29/03/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis.

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Forget the pumps, worry about the reactors. Is the real crisis that


the lights are in danger of going out?


Has Britain got an energy strategy, as the nuclear option unwinds, is


time running out. It is disappointing, I won't


pretend otherwise, there is momentum behind nuclear new build


in the UK. Will it be the Government, consumer or environment


that ends up paying, we ask the experts.


We are already back in recession, says the OECD, should the


Government be more worried about that than petrol cans and pasties.


The three Musketeers were on the train to ask if an elected mayor


would make a difference. Of all the cities Birmingham looks most likely


to vote to get a mayor, they will get more powers if they do so,


which powers. Should the UK add plea bargains to their armoury in


the fight against terrorism. We have been speaking to the head of


the FBI. The more I'm in the business I believe that sources and


wires are essential to address terrorism.


Good evening, at the petrol pump there is panic, at home higher


bills. In the North Sea a leaking gas rig, and now plans for a they


generation of nuclear power station lie in tatters, two companies have


pulled out. The Government as attempts to reduce carbon emissions,


while restructuring or energy consumption are looking for


strained and contradictory already. Can you keep everyone happy and


keep the lights on, or will someone pay a heavy price.


In energy economics it is known as the trilemma, it is one of the


thorniest issues facing the Government, how to secure security


of our energy supply, at a price that supports the economy, without


damaging our global environment. The elusive solution that provides


a mixed energy supply, and reduced demand, that will keep Britannia


afloat, without alienating the consumers, who have to pay for it


all, through their bills. Hopes of a stable energy policy


took a hit today, as two of the big six energy giants, pulled out of a


joint venture to build new nuclear reactors in the UK, here in North


Wales and Gloucestershire. The man who was Business Secretary under


Gordon Brown, and who now works as a spokesman for the nuclear energy


industry, conceded it wasn't a good day for nuclear power. It is


obviously disappointing news, that both these companies have made the


decision, on purely commercial grounds, and I understand and


respect that, we do have two consortia still actively pursuing


nuclear new build plans in the UK. That is tremenduously important and


will be important for the UK going forward. Now we have to find,


hopefully, a buyer for this particular consortia, the Horizon


Project, so the plans in North Wales go ahead. It is disappointing,


I will clearly not pretend otherwise. There is momentum behind


nuclear new build in the UK. The Government is committed to ensuring


that is maintained. So are we. For sale, then, the chance to build


two nuclear tour plants. Any takers?


Or is gas the answer? In his budget last week, George Osborne delighted


the industry with incentives that might mean a new dash for gas.


Gas is cheap, and has much less carbon than coal, and will be the


largest single source of electricity in the coming years. My


right honourable friend, the Energy Secretary, will set out our new gas


generation strategy in the autumn. This week's gas leak on the he will


began platform in the North Sea, is a stark reminer, as Britain taps


ever more marginal energy reserves it gets harder and riskier,


firefighting ships were on the scene today amid fears of an


explosion. On shore, there is much excitement


about shale gas, but they are still waiting for the decision from


Government on whether extraction, by hydraulic fracturing, or


fracking, can restart, after it caused two earthquakes near


Blackpool. Here in a London hotel today, more evidence of the


environmental part of that trilemma. Just this week the Government


delayed a decision, that has already taken four years to debate,


mandatory reporting, by business, of carbon emissions. Sustainability


analysts, who have rated the carbon foo footprint of scores of FTSE 250


companies, say that delay is already damaging Britain's


competitiveness. Businesses will be reluctant to invest for the future,


to invest in new technology, to invest in sort of operational


efficiencies that are required, to see how they might transition to


the low-carbon economy. They will be less likely to invest in


research and development, and develop any products and services


for the future. And therefore, potentially, not be as competitive


as some of our other countries could be in this particular space.


With a new question mark over any nuclear Rennaissance in the UK, and


safety and environmental risks linked with any renewed dash for


gas, Britain's cleaner energy companies reckon they have spotted


a chance. Six of Britain's leading wind energy providers are launching


a fightback, an ad campaign that argues wind power should play a


larger part in Britain's future energy supply. They say that unless


renewables play a bigger role, then the rush we are seeing for this


kind of energy, petrol at the pump, will be echoed elsewhere in the


system. With growing numbers of consumers desperate to get hold of


gas and electricity that simply isn't on-line when they want it.


Renewables are important, for our diverse tee, and for providing jobs


for the next ten years. Renewables will lead to lower cost of energy


for the UK consumer, because gas price also carry on increasing.


rests on the shoulders of this generation to find a way through


the energy trilemma, successfully juggling the economy, energy


security, and the environment. Or risk handing the next generation an


energy system that doesn't deliver. We have Peter Lilley, the co-


founder of the campaign Plain Stupid, and Tom Burke, who has


advised three environment secretaries. Thank you for coming


If we look, first of all, at the nuclear pull-out, does it leave


Britain's energy strategy in crisis? It leaves the policy in


crisis but doesn't leave Britain in crisis, because the policy, to a


large extent, was based on a complete mistake, that we were


running out of generational capacity, and we needed nuclear to


fill that gap. Reality is we are closing down gas-fired power


stations at the moment because there is not enough demand for them.


So Britain is not in bad position, but the policy is in a complete


mess. You mean we are fine without the nuclear power stations?


don't need nuclear power station, even if you were very optimistic


and started building a new nuclear power station some time next year,


you would be in the middle of the next decade before generating any


electricity from it. It was always a mistaken policy.


Do you think that's right? Do you think the whole idea that we put


all our energise into the new nuclear and that was a complete


mistake? Theoretically the new existing nuclear power stations


will be decommissioned, they may be extend, but they have decommission


dates. Quite a lot of coal-fired stations will be illegal under


European Union rules. Unless we will use less electricity we will


need more xasty. The cheapest way is more gas, which produces half as


much carbon as coal and oil. The only way you can meet carbon


commitments, if you think it is important to reduce or eliminate


carbon emissions and producing electricity that is nuclear, is the


way to go. You say "if" we think it is important? You don't? I don't


think it is nearly as important people do, I don't know the science,


but I trained in physics, but the economics built up on the back of


the carbon fears I don't go along with. We are back to fossil fuels?


The fear is we are rushing towards a very gas-dependant future. We


will end up with a huge amount of our electricity and heating coming


from gas. Gas is hugely expensive, household energy bills went up by


�175 on average last year. Almost all of that driven by gas. It is


highly polluting, and most imported. It seems madness we would go down


that route when we could make renewable energy the cornerstone of


our energy strategy like Germany has. Renewables are way more


expensive than gas? Not true. this country at this stage? Gas is


the main reason why bills have gone up. And gas is hugely. That is a


different point. Gas and fossil fuels have gone up a lot, that is


the main reason bills have gone up. But if we were to switch to wind


and sol la, then our bills would be much, much -- solar, then our bills


would be much, much higher. That is not true. Why the need to subsidise


them? Let's be clear of nuclear subsidies. You have to remember how


bad this decision is for the Fukushima clear industry. What has


been said, is even -- the nuclear industry is. It was said even with


the subsidies it wasn't going to be economically viable. Let's clear up


the fossil fuels versus renewables, this is key. Where would consumers


get a cheaper deal going forward? Exactly, that is why Peter is wrong


to say it is the only option. The key thing for consumers is to


separate global energy prices and bills. The way to do that driving


energy efficiency forward by demand reduction and running the energy


system more efficiently, focusing on driving bills down. We have


exactly the wrong priority in the current proposed reform of


electricity markets, which will try to increase supply expensively,


however you do it, instead of thinking how you do it. The fact


Tom avoided answering the question gives the game away, renewables are


far more expensive than fossil fuels. Do you think people will


have to change the way they live? doubt very much, I think we are


moving towards a situation where the price of gas may come down, we


will switch to more gas production, that will happen to reduce the


level of carbon emissions, it will reduce the costs. If we find we


have large reserves of shale gas, as they have in the states.


have conceded the main reason why bills have gone up is the price of


gas. Why would you want to become more dependant on expensive,


imported gas. It is less expensive than renewables, and there is a


prospect, that we have large reserves of shale gas, which in the


states is halving the price of gas. Exxon disagree, British Gas


disagree, Deutsche Bank disagree, they all say shale gas is unlikely


to bring down costs for consumers. We have seen it bring down costs.


Your analysis depended on what you call more efficiencies, which,


reading between the lines, means people using less energy, or


insulating the loft? Do more energy efficiency and make better use of


your generating capacity. households or a country? As a


country. Not just as households, but businesses as well. We will use


renewables, we are legally committed to generating 35% of our


electricity from renewables. We are going to use gas, I have no problem


with us using gas. Frankly, the Chancellor disagrees with both


these guys, we saw it in the package, that gas is cheap. I don't


know quite where they think it is such an expensive option. What is


so frustrating s the Government have been bending over backwards to


try to make nuclear work, offering all sorts of hidden supsidies, now


the nuclear dream is falling apart, and all the time they could have


been investing in renewable energy like other countries, this is a


blooming global he industry, we are falling behind and not xoting with


these countries, because the Government -- competing with these


countries because the Government has put all their eggs in nuclear


or gas. We have gone for two of the worst options as opposed to the


obvious middle one? The idea you can run a modern economy on wind


that blows sometimes and then not, and sun that goes in at night.


Germany does it? It is reining back on its subsidies and it is only a


small share. This summer the German Government is expecting to get 40%


on some days of its total. On some days, what about the others. Let me


finish. Sorry. 40% of its electricity some days from PVC


polar alone. In nuclear capacity we lose 24% of it to unplanned outages,


it is just as intermittant as solar. Even in Germany the sun doesn't


shine at night. It is very important. I'm saying that is


proving a point, which is you can't rely on it? He's not proving a


point. The point is we have a grid that can manage losing 24% of its


electricity, nuclear, without any problems, because you manage all


the sources of energy on a grid are intermittant. I don't think any of


us realise how steeply household bills will rise with gas. The


Government stuck out a press release on Saturday before the


budget, saying gas power plants could say at the current carbon


levels to 2045, that is under the radar, that will be a huge cost.


don't get the cost you are making. Why should gas be a huge cost?


Because gas bills are going up, all the bills are going up? If you


replace an expensive fuel by a more expensive fuel, they go up more.


You can't pretend that these other sources of electricity, are less


expensive, and still demand supsidies for them. By any


calculation you have to have supsidies for wind, you need twice


the subsidy of offshore wind. You even need subsidy for nuclear.


Government has lost its appetite for renewables? The Chancellor


doesn't seem to be very enthusiastic about renewables, the


point is, he's putting his eggs into the gas basket, but his own


independent advisers on climate change, say that for the UK to stay


within our carbon budgets, that all three political parties say they


support, then we have to have the power sector decarbonised by 2030,


he wants gas plants operating with high emissions until 2045.


The Press Pack was in full cry today, sniffing out which cabinet


minister has or hasn't chowed down on a pasty, and which has or hasn't


filled a Gerry can full of petrol. But humming in the background is


the big story. This country's slow economic recovery. Today the


Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development, the EOCD,


predicted we are in a double-dip recession, given their record of


predictions, perhaps that was good news for George Osborne. Do you buy


this? It is a dizzying array of predictions. What is puzzling some


people in Government, they do take it seriously, but they are also


looking at other indicators published after the OECD put their


note out, which shows things are tipping up. The PMI is ticking up,


and this service sector is going up. Very technical, but lots of people


have been watching since January, that some of these figures going up


north rather than south. The chatter, we even did on this


programme, a film about "oh my gosh we have found some growth". There


is beginning to be chatter more upbeat against the general


background of gloom. More upbeat than before. Last September there


were people in the cabinet who were saying these indicators are so bad


we do need to look at Plan A minus. That is not true moment. If we were


to get, in three weeks when the real figures come out, that real


"R" recession, that won a massive boom for the op session, at a time


when this Government -- opposition, at that time when the Government is


not having a great time. This graph gives us a longer view of the


history of how quickly we have out of recessions, or economic gloom in


of recessions, or economic gloom in the past. We are the lower blue


line, I can't really make it out, maybe the viewers can a bit better,


this is because of the pace Which? We are deleveraging at the moment.


This is the particular -- with which we are deleveraging moment.


This is the particular debt we had going on, and undoing that debt


will take a long time. The economists we will set on to that


in a moment. Bringing you back to the political point, it would be a


blow to the Chancellor if it were true, but would it alter his


policies? No way. That was brief. You don't think it will change at


all? I think this is has all been about the bond markets, it if it


became that serious and find way to signal to the bond markets that


they were doing what they said all along, they would have done it last


September. They knew this period was going to be choppy. Mervyn King


said it was a zig zag year, and it is proving to be.


I'm off again. The British economy, is it a soft pastey roll or sausage.


We have Ann Pettifor, who wrote a paper on the economic consequences


of George Osborne and my other guest. Does it feel to you, Ann


Pettifor, like we are in recession? It feels as if we are bumping along


It feels as if we are bumping along on the bottom. I'm not sure the


OECD have got this quarter right, we haven't even our own number. The


fact is whether or not they have got it right, we are not recovering,


we are stagnant. The Government talks about the economy being


stable, it is just stagnant, and it has been since the summer of 2010.


Why do you think it is taking so long for us to recover? This is not


a typical recession. Normally when you go into recession from a boom,


poplg are flush with cash. We went -- people are flush with cash. We


went in with Governments borrowing cash, including oun, individuals --


own, individuals borrowing money, and when the banks go bust before a


recession you get a different outcome. What is historically named


as a depression, the debt deflation makes it hard to recover. The fact


is our Government is focusing on public borrowing, that really isn't


half as serious as our private debt. I think it was shown, it is the


private debt not deleveraged. We are the most indebted nation on


earth. The private sector is more indebted than Japan. Who is that?


The banks, private firms, corporations, households. In the


United States they have started deleveraging that, paying down or


foreclosing on their debts by 15%, we haven't. So people are burdened


by this debt, dumped on us by the banks, in the credit boom, and


nobody is doing anything about it. But the focus is entirely on


something else, which is the public sector debt. It is very ironic that


Gordon Brown talked about us importing this problem from America,


it was America where it all started, and now they have decoupled from us,


and they seem to be on the road to recovery and we are not. Where did


that come from? That is because Gordon was talking nonsense.


they encourage a fiscal stimulus and spent money? I think policy


response, America has always had a more flexible economy than us. They


had more willing employees and people moving more, naturally their


housing market is not the same as our's. It doesn't have, outside the


major centres in New York, land doesn't have a great value, it


finds a clearing level more easily than in the UK. We didn't import


the problem from America. This was a problem across the developed


world, in the west, where people basically, our debt grew, far more


rapidly for a large number of years, than our economic growth. It was


fuelled by debt. We were not unique in that, neither was America.


is because our finance sector is out of control, and the Government


is not doing anything to restrain the finance sector. The finance


sector is still about speculative lending. It is not about investing


in infrastructure, energy efficiency, investing in the things


that will create jobs. The whole austerity problem is completely


misplaced? It is misplaced because all the other sectors are crippled


by debt, they are not able to invest and spend, that leaves only


the Government. There is no growth, and actually. What would explain


there is no growth. Because we are not investing in the places where


people can actually:? If you have too much debt to begin with at


every level. We agree we have too much at the public and private


level. We don't agree with the public level. I would. What was


said about the bond markets is absolute rubbish, that is what the


Government is saying. We don't depend on the bond markets for our


borrowing, but the Bank of England. The Government boroughs from itself


at a very low rate of interest. The Bank of England has financed the


Government's deficit since 2010. it is that easy, why don't we just


let the Bank of England print enough money to pay off all our


bebt debt and we will be free tomorrow. We are not asking the


Bank of England to print off money to pay debts, we are asking the


Bank of England to give the Government the finance it needs to


spend. There is a difference between spending on welfare


benefits and on infrastructure and investment, which nobody is doing.


Least of all the Government. policy terms, does what the


Chancellor laid out in last week he is budget, make our recovery


easier? I don't think it does. wouldn't call it a budget for


entrepeneurs? I would suggest nothing can. When you get in this


position there is no magic way out. In the 1930s, we didn't sit back,


we didn't sit on our hands and say. John MaynardCan, he's work was not


published until 1961. The point is, we didn't sit on our hands and


allow unemployment to rocket upwards and output to slump, and


businesses to go bust and families to go bankrupt. John Maynard Canes


didn't publish his work until 1936. I would like the Government to


spend not on welfare but infrastructure, which would create


the income to restore the banks to stability.


Today, the minister responsible for encouraging more councils to have


elected mayors told Newsnight that he hoped they would one day be more


powerful than cabinet ministers. It seems a more attractive proposition


than being a member of Ed Milliband's shadow cabinet, Liam


Byrne said he would quit to run for mayor in Birmingham, if they


decided they wanted one. Will public figureheads make any


difference, and will they have any real powers to change things. Our


political editor and her infag teeingable producer have been in


You heard of the Great Train Robbery, this is the great train


givaway. We are travelling to Birmingham with three of localisms


real fans, they will explain to people what they will get if they


vote for a mayor. Grb if they vote for a mayor.


The three mayoral Musketeers, are confident of the Prime Minister,


and the original architect of how mayors could work, Peter Clarke who


has nursed it through, Michael Heseltine, and Lord Donaldson, who


has championed mayors, and -- Lord Adonis, who has championed mayors.


I did what powers would they get? What would Birmingham demand if


they get an effective leader. Alex Salnond does not wonder what


Whitehall will do for me, he thumps the table and says this is what I


want. We need those people in cities. The City Council of


Birmingham has a budget of �4 billion a year, it has


responsibility for 400 schools and huge other responsibilities.


not give the powers to elected councils, why not why one


charasmatic figure? That is the view of councils, the situation is


not broken, why fix it. The situation is not fine, there are


not leaders who are nationally known, there is a situation of one


of compromise, loaders emerge from discussions behind closed doors,


every decision goes to endless committees. The result is Whitehall


has a virtual monopoly of decision making. What do you say to cities


who look like they are not interested in this exercise? There


is only one referendum in a city so far, London, huge majority in


favour. Who in London would turn the clock back now and not have a


mayor? Virtually nobody. A city that wants to get left behind, what


can one do about it, if they opt to be left behind, that is up to them.


People will make their call on whether or not they want to travel


with Lord Heseltine, when there are referendums in ten cities, up and


down the country, on the 3rd of May. The Institute for Government, asked


YouGov if there was any appetite 37% didn't know or care. Then the


institute asked a question intended to bring out whether current


council leaders were big figures in Despite such polling results, there


is still considerable dissent. sounds exciting to have a Boris and


Ken contest, but in practice, politicians are not perfect people.


We have checks and balances, but people don't do exactly what they


should do, and there needs to be a checks and balance. The idea of


giving somebody total power for four years wrong.


Sir Thomas at wood here is cet did -- credited as one of Birmingham's


earliest MPs. Here they hope future mayors will be more powerful than


cabinet ministers. Choosing one directly elected guy means it is


the people who chose what happens. There is one person identified, it


diminishes the significance of councillors, they don't like it.


The Mayor of Birmingham will be a more significant figure than


members of cabinet. It will be a hugely political post. If you have


somebody sitting there as Mayor of Birmingham, a household name, and


won an election across the second largest city in the country, you


are not in a position to say no to them. If the Prime Minister says


you may have a God case we won't give you power of the welfare


budget -- a good case, but we won't give you power of the welfare


budget? The Prime Minister has said the mayors will sit around the


table with him twice a year, and they can put the case. If you are


at that cabinet meeting and the mayors are united in demanding a


certain set of powers, I'm sure they will come out and talk to you


and other broadcasters, I think it would be very difficult for a Prime


Minister, unreason below, to be refusing powers that ought to be in


the hands of cities and mayors. Those in Government Des operate to


see a new platoon of mayors across the country, know this is probably


their last chance in a generation to pull it off. Somewhere like here,


Birmingham, is a poster child for the policy. People here are up for


it. There are places like Nottingham and Wakefield, where


they are slower on the uptake. If you are in Government and pushing


this policy, you want a number of cities to go to it so mayors become


the normal, not an oddity. Which new powers to wrest away from


Whitehall will be up to these new politicians. Central Government


doesn't yet know what cities like Birmingham will take back. The head


of the FBI has said Britain should follow the US lead and allow


terrorists to make plea bargains. It claims it can help for the


capture of other terrorists through the information they yield. Would


it lead people to say what they thought prosecutors wanted to hear.


From an ethical perspective should we choose national security over


natural Jews is it T Pips Taylor, who has catch -- justice.


Peter Taylor has been in America watching the spies.


America's domestic Intel against service, the Federal Bureau of


Investigation, has a history of running human sources, often wiring


them to make secret recordings. more I'm in this business, the more


I believe sources and wires are absolutely essential to address


espionage, and terrorism and the like. It is adapting that long


history of using sources and wires to threats of today that have been


the challenge. The FBI has one particular tool in its armoury to


counter terrorism, that is used far more liberally and extensively than


in the UK. It is called, a plea bargain, a process in which a


suspect agrows to co-operate, in return for a much shorter -- agrees


to co-operate, in return for a much shorter sentence. The question is,


would the UK benefit from adopting a similar system. For us, in the


area of terrorism, it is an essential tool. To have a system


whereby there is an incentive to provide information.


At their headquarters, in Virginia, the FBI use role playing exercises


to train their special agents. We were given rare access to see how


they are taught to turn and recruit sources. And how to use a plea


bargain as an incentive. Do you want me to get information. I tell


you what I want to do, I want you to hang out with the same people


you have in the past, and do the same things you have always done.


But just, under direction from us. If I do what you are asking, what


about these charges? I can't promise you anything, but, I want


to help you out in every way I can. I want you to help me out in every


way you can. It is a give and take relationship. So you are saying,


you could keep me out of prison? I'm saying I'm going to try.


anybody finds out I'm doing this, there is a lot of people who will


kill me, you know that. Woods Clive Woodward trains the new recruits to


- Martin Woods trains the new recruits to plea bargain, but to


use it carefully. The best way to recruit someone is to hold


something over them. As was played in today's sin Nair yo. You have a


criminal charge over someone -- scenario, you have a criminal


charge over one you have leverage over them. People think


interrogation is finger pointing, screaming, they don't expect


someone to be emtheyic and sympathetic to their cause --


emtheyic and sympathetic to their cause and come with honey. That is


what we teach in our training sessions. One of the most useful


people in the war against terror was a young American Muslim, who


would eventually agree to a plea bargain with the FBI. He openly


boasted before a television camera. When Americans come in with the


mind set to clean, my Muslim brother and sisters, I will kill


every American I see in Afghanistan. Mohammed Babar had helped set up a


terrorist training camp in Afghanistan, attended by many


British would-be Jihadists, including this man, Kazi Rahman.


can't wait to see British soldiers on the battlefield and see them run,


I'm happy to kill hem. Is Two years after the interviews, Mohammed


Babar flew back to New York. Remarkably, even this fiercely


committed Jihadi, could be induced to become a human source.


Over six months he told the FBI everything. What he had done, who


he had trained with in Pakistan, and the attacks they were planning.


Mohammed Babar was to prove a human source that Intelligence Services


dream of. He was critical, he's an individual


who had both the access and capability to get into groups that


simply would not have exist without him. In return for a much shorter


sentence, he agreed to co-operate and reveal everything. Instead of a


life sentence, he served just five years, and is now at liberty. Such


dramatic reductions are typical in America. But, for many in Britain,


such deals raise the uncomfortable prospect of seeing convicted


terrorists walking free. The director of the FBI believes


MI5 and the British police stand to gain an intelligence windfall,


should plea bargaining operate as it does in America. He points to


the hundreds of convicted Islamist terrorist prisoners in British


jails. Whose heads are full of vital intelligence. Which they are


unlikely to divulge, unless they are given an incentive to do so.


think my brothers and sisters in the UK, don't have that same access


to intelligence. Do you think the UK would benefit from doing the


same? I do. If they had access to the information in the head of a


number of persons who have been arrested over a period of time, as


to where they went for their training, whether it be Pakistan or


some place else, who was involved in the training, what other plots


were in training. They would be a benefit to those agencies to have


access to those intelligences. Britain has reaped huge benefit


from the FBI's plea bargain with Mohammed Babar. In 2004, in an


operation code named Crevice, British intelligence secretly


filmed a suspect in a lock-up, checking the fertiliser stored for


a massive bomb. The suspected targets included a nightclub and a


shopping centre. The man under surveillance was the leader of a


British terrorist cell, and had trained in Pakistan alongside Babar.


As part of his plea bargain, Babar gave evidence in open court,


evidence that proved critical in the conviction of five members of


the cell. All were given life imprisonment. It prevented the


people who were being charged with that crime from claiming that they


were just opportunists that they were momentarily enraged by


something that had happened in the world. It showed how they had been


training and planning and preparing to mount a terrorist attack here in


the UK for quite a long time. Kazi Rahman was arrested for


attempting to buy weapons and sentenced to nine years.


Babar has also given evidence against terrorist suspects in the


USA and Canada. So, if plea bargaining can be so


successful, why don't we adopt the American system? In America the


prosecution and defence reach a formal agreement and then put it to


the judge, with a recommendation on sentencing. Which he can accept or


reject. By contrast, in the UK, the prosecution and defence can


encourage the judge to take account of the defendant's assistance. But


they can't make a specific recommendation on sentencing. So,


unlike in America, the accused has no clear idea of what he will get


in return. For many years it is something that


those of us involved in law enforcement, here in the UK, have


been wondering whether there might be some movement on. If somebody is


going to be asked to really compromise the rest of their life,


in terms of potential safety and security, there has to be something


in exchange. Do you think we should do plea bargaining as in America.


think we have to be hugely careful, there is the risk of people giving


false evidence in exchange for a discount on their sentence. That's


something we have to be vigilent about. If we could find some way of


offering something more in exchange than we currently have, which is


actually very little, then I think that could only be a good thing.


Tentative steps have been made towards American-style deals, with


the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act of 2005. But, there is


still a long way to go before Britain benefits from the wealth of


intelligence potentially to hand. Director Muller's words will


probably fall on welcome ears at MI5, Scotland Yard, and the Home


Office. You can see the first part of Peter Taylor's new series,


Modern Spies, on BBC on Monday night. We have the Conservative


Party MP, Patrick Mercer and Keith Vaz here to argue it out. They know


how to spend their Easter break! We are grateful chaps. You heard from


the head of the FBI saying the UK would benefit, if there was even


the remotist chance this could foil terrorist plots in the country, why


wouldn't you chance it? You have to be very careful, exactly as Peter


Clarke has said, he has a lot of experience in counter terrorism


work. I'm not in favour of the further Americanisation of our


legal system. We have two different systems, our's works very well, it


is an issue of guilt or innocence. Once you start to make it into a


shade of innocence and guilt, it becomes very difficult. I think


that though there is examples of information being helpful, it isn't


a consistent set of examples. I think we need to be very careful


indeed. And very careful means, don't do it? Keith's making good


point, but all I can say, it wasn't called this or anything like as


formal. I saw this in Northern Ireland on endless tours over there,


when we managed to turn someone, when we managed to arrange


something with the judge, which was the exception, rather than the rule,


it was inevitably useful. Not necessarily because of the


intelligence we received, but because of the very important


message that it sent to his, they were all men in my case, to his


colleagues. So the psychological whistle-blowing really?


psychology of it, to the rest of the terrorist networks, here is


someone in police or military custody, and they are singing, they


are coughing. What are they saying? What do the victims say to that,


look at this case, a man who should have been serving a life sentence,


having five years and then being free, a terrorist? Absolutely. It


is unpalatable, I accept that, it is difficult to make people, the


public, understand exactly what's going on. The points that I'm


making are very seldom referred to. The fact that once this individual


is in custody, here we are, he has done a deal. What message does that


send to his colleagues. The message is, he has informed, he has told


people what is going on, he's a liability. Patrick has huge


experience, not just in Northern Ireland but in counter terrorism.


There is a but coming! The problem is s as he knows in a


trial like the Supergrass trial in Northern Ireland, �4 million of


tax-payers' money, Robert and Ian Stewart walked free, and 12 people


were able to go off. It is sometimes used as a threat. We had


interesting evidence from David Birmingham to the select committee


on extradition, what he said was he pleaded guilty because he knew if


he didn't there was a sentence of 300 years coming his way. He


believed the only way to deal with it was plead guilty. Prosecutors


are lazy too, they don't have to produce as much evidence, and there


is a danger of false evidence. these things have to be balanced


out much the points made are well thought out. Particularly with


Islamic fundamentalists, who are on the point of killing hundreds of


thousands of people. That changes things, particularly when someone


has been arrested very early in the commission of an alleged crime, it


makes it a whole different ball game. There is a hypocrisy, if you


look at how we have profited any way, from plea bargaining in the US,


Operation Cef Crevice, -- Operation Crevice, we are the happy


recipients. We should continue to be so. Without offering anything in


return? It is different judicial system, you have already started to


have it in serious and organised crime. You have the Goodyear


directions, can you go before a judge and say you will plead guilty,


and your sentence is known to you before the matters proceed. If you


have a situation where you are able to, in a sense, manipulate the


system, you could be giving all kinds of information out, which


won't necessarily be information that is going to be helpful. It is


such a powerful tool, many of us, you and I discussed it on the home


affairs commit year, several times, it is such an important thing, it


it is one of the conclusive things you can do to a terrorist. As I say,


not just the individual whom you may or may not sentence, but the


message it spreads to all colleagues. You have been trying to


get this considered for years. The Home Office is very resistant to


this, do you think you can change their minds? I don't think I can


change anything. If men and women of reason get together, and I


persuade people like Keith Vaz to support me, I think we can. I think


Patrick is moving in a direction, and the Government is moving in


this direction, but we need to be very, very cautious indeed. What we


don't want to do. What is your starting point? There are already


starting points, the Goodyear directives and the way we deal with


queens' evidence, they are all there. If we get the whole of our


criminal justice system overtaken by plea bargains, 87% of -- 97% of


convictions in America are done by plea bargains, my worry is you


start with counter terrorism and then to other aspects of law,s a


slippery slope. If anyone will convince them, Captain mers will do


it. Reduced in seniority, Major, if you like. Let's take you through


the papers, on the front of the FT, you have our top story, the setback


Also interesting, George Osborne to challenge Labour on spending, and


challenge Labour to match a detailed coalition programme of


cuts, stretched into the middle of next parliament. In the Times, a


fuel crisis made in Downing Street. The owner of a store in Bournemouth


carries his last six gerrycans to sell to motorists. Entrepeneurship


That's all we have time for tonight. Today the Bluegrass musician, Earl


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