17/12/2013 Newsnight


17/12/2013

Runway row; Boris Johnson interview; British jihadi killed in Syria; clocking into the Lords; backbench power; and Japan's economy. With Jeremy Paxman.


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Transcript


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Your lessons are interrupted if you are out playing in the playground.

:16:39.:16:46.

She wasn't at all bothered by the news. David Grossman is not deaf. He

:16:47.:16:51.

sometimes acts like that. He didn't seem to notice a plane going over?

:16:52.:16:55.

You will always get a mix of opinion. I have surveyed my

:16:56.:16:59.

residents they have said they are against it. It's noise, safety and

:17:00.:17:03.

congestion. I don't know if you have recently gone out on the M4 to

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Heathrow. It gets congested, that is without further expansion. The

:17:08.:17:11.

expansion we are talking about is huge expansion from 480 flights to

:17:12.:17:17.

740,000 flights. It's a huge expansion. There is support for

:17:18.:17:22.

Heathrow locally, there is opposition. Actually back in

:17:23.:17:30.

November we carried out 7,000, a poll of 7,000. Of those, 48% were in

:17:31.:17:38.

favour of expansion, 12% against. When we asked specifically the

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question, would you be more likely to vet for an MP if he support it.

:17:44.:17:57.

It's not politically easy. It's a question of political principle. Zac

:17:58.:18:02.

Goldsmith say it's an off the scale betrayal. He will resign and create

:18:03.:18:09.

at by-election? Absolutely. You principles? I think you have to stay

:18:10.:18:15.

and fight. It I will do it differently to Zac. I will try and

:18:16.:18:19.

put forward the case for other solutions in London because I think

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what people want generally across the country is for us to do

:18:23.:18:25.

something sooner rather than later. We do need to solve this issue about

:18:26.:18:29.

capacity. Let us find something where we can get a consensus Not in

:18:30.:18:34.

your backyard. I don't think Heathrow is the place to do it. I

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like Heathrow where it is. They do lots in the local area. Do you think

:18:39.:18:43.

you would hold your seat it went ahead? I would potentially struggle

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to hold my seat. I think it's ridiculous to build more runway

:18:50.:18:54.

capacity in west of London where you are affecting a million people when

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you could be building an extra runway at Gatwick, Stansted or doing

:18:58.:19:02.

something about building a new airport. Spread the pain a bit. And

:19:03.:19:07.

still as long as we are getting the capacity we need, does it really

:19:08.:19:12.

matter whether it is at Heathrow, Gatwick or elsewhere? It's

:19:13.:19:17.

noticeable there is nothing imminent about this being acted upon, is it?

:19:18.:19:21.

Do you think it will happen within the next 10 years? I think the case

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for it to happen is really strong. That wasn't my question? I'm not

:19:27.:19:30.

just talking about the airport. For the country as a whole. That surely

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is why we have the commission set up to take an independent, rigorous

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look at. It of course you would expect me to argue Heathrow's case.

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That is what we are doing. It is not us making the recommendations today.

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We should let the commission get to the end. We would like a quicker

:19:47.:19:50.

decision if possible, practically speaking that's not going to happen.

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I think this is the best shot we've got at taking a decision which is

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important for the country, coolie, calmly, rigorously and not leaving

:20:00.:20:02.

it in the position of being a political football which is... Has

:20:03.:20:07.

us turning left and then right. A decision which doesn't stick is

:20:08.:20:19.

worthless. Both very much. Now, This is the star waiter in this

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restaurant just outside Tokyo. A monkey just served me, only in

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Japan. Now, two British citizens are dead in Syria, one of them a doctor

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was, according to the Syrian regime, found hanged inside a Syrian state

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prison, the British government says he was effectively murdered by the

:20:41.:20:43.

regime there. The second man had travelled to Syria to fight with an

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organisation linked to Al-Qaeda, he told us a few weeks ago he didn't

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expect to return to Britain. Now his family say he never will. Richard

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Watson is here. Let us talk first about the doctor. We are talking

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about Dr Abbas Khan who was held for more than a year by the Syrian

:21:05.:21:07.

authorities having travelled to Turkey and Syria with medical

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equipment late last year. He was held in custody, allegedly tortured,

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lost a lot of his body weight. I spoke to his family today they had

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high hopes that he was due to be released this Friday. Of course, his

:21:21.:21:24.

brother came on Newsnight last month to press the British government to

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do more to intervene in this awful situation. His mother, who is in

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Damascus was told he was due to be released this Friday. The family

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lost contact with him, he was moved from his civilian prison last

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Friday, yesterday his mother was told that rather being released he

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died in custody. The regime of Assad said he hung himself. The family

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reject that saying it's a complete yovsh cover-up. Another one of his

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brothers spoke to the BBC today. I believe the British government have

:22:01.:22:04.

failed my brother, they have abandoned him, forsaken him. Other

:22:05.:22:10.

governments, such as the Germans in particular, were very quick to get

:22:11.:22:14.

their citizens out. The British Government didn't do anything. I'm,

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to this day, unaware of any single act that the British Government or

:22:21.:22:25.

the Foreign Office enacted that led to any change on the ground.

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Everything that happened was thanks to my mother. You know, the brave

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efforts of a housewife. That's what the entire intelligence with the

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Foreign Office, all those dons from Oxford and Cambridge did nothing for

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my brother, nothing at all. The other case is very different. The

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young jihadi you interviewed recently. Tell me about that? That

:22:53.:22:57.

was two weeks ago. I interviewed a young British jihadi via a Skype

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line. He was in Syria. One of the interesting things about it was he

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was quite open in admitting that he was fighting with a group linked to

:23:07.:23:10.

Al-Qaeda. I spoke to his brother who is still in the country in

:23:11.:23:16.

Portsmouth at the same time. The family today confirmed that he was

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killed fighting in Syria with the organisation. They said he was

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killed in battle against the Assad forces. This is what they told me a

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couple of weeks ago. Something has gone wrong there. He confirmed he

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was fighting with the group, he said he was prepared to die for his

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cause. He was not a threat to national security and had no plans

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to come back at all. Quite remarkable testimony two weeks ago.

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Now we know from the family he has actually died. Else did they say?

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His brother in Portsmouth was saying that, look, he had done this

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research on the internet and in his words consulted proper sources and

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looked at fatwas from Saudi Arabia and had come to the conclusion that

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Shia Muslims were not Muslims. I suggested it was a radical point of

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view. He was pretty unhappy about my interpretation of it being a radical

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view, I stand by that. If you consult proper sources saying that

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Shia Muslims are not Muslims is pretty radical by most people's

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books. Thank you. There can't be many jobs in Britain that will pay

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you ?300 to do nothing, if you get yourself a seat at the House of

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Lords, that is precriesly what is on offer -- precieslely on offer. Mitt

:24:55.:25:07.

it We have been hanging around

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parliament to see if he was right. Hello, sir. Will you have done a

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full days work in the Lords today. Will you claim for a full days work

:25:37.:25:42.

in the Lords today? No. Will be doing a full days work in the Lords

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today? I was here at 11.00 am. Yes. I went out for another meeting. Will

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you claim for a full day today? I will see. It's outrageous that a

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peer, a convicted peer can stroll out of a prison gates in the morning

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and into this place after lunch. The Lord Ashdown will you do a full days

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work today? I do a full days work every day. I have amendments on the

:26:13.:26:18.

Children and Families Bill I will leave at 8. 45pm, I will do a 12

:26:19.:26:25.

hour day. What do you make of what lord Hanningfield has been doing? He

:26:26.:26:29.

makes me very cross. I won't repeat what I think. Will you claim for a

:26:30.:26:35.

full days work today in the Lords? I suspect so. Will you have worked a

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whole day? (Inaudible. Do you think there is a problem in the House?

:26:42.:26:45.

There Isn't a problem. There is no salary. The remuneration is very

:26:46.:26:50.

modest. What other professional person are you going to get to work

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for ?300 a day? Can I ask how many hours will you have worked in the

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Lords today? I'm arriving now. I never claim at all. Hard luck, you

:27:03.:27:05.

have no story. How about some good news for

:27:06.:27:18.

Parliament? Admittedly, it's not often you hear that, but even the

:27:19.:27:22.

most jaundiced onlooker wuf to admit in the last few years, it or parts

:27:23.:27:28.

of it seem to have had a dose of CPR. The Times this morning, Rachel

:27:29.:27:35.

Sylvester says it's more challenged from both within and outside their

:27:36.:27:39.

parties. How the poor things must yearn for the days when people said

:27:40.:27:44.

the average backbencher was either a lap dog or a mangy toothless smelly

:27:45.:27:48.

old has been waiting for an invitation to sit up and beg. Let's

:27:49.:27:52.

have a look at some of the highs and lows that Parliament's provided in

:27:53.:28:01.

recent history. You come to us with absolutely no information. What is

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your job? Director of Policy for Amazon across Europe. Be

:28:07.:28:11.

We are going to have to order somebody to come to give us answers

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to the questions. We'll order somebody to appear before us because

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it's not just acceptable. I strongly believe in the need for a tough

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response to the use of chemical weapons, but I also believe in

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respecting the will of this House. It's very clear tonight that while

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the House has not passed a motion, it's clear to me that the British

:28:31.:28:34.

Parliament reflecting the views of the British people does not want to

:28:35.:28:38.

see British military action. I get that and the Government will act

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accordingly. Mr Speaker, hard working businessmen

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facing tough decisions, desensed Trade Unionists and newspapers,

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including the Daily Mirror, will have been appalled by the so-called

:28:57.:29:10.

leverage tactics of uniting the Grangemouth dispute. Will my right

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honourable friend take steps to ensure that families and children

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are protected from a minority of militants?

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Mr Murdoch, you must be the first Mafia boss in history who didn't

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know he was running a criminal enterprise? Mr Watson, please. I

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think that's inappropriate. Margaret Hodge, the fearsome lady

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who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee who we saw there

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and the Conservative backbencher Douglas Carswell are here. Is there

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any environmental things first, is it partly this change in

:29:45.:29:46.

relationship to do with this Government having a much smaller

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majority than previous Governments have been used to? I put it down to

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a number of things. We are elected now as chairs of the Select

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Committee. We'll come to all this in a minute or two. I wanted the

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broader point. Is it to do with the size of the Government majority? I

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think I was going to come on to that, but I think it's the do with

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the fact that we have a coalition Government. What's happened with the

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coalition Government is that party loyalties have become less intense,

:30:13.:30:18.

people, you know, are much more willing therefore to express their

:30:19.:30:22.

own views and defend their own values. The coalition certainly

:30:23.:30:26.

helped create the space for Parliament to disagree with the

:30:27.:30:30.

Government. But I think some credit has to go to Speaker Bercow who's

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been doing the job of the speaker for the first time in a generation.

:30:37.:30:43.

A loft of changes are irreversible. The Internet is making individual

:30:44.:30:47.

MPs personally accountable so they have to answer, not to whips but to

:30:48.:30:51.

the voters. There is transformative. That's an interesting argument. Are

:30:52.:30:56.

MPs also slightly different? More independent minded? I think the

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technology requires this emto be more independent minded. If you are

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trying to Tweet and stick to the party line, you look like a complete

:31:03.:31:05.

clot. You have to say what it is that you think. The Internet

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permanentising political communication. The lines of take

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have to be your lines and beliefs. Do you think MPs are slightly

:31:14.:31:16.

different? I certainly think that if we want to reconnect with our voters

:31:17.:31:20.

and try and re reestablish credibility in politics, you have to

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do your politics in a different way. I think that the days of taking the

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line are gone. If you look at those MPs that are popular or those

:31:30.:31:34.

politicians that get some resonance with the public, it's those that

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stand outside the box and who're showing their individuality and

:31:40.:31:43.

authenticity. I think authenticity's really important and I think this -

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I mean I get endless texts - I'm sure Douglas does every day too,

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telling me what to think and what to do. I knock them off my phone

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immediately. I really do try to think for most and represent the

:31:59.:32:01.

taxpayers and constituents. What about the point that you were

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mentioning Earl dwroer do with the increasing strength of things to do

:32:05.:32:10.

with the Select Committees -- mentioning earlier to do with the

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increasing Select Committees? I'm now elected, and Douglas had a vote

:32:19.:32:22.

to decide whether or not I should chair my committee and I think that

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creates an independence and authority which we didn't have in

:32:26.:32:29.

the past. Select Committees like the speaker owe their position now to a

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vote freely given of the whole house. Their fell fairious that

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level innocence has been talked out. They are full of people like

:32:41.:32:44.

Margaret, John whiting dale, who do the job of the Select Committee,

:32:45.:32:48.

which is to hold the ministers to the fire. You have been on both

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sides of the fence. You were a minister. I bet you were pulled

:32:54.:32:58.

before the committee? I was. Were you scared? I don't think I was.

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Apprehensive? No. I don't think so. Would you be more worried now? I

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think we are quite tough, but I think we have to... In an odd way,

:33:12.:33:16.

if you are not tough and you don't actually try to get to the truth,

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you are not really representing the taxpayers or the constituents

:33:21.:33:23.

properly. I think where we have managed to connect in my committee,

:33:24.:33:26.

whether it's on the issues of tax avoidance or the big issues like

:33:27.:33:32.

that, or whether it's on the smaller issues of should 0845 numbers be

:33:33.:33:37.

used, it's because we really toughly strive. Let me say something, if we

:33:38.:33:42.

didn't do that, if we didn't really pursue our arguments strongly, I bet

:33:43.:33:46.

people like you wouldn't be watching it. So in a way, we have to have

:33:47.:33:52.

this slight exaggeration. A point of view one feels - I don't know what

:33:53.:33:56.

you feel Douglas - what happens when you get people in front of the

:33:57.:33:59.

committees is that the politicians start making speeches at them

:34:00.:34:02.

instead of cross-examining? This is why we need to look seriously at one

:34:03.:34:06.

particular change. At the moment, if you are trying to cross-examine a

:34:07.:34:10.

witness, it's difficult to develop an intelligent, rational line of

:34:11.:34:12.

questioning because the moment you are in the process of doing so,

:34:13.:34:16.

someone else will come in with a question. We need to look seriously

:34:17.:34:22.

at allowing them to employ legal counsel. Not more work for lawyers?

:34:23.:34:27.

It would allow the committee to get to the heart. The one area I

:34:28.:34:33.

probably disagree with you on. The one reason Select Committees can

:34:34.:34:39.

work well is that we are not surrounded by lawyers. It would work

:34:40.:34:43.

well. We work as a team, we are a cross party committee and the

:34:44.:34:46.

Conservatives and Lib Dems work as well. But you don't want to

:34:47.:34:51.

introduce that courtroom environment into the Select Committee process. I

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think people would be inhibited, we'd get far less towards the truth

:34:56.:35:00.

than we do now. If you work as a team, I always say we work best in

:35:01.:35:07.

my committee when we do it as a team. We prepare before to ensure on

:35:08.:35:15.

the hearings on the BBC or on tax. I agree, but I wonder if you sometimes

:35:16.:35:19.

worry, looking at it from the other side, that Governments have to be

:35:20.:35:25.

able to govern? Yes. Where do we get the Yahoo!ed that we should arrange

:35:26.:35:28.

the furniture for the political class. A backbench MP like me could

:35:29.:35:34.

take amendments, until the 70s, the Government decided responsibilities.

:35:35.:35:38.

If a minister was asked to join the Government until 1918, they would

:35:39.:35:42.

have to resign their seat. The idea we arrange Westminster for the

:35:43.:35:50.

convenience of them is not right. We are governing better. It's not that

:35:51.:35:54.

we are opposing Government. We want to oppose our authority to get

:35:55.:35:56.

better governance for the people. Thank you both very much. It's a

:35:57.:36:01.

year this week since Japan chose Shinzo Abe as its Conservative Prime

:36:02.:36:05.

Minister. He took over the world's third largest economy after it spent

:36:06.:36:10.

years as dynamic as a congealing rice pudding. He came in with plans

:36:11.:36:16.

and promises, inevitably dubbed Abenomics. Has it worked? Is there

:36:17.:36:21.

anything we could learn from it? The BBC's chief correspondent, Linda

:36:22.:36:30.

Yueh, reports now from Tokyo. Echoes of strength from a dominant

:36:31.:36:35.

past. 20 years ago, Japan's economy

:36:36.:36:42.

rivalled America 's until it was felled by a debt bubble. Since then,

:36:43.:36:48.

it has been stagnant with prices folding as deflation set in and

:36:49.:36:53.

losing out to China as the world's second largest economy.

:36:54.:37:01.

I'm at a sumo wrestling practice. Two removal objects trying to shift

:37:02.:37:05.

each other using force. It's like Japan is trying to reverse the way

:37:06.:37:12.

its economy has worked for decades. Undaunted, Japan's Prime Minister,

:37:13.:37:17.

Shinzo Abe, has pushed forward with ambitious reforms since being

:37:18.:37:22.

elected one year ago. Dubbed Abenomics, his plan is bold.

:37:23.:37:27.

Bolder than anything that Thatcher or Reagan ever did.

:37:28.:37:31.

How do you think the reforms of automobile able are working so far?

:37:32.:37:38.

So far so good I think. The Prime Minister has been showing

:37:39.:37:41.

very strong leadership. Since the strong leadership by the Prime

:37:42.:37:46.

Minister's office, it continues and we are optimistic. At the same time,

:37:47.:37:53.

I expect some more effort from the bureaucrats.

:37:54.:37:57.

Patience, precision and perseverance. Traits that are needed

:37:58.:38:02.

in archery and also to achieve economic transformation.

:38:03.:38:09.

But time is a luxury the Japanese government doesn't have. My master

:38:10.:38:17.

taught me the art of using a bow in my own crash course and shared his

:38:18.:38:24.

thoughts on Abe's efforts at rapid change. Do you think that Prime

:38:25.:38:27.

Minister Abe and his arrows will help the country?

:38:28.:38:34.

I hope so. Do you think that with Abe's new plan, he'll be able to

:38:35.:38:40.

help Japan grow again? It's very difficult questions.

:38:41.:38:49.

Shinzo Abe has three parts, or, as they're particularly called here,

:38:50.:38:52.

arrows, the first targeting deflation was fired immediately with

:38:53.:38:57.

aggressive cash injections. The second arrow, government spending to

:38:58.:39:01.

support growth, came soon after. But, a sales tax hike means that it

:39:02.:39:07.

hasn't quite hit its mark. The third, and perhaps the most

:39:08.:39:12.

important, the deep structural reforms to change how Japan works.

:39:13.:39:20.

Well, those haven't been fired yet. Of the three arrows, the Nikkei is

:39:21.:39:25.

up, the Yen is down but there are many more targets to hit.

:39:26.:39:33.

Clearly, it's not so easy. His plan so far has had some initial

:39:34.:39:40.

success. Now, inflation. Still one year on, growth remains slow.

:39:41.:39:47.

So, the critics remain to be convinced.

:39:48.:39:53.

On a beautiful autumn day, this Professor was happy to take a walk

:39:54.:39:56.

with me. He's not so happy though with the Abe government.

:39:57.:40:01.

Well, the Japanese government is saying everything is going to be all

:40:02.:40:10.

right. Yes. But don't be deceived by that message. The real economy is

:40:11.:40:17.

not working very well. So please be careful and observe what is

:40:18.:40:19.

happening in the Japanese economy. To observe the famous fish auction,

:40:20.:40:32.

you have to get up early. Selling to the highest bidder is the purest

:40:33.:40:37.

form of competition. This is more of what Japan needs to

:40:38.:40:44.

shape up the existing system. Forcing firms to compete for

:40:45.:40:48.

customers and to invest to improve their wares are prime exam examples

:40:49.:40:56.

of Abenomics's proposals. But maybe the problem is more fundamental.

:40:57.:41:00.

Japan is the oldest country in the world with a quarter of its

:41:01.:41:06.

population aged over 65. This man is 64 years old and has

:41:07.:41:11.

been making sushi for 40 of them. He says it takes longer to warm his

:41:12.:41:15.

hands up in the morning than when he was young.

:41:16.:41:19.

But, he won't retire. When do you think you will retire?

:41:20.:41:28.

Long time. Never? Never. In my final moments, he tells me, I'll be

:41:29.:41:33.

preparing in the kitchen, like in judo, I'll collapse on the mat. You

:41:34.:41:41.

have to be determined like that. This is the heart of the challenge.

:41:42.:41:46.

Can a country with an ageing population grow well without

:41:47.:41:51.

debt-fuelled consumption? After taking two decades to repay debt,

:41:52.:41:55.

the Japanese are reluctant to boar re. In that case, how strongly can

:41:56.:42:02.

an economy grow? Despite all that you see around me,

:42:03.:42:06.

consumer demand is low. That's what happens when there's a shrinking

:42:07.:42:09.

population. Besides, how many more things can

:42:10.:42:14.

people in a rich country buy after decades of prosperity?

:42:15.:42:18.

This is what the West worries about - lower demand and permanently

:42:19.:42:24.

slower growth. If Japan can reverse its stagnation, there's hope for the

:42:25.:42:30.

UK and US who're facing tepid recoveries five years after their

:42:31.:42:34.

banking crises. If Japan can't, then it's a glimpse of the future for

:42:35.:42:39.

other rich countries who have the same ageing population but are just

:42:40.:42:49.

a few years behind Japan. Now this probably isn't the answer.

:42:50.:42:54.

This is the star waiter at this restaurant, just outside Tokyo. O.-

:42:55.:42:57.

brings towels, beers and even food. A monkey just served me some food.

:42:58.:43:15.

None Japan! If there aren't more human workers being added, existing

:43:16.:43:18.

workers have to produce more and be paid more to get the economy going

:43:19.:43:22.

again. So it's a problem that wages in

:43:23.:43:27.

general aren't going up. This man's brought his staff here, but Shinzo

:43:28.:43:32.

Abe wants bosses like him to reward staff with pay rises, not just

:43:33.:43:37.

dinners. TRANSLATION: Our industry deals with

:43:38.:43:42.

raw materials. We have We haven't felt the positive impacts from

:43:43.:43:47.

Shinzo Abe yet so we can't raise wages at this stage. At the end of a

:43:48.:43:51.

long day, there's still the clearing up to do.

:43:52.:43:54.

It seems a monkey's work is never done.

:43:55.:43:59.

To earn a pay rise, more needs to be squeezed out of each worker.

:44:00.:44:05.

More a rich country, it becomes harder and harder to do. If Abe does

:44:06.:44:11.

tackle Japan's long list of economic problem problems and succeeds, this

:44:12.:44:16.

country could be the first to grow well with an ageing population.

:44:17.:44:21.

And, we might all rest a little easier.

:44:22.:44:29.

Now, tomorrow morning's front-pages. The Independent goes with the story

:44:30.:44:34.

of the Doctor Who was apparently found dead, according to the Syrian

:44:35.:44:38.

regime, inside his cell - the question why would he kill himself.

:44:39.:44:45.

Lord fraud faces police probe, the former Essex Cowan councillor done

:44:46.:44:49.

over by the Mirror for checking in and claiming ?3010 from the House of

:44:50.:44:53.

Lords and checking himself out within half an hour. -- ?300.

:44:54.:44:57.

Fracking could be planned for half of Britain. The Guardian says David

:44:58.:45:03.

Cameron is cracking down on access to benefits from Romania and

:45:04.:45:06.

Bulgaria. The Sun has a demand that Cameron draw a red line on

:45:07.:45:11.

immigration or else it says. The Daily Mail has news that older

:45:12.:45:16.

ladies are drinking a great deal more than younger ones. And that's

:45:17.:45:22.

about it for now. Right, the Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford

:45:23.:45:27.

has had an eventful 2013 plagued by drug and sex scandals throughout the

:45:28.:45:32.

year. One might think he'd keep a low profile throughout the Christmas

:45:33.:45:35.

party season. Far from it. In keeping with his recent behaviour,

:45:36.:45:39.

he didn't do things by halves. Good night.

:45:40.:45:45.

# Come on, everybody. Merry Christmas

:45:46.:45:52.

# Merry Christmas to you # Merry Christmas

:45:53.:45:55.

# Merry, merry Christmas to you # It's the time of the year

:45:56.:46:00.

# Let's all celebrate # Well, merry Christmas

:46:01.:46:06.

# Merry Christmas to you # Merry Christmas

:46:07.:46:13.

# Merry, merry Christmas to you # Whoa, it's the time of year

:46:14.:46:15.

# Let's all celebrate... # After a quiet day today, it will be

:46:16.:46:27.

wet and windy

:46:28.:46:29.

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines. Runway row; Boris Johnson interview; British jihadi killed in Syria; clocking into the Lords; backbench power; and Japan's economy. With Jeremy Paxman.


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