the country, you could move the Lords to Scunthorpe. Steady on! I

:46:53.:46:57.

have to say... That would be expensive. I find myself disagreeing

:46:58.:47:02.

with Jenni on the question of ritual and I never thought I would say

:47:03.:47:05.

this. 20 years ago I would have even rated that place but I would go for

:47:06.:47:10.

a complete demolition actually. Of all the buildings? Apart from

:47:11.:47:18.

Westminster Hall. Westminster Hall where Charles I was tried and

:47:19.:47:22.

William Wallace. Wouldn't we end up with the international courts with

:47:23.:47:25.

that, it's a World Heritage Site. I'm only half joking in that I think

:47:26.:47:32.

that the people who work in that building overestimate, overstate the

:47:33.:47:38.

public's affection for the building and I think a lot of the flummery

:47:39.:47:43.

that takes place in the Commons under the name of ritual and

:47:44.:47:50.

tradition is actually like a 19th version of the 17th century fake

:47:51.:47:54.

version. I find myself in the unusual position of being in a

:47:55.:47:58.

modernised process. But you still knead a building to do all the work

:47:59.:48:08.

in. The building is not going to be knocked down, despite what Mr Martin

:48:09.:48:13.

says. That may breach BBC impartiality rules but I think

:48:14.:48:17.

that's a safe bet. We have enough problems with the existing options.

:48:18.:48:21.

Tell us briefly, what is the process, is it the Commons that

:48:22.:48:26.

determines this, both Houses determine it, what happens?

:48:27.:48:29.

Ultimately because the Commons is the primary chamber, but the

:48:30.:48:32.

Government determines when the vote will take place and how that vote

:48:33.:48:37.

will happen. If you go for more than one option now, what we were

:48:38.:48:39.

concerned about is that then you have to work up two detailed

:48:40.:48:43.

business plans rather than just one. Do you do one at the same time or

:48:44.:48:48.

the other, or go for all the evidence so it shows to us which is

:48:49.:48:52.

the most cost effective and start work on that. When do you expect the

:48:53.:48:58.

decision to be taken? There have been indications that it could be

:48:59.:49:00.

before Easter but the Government have lots on their plate at the

:49:01.:49:04.

moment, I'm not holding my breath. We have got to move on, we cannot

:49:05.:49:08.

keep delaying the decision. Thank you very much.

:49:09.:49:11.

This May, people living in six city regions will get to vote

:49:12.:49:14.

These are new posts the government is insisting areas have to have

:49:15.:49:18.

if they want powers transferred from Westminster to

:49:19.:49:20.

In the West Midlands, the mayor will have an annual budget

:49:21.:49:26.

of around 40 million and responsibility for transport,

:49:27.:49:29.

housing and job creation projects over an area stretching

:49:30.:49:31.

Jenny Kumah's been to Birmingham to meet the people

:49:32.:49:36.

?92 million of skills and transport projects. It's all parts of plans to

:49:37.:50:05.

boost the region 's flagging economy. And fuel the so-called

:50:06.:50:11.

Midlands engine. Philip Hammond also went to Birmingham city centre to

:50:12.:50:16.

see this man. He's a former boss of John Lewis. And standing as the

:50:17.:50:19.

Conservative candidate for West Midlands Mayor. Iver and John Lewis

:50:20.:50:27.

for Lily ten years, enjoyed a hugely, but this is a real

:50:28.:50:30.

opportunity so I want to lead the region I grew up in the region I

:50:31.:50:35.

return to. You got a target to eradicate youth unemployment by the

:50:36.:50:39.

end of your term in 2020. Yes, that is achievable. We've reduced it by

:50:40.:50:45.

20% over the last four years. The way we will achieve that is by

:50:46.:50:50.

focusing new money, new activities on that. But this is a traditionally

:50:51.:50:56.

strong Labour area. And labour is fielding one of their most

:50:57.:50:59.

experienced politicians. He used to be a Birmingham MP who stood down

:51:00.:51:03.

beef because you want to be the city's Mayor but the election never

:51:04.:51:08.

happened because people voted in the referendum against the idea of

:51:09.:51:13.

having one. He's now an MEP and his mayoral campaign slogan has echoes

:51:14.:51:19.

of the leave campaign. I've been using this phrase for seven years,

:51:20.:51:23.

is because it was Sisley expresses exactly what it is that we are and

:51:24.:51:29.

we need to do. If it was appropriated last year by some other

:51:30.:51:32.

people for another purpose, that's not my problem and I'm not going to

:51:33.:51:35.

stop using the phrase that I have been using for years to say what has

:51:36.:51:41.

to be said about my place. We are going to take back control of the

:51:42.:51:45.

West Midlands from London. Jeremy Corbyn, is yet help or hindrance to

:51:46.:51:51.

your campaign? My concern is not who is the leader of the Labour Party.

:51:52.:51:56.

But why are huge chunks of our public services being determined by

:51:57.:51:58.

people in London who don't know anything about the West Midlands?

:51:59.:52:02.

Other parties are determined not to make a two horse race between

:52:03.:52:06.

Conservatives and Labour. Essentially we've had a few

:52:07.:52:10.

surprises in politics recently. Brexit and Trump. Was always a

:52:11.:52:15.

chance we might make a lucky third one and I'm absolutely in it to win

:52:16.:52:20.

it. The Mayor will chair the combined authority board and if we

:52:21.:52:24.

get a Labour Mayor my view is nothing will change. If we get a

:52:25.:52:27.

Conservative Mayor nothing will happen. If we get a Lib Dem Mayor I

:52:28.:52:32.

believe I can be a real unifying voice, I can bring together a

:52:33.:52:36.

cross-party consensus. I think they should consider voting Green because

:52:37.:52:41.

traditionally Labour have let people down here. If you look at the map 25

:52:42.:52:45.

years ago the least well-off areas and a map now, it is completely

:52:46.:52:49.

unchanged. I don't think any of the other candidates explain a position

:52:50.:52:55.

which appeals to ordinary people. That's what the Communists are

:52:56.:52:59.

standing. That's all the politics of how much of the candidates know

:53:00.:53:04.

about the local area? We decided to test them with our West Midlands

:53:05.:53:08.

quiz. The first motorised funeral was held in Coventry. Funeral? But a

:53:09.:53:15.

good claim to fame so let's go for true. Correct. True. Wolverhampton

:53:16.:53:25.

is the youngest city in Europe would under 25 accounting for nearly 40%

:53:26.:53:30.

of the population? I would say false, I think Birmingham is younger

:53:31.:53:37.

than one Bampton. -- Wolverhampton. Correct. Lawn tennis was first

:53:38.:53:40.

played and invented in deadly over 100 years ago. That is false.

:53:41.:53:48.

Edgbaston. Probably false, it sounds a soft southern game to me. The

:53:49.:53:52.

answer to who would be the first West Midlands Mayor will be

:53:53.:53:55.

available after the vote on May the 4th.

:53:56.:53:58.

And we're joined now by the BBC's Midlands Political

:53:59.:54:08.

I think there's a lot of interest in this Mayor for the West Midlands

:54:09.:54:15.

because you seem to have a real race on your hands there, don't you? We

:54:16.:54:19.

absolutely do. There is a sense some of the other ones in major cities

:54:20.:54:23.

north of here look a little bit like a foregone conclusion whereas here,

:54:24.:54:29.

to some extent, yes, this is the first of a new kind of election,

:54:30.:54:33.

there is nothing directly, no particular experience from the past

:54:34.:54:37.

to draw on, although the police and crime commission on elections are a

:54:38.:54:42.

little bit like it. It is a much more personality focused campaign,

:54:43.:54:45.

so the usual party political rankings, are not a complete guide

:54:46.:54:50.

as they have been in the past about, having said that, yes, we have a

:54:51.:54:54.

genuine contest here between some well-known candidates with

:54:55.:54:59.

reasonably high profiles locally and nationally. We are hearing

:55:00.:55:05.

expressions of confidence certainly from the Conservative and Labour

:55:06.:55:08.

sides, the Conservatives point out that some research by the Centre for

:55:09.:55:14.

cities suggest that they only need a 4% swing to them from the way the

:55:15.:55:21.

results stacked up in 2015 general election for them to win this one,

:55:22.:55:25.

but Labour on the other hand say if you simply look at the vote from a

:55:26.:55:33.

general election, you find this is strongly a Labour area but, as we

:55:34.:55:38.

know, party politics have moved on a lot since then. Patcher, do people

:55:39.:55:42.

feel this is a coherent region with Birmingham at the heart of it? --

:55:43.:55:48.

Patrick. Do people in Wolverhampton feel they belong to the same region

:55:49.:55:53.

as the people in Coventry? The politicians make it a region but do

:55:54.:55:58.

the people? That's a very important point because for the political

:55:59.:56:01.

leaders to whom you refer to, to get this historic agreement as it was

:56:02.:56:06.

hailed at the time, bring together the great tribal fiefdoms of the

:56:07.:56:10.

Black Country and Birmingham, it was seen as a thing at the top but

:56:11.:56:14.

frankly, there was great resistance, not just amongst the people, but

:56:15.:56:19.

local councillors. You are accused of re-venturing into the

:56:20.:56:22.

relationship between turkeys and Christmas but nevertheless you have

:56:23.:56:25.

put your finger very much on point and the key thing to remember in all

:56:26.:56:30.

of this is David Cameron and George Osborne said if you wanted the

:56:31.:56:36.

maximum level of devolution, you had to have what they call the focal

:56:37.:56:40.

point for accountability right at the top around whom people could

:56:41.:56:45.

rally, and the evidence of... In fact two referendums in Birmingham

:56:46.:56:49.

and one in Coventry, the experience of an elected Mayor in Stoke were

:56:50.:56:52.

they had a referendum and voted it down, is that there is active

:56:53.:56:58.

popular hostility to this, so we have the ironic situation that in

:56:59.:57:03.

the name of local democracy, the government has imposed what looks to

:57:04.:57:06.

many critics like a top-down solution. OK, Patrick, it's good to

:57:07.:57:12.

have a race on your hands so we look forward to coming back to and you

:57:13.:57:14.

can tell us how the race is going. Just time now for a bite-size

:57:15.:57:15.

review of the political Jeremy Corbyn's tax return raised

:57:16.:57:18.

more questions than it answered. It seemed he'd missed off his pay

:57:19.:57:27.

for being leader of the opposition. Labour said it was there under

:57:28.:57:33.

a different heading. A two billion euro takeover

:57:34.:57:37.

of Vauxhall prompted job worries but the new boss said its two UK

:57:38.:57:39.

factories will stay open. Michael Heseltine was one of 13

:57:40.:57:44.

Tory peers who demanded To ensure that Parliament

:57:45.:57:47.

is the ultimate custodian Ministers were defeated,

:57:48.:57:54.

and Lord Heseltine was fired PMQs was a riot for the PM

:57:55.:57:59.

despite Jeremy Corbyn's efforts to embarrass her over social care

:58:00.:58:05.

funding deals in Surrey. And, no surprises,

:58:06.:58:10.

promised Philip Hammond. Inside the red box

:58:11.:58:15.

there was a surprise for his own backbenchers -

:58:16.:58:17.

a rise in national insurance. There's just time before we go

:58:18.:58:29.

to find out the answer to our quiz. Today EU leaders are meeting

:58:30.:58:34.

in Brussels in the new Europa So the question was what has that

:58:35.:58:37.

building been nicknamed? they call of the Space Egg, I don't

:58:38.:58:50.

know why. Anyway that's enough for today.

:58:51.:58:52.

I'll be back on Sunday with the Sunday Politics.

:58:53.:58:54.

The thing that's so clear is that it's 100% honest.

:58:55.:59:18.

We're right in the middle of the action.

:59:19.:59:21.

Andrew Neil is joined by writer Iain Martin and columnist Jenni Russell to discuss the fallout from the chancellor's announced National Insurance rise, the EU summit in Brussels, and whether MPs should move out of the Houses of Parliament while the building is renovated.


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