Jo Coburn with the latest political news, interviews and debate. She is joined by Tom Crotty, director of chemical manufacturing company Ineos, for the whole programme.
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Hello, and welcome to the Daily Politics.
Suncream, cold remedies and gluten-free food will no longer
be available on prescription from the NHS in England -
as the boss of the health service attempts to cut costs.
Ahead of Theresa May triggering Britain's exit from the EU tomorrow,
campaigners for the UK to retain the closest possible ties to the EU
demand the Prime Minister sticks to ten key promises on Brexit.
Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan joins me live.
David Cameron promised the government would go "all out"
Three years on - what's the future of shale gas in Britain?
And are businesses and members of the public ready
for the brand-new, high-tech ?1 coin,
I like the crown, the silver in the middle.
With me for the whole of the programme today
I'm joined by Tom Crotty, director of the chemicals company
Ineos which operates, amongst other things,
the Grangemouth Oil Refinery near Falkirk, in Scotland.
Later this week, the head of NHS England will issue an update on how
the health service is performing during one of the tightest funding
The Government claims to have pledged an extra
?10 billion by 2020, but health service managers
For some time they've warned that unless the NHS is given more money,
Today NHS England said it would review whether to start
charging for certain products currently available on prescription.
NHS England said it was looking at a proposal to restrict some
medicines currently available on NHS prescription.
In many cases, it would cost the patient less to buy them over
the counter than it does the NHS to prescribe them.
Health commissioners have drawn up an initial list of 10 products,
and say scrapping prescriptions for these products could
-- and say limiting prescriptions for these products could save ?100
million a year. Ending prescriptions
for gluten-free foods would account for ?20 million of this -
a fifth of the total saving. Restricting prescriptions
for Omega 3 and fish oils, muscle ointments and travel vaccines
could save another ?20 million. Limiting prescriptions
for six other drugs, whose effectiveness is questioned,
accounts for the remaining NHS Clinical Commissioners,
which represents local health managers who are in charge
of spending, says further restrictions on the likes
of suncream, cough and cold remedies and heartburn medicines could bring
the saving to ?400 million a year. But to put these numbers in context,
NHS England's budget is ?120 billion this year,
and the move will affect less We can speak now to the BBC's
Health Editor, Hugh Pym. Looking at those figures, if the
savings on relatively small compared to the size of the NHS budget, is it
really worth it? Well, I suppose the argument is you've got to start
somewhere if you're running NHS England and you have to achieve
efficiency savings on a large scale never before achieved by the NHS.
128 million a year to start off with is at least a start, maybe moving to
400 million in due course. That can be reinvested in other forms of
patient care is deemed to be more necessary. Just to be clear, there
are some health commissioning groups in England already refusing to
prescribe gluten-free food. So some of these things are already
happening. What the health commissioners are calling for its
national guidelines from NHS England so that everybody does the same
thing, the same as you've been saying with Iomega fish oils, muscle
robs and ointments, and possibly in due course moving to stop
prescribing cold and cough remedies, indigestion medicines, which can be
bought regularly over the counter quite cheaply. The argument against
is that there will be a small number of people affected by this. Coeliac,
who depend on gluten-free food, have been saying that it is more
expensive, particularly for children. Therefore having a
prescribed is reasonable. The other side of the argument is that it is a
lot easier to get gluten-free food now in supermarket. Some people will
be surprised that prescriptions were actually given for things like
paracetamol, unless you're using it over a very long period of time. How
have they decided which products to actually saying they're not going to
give prescriptions any more to? Their starting off with a list of
ten that we've just been seeing, which include certain types of
medication for different conditions, which is deemed to be too expensive
at the moment because the pharmaceutical company has priced it
too highly. And gluten-free foods, as we have been saying, and fish
oils. So there are clear about those ten. What we don't know is how much
further they want to go in terms of these over-the-counter remedies and
paracetamol. You can buy that sort of stuff pretty cheaply at a
pharmacist, or a supermarket, and it can cost the NHS more to buy it. So
does it make any sense for the NHS to prescribe it when a patient can
buy themselves extremely cheaply? Equally questions have been raised
about what it means for people on low incomes and benefits who do need
painkillers as part of managing their condition. Why should they
have to pay for something that was being prescribed? It is being
emphasised these are guidelines to GPs, who will still have discretion
about who they prescribe too. Clearly there will be a lot of
debate around this ahead of the announcement by Simon 's deepens,
head of NHS England, of his big strategic review. -- Simon Stephens.
He will tell us more about how at a time of rising patient demand, the
NHS can manage its finances. Thank you.
We've been joined by the Conservative MP
Dr Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the Commons Health Select Committee,
and by Labour's shadow health minister Julie Cooper.
Welcome to both of you. Sarah, do you welcome the restrictions? I
broadly welcomed this, with the caveat that there should be
discretion because if you have a complete blanket ban it doesn't
allow for exceptional circumstances. But when we look at the items on the
list, things like gluten-free products, when I started as a GP it
was difficult to get hold of gluten-free products and they were
very expensive. Now the costs has significantly come down and I think
it's much more reasonable to ask people to think of buying those,
where possible, themselves. By Julie, do you agree? A balance has
to be achieved. We need to look at this, but it does seem a very
strange initial list that has been developed. On the one hand, we have
suntan lotion. On the other hand, serious pain relief for serious
conditions. I don't think anybody wants to see any patient in the
position that they were denied access to vital pain relief. Are
they going to be denied on the basis of cost? Absolutely. Clearly there
is a pressure on reduction of cost, albeit a small amount given the
total NHS budget. But some of the things, I'm really quite surprised
to hear mention of. In 24 years of working impunity pharmacy I never
saw anyone get a prescription for suntan lotion. Ever! That's why I
ask why these particular products have been chosen. You can see with
paracetamol, you can buy a very cheaply in a supermarket if you
aren't using it all the time. So that makes sense. Have some cream
been prescribed? In exceptional circumstances there are some people
with serious skin conditions where sun exposure can be dangerous for
them. As a general rule, no, we should be prescribing suncream. The
other point here is that this should be part of a wider review. There is
a campaign could Choosing Wisely which sets out five questions that
people should always be asking their doctor before they have any
procedures. For example, is this necessary, is this necessary, what
are the side effects, what would happen if I'd do nothing at all?
Those kinds of questions have much more careful consideration about
drugs and how their prescribed, and whether there really necessary. It
sounds like this is the beginning of what will be a longer list,
certainly in terms of guidelines, where there will be a tightening up
on prescriptions. Would you back that, to? I would back a wide review
of the whole situation. Clearly, we have to take into account some of
the vulnerable people in society. Some people on low incomes as well
you get access to prescriptions currently. The whole issue of access
to medication is an important one because if patients choose not, or
feel that they're unable to afford to buy these products, like coeliac
products, the gluten-free food, it might contradict what is trying to
be achieved. If people end up with expensive hospitalisation, that's
contrary to what the aim was in the first place. Let's make it clear, in
your mind, Sarah, is it your understanding of those entitled to
free prescriptions, the elderly, would be exempt from having to pay
over the counter for those things? I think the point is that there should
always be exceptions. It would be at the discretion of the GP and
patients. But it wouldn't be generally. It's quite clear groups
of people who are already exempt, children, the elderly, people on low
incomes, do you think there should be a commitment that they would
continue to get them free? People who have to pay for their
prescriptions, it's far more expensive to pay the prescription
charge than to buy your paracetamol over-the-counter. Is it? The other
thing is on the list of products, there are some things that are
called items of limited clinical value. Things that you have to be
asking should the NHS be prescribing any way? There is an issue of waste.
One of the other issues as travel vaccinations. If you can afford a
long haul flight, the argument is you can afford to pay for your own
jabs. Tyre that's why we need a full review. Nobody wants to see the NHS
wasting vital funding. Coming back to the point about people eligible
for free prescriptions, I think it's absolutely clear that the elderly,
and children, who happened to have life affecting conditions, in my
view, we ought to look very seriously about continuing. If this
applies stopped for them, for these products, I suspect that the saving
would be as great anyway, which means that we do need this review on
the impact on the wider NHS. All right. What is your take on it? I
think there is definitely an affordability issue and I can see
why we need the review. I think it does need to be wider. I was
surprised that some of these things were wrong prescription. For
example, I have my 60th birthday this year and I went to the doctors
for a prescription and found that I didn't have to pay. I was amazed,
because I hadn't realised. My immediate thought was, well, there
are people who need this free prescription and I'm not one of
them. How can we assure the people who need them getting them? Again,
looking ahead to what will be decided overall funding, this isn't
going to make much difference. Hugh Pym said you have got to start
summer. But ?100 million out of the budget of NHS England is a. Drop in
the ocean. -- you have got to start somewhere. We have an increased
year-on-year and the cost of drugs. We want to be able to afford new
drugs, sometimes we have to take a steely look at what we are spending
existing money and to make sure it is the best value for patients and
that we can use that to afford other things. And that is the point, isn't
it? It's an important point, but we are potentially looking at two
different things. The cost of the medication of the product, and the
cost of the GP's time, which is important and expensive. I would
like to see a national roll-out of minor ailments scheme is delivered
through community pharmacies where people on low incomes with minor
ailments requiring a relatively inexpensive treatments, like cough
medicines, for example, could be provided very inexpensively. I think
that's something that should be included in this review. Is it the
sort of further rationing? While the debate is going on, people will see
this as a political move. There were going to be announcements around
spending on NHS England in terms of drugs, then do you think it is the
beginning of more restrictions? We have always had a certain degree of
rationing within the NHS. The trouble is, it's happening in a
piecemeal way where some CCG 's have restrictions on this and not others.
We need restrictions that are fair to everybody across the country.
Evidence -based, that allows for special circumstances where you have
to make exemptions for certain people. Let's look at this in the
case of it being a relatively small amount of money, but the NHS has to
do do that across the piece if it's going to deliver the services people
want and expect. Thank you both very much.
The question for today is which political leader plans
to introduce legislation that would legalise
At the end of the show Tom will hopefully give
We're now just 24 hours away from the moment when Theresa May
formally notifies the EU of the UK's intention to leave the union.
We don't know yet what our future trading relationship
We'll have to wait a while for the deal that
But the Government is also pinning its hopes on better trade
relations with the rest of the world.
This morning, the Prime Minister and the International
Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, are in Birmingham,
Dr Fox opened the event with his grand vision.
When Prime Minister Theresa May came to Parliament in July last year,
she did so with a commitment to build a truly global Britain -
a nation firmly at the heart of global trade.
The vote to leave the European Union has given this country
For the first time in over 40 years, we will have an independent
trade policy giving us the self-determination
to forge closer trading links with old friends,
It is our task to build these links safeguarding Britain's prosperity,
as we open a new chapter in our history.
This morning, Open Europe, which is campaigning for Britain
to be closer to Europe after Brexit, laid out the ten promises
they believe that the Government and Vote Leave have made
Welcome to the Daily Politics. The promises you have set out you expect
Theresa May to keep, it includes the ?350 million a week to the NHS. Can
you blame Theresa May for that claim? She was on the remain aside
in the campaign and to some extent most people rubbished that figure.
It was open Britain who did the launch this morning and I think we
all want to have a close relationship with Europe, the Prime
Minister has said we are leaving the EU but we're not leaving Europe. We
carefully have picked out the 350 million on the side of a bus, a huge
part of the reason people voted leave and we also have the quote
from Boris Johnson in December who said that we will be getting back
millions from Europe and we will spend them on essential public
services including the NHS. That is what people are expecting to see. It
was a campaign, not a manifesto and it was not a promise made by Theresa
May, you accept that? Absolutely. It is important to recognise what
people were voting for, what they were expecting the Government which
has many key members of the Vote Leave campaign to deliver, people
will want to hold the Government to account. Northern Ireland, no
changes to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Did Vote Leave really promise no changes to the border? There is a
quote in the document about the fact they wanted the integrity of the
union to be preserved and I think there is a quote from Michael Gove
saying the union will not be under threat. Also the Northern Ireland
Secretary has talked about there being frictionless trade. The issue
of the border is incredibly important. It will be our first land
border with the European Union and yet people cross it all the time.
But they did not say anything about there being a border to stop people,
they said there would be no return to border controls. The customs
border is not the same thing. How on earth would you deliver customs
checks without having something physically in place? That applies
more broadly to coming into ports across the country, we do not have
at the moment the IT and technology to deal with that. The point is
there are a number of policies made in the campaign and by ministers
since and I think as we end this phoney war as Article 50 is
triggered tomorrow, it is right to say to people, we all want a good
deal, this is what ministers set a good deal would look like. Let us
look again at the promises. You are calling for a dramatic reduction in
immigration, you say that was promised. David Davis has conceded
that migration might rise post Brexit. It is about taking back
control. These are, to some extent, straw men you are putting up because
you know and you hope the Government will fail to meet them. No. I want
the best possible deal, as does the Prime Minister and everybody else.
We are leaving the EU, we have had the vote, the debate, it starts now.
In order to get the best possible deal, immigration was a huge part of
the reason people wanted to vote leave, they talked about taking back
control, they want immigration to be controlled. You have not said
whether it would fall. It was about taking back control but not
necessarily whether there would be a permanent reduction. The only broken
promise has been made by the Conservative government time and
time again on reducing net migration to the tens of thousands. We are
nowhere near that target. But as one of the reasons people feel so
strongly about the issue. It is a result
of policy decisions made by the last Labour government and it is
something we have not discussed properly in this country for a long
time. The Conservative government has made the promise under the
coalition and subsequently. They said net migration would come down
to tens of thousands. David Davis was being a realist last night. He
will not necessarily be able to keep to this promise you have put up for
the Government to stick to. One of the things I said in the opening of
the document under press conference was that when these things cannot be
the British public deserve an explanation. That is what we are
getting towards. I'm picking what David Davis said last night, there
will have to be compromises and that is why Parliament needs to be
involved -- unpicking. Particularly important when we have no real
official opposition to do that job. You admit there is going to be a
compromise, there will have to be some conditions that will not be
met, despite your ten promises you are trying to make the Government
keep to? How many of the promises do you want to see the Government stick
to in order for Brexit to be deemed a success? I am not involved in the
negotiations. I will not get involved in the numbers. You have
made these points. These are things people felt strongly about. I know
from campaigning on the streets. One of the others is about having the
same trade benefits as currently in the single market. That will not be
possible. They will not be exactly the same. That is something for the
Secretary of State for exiting the EU. He has given that promise in the
House of Commons to one of my colleagues. He said because of the
comprehensive trade and customs agreements, he said we would have
the same trade benefits. Many businesses in this country say this
is really important. I think it is absolutely right those of us who
will be asking the questions, wanting the best deal, make it
clear... The issue of the deal is so important. Brexit was not a
manifesto, it was a straight decision, a campaign to leave or
remain. The voters chose leave and the Government will try to deliver
what they think the people wanted. In your question, what the people
wanted, what they think the people wanted, you are right, the result
was to leave, that will be delivered tomorrow. The terms are very
important for the future of this country.
John Redwood, who campaigned for Brexit, joins us now.
He has been listening to Nicky Morgan. Let us go back to the
beginning, as we did with Nicky Morgan, Boris Johnson's read Russ,
the promise of ?350 million per week for the health service. -- the red
bus. When is it happening? I was invited onto your programme to deal
with Labour's conditions or tests. This is not quite the interview you
told me you were wanting me to produce. I would be happy to discuss
Labour's tests. They tend to be the policies of the Government and
perfectly sensible. I do not know what you were brought on to discuss
but actually we want to discuss what Open Britain has talked about today
with Nicky Morgan. I am very happy to talk about why we will be much
better off out of the EU. We did that in the referendum campaign and
on the money I myself, through the Vote Leave auspices, launched a
possible budget that could be delivered once we have taken back
control of our money. The net contributions we currently have to
pay to Europe and do not get back, primarily on health but also social
care and one or two others, that was a document which Vote Leave put out
and I hope the Chancellor will look kindly on that. You agree with Nicky
Morgan? It was about taking back control. You would like to see the
Government meet that obligation? It is not an obligation. The decision
was to spend our own money on our own priorities and I look forward to
a Conservative government being able to do that once we have completed
our exit from the EU. Of course there will be more money to spend on
our priorities because we will not be making the big net contribution
to the EU. A lot of people were persuaded by what was seen as a
pledge by many voters for ?350 million to be spent on the NHS a
week. They voted to take back control and for Parliament to decide
how to spend our money on our priorities. The actual sum of money
was deeply disputed in the campaign because the bus had the gross figure
on it, my budget happened to spend the net figure. Immigration, would
you agree most leave voters were probably under the impression that
if leave won immigration would fall? I think most voters who voted to
leave recognised that once we take back control, we can have migration
policy which Parliament wants, which government puts through Parliament,
which may well reduce the numbers. That is what the Conservatives
offered to do in the 2010 and 2015 election. It was a popular promise
which helped to elect us and it has proved extremely difficult to do,
partly because we are still in the EU and they prevent us controlling
about half of the migration coming into the country. I think people
will want the Government when we have the powers to be more
restrictive. I do not think people thought that overnight migration
would stop. A lot of us went to great lengths that we wish to be
open to talent. The Government has rightly said they want a Britain
open to talent. They want to make some reduction in those coming in
speculatively to take jobs at the low end of the pay scale. What do
you make of David Davis last night conceding migration might have to
rise post Brexit? That is a debate to hold as soon as we have the power
to run our borders in the right way. As I say, the essence of the
campaign, a lot of people wanted Britain to make that decision, but
most voters were quite realistic, they do not think we will move to
know migration and it would not be sensible. No migration is different
from lower migration. Lower migration is that aim of the present
government and it has more chance of succeeding with that once we have
taken back control of the borders. It has certainly failed at the
moment. The official line from Michael Gove and Boris Johnson was
that we would leave the single market but we would enjoy full and
free access to the single market. Do you think it is still true? That is
quite possible. It would be the rational and sensible thing of our
partners on the continent. The. Why would they give us full and free
access as we had as members of the single market if we were to leave?
They need full and free access to our market. They sell many more
products that could attract quite high tariffs if we go over to World
Trade Organisation rules. I take the view that our partners are broadly
sensible people, decent people, they will see their own interests and
come around to the view they should not impose tariffs on our trade. I
maybe wrong. If they wish to damage themselves, of we will trade under
WTO terms and that will be fine for the UK, it is how we do trade with
the rest of the world at the moment. Nicky Morgan? I am speechless about
the fact that someone like John Redwood says it is fine to crash out
on WTO. Many people have said it is not fine. It leaves businesses in
total state of limbo. It would be very... If we want to have a costly
Brexit, the most costly, crashing out on WTO, it is irresponsible of
people like John Redwood to think it is OK. Is it looking optimistic to
further opportunities outside of the EU or irresponsible? This is a
negotiation that starts tomorrow, if you compare it to a football pitch,
you start at your goal and start in the centre. If you start in the
centre, you will lose. Is it possible to have full and free
access to the single market when we are outside it? It will change, no
question. What we would hope is that there will be a balance because, as
John Redwood said, there is a significant trade flow into the UK,
the UK is a very attractive market for a lot of EU companies. We buy a
lot of very high value products. They want to keep selling them.
There has to be some quid pro quo. Before we let you go, let us have a
quick look at the front page of the Daily Mail today. It has focused on
the legs of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon. An accompanying article by
Sarah Vine. A barrage of criticism about that focus, rather than on the
discussions between them on the independence referendum. Responding
to Sarah Vine's article, Nicky Morgan tweeted... We contacted Sarah
Vine this morning and she told us it was just Twitter chitchat but it is
always nice to see that a story has legs. That made you laugh.
The whole thing is so unbelievably... I'm lost for words.
I can't believe that in the 21st century we are seriously talking
about two female politicians' legs. The Mail has got what it wanted.
It's deliberately provocative, and I stand by that. I understand they
have changed their strapline for the second edition, so I think even they
agree that it was a step too far. Do you agree with Nikki Morgan or Sarah
Vine? I agree with Nikki. I think it's crass and it takes the focus of
what is a very, very critical issue. Thank you.
This afternoon, the Scottish Parliament will restart its debate
on the SNP's plan to hold a second referendum on independence.
MSPs were debating the issue last Wednesday afternoon,
but the session was suspended after the terror
Our correspondent, Lorna Gordon, joins us from Edinburgh.
The First Minister and the SNP will win this motion with the support of
the greens. But as yesterday's meeting showed, there is no appetite
for this referendum while Brexit negotiations are going on. What does
Nicola Sturgeon do next? I think the SNP would dispute that common that
there is no appetite while Brexit negotiations go on. That is
certainly what the Conservatives in the parliament here argue. That is
what Labour and the Liberal Democrats argue. That is the line
being taken by Theresa May, the Prime Minister. Early polling would
suggest there is less of an appetite for a referendum immediately, but
that hasn't really been a great amount of polling since Nicola
Sturgeon made her comments are a couple of weeks ago. And certainly
polling, whilst Sarah Storey majority in favour of independence,
the country is almost pretty evenly split on the issue itself. -- whilst
there is certainly a majority in favour of independence. This
government motion is calling for a section 30 order and is almost
certain to pass. The SNP, along with the Greens, will have a comfortable
majority. There is a small protest of pro-independence supporters
outside at the moment, showing their support. The timing of it all, well,
it'll start at two o'clock. Nicola Sturgeon will give opening comments
lasting about 80 minutes in this debate as it gets underway. -- 18
minutes. Closing speeches. To round 4:40. Then there is a procedural
point where all the opposition motions are voted on. That will
start around five o'clock. The key motion, which will either be amended
by the Greens or the Government motion itself, it will, in all
likelihood, pass, moving to the critical point which is when the
Scottish Government, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, will
write to the UK Government formally requesting the transfer of powers to
call a section 30, calling referendum under section 30 of the
Scotland Act, in effect setting out how they hope to fulfil the mandate
of the Scottish parliament here. The SNP would argue all of that pulling
aside, that they have a mandate here by being the largest party, by being
the Government. And they would argue that they are doing what they
believe is right to represent the citizens here in Scotland. Theresa
May continues to say she's not going to grant an independence referendum
during the Brexit negotiations, would Nicola Sturgeon be tempted to
hold an unofficial referendum without the consult of Westminster?
It's a tricky one, isn't it? I think the mood's music suggests that that
is unlikely. The other option that has been muted is that she might
call a snap election. That, too, appears to have been ruled out. It's
hard to see where this goes next. You have two very strong leaders
here who are cordial, very businesslike in their dealings with
each other. But that did appear to be a frosty meeting yesterday. There
was no handshake for the camera. They're very strong personalities
and they have positions that are very apart. Theresa May says no
referendum at this time, and of course at this moment Westminster
holds all the cards. They are the ones who legislate on this issue to
allow Scotland to hold a referendum if that motion was passed this
afternoon. Thank you very much. What is your view, Tom, on whether
Theresa -- on whether Nicola Sturgeon should be able to have a
second referendum? I think ultimately that is for the people of
Scotland. If there is a majority, I would they support it. At the polls
suggest that the case at the moment. If they decide that there were they
want to go, we have a big operation in Scotland, then we will manage our
business accordingly. She will say that she has got a mandate to do it,
even if the polls say they don't want to have another referendum now.
They might do in a couple of years' time. What do you think of the logic
of Theresa May, conducting Brexit negotiations, but stopping Scotland
its own independence referendum? I can see there's a logic that says
the reason for asking for another referendum now is because the
Brexit. Otherwise I think we were told this wouldn't happen for a
generation. So Brexit is because there is a strong argument seemed
you can't debate what a post-Brexit world is going to look like until
you get post Brexit. So there is a strong argument to say let's wait
and see what the deal looks like. Do you think people have changed their
mind, those who voted for independence last time and those who
wanted to remain? Anecdotally, has been issued since Brexit? I don't
detected. The country was that pretty much down the middle. I don't
think things have changed that much. All right, we will leave it there.
The contest to be the next general secretary of Unite,
the UK's biggest trade union, gets under way in earnest
this week as ballot papers are being sent to members.
It's getting a lot more attention than the average union election,
because it's widely seen as a proxy battle between the left and right
The winner will be announced at the end of April.
The incumbent general secretary, Len McCluskey,
It's thought that a win for him would be a boost for Jeremy Corbyn.
However, Mr McCluskey seemed to qualify his support
for Mr Corbyn at the weekend, saying that the Labour leader only
had "15 months or so" to break through in opinion polls.
The main challenger is thought to be Gerard Coyne.
A win for him would be welcomed by centrist Labour MPs.
He's accused Len McCluskey of "messing around in Westminster
politics" rather than focusing on the concerns of union members.
The third man in the race is Ian Allinson.
He describes himself as a "grassroots socialist candidate".
He says his values are more in tune with Jeremy Corbyn's than either
Gerard Coyne appeared on this programme earlier in the year
and Len McCluskey has so far declined our invitations,
You know how to get hold of us! Welcome to the programme, Ian. The
other two candidates in this race, Len McCluskey and Gerard Coyne, are
seen as the frontrunners. Do you think you have any chance?
Absolutely. Members want to see a shake-up in the union. Most of us
have the experience of seeing employers asking us to work longer
and harder for less. Of seeing pressure on jobs, pay and
conditions, public services and our rights. They want to see a stronger
union fighting back against that. And what is wrong with Len
McCluskey? You're missing too many opportunities. There's a big gap
between the union with got and the union we need. I thought the
campaign -- I thought the campaign on workers' rights was not good.
Yesterday we had to report ourselves to the police before we could have a
picket. It's ridiculous. Do you think Jeremy Corbyn and his
leadership team didn't do enough to fight that bill? I don't think the
problem was simply a Parliamentary level. I think we needed a
grassroots campaign and we focus on parliament, when you have a Tory
majority, was never going to deliver the win we focus on Parliament, when
you have a Tory majority, was never going to deliver the wind needed.
This contest has been seen as a proxy war between the
representatives of the Labour Party. Where do you stand on that issue? I
think Gerard Coyne has been linking up with people like Tom Watson to
attack. Making out, for example, that Len McCluskey could affiliate
Unite to Momentum. Is a ridiculous? It's not a decision for a general
secretary. Tom Watson has said it a secret plan. He said that because of
a key figure in Momentum he said Unite would affiliate to Momentum,
rather than the Labour Party. Is to anyone more than it is up to us
frontrunners. It would be up to be Unite conference or executive. What
Tom Watson is trying to do is boost Gerard Coyne's chances. While he
says he wants to spend less time in Westminster politics, he is the one
spending all his time plotting with the right wing of the Labour Party
and ignoring the issues that are of concern to members who want to focus
on the issues of concern to them. Do you think there is a plot on the
other side by Tom Watson and Gerard Coyne to try and discredit Unite, as
it stands, and its links to Momentum? I think this has been
plot, after plot, after plot to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. If we had any
leader breaking from the consensus we have had around cuts and
austerity, there would be facing massive opposition from the bulk of
the media, which is hostile to the kinds of policies Unite stands for.
And also the backbenches of the Labour Party, full of people who
couldn't even bring themselves to vote against the Tory welfare bill.
Of course he is facing opposition and plots. They will be backed by
the dreadful polls for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party at the moment.
And even the most recent one yesterday shows the British public
give a higher poll approval rating at 80% family duty Jeremy Corbyn. I
don't think it's about individuals. Whoever was Labour leader would be
facing those kind of pressures. That's why I've been arguing that
the kind of support that Unite has been given just isn't good enough.
Len McCluskey has undermined Jeremy Corbyn on key policy issues such as
Trident and free movement of labour. I don't think that's been helpful
and I don't think his comments about being given a 15 month a helpful. He
should be signing up for the policies that unite champions and
Unite members need, whoever we members need. You don't think you
should be given any timescale in terms of making a breakthrough in
the opinion polls? I don't think we're going to back the shift the
opinion polls by backing this or that leader. New Labour have lost
the last two elections. Not only has Labour's polling not improved, it's
also annihilated himself. The idea of turning the clock back to that
new Labour approach is just pie in the sky. You are backed by Socialist
workers. Would you like to ally Unite closer to them and the Labour
Party? No. You wouldn't? No. Even though they are supporting you and
would want you to stand? My position is that Unite should be supporting
Jeremy Corbyn and the left of the Labour Party in trying to pursue the
policies Unite stands for, because that is what this is about. It is
about Unite's issues and. This conference has got a lot more media
coverage because of being by some people as a proxy war the two sides
of the Labour Party. Ian Allinson said that neither party are
supporting in the way that -- neither candidate is supporting in
the way that they should be stopped by far be it for me to give advice
to be members of Unite because they will have their own view. It is the
biggest trade union, of course. And it is our biggest union. Our biggest
interest is that Unite is led by people interested in the membership
of Unite, because they will stand up for the rights of people in Unite.
That is what we think is the most important thing. But it's not our
decision in any way, shape or form. Was about Ian Allison's claim that
as the new general secretary of Unite the should be full backing
behind Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour leader? I think this is less about
politics and more about the rights of workers and members of Unite.
That should be the paramount issue. You have said that your policies are
more in line with Jeremy Corbyn on issues like Trident and free
movement. What did you mean, exactly? I think it was one that Len
McCluskey argued in favour of spending the 205 billion estimated
cost on Trident. It's hard to imagine how you can spend that money
and not make more jobs will stop that was the basis of the argument.
What about free movement? We could diversify into other activities, for
example, renewable energies. On free movement, I think it's quite a
simple argument. It is a worthless' right argument. If we have a
situation where people are told where they could level work, it's
the people who are forced to work illegally. We have more than issues
like -- help -- we have more issues like the Morecambe Bay pickers. You
have more workers, irrespective of where they have come from, and the
idea that we protect wages by excluding people from the labour
market is as misguided as them from people try to exclude women from the
labour market. So you didn't agree with Jeremy Corbyn's change of mind
in calling for reform. I think there should be freedom of reform,
absolutely. Thank you very much for coming in.
Now, our guest of the day, Tom Crotty, is a director of Ineos
which, amongst other things, is a major player in the emerging
But fracking for shale gas is, of course, controversial.
According to its proponents, it will create jobs,
boost economic growth and bring down energy bills.
But according to critics, it will damage the local environment,
lead to more carbon emissions and distract us from focusing
The Government has been enthusiastic about fracking for years, but
despite that, the industry hasn't really taken off just yet.
Let's take a look at George Osborne making the case for fracking
We will have the proper environmental standards around
But I think for this country to turn its back on one
of its great natural resources, which other countries are using,
would be to basically condemn our country to higher energy
Frankly, I don't want to be part of a generation that says
all the economic activity was happening somewhere else
in the world, and wasn't happening in our country,
and wasn't happening on our continent.
So we should get off with the safe and environmentally
protected exploration of our shale gas resources.
The Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, is here.
Just before I come to you, so much noise about fracking over the last
few years, George Osborne and David Cameron were very keen supporters of
it. Why has it not taken off? We are taking a cautious approach, we have
been doing seismic testing, we are starting to do test drilling this
year. We have two more years of scientific work before we are in a
position to start doing it commercially because we are taking
an extremely cautious approach. It has to be done safely and well. Or
you have been blocked. Most people thought it would have started,
rightly or wrongly. The licenses from the Government were only issued
late last year. We have not had very long. Is that a relief? It is. The
fracking industry is in all sorts of trouble. There are concerns about
local environmental impacts. Until we are absolutely sure it is safe,
we should not go ahead. At a global level, we know the fracking industry
is part of the fossil fuel industry and we know 78% of shale gas has to
stay in the ground if we are going to have any chance of meeting the
climate change limit. It does not have any chance in our future and it
is turning out to be more expensive than renewables. Do you accept it
does not in the long term have any place in our future because we
should be focusing on renewables are Mark no, I do not. I think we should
focus on renewables and we are producing the building blocks for
the renewable industry. We make turbine lubricants, raw materials
for solar panels. But we have to have more gas as a bridge technology
in this country, it is a long bridge, 30, 40, 50 years. In the UK,
the gas will replace imported gas. It has higher CO2, the imported gas.
We would also be able to eliminate coal. To argue that we do not need
the gas on CO2 grounds is wrong. I do not buy that argument. The gas
coming in is displacing other gas. The point is the fracking industry
greatly underestimate the amount of leakages that are and it is of
methane which is much more serious in terms of the climate effect than
natural gas. We need to reduce our demand for energy altogether
particularly by improving the quality of our housing. If
environmental protections could be guaranteed, you said, you implied,
fracking would be all right, if there could be guarantees and
reassurances that any damage or impact would be limited and safe,
then... I am not convinced. The more important argument is around climate
change and the need to move beyond fossil fuels. Because renewables are
free, they are becoming cheaper all the time, the fuel is free. In three
years' time, renewables will be cheaper than fossil fuels and by
2025, considerably cheaper. I do not think consumers should be made to
pay and I do not think we should be subsidising fossil fuels to the tune
of ?6 billion the year. The reality is we are massively subsidising
renewables right now. That is the reality. At the moment, the issue
for me is renewables are not able to do the job. We are getting less than
15% of our power from renewables today and zero of our heat. 85% of
homes in this country are heated by gas. You saying renewables are not
subsidised? No, but they are new, they should be subsidised. Fossil
fuels are subsidised because that of vested interests. It is still a low
percentage of our actual... It is half the level of subsidy than
fossil fuels. Most people would be shocked. I am shocked about that.
The point about intermittency is an old point. We need demand of our
energy supply and that is the direction in which renewables are
able to provide what we need. Does fracking answer the question of
weaning people off high energy consumption? That is the way forward
and renewables fit that picture much Ativan fracking. People use energy
regardless of its source in the same way. Demand management is the most
effective way to reduce carbon emissions in the long one. It has to
come first. It is by no means the only solution. If we are going to
decarbonise because of agreements under the Paris agreement, fracking
is still another few years down the line, you claim it would be a very
long bridge, 30, 40 years, if we subsidise renewables even more at
this stage, could we not move to it much quicker? The answer is, no. We
do not have the capacity. We do not have the technology either. At the
moment, we cannot store electricity in a meaningful way. We have not got
the technology. When we get to the point where every window in our
house is a solar panel, every wall is a battery. We are still tens of
years away. Do you not accept that is the best way to make the
transition? Fracking. If we do not have the technology to store energy,
for the time being, fracking actually provides the bridge? -- I
do not accept it. Can we store huge amounts of energy? Storage is
improving rapidly. How much do we store? I have not got the figures.
If we subsidise fracking and continue to have planning in favour
of fracking and against wind power, if we subsidise an energy that is
very unpopular, we are diverging away from the investment of
renewables we need. You say planning is in favour of fracking but we have
not seen fracking taking place, it cannot be that much in favour! The
Government has tilted the playing field in favour of fracking. It is
undermining wind power. Molly Scott Cato has the public on her side. 19%
of people in favour of fracking, very low. It is low but it has
changed in the polling that has been done for six, seven years, moving
back in favour of fracking. By how much? By a very small amount. There
is a huge amount of misinformation about the impact of fracking. One of
the challenges we have is going into local communities, holding public
meetings, saying, come along and find out the facts. We are finding
we have people... We had a cancellation of a public meeting two
weeks ago by a local community because they were being bombarded
with abusive phone calls are threatening them that if they
carried on the meeting and invited us along, there would be problems.
That is not democracy, it is anarchy. It is a very divisive
subject and that is because local communities do not want this dirty
industry in their backyard. In Rotherham, there is a very strong
protest against what Ineos is doing and this sort of industry divides
communities compared to reunion was which can be owned by communities
and bring social and environmental benefits as well as economic
benefits -- compared to renewables. The benefits are massive for the
local communities. Still divided at the end. Thank you for coming in. 30
years old... That is not me unfortunately!
Now, at 30 years old, it's frankly a bit past it.
I'm talking, of course, about the old pound coin.
Experts estimate one in 30 pound coins is fake.
The Government announced three years ago it would introduce
a new younger model, with a greater focus on making it
Our Ellie has been looking at how your change is changing.
I can tell the House that we will move to a new highly secure ?1 coin.
Our new pound coin will blend the security
features of the future with inspiration from our past.
It was perhaps one of George Osborne's most
He even got a schoolboy to design it.
Two-toned, 12-sided, it's thinner, lighter and larger
And they're going to put about 1.5 billion into
The Royal Mint is currently making 3 million coins every day.
And the switchover from the old coins to the
This is the most secure coin in the world.
It's got what we call over security features, the ones that you
It's got a feature where if you look in one direction, you see
If you look in another direction, you see another.
And even the shape makes it more difficult to copy.
Yeah, there's a secret feature that can only be recognised
by certain vending machines, which is for verification.
When these coins go back to the sorting banks,
they can recognise what the fakes and forgeries are.
And we expect none because this security feature is
But it's caused some problems for parking
meters, shopping trolleys and vending machines, which are all
People in the market this morning were not all keen on
I like the Crown, the silver in the middle.
The coin is a coin, a pound is a pound.
The first time I've seen one for real.
They reckon a third of the ?1.3 billion worth of coins we have
stashed away in various places in the UK are the old pound coins.
You've got until October 15th to find them and spend them.
And I'm joined now from Portcullis House
by the Conservative MP, Sir David Amess,
who raised concerns about the new pound in Parliament last month.
What are you worried about? I am very worried the general public have
not been given enough information that the coin will not be legal
tender from October and I am worried local authorities are not prepared
with car parking charges, supermarkets do not seem to have had
the trolleys adapted, confectionery machines... It does not feel as if
enough preparation has been done. I understand the need for change but I
do not think the preparation has been done. How much longer would you
like people to have been given? I would have liked some sort of
dedicated public awareness programme on TV. There is something called a
trial which one of my people has been a jury on and we are now on the
28th of April when Philip Hammond goes to the trial to see whether it
is properly goal-tender. We have got a month now to try to raise the
profile. -- proper legal tender. Local businesses, I understand there
is a big cost in changing the machines and I do not think there
has been enough time and a brick awareness about this very big change
-- public awareness. The Government says six months is quite a long
time. Have you seen the coins? Do you like them? I quite like them. I
do not link I will have as many holes in the lining of my suit
jacket as I used to have. I am not an expert in designing a coin. After
30 years, I understand we need to change these things. They are seen
as easy to fake, the existing ones, the ones going out. Experts have
designed it and it'll hopefully will do the job. It is the practicality,
people struggling to make the vending machines work. It really
does not feel as if enough work has been done. I will give you my little
collection here of five new ?1 coins. How do they feel? I think
they feel OK, they are quite attractive. Hold it up! Not that we
will be able to see it! You cannot see the 12 sides. It is not a Dodig
he. Because it has two sides, front and back, it is a kept Rebecca
There's just time before we go to find out the answer to our quiz.
The question was, which political leader plans to introduce
legislation that would legalise the recreational use of marijuana?
Is it a North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, Donald Trump,
Germany's Angela Merkel, or Canada's Justin Trudeau?
Macro I would guess Justin Trudeau. That is it for today. You are right.
Thank you to Tom Crotty for being my guest of the day. You can give me
those coins back now!
Jo Coburn with the latest political news, interviews and debate. She is joined by Tom Crotty, director of chemical manufacturing company Ineos, for the whole programme.
They talk about NHS England's plans to introduce new guidelines to discourage GPs from prescribing medicines which are available over the counter for a fraction of the cost, and also take a look at fracking and why it has suffered setbacks in the UK.