In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark.
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Remember this? Tlfrjts is, I believe, a big issue we can no
longer ignore. The next big scandal waiting to happen. I am talking
about lobbying. Today, over three years later,
Patrick Mercer has resigned the Tory whip to save his party
embarrassment, he says, after being caught up in a lobbying scandal.
We'll ask whether reforms are long unemployment figures, young people
out of work - in Germany, 7.5%, in the south in the eurozone, more than
50%. We'll be discussing the two most powerful men in euroland -
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 127 seconds
2Nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment was approached by a fake company,
the fake company, Communication The fake company, Alistair Andrews
commune cation. The programme released this clip of
Mr Mercer. I do not charge a great deal of
money for these things. I would normally come out at �500 for half
a day. So �1,000 a day. Patrick Mercer says he took the
money for work outside of Parliament.
It was said he admitted five parliamentary questions, all
answered. In total, he was paid �4,000. This had stale not been
declared by Mr Merer as the rules demand in the register of members
interest. Whatever the truth in this instance, links between the
MPs and lobbyists are problematic. Indeed there are scandals going
back decades. From cash for questions in the 90s. To three
Labour MPs found guilty of breaking the rules in 2010. Indeed, that
year David Cameron called lobbying the next big scandal waiting to
happen. We know how it works. The lunches,
the hospitality, helping big businesses find the way to get its
way. Yet the promise statutory register
of lobbyists still has yet to materialise, inspite of having the
supposed support of all three main Westminster parties. The Government
is considering responses to its consultation.
It is not the complexity of the proposal that is the problem, but
the lack of political will. There is no political oomph behind this
proposal whatsoever. Panorama says that Patrick Mercer
agreed to set up a Fiji all-party group. Officially they have no
status but they are confused in the minds of journalists and the public
with official bodies like select committees. They have grown in
number. There were about 250 all- party groups in 1985. By January,
2012, there were 566. Far more even than the US Congress which has 380.
A recent survey of MPs and peers by the speakers office through up the
result asked if they were agreed that all-party groups were prone to
be taking responses from their own lobbyists for their own purposes,
48% agreed. It is said that the groupings are
small beer in the big scheme of things.
It is in the context of a �2 billion industry. Yes we have lots
of large consultant lobbyist agencies in London, but there is
this enormous in-house industry. You look at something like the case
of Murdoch and his lobbyist. The kind of access that they had to
Jeremy Hunt's office, for example and the close contact, the texting,
that is what of concern here. Whatever else happens, the pressure
on the Government to deliver on lobbying reform is bound to
increase. Well, I am joined by Mark Spencer,
the Conservative MP for Sherwood, the neighbouring constituency of
Patrick Mercer and former lobbyist, Thomas Docherty. First of all, Mark
Spencer, your colleague caught on camera, offering services to a fake
lobbying group, unwise to say the least? It does not look good.
Patrick will have to defend that when it comes to the investigation.
It was interesting he said he was resigning the Whip in order to save
his party embarrassment but does think not thank think that anything
he might have done is efficient to resign from the constituency?
think we have to say it was Patrick's decision to resign from
the party. Nobody forced him out. That is his decision. He has to
justify that course of action, but we have to ensure that we get the
facts and establish the truth and get to the bottom of what has been
happening. If the allegations of cash for
questions prove true, should he resign the constituency? There are
clear lines, cash for questions is wrong. It is set out in the
statutory legislation. Any MP prove tonne have taken cash
for questions should resign. Thomas Docherty, a problem, surely
a lack of clarity over the rules and the regulations? Last year I,
when 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment was accused of the
breaching -- when Patrick Mercer was accused of breaching lobbying
rules, he refused to get involved as he could not see which of the
rules that Patrick Mercer could have broken, but I agree that we
need to overhall the work of the Standards Commissioner.
You are a former lobbyist, in any of the recently issues it is not
the lobbying groups themselves, lobbying company companies, I
should say, sorry, that have been a problem? I think where a important
point is made you cannot differ enSecretary of State between the
third party lobby ists and the lobbying industry as a whole. There
is a �2 billion industry here. They are professionals, they do it with
integrity, but there are too many who will not abide by the rules. It
is disappointing that four years after a voluntary code was
introduced that the individuals and companies that will not sign up
that is why I introcuesed a bill in the last session of Parliament,
that the Government refused to support that would have supported a
statutory register. What difference would that have made in this case?
There is a danger. What we don't want to do is to alienate the
constituents, the charities, the vicar from being able to lobby our
MP what is important to them. But your leader promised that. It
was the next big scandal waiting to happen, was said. It is proved to
be the case? When you try to write it down in legislation it becomes
grey in the areas. So you are not keen in a register?
We need more transparency. But we have to make sure that we
don't if you like, put off the small charities, the small unions.
I have spoken to the Fire Brigade unions, the local lobbyists.
It sounds like the Conservative MP to my left thinks that a statutory
register will not make a difference? I will tell you what my
bill covers. It does not cover the village vicar but it does cover the
�2 billion industry. There is a big difference between a constituent
writing to you about a bill and the �2 billion industry that exists and
what the Labour Party has been calling for is a cross-party
approach that says that we need transparency. We need a code of
conduct that says when Members of Parliament, when lobbyists break
that code of conduct, that they can have disciplinary action. If Mark
does not understand that... Do we need more stings like the Panorama
sting? I think that the journalists do a good job of exposing
corruption, but there are extremes. It is the grey area in the middle
that is the difficulty to write down in legislation.
One of the areas, which is a burgeoning industry, is this idea
of all-party groups, which is what the evidence is suggesting that
some confuse with the select committees, a different thing, why?
To be fair, they are a good way of informing MPs of what is happening.
So, 566 of them are working one day in every two years? I am a member
of the Caresers' All Party group. It is is a really good way of
informing me as to what is happening.
Thank you very much. Well, nearly 3.5 million young
Europeans are out of work. However, today's latest joblessness figures
could be seen as almost Good News. We learn that number has remained
static for a third month. But look more closely, you can see
why the European leaders are so worried about youth unemployment.
In the continent's youth joblessness hotspots, the numbers
out of work are continuing to soarN Greece, 53% of under 25s were
jobless a year ago. That stands now at 62%. Spain, Portugal and Italy
have seen huge rises too, but look at Germany, just 8% a year ago, now
it is even lower. The UK, which, of course, is not part of the eurozone,
has seen its youth unemployment fall too. So when it comes to young
people out of work it is the continent's south that is
continuing to suffer badly. �6 billion of EU funds have been
set aside to get every young person in Europe a job, but there are
demands from both sides for more to be done. Those who are anti-
austerity, blame it for strangling job creation. Supporters of
austerity fear that joblessness prompts social unrest and the
unpicking of the policy. In the words of Italy's Labour minister,
we now have to rescue an entire generation of people, who are
scared. We have the best ever educated generation in this
continent and we are putting them on hold.
Joining me now is Jonathan Todd, Professor Hertz and Megan Greene.
First, is persistent youth unemployment one of the serious
problems facing Europe? It is. As you wouldn'ted -- pointed it out it
is not only the high levels but the disparrities between Austria and
Germany on the one hand and Spain and Greece in another. There are a
number of reasons to go into on this.
Yes, let's do. 7.5% in Germany, and 62% in Greece
is it responsible that -- possible that Germany truly understands the
pain of some of these countries? think that they are beginning to,
but we have to look at the difference between the two. Clearly
countries like Germany and Austria are not hit by the recession as
hard as the eurozone countries, but there are other factors as well.
For example a high rate of school drop-outs in the southern European
countries. There are problems of labour laws. That on the one hand
you have workers, established workers with gold-plated employment
conditions, on the other hand, young people who cannot get a job
or if they are it is on a short- term contract. Their public
employment services do not work very well. So as to link up people
with skills that employers are looking for... Sorry, carry on.
And then there is also the problem of the burden of labour taxation.
That is too high in some countries like France where labour is hit
much more hard. There should ab way to shift these things, for example
property taxes. So a combination of factors?
Exactly. Marina, the social nightmare. We
heard the Italian labour minister saying that we have the best-
educated generation, however there are school drop-outs, so the best-
educated youngsters with nothing to do? The figures are shocking. The
ramifications will be felt for decades, on the individuals and the
scarring. We know that the longer someone is out of work, the less
likely they will have jobs in the future and they will get a wage cut,
but in terms of society. As you raise, we know that youth
unemployment is linked with higher rates of social unrest. We have
seen riots in Sweden. Not only because of youth unemployment but
youth unemployment playing a role. We have seen protests in Spain, in
Italy, in Greece. And when these young people they
are out of work for 12 months, some of them? Yes, and graduates in
Spain, 40% of the unemployed youth there are college graduates N
Greece, 30%. They have no hope. What Mr Todd is saying that Mr Must
be structural changes, changes in the labour laws, hiring and firing
issues that should be changed? the short-term, structural reforms
result in more unemployment. Then they support employment later, but
that is not the case immediately. In countries such as Italy, Spain,
Greece, they have a lot more to do in terms of opening up the labour
markets so I expect that employment will rise before it stabilises. I
would say some of the other long- term effects of such high use
unemployment it is not just a reduction in the productive
capacity for the youths but also a lot of them are joust leaving. For
example, I am not exactly in the youth employment age bracket but
half of the context that I know have left N Ireland and also a lot
more political fragmentation. This is a long-term problem for the
eurozone. If young people are leaving the southern European
countries, then the chance of recovery is lessened? Absolutely.
And the point is that if you managed to create jobs that creates
demand which helps the economy o get out of a recession. The
attitude in the passes has all too often been once we restore growth
the jobs come after but the jobs should be coming before the growth
as well. You raise the point, that follows on from what you are saying
that the focus on austerity, austerity plus recession is a very
toxying cocktail. We cannot sacrifice our youth on the
austerity. We need policies that focus on job creation, growth, on
increasing lending to small and medium-sized enterprises so that
they can hire people. Creating apprenticeship schemes that give
jobs to the under 25. A whole host of measures that cost money.
But the problem is we don't know the direction that Europe is going
in? Is it about deficit reduction, banking reform, is it about
targeting? I mean, what is the plan to get us out of this? It is not
one thing or the other. Clearly we have to resolve the underlying
financial crisis. To get back to sustainable growth, but at the same
time, we have to introduce the structural reforms. One solution
that we are pushing hard is the so- called youth guarantee. It is the
idea that has been applied successfully in Austria and Finland.
It is a system whereby in four months of a young person losing
their job or leaving school that they are either offered a job or
failing that an apprenticeship, traineeship or further education.
This means that the young person what cannot find a job is at least
spending their time in investing and acquiring the skills that could
get them a job in the future. You look sceptical? It is the sums
that seem small. There will be hope in the European Investment Bank in
terms of helping facilitating lending to support growth and youth
unemployment, but the EMB is a sclerotic institution. If anybody
is looking for a quick turn around on unemployment in Europe.
-- I think they will have to wait. How much can we lay the blame to
anyone? Germany has been at the helm. They have not borne the brunt
of this crisis. That has driven their crisis to. Make a 108 turn on
the approach to this crisis, they would need to feel it also at home.
Do you agree? Germany does not feel the pain has it does not have a
crisis at home? Well, Germany is beginning to be uncomfortable to
say the least with the high levels of unemployment.
And should they be uncomfortable? Absolutely. Absolutely. Because
something has to change. But the point is that there is no
magic bullet to resolve the problem from one day to the next there. Are
a whole series of reforms that must be put in place and to resolve the
underlying financial crisis and the underlying economic problems of the
European Union. There is no getting away from that at the same time we
have to take specific measures to help the young people, to make them
more employable, to ensure that they are not cut off from society
whilst they are unemployed. Thank you very much indeed. Well,
this week in the European Commission has been giving advice
to its members in how to get their economies going. Joe Lynam has been
in Strasbourg to meet the movers and shakers.
Including one in particular. Yet if asked to name the President of The
European Parliament, how many of us would know it was a bespekled
German chap called Martin? He represents half a billion Europeans
at global summits like the IMF and G20. He is Europe's top directly
elected official. The signature enacts laws that affect all and he
is well placed to become the new head of the European Commission.
Yet how many of us know his name? How would he describe himself? What
kind of guy are you? President Martin Shulz is arriving. I am
going to spend the day with him. Do you have a busy day today? Always
busy days in Strasbourg. Martin Sh lurbgs z is chairing a
debate about tax havens and tax avoidance. Something that Britain
has a keen interest in. Push for a political commitment on
a simple principle, in 2015, the European Union should have an
automatic exchange of information for all forms of income.
The topic may be tax but it soon gets to Britain's future in the
European Union. I think that the British business
leaders yesterday had it completely right. They said very loud and
clear, to you and to the others, that it will be an economic
disaster to to leave the European Union.
You can probably see the President of The European Commission, Jose
Manuel Durao Barroso and two seats over, Nigel Farage, the scourge of
the European Union is there as well. UK Independence Party got wind that
Newsnight was in town. Suddenly and in breach of parliamentary rules,
Union Jacks appeared on their desks. Looking at officials that work for
the European Commission and Parliament. The highest category
are people that earn a net take- home pay of just over �100,000 a
year. And yet under EU rules they pay tax
of 12%. It is tax fraud Ann absolutely
massive scale. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, I say, how can that be
deemed fair? They are used to Nigel Farage's views here. So much so,
that Mr Shulz can do a half-decent impression of the UKIP leader.
What are you planning here, Mr Barroso ?! Mr Shulz may anybody
charge of the Parliament but has not hidden his desire to become the
commission President. To achieve it he may have to replace bras Jose
Manuel Durao Barroso. Who we intercepted to meet Mr Shu lz.
What kind of guy is he? I am not prepared... We are doing a
professional of the man. I get the impression he is man of strong
opinions? It is true. He is on the opposite side of the
political divide from you? Opposite? What do you mean by
opposite? He is centre-left, you are centre-right.
Oh! We are, it is true, he is a socialist, I am not, but yes a good
working relationship. OK. I was just giving an interview,
also about HerrKlaus. Are we looking at the current of
the... Are you worried about the scepticism growing? The real threat
to Europe is in difrt. I like the debates, but what we need is a real
political debate about the way that Europe needs to go forward.
But the one country that were talking of retreating from its
relationship with the EU is Britain. So are some people in Europe tiring
of Britain as much as some in Britain are tiring of the EU? Is
the thrrb there a fatigue for the British in the European Union?
Absolutely not. I think that the majority like me
members of the European Parliament, we want to see the UK as a member
of the European Union active within the European Union, we honour the
enormous contribution of the situation to the UK to our success.
Therefore, there is no anglofatigue. There is perhaps a euro fatigue in
the UK. It is purely tactical. Nothing else. This is creating a
problem. From the first day, whatever he did and said, David
Cameron, in my eyes, that is my feeling, had more to do with the
internal situation in the Tory Party and in Europe and as a member
in the UK. There is an exten shall opinion,
that it may not survive it may break up? If it fails, the
political project behind the currency will fail as well.
Therefore we should be prudent in some of the Member States of the
European Union, 50% of young people, younger than 25 years, they are
unemployed, this is a shame. Unacceptable in the richest
continent of the world. Therefore, yes, I understand that people are
angry, but is this a result of European integration? Or is this a
result of a very poor fairness in this distribution of the rich to
welfare within the European Union. What kind of guy are you? We know
about your political background. What kind of person are you if you
were to describe yourself to someone who met you? That is
difficult to describe yourself. (speaks in German.) I think, from a
political point of view... I'm a fighter.
Sharon Bowles works closely are Martin Shulz on key financial
legislation. He can be fiery and thoughtful.
a personal level, he is OK. You can deal with him.
If he replaced Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, what do you make of that
don't think it is an outcome that I would favour there. Are many other
candidates whose ylds that I identify with.
-- ideals, that I identify with. Mr President... The end of a long
day? Not yet. So, ten hours after he arrived in
Strasbourg, Martin Shulz leaves for a flight to brels to address
Europe's 27 leader. And the front pages. We begin with
the Daily Telegraph: It says that the original deal was a �24,000
contract to help lobbyists to help push Fiji business. To the
Independent: Sir Bradley Wiggins out of the Tour de France. Eurozone
crisis as one in four youths is jobless. The Daily Mail: A block
for wild child porn. In the Guardian: Sleaze returns to damage
Tories as MP quits in lobbying scandal. That is all from us
tonight, but there is an important anniversary on Sunday, for which we
need a suitably regal tone. Over to my colleague, Sylvia Peters.