04/10/2012 Newsnight


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

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Tonight, the thousands of families forced by councils to live in tiny


rooms in squalid Bed & Breakfasts. Where do you play? Just on the bed.


Just on the bed. Nobody else. do you eat? On the bed. The bed.


Where do you do homework? On the bed. It is obviously unsuitable,


but is it lawful, and how much are tax-payers forking out for it? The


minister is here to explain. The Spanish Government insists


again that it does need a bail out, but with Catlonian politicians


Koreaning towards independence, is the deficit about to become the


least of its problems. If the legal process doesn't produce good enough,


we won't stop. You will have a referendum? It could be impossible


to avoid it. Protesters outside Turkish parliament, as there is a


green light towards operations against Syria. Are they right to


fear armed conflict against their neighbour. We talk to the Turkish


capacity. The Conservative MP, Cheryl Gillan


says the fiasco with the railways means it is time to put a stop to


HS2. Can we turn our talk into verse too.


Good evening, we begin tonight with an indictment of modern Britain. A


Newsnight investigation has discovered that thousands of


families who have lost their homes, are being forced to live in squalid


and overcrowded accommodation for unlawfully long periods. Homeless


families are being housed in single rooms in Bed & Breakfast hotels,


that are often sub-standard and sometimes dangerous. They are being


forced to stay there for well over six weeks, breaching Government


guidelines. It promises a warm English welcome,


part of the sprawling hotel complex on the edge of Croydon takes


genuine tourists. But part takes people who would rather be almost


anywhere else. It has been horrendous. The


children have no space to move, loads of noise going on. You are


being watched all the time what you are doing. Inside parts of the


hotel are damp, dingey and in urgent need of repair. But


residents can't choose where they live.


Because many, like Aneta Lloyd, have lost their homes. Sit down,


tough eat some chicken. Thank you mummy. She and her two


daughters have been housed here by Croydon Council in a room barely


bigger than the two beds it contains. Careful you don't drop it.


Their placement is supposed to be temporary, after she was evicteded


from her own flat for rent arrears. This is already their seventh week


in the hotel. Hardly any room to keep anything?


No room at all. This is the space we have. There is no bath? There is


no bath, it is just a small shower. There is no real kitchen at all.


Where do you find to play? Just on the bed. Just on the bed? M-hmmm.


Nothing else. Where do you eat? the bed. The bed. Where do you do


your homework? On the bed. My children have always been happy,


as soon as we arrived on the premises, I just see a miserable


child, a child that wants to literally leave the hotel. She's


even told my family that if I take her back to this hotel she will run


away. For a seven-year-old child to be saying something like that to


her grandparents, it is quite heart-breaking. Compared to many


homeless families in temporary housing, they are lucky to have


their own toilet and kitchen area. Behind windows like this across


Britain, more and more children live in even worse conditions, as


the recession bites, rents rise, and social housing stocks diminish.


The number of homeless families in B&B accommodation. Which includes


only those using communal facilities, rose by almost half,


between the first quarter of 2011 and the same period this year, from


2,750 to 3,960. Croydon, like all councils, has to


provide emergency housing for the homeless. By law, families


shouldn't be put into B&Bs for more than six weeks. But in Croydon, and


other council areas, the law is being broken.


Newsnight's discovered that an ever growing number of homeless families


are being housed unlawfully and in misery in Bed & Breakfast


accommodation like this, at huge cost to the public purse, for


considerable profit for some lucky landlords. On-line accounts


published by Croydon Council should it made payments totalling �1,5


million in the first seven months of this year, to one B&B provider


alone, EuroHotels, which owns this complex. Inside many families have


been languishing for more than six week. It is administrative law, all


the time we are looking at changing the law. Now this housing lawyer is


threatening to take the council to court, to force them to move it


somewhere else. The law provides that where you are in Bed &


Breakfast accommodation, as a homeless applicant, and you have


children residing with you, or you are pregnant, or someone in your


household is pregnant, then the council should not provide you with


bread and breakfast type accommodation, unless it is


exceptional circumstances. Even then, for a maximum period of six


week, the minute Croydon Council puts someone in Bed & Breakfast


accommodation and are no sir positively looking for alternative


accommodation for them, they are acting unlawfully. Nicola and her


children have been living in another part of the same hotel for


more than seven months. Sharing a hall and kitchen with


five other households, comprising of 14 other people. There is three


in this room, there is three in this room, three in this room,


there is nine downstairs, upstairs there is three in the room this


side above us, three in the room this side above us, and two in that


side. Sorry about the mess. The hall is


the only place to run around. The hotel rules prohibit children from


playing in corridors or staircases. It is also prohibited to have any


visitors without management authorisation, to use the kitchen


after 10.00pm, or to wear pyjamas or a dressing gown in communal


areas, making it very hard to go to the loo at night. But the


conditions aren't just inhuman, Newsnight invited an independent


Environmental Health Officer to check out complaints that they are


also unsafe and possibly unlawful. How many people would share the


kitschen? 17 of us all together. 17 people share this one kitchen.


There is one sink. Any time you run the sink it pours out through the


bottom. I can see the floor is very damp. It is soaking. I understand


you have problems with rodent infestation. It is either rats or


mice, we just find dropings. yeah.


Yep. I can see some dropings there. You have an infestation of some


form or another. That is in the bedroom as well. This window seems


to be difficult to get hold of. doesn't close, it only closes that


much. It doesn't close. In April, May, we had a break-in, two hooded


men got into the house through this window at 2.00am. We have been told


it is going to be fixed, that was in April/May, we still haven't had


it fixed, it is still like this. You reported this in May, and


nothing has been done since. Accommodation like this is not


suitable for families, certainly with little children, they


shouldn't be here. We have looked at the electrics, the heating, the


fire precautions, we have looked at the facilities that these people


have, they are totally inadequate. What does the law have to say about


this situation? Well, there are issues here, which is in breach of


the law. The sad part about it is, the local authority are putting


families into property which potentially is dangerous.


And against the law? And against the law.


Yet, for Nicola's room, the owner of Gilroy Court Hotel, gets about


�850 a month. His company told us, in a statement,


The relevant authority is Croydon Council. How often do you inspect?


It depends on the premises, but certainly we would be in once a


month. Gilroy Court, one of the premises you looked at, we have


someone in there once a week. have talked to a few residents


there who say they have never seen an inspector or Environmental


Health Officer? I can tell you for certain Environmental Health


Officers do go in there from my housing enforcement team. We talked


to lawyers who say Croydon is acting unlawfully because it has no


system for finding alternatives for families. We would completely


reject that accusation. We are particularly concerned to see if we


can identify alternatives for those individual households, if we can't


source the alternative, clearly we can't move on that family. But it


is still our absolute intent and commitment, and we are working as


hard as we can to get those families out of that Bed &


Breakfast accommodation as quickly as we possibly can. But Croydon is


failing. More than 70% of the families in B&Bs here, 180 in total,


have been there more than six weeks. Last year, none were recorded in


that category. The council is coping particularly


badly in the perfect storm that is affecting housing right across


Britain. Social housing stocks are falling, mortgages are harder to


obtain, the private rented sector is getting ever-more expensive, and


housing benefit is being cut. The introduction of the caps on the


local housing allowance rates means that, inevitably, there is less


private rent stock available to people on benefits. The second


problem is that people who would have moved on, from the private


rental sectors to buy their own home, haven't done so. It is


getting worse and worse, and there was no positive news that comes out


of this, there is going to be more homeless families, there will be


more demand for temporary accommodation, and there will be


more pressure on local authorities to find that in the private sector,


quite where, we are not sure. Nicola's now off Croydon's books.


don't have a house, what will I do with a bike. A few days ago she was


forced to leave her room, because the council finally judged it was


her own fault she was homeless. haven't told my daughter anything.


She's only four, my son is worrying. He doesn't know where he's going


after school, so, it's not nice for him. Even the doctor says it is


inappropriate as an environment? Yes. Meanwhile, Aneta is begging


the council to move her. The doctor says her daughter can't have the


facial surgery she needs while living in these conditions. A child


after serious plastic surgery should be having her own space to


recover in, hygienic space, you know, where it is clean, quiet, and


where I know she's safe. In this state she's very vulnerable.


When you finish you take your medicine. For now, though, her


pleas are in vain, for Aneta's family and many others like them,


there is nowhere else to go. With me in the studio to discuss


this, are the newly-appointed housing minister, Done Foster, and


Ken Jones, director of housing strategy for Dagenham and barking.


What do you say to to Nicola and Aneta? It is horrific the


conditions they are in. Very pleasingly we can say, the number


of families can with children in accommodation like that, for more


than six weeks, is actually lower than it has been for a very long


time. How many is it? It is about 760 families. That is far too many.


The point was made on the film, this was doubly illegal by Croydon,


illegal bows they have people in Bed & Breakfast for more than six


weeks, and secondly, illegal because they have people in


property that is clearly unacceptable, at a time when we are


giving Croydon �1 million a year to deal with homelessness, and a


further three quarters of a million it deal with the changes in


benefits. You have now seen this, what will you do tomorrow morning?


The first thing we are already doing, we know there are about 20


council, that is all, across the country, where the situation is


like that. We have already been in touch with all of those, we are


working with them. When you have been in touch with Croydon, now you


have seen the evidence for yourself, what was Croydon's defence? We were


already aware of the problems in Croydon, that is why officials are


already working with them, that is why we have written to them to to


their attention their illegality. What is worse, to have 17 people


use one kitchen with one sink with rodents, or worse for that woman,


Aneta, to have two children, living, essentially, on a double bed?


Neither is acceptable. They are living in unacceptable conditions,


it is also wrong that they are in Bed & Breakfast. That is why we are


providing the funds to the council, so that they can deal with those


issues. What is the recourse, what is the penalty for the council, I


will bring in Ken Jones in a minute, his council is also an offender?


you heard on the film, agencies like the housing agency referred to


in the film, can bring a prosecution against the council.


But it is not something that Government can prosecute, it has to


be either the individual families, or agents acting on their behalf.


So, it is sound and fury signifying nothing, you can't do anything?


are giving them the money. We have put the law in place that makes it


quite clear that this is not only unacceptable, it is illegal.


Jones, �1.5 million of given, by their own figures, to eurohotel, by


Croydon, in the first half of this year, �1.5 million. Dagenham is a


bad offender, Westminster and Brent are the worst offenders, you have


people in housing accommodation over six weeks with children as


well, it is shameful? It is shameful. What are you doing about


it? As much as we can. I should say two years ago we had exactly no


households in Bed & Breakfast. Today we have, as you say, 83


families, over six weeks. Tell me about the rent. What we are talking


about as an exponential rise in the private rental market, because


there is not as much housing market. What are you paying for families a


week, what is the highest you are paying for a week for a family in a


room? It is around about �400 a week. That is �400, that surely


can't make sense, done Foster? first thing is. That is tax-payers'


money going? We are already using tax-payers' money to provide the


support to these councils to ensure this doesn't happen. The other


thing we have to do, this is where I think, in fairness, we have to


accept, that we need to get more houses, more affordable houses


built, and that is why we have also got very significant house building


programmes. Right now you have a cap on housing benefit, you are


bringing in Universal Credit, there are going to be more families in


the situation that will be worse, we already know from our adviser


under Rick Pickle's arm, the whole thing will get worse. You have to


take into account that housing benefit rose from �11 billion 20


years ago to �20 billion this year and rising, we had to take action,


recognising transitional difficulty. We have made �450 million available


over the four-year period to help out with the difficulty. �450


million, will it get worse, is that enough money? We are facing, as it


mentioned in the film, a perfect storm, there is inadequate house


building, particularly council housing and housing association


property. We are also seeing enormous demographic changes,


particularly acute in London, I would say. What I think does need


to happen, and certainly in barking and Dagenham, we are pursuing a


very major council house building programme, that's going to help.


But certainly I think. Tell Don Foster what he has to do, he's the


new minister? In the perfect storm we are facing and families are


facing, the twist to it will be the welfare reform and the cap. I hope


the Government might just look at regional variations to recognise


the pressures that London faces, because families that you showed in


the film, there are going to be more of those, unfortunately.


will be more of those, this is the evidence from one of the offending


councils? It is an offending council, as I keep repeating, we


are providing funds to help. But I accept entirely the point, we also


need to have more homes built, and that is one of the key things that


we are doing. More homes built will not solve the problem in the next


six months, and in the next six months, as the benefit changes come


in, will get worse. Let me put to you briefly? We are making money


available during that period. For a four-year period, �450 million to


help with the specific problem of the changes in housing benefit.


you think it is acceptable for Croydon to be paying �1.5 million,


in the first six months of the year, for that kind of accommodation?


To EuroHotels? Yes. They should stop paying it now? The power is in


the hands of the council, we are giving them �1 million this year to


deal with those sorts of problems. I just have to have a very quick


question, let me tell you quickly what happened to Aneta, she lost


her home because of rent arrears, she missed her appointment with the


DWP, they stopped her benefit straight away. Is that civil? Is


that civilised? That is why we are providing the additional support to


councils to help them with that transitional period. But you can't


have a benefit cap that is risen from �11 billion to �20 billion. We


have to address that. Thank you very much.


It is the most serious test of the decentralised Spanish Government,


as the country returned to democracy after Franco, Catalonia,


one of the country's richest regions is having a serious bout of


secessionist fever. This time it just might happen. Catalan


nationalists, emboldened by the Madrid Government's refusal to give


more money last month, has rash cheted up new members. They accuse


parliament of fiscal looting, and have voted overwhelmingly for a


referendum on leaving Spain. So Co This place really say adios to


Spain! People are stale clietly reeling


from the fact that the Finance Minister of Spain has gone to


London tonight to make a speech in which he has claimed Spain doesn't


need a bail out. Absolutely, all it needs is the European Central Bank


to give them half a trillion euros, by buying their bonds. Everyone


knows in politics here that bail out is about to come. We do need


clarity on this, people are quite confused here on the streets of


Barcelona and other Spanish cities, about what is about to come at them


in terms of conditionality and in terms of the amount of sovereignty


they lose when the IMF, and the machine in black, as they are


called, take over the country's finances. That is the bit that


everybody knows is out there, and the bit you can control. The bit


you can't control is the way people feel about it.


Tell me, very briefly, we have heard about Catalonia over the


years and movements there, what is different this time? Two years ago,


these are fountains behind me, I remember that very distinctly, the


day Spain won the World Cup in 2010, people danced in them. To report it,


one had to go in with them. People said, how are the Catalans ever


going to feel bad about Spain again. I can tell you, as I have been


finding out today, they feel pretty bad about it, and it is getting


more intense. If Catalonia does, one day, get its own air force, it


will probably be able to afford something better than these.


On the beach, in Barcelona, the air show is a welcome distraction from


the crisis. This, Spain's richest region, is


now at the centre of the crisis, with Madrid committed to austerity,


there is now a rising demand in Catalonia for independence.


TRANSLATION: My feeling is that the Spanish Government has totally


rejected what is happening here. They have spread rejection and hate,


with comment calling us the "damn Catalan" that doesn't want to co-


operate. TRANSLATION: Now a lot of people


are not only feeling this in their heart, but pockets too. The feeling


is they would be a lot better off if not a part of Spain. If we put


the two feelings together, we are relatively close to reaching our


goal, we are on the right path. For Catalonia, it is a path often


dreamed of, but never taken. The regional Government here wants, at


the very least, fiscal autonomy, they have called a snap election,


and threatened to hold a referendum on independence. Could this iconic


Spanish city, ever leave Spain? At the HQ of the ruling party, I


have come to meet one of the men who will decide that. In Oriol


Pujol is one of the leaders of the Convergence and Union Party that


runs the region. It is the crisis and difficult moment in a rich land


and nation like Catalonia, that our reporting of 9% of GDP every year


to Spain, the result is not happy at all.


Because it is a double catch in terms of social and educational and


health services, double catch of the rest of rain, and double taxes.


So, it's really unbalanced. We must solve that. If I don't solve that


someone is going to solve that. More radical parties? Probably.


Catalonia has a powerful hand to play. It's the industrial


powerhouse, rich, a kind of Spanish Germany. Until now, nationalist


politicians here have played that hand to get concessions from Madrid.


But Madrid now can only offer austerity, and has repeatedly


denied the region's attempts to gain more autonomy. Over the years


a lot of decisions have been made in order to keep historical


separation in powers in Madrid, with had political powers in Madrid


but economic powers in Barcelona. There is an attempt to concentrate


both powers in Madrid, that made the Catalan Governments act.


they want a referendum, legal or otherwise. If the local position


doesn't run good enough, we won't stop. You will have a referendum?


It could be impossible to avoid it. If they ever do become a country,


they will, of course, have no trouble forming a football team. At


this soccer bar on Tuesday night, as their team trumped Benfica, the


Barcelona fans were in no doubt as to what is changing. I believe


absolutely in Catalan. In my passport, in my ID it says I'm


Spanish, I'm not. TRANSLATION: or three years ago people would say


the independence thing would not happen, don't expect too much or it


to happen, now, after what has happened in the last month or


month-and-a-half, it is amazing. In the rest of Spain, reactions to


a Catalan independence referendum have been less joyous. In a press


interview, Colonel Francisco Alman, a serving officer in the army made


In Barcelona, they are trying to take attitudes like that in their


stride. Politics of fear, not only the sentence of this person of the


army, will appear, we know that. But, the process is so enthusiastic


that any kind of fear probably shows how weak is Spain, and the


Spanish politics in defending or trying to avoid the process in


Catalonia. The economic impact of Catlonian independence is disputed,


it can be measured in facts and figures what cannot be measured is


feeling. There is a huge wave of nationalist sentiment here. That


has put formal support for independence up around 52%. But


what nobody can know, is the point at which the wave becomes


unstoppable. It is just a folk dance, but to


Catalan, the Cidana, performed outside the Cathedral every Sunday


has massive significance. Under Franco people died for the right to


speak their own language, sing their own folk songs, there are


layers of history at stake here. TRANSLATION: Madrid is doing what


they always did, criticise us. And that is why we are saying enough,


we don't want their help, because we don't get any real help from


them. Therefore, I believe we are better off on our own. Up to now,


the cultural freedom symbolised here, has been enough to contain


demands for independent, but the crisis changes everything. We still


don't know where the crisis ends. The go ahead for a foreign invasion


into Syria was authorised today, not by NATO or the UN, but by


Syria's neighbour, Turkey, insisting it wasn't an act of war,


the Turkish parliament gave authority for a ground invasion by


troops in response to attacks by Syria against the border town, it


killed five people, three children, and wounded nine others. Turkey had


already retaliated and shelled back across the border, killing several


Syrian soldiers. Only after that did Damascus take responsibility


for the attack and apologise. Our diplomatic editor is with me.


First of all, tell me the seriousness of the Turkish


situation here? I think it is serious, and what's happened today


with this parliamentary vote makes Turkish military operations in


Syria a very real possibility in the near future. I think in two


main contexts. The first, is the Kurdish area in the north-east of


Syria, in which the Syrian Government has, more or less,


deliberately withdrawn its authority, and is now seen by the


Turkish Government as a haven for anti-Turkish guerrilla groups. The


other, of course, is the area very much under contest between the


rebels and the Syrian forces, around Aleppo and Idlib, the big


cities in the north of Syria. If we look on the map, we can see the


importance of Akakale and other towns. The Syrian battles are meant


to be. It can be seen as support to the Free Syrian Army and other


groups in the north through that tactic. Some people speculated


today through Healey bourne raids by commandos and that kind of thing.


To what extent have the Syrians been trying to provoke this sort of


thing? It could be argued they are provoking, they have foreign groups


with armed groups openly supported by the Government F you look at how


NATO deals with that in a Pakistani context, it is not always to


respect the Pakistani frontier. However, there is a view in the


region, that Syria would like to internationalise the conflict.


Certain things, like withdrawing authority in that Kurdish area have


been deliberate provocations, people point to the shooting down


of a Turkish phantom jet as another provocation. Today when the Syrian


Government did apologise, it didn't seem to be an apology to the


Government, in particular, of Turkey, as we heard at the UN.


Deepest condolences of the Government of Syria-Arab Republican


lick were presented, to the families of the martyrs and


friendly and brotherly people of Turkey. In cases of border


incidents, that had been between any two neighbouring countries,


state and Governments, should act wisely, rationally and responsibly.


So, what do you think the potential for further flare ups on the border


are? It is considerable. We saw a situation a few years ago where


Turkey mounted operations in northern Iraq, for example, when


they felt Kurdish insurgent groups were getting out of hand there.


This type of thing could easily happen. The question is whether


Syria's allies, like Iran, would take some form of counter action,


if Turkey did do that sort of thing, something they have threatened to


do before. We have the Turkish ambassador with


us. Syria has apologised. Not a declaration of war, if there is


another mortar attack, would you retaliate? Tonight the UN has


issued a statement condemning the mortar attacks. If there is another


mortar attack, if there is another provocation, would Turkey respond?


Retaliation is a legitimate right in international law, Turkey has


resort today that right. I think Turkey has already made it clear,


as early as the 26th of June, when the Turkish aircraft was shot by


the Syrian authority, that the rules of engagment, and the


understanding of Syrian attitudes towards Turkey had changed. This


means, of course, whenever we receive a hostile attitude from the


Syrian side, we will respond. What has happened yesterday was that


kind of retaliation. You would, if you were attacked again, you would


respond, that is what the meaning of this motion in parliament is?


The meaning of this motion in the parliament is the Government has


taken the authority from the legislative authority, from the


parliament, to use it whenever it deems it necessary. I don't think


that it is currentlinessry, but it is important for the Government --


it is currently necessary, but it is important for the Government as


a guarantee or possibility to use it when they see it is necessary to


use. Turkey is now a member of NATO, is this not NATO's role, is this


not what NATO should be doing? NATO did yesterday is quite


encouraging. We have only reed to Article 4, we have initiated the


consultation mechanism, according to the Article 4 of the Washington


Treaty. And NATO has shown full solidarity and support with Turkey.


That is very important, that is very encouraging. What is important


here is the international community has to show it is together with


Turkey. Because the acrossive side is Syria. Let's look at the area


along the border, obviously there was a tragic death today, including


three young children. Lisence haden to go Turkish people talking today,


they faelt along the border it has been incredibly dangerous, and they


have been traumatised by what is going on. You and they want a safe


zone. How would that operate, NATO peacekeepers? Do you want something


formal put in along the border? this stage one has to rely on the


capability of Turkey to protect its own citizens and borders. Turkey,


certainly, whenever the national sovereignty is violated, whenever


the territory is violate, they have the right to retaliate, it will


retaliate again. It is going to retaliate again, what about putting


boots on the ground, will Turkish soldiers go across the border for


Syria? Turkey is not preparing or declaring war. Without declaring


the war you have the possibility of proebgttebgting your own citizens,


and you have -- protecting your own citizens, this is legislature. I


think the citizens who are concerned about the possibility of


war, are simply exaggerating the situation. The Prime Minister has


made it very clear that Turkey is not preparing for war. But the


motion authorised cross-border intervention in Syria for the next


year, if needed. This is another warning shot across their boughs?


This has been a regular practice, whenever Turkey needs to do this


kind of thing, and the security is in danger, this allows the


Government to make use of this kind of emotion. If you do not have it


at hand, and if you do not get this authority from the parliament, it


is very difficult for the Government. How concerned are you


that the whole area now is unstable. Kofi Annan was talking to Newsnight


yesterday about that. Turkey, Jordan, the possibility of


Jihadists coming from Iraq. The inflaming of the area, how


concerned are you about that? are concerned, of course, because


it has shown, the incident yesterday, has shown there is a


systemic development in the area there is continuous provocation,


and there is a spill-every effect and it is growing. One has to show


-- spill-over effect and it is growing. Everyone has to show


restraint, and the international community has to be convinced that


Syria and Turkey are careful with everyone. We have our own very


personal poet celebrating International Poetry Day, and


pening an ode to Newsnight, news of the day. Could the fiasco over the


West Coast Main Line about to give the Government not a headache but


an almighty migraine. Cheryl Gillan has written to the Transport


Secretary to demand a root and branch review of the plans for the


high-speed rail link, the HS2, in the wake of the debacle over the


franchise for the West Coast Main Line. We will talk to her in a


minute. First, why questions are now being asked about HS2.


At a final cost of �30 billion, high-speed 2 is set to be one of


the biggest infrastructural endeavours since the London


Underground. Phase one, costing �17 billion, will see a high-speed


track from London to Birmingham, due to be finished by 2026, cutting


journey times between the two largest cities, to 46 minutes.


Phase 2 will cost �30 billion, building lines to Manchester and


Leeds, the entire project will be complete by 2033. But yesterday's


west coast franchise -- West Coast franchise debacle could jeopardise


HS2. A judicial review has been secured into the proposals,


tomorrow is the deadline for submissions. They will ask the High


Court to take account of the rail fail, when it hears the HS2 case in


December. As of last night, Government ministers, in defending


the HS2 process, were using language remarkably redolent of two


weeks ago. It has been looked at time and time again by, not just


the Department of Transport, but HS2 itself. The business lobby for


building HS2, is a bit worried that they say will the project, they say


will yield �2.50 for every �1.50 vests, will be delayed. The rail


franchise procurement has been a shambles. If they don't think we


should do HS2 because of t we should stop, as a country, to


deliver any projects because we can't procure. I'm not that


defeatist. We would never have built the railways if we took this


attitude in the Victorian age. maybe the courts, rather than


public opinion or the Government, which ends up deciding the fate of


some of the most important pieces of infrastructure in England.


Cheryl Gillan was a member of the cabinet until she was sacked last


month, she's with me now. It gives you great freedom now You have


always been against the high-speed rail line, what makes an absolute


difference because of the fiasco of the West Coast Main Line. When


Labour announced it I was against it, it is good to be speaking out


against it, now I'm no longer bound by cabinet responsibility. The


thing is there is something very wrong at the Department of


Transport, we have had three secretaries of state, and now we


have this announcement, by the department, that there has been


fundamental flaws in the franchise which refers to the passenger


numbers on West Coast Main Line. Also the inflation figures, both of


which are elements of HS2. Tomorrow is the final deadline for the


judicial review that has been granted into HS2. There is a whole


lot of things, environmental, costing and compensation, for


whatever land it goes through. Would you like to see the whole


issue of the West Coast Main Line issues being brought into the


review? It is important it is considered. Obviously the business


case is predicated on those inflation figures, on the West


Coast Main Line passenger figures. There have been so many mistakes


made with HS2, we have had miscalculations on engineering


works and come uing out of tunnels. We have ministers apologising, not


just once, but twice for not taking in some of the responses to


consultation. You talk about the rapid turnover in the department,


is there a systemic problem in the department with ministers and civil


servants? There must be, for a Secretary of State to announce two


inquiries, and to publicly suspend three officials, that is an unusual


state of affairs. It reads across directly into HS2. I want to make


sure that we don't go into spending the largest amount of tax-payers'


money on a peacetime project, without either getting it right or


looking at the alternative. Whatever you say, it is the new age


of the train, on the West Coast Main Line, Virgin have put up


figures, not eerl as high as passengers first said would be


taking to the trains, but we need more capacity in the trains?


not arguing that we need some transport solutions, but what is


the point in having a review, say, for example, of airports, the


Davies Review, which is going ahead, without taking that into


consideration before you start to spend more than �33 billion of tax-


payers' money on a project that could turn out to be a white


elephant. Now we have a delay in two thirds of the franchises up


before the election for the railways, now hard-pressed civil


servants will be engaged in the judicial review on HS2, are they up


to it? Is the department up to it? That remains to be seen, I would


like to have a look at the capacity and capablities of the department,


I think that is really important. We should see what is going on, so


those investigations are really important. Who does that? Who


actually investigates the Department of Transport? They will


be non-executive directors of the Department of Transport, that sit


on the board conducting these reviews. I think Patrick McLoughlin,


and the new Secretary of State, has been very upfront about the


mistakes that have happened, he says there is fundamental flaws in


the department. They are involved in the independent review, which


begs the question of how independent it is, should it be


something completely out of the Department of Transport, no mam


non-executive director? We need to look at what the investigations are


throwing up, we need not throw good after bad. We should halt the


project and look at transport requirements in the round. Do you


think, not only were you moved, lots of Department of Transport


ministers were moved, do you think they were moved because this is


coming up? I'm sure that wasn't the case, the boy of being the Prime


Minister is you can hire and fire at will for your ministers. Thank


you very much. Tomorrow morning's front pages now.


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 46 seconds


That's nearly all from us tonight. Before we go, today is National


Poetry Day, Newsnight has recruited our own poet in residence, Luke


Wright. He has hot-footed it over from a reading in the Southbank


Centre, to turn the headlines into something less prosaic.


Good night. Here it is, my Newsnight people.


"the day is done, it's time to rake the coals


K you coming up dear? # I just watch this


So the bold familiar music starts # The social problems stacking up


# A foreign war Pictures like the last


Another place you are disconnected from


# Under TV light # The horns are locked


The back and forth as comforting as tides


At home you are swearing at the tele$$NEWLINE Or practising the


lines you will use tomorrow Now Spain is starting to wonder


Manage you think how far away are we from coups


# The railways and Civil Service cock-up


You watch the "he said she said" like EastEnders


You wonder if it will mean the fares will rise


You nod off and wave to Kirsty's You nod off and wave to Kirsty's


brisk good night Wet and windy for many of us overnight, the rain


getting chaseded away tomorrow morning, blustery across the south-


east and East Anglia. The rain never too far away from the south.


Sunny spells across north-east England. A few blustery showers


across North West. Most of the day dry across the Midlands. After a


damp start, dryer and brighter in East Anglia. The rain will push


further north on the day. Another batch of potentially heavy rain


across south-west England and Wales, through the late afternoon and


early evening. With the heavy downpours tonight, and the extra


rain could cause a few problems. Elsewhere generally a dry day, some


bright spells, but a lot of cloud. Sunny spells in Northern Ireland,


blustery showers here. The winds not as strong as today. Western


Scotland, but there will be still a *ering of showers. As for the


outlike, a few showers in the far north-east, but overall Saturday


promises fine awe dumb weather. A chill and mist and fog patches but


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