Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate. The Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, is the Sunday Interview.
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Here, the latest allegations on a council leaders expenses.
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1757 seconds
And growing pressure to redefine Hello. I marry Ashby and with me
today is Pauline Latham and the Labour MP for Nottingham East Chris
Leslie. -- Marie Ashby. Chris is Shadow Treasury Minister.
First, a minefield for all MPs. Expenses. There is an investigation
into those made by David Pleat -- David Parsons, the Conservative
leader of Leicestershire County Council. It relates to trips to
Brussels and apparently goes back five years. With me to discuss this
is the political reporter for BBC Radio Leicester, Eleanor Garnier.
This started last year. A whistleblower work sent a series of
letters to the leader of the county council. They sent me copies of
those letters. The Chief Executive ordered an internal investigation
which has resulted in Spain report into David Parsons's travel inspect
-- travel expenses back to 2006. He has been that a key used off
overcharging East Midlands councils. They advanced his travel expenses
to Brussels but he was being reimbursed by the European Union.
Because of that, the report is saying he was not paying the money
back promptly. In one ear, despite four written requests, he did not
make a single repayment. David Parsons says he has paid it
all back and blames the problem on communication difficulties between
the EU and East Midlands Councils. He is denying any wrongdoing and
said that this week he wrote a cheque at �500 to East Midlands
Councils. Behind closed doors, Conservative councillors a
Leicestershire are worried and angry about this.
So what happens next, will he survive as leader?
This report will go to the corporate governance committee on
Monday and I would be surprised if they simply noted the report.
Having had conversations with people in the council I would be
surprised if there was not a comment on the serious nature of
the allegations. This can also be referred to the standards committee
which looks into the code of conduct of members and their
behaviour. Finally, a week on Wednesday David Parsons would
normally be at a meeting in Brussels. Today we need to ask it
will he choose to does that meeting or will he be allowed to go at that
meeting? Find you very much, and learner.
Pauline, dear have any sympathy for David Parsons?
Expenses are a nightmare and claiming them are a nightmare. It
appears he does not have set pay things out and then the claim them
back. They are difficult and it is hard to keep on top of the man has
put -- and devote the time required to them. There is a lot of pressure
on you to get it right and you have to get it right because it is
public money. Do full-time politicians like MPs
and council leaders get enough support to run their offices?
That is a good question but at this point in time it is not just about
avoiding impropriety but avoiding the perception of impropriety. If
you can avoid the finances going through the bone at bided out of
the politician, direct payments, would be a far safer way of keeping
this above board. Let us talk now about this week's
report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary in such undercover
policing. 20 environmental campaigners were convicted of
conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe on Soar power
station. The convictions were overturned amid controversy over
the role of undercover police officer Mark Kennedy. Pauline, the
Inspectorate is very critical of the extent to which Mark Kennedy
Ruth -- the extent to which Mark Kennedy abused his role. Should we
be allowing police Superintendents to sign these jobs off?
My understanding is that although that is the level they should be
signed off at, it is actually assistant chief constables to sign
it off. I think they should be responsible enough to sign these
things off and I do think undercover operations are very
important in the crime detection. But if an officer wants to
intercept a phone conversation, he or she needs the approval of the
Home Secretary first. It needs to go to that level.
Again, I think that goes too far. Chief constables should be able to
authorise that sort of thing. Bothering the Secretary of State
that everything happening in the country, I must be happening all
over the place, is over the top. The his undercover missions can be
crucial. Should he be involved? My feeling is that he should be
involved or they could be some independent arrangement. Keeping it
within the police, you need to make sure there is an approval process
one step removed so someone can ask questions. I think there are some
serious issues that have come from their us and we should probably
revealed how these undercover operations get uproots in future
because, you know, there has been a lot of concern in my constituency.
Pauline, for many people the most important question is should
embarrass a campaigners be targeted in the first place?
Yes, I think they should, because they were not going to act lawfully.
I think people should have found out what they were going to do and
what they were up to to try to stop civil unrest. I do believe we
should have undercover operations but they should be monitored. They
should be monitored and there should be claimed of conduct. I
would be very wary if an outside body was policing that. -- codes of
conduct. They could push people suspected of being under cover to
do things they knew they should not He the rules for a investigating
people are too widely drawn, according to the reports, they
should focus on serious crime and serious disruption to the community.
This is a problem. How do we define domestic extremism? Did this really
merit such a long-standing undercover operation? It is
difficult for us to second guess that. Threats can come from all
sorts of different circumstances but we need a tighter definition of
extremism and a proper sign-off a level which is accountable. That is
why I feel it should be ministers signing this off.
Is it time for new rules, Pauline? Yes, times have changed. We have a
new government. We need to draw a line under that and let us look at
it again to make sure we get it right this time.
I am not sure if we should or should not have had popped --
should or should not have had prosecutions in this case. There
will be times when we need that level of police scrutiny Bellini to
have safeguards for civil rights as well.
From one moral conundrum to another, one of our local county councils
has chosen to roll-out a radical scheme that helps people to invest
in help paint problem families and offenders. Eleanor Garnier reports.
Four there are 120,000 troubled families in the country, around 13
hundreds a Leicestershire alone. That includes Julian, his partner
and his children. The government says they cost the state �eight. 8
billion per year. I have had a drink problem. I have
had police coming round, youth offending services, social services,
the council. There was always somebody on the phone. I could have
lost my children and there was no way out for me.
Now the government wants to use Social Impact Bonds to fund
intensive help for parents like Julian. If they are successful and
reduce long-term dependence on the state, investors get their money
back and a healthy return. But they stand to lose their money if they
miss their targets. The government thinks it can raise
up to �40 million through Social Impact Bonds been trial Terry
Leicestershire and elsewhere in the country.
We wants to contact those families in a different way to the way we
have done up to now. We want to help them change. We feel that
public services had been to Silo it, too fragmented and have not given
enough long-term support. We were to give them that longer terms of -
- local longer term support. He the first social impact bond was
launched over a year ago as Peterborough prison, aimed at
cutting reoffending. It was a Labour Party idea but Ken Clarke
has fully embraced it. Investors in the Peterborough at scheme have put
�5 million into the bonds to fund his intensive rehabilitation work
with 3000 prisoners. If reoffending rates drop, investors get their
money back and a return of up to �8 million but first they must prove
that reoffending has dropped by at least seven.
5%. This is fairly uncharted territory. Week, as a funder, think
it is well worth exploring this because if social impacts bonds
work they do have the potential to unlock significant new sources of
finance for really important public policy issues that this country
faces. Although there is widespread
support for Social Impact Bonds at Westminster, others are more
sceptical. One shoe bring in private companies
to do very complex social work, they will inevitably cream and skim
and pick the easiest cases. They may also find it is much more
difficult than they think and demand more money from the State
for doing the work. In the end, it will end up being more expensive
and the people being held will have less money spent on them.
She is not the only one worried about how this will work in reality.
This is a complex scheme. We are not too sure, at the moment,
whether we will find the savings we needs to pay back the Social Impact
Bonds Investment. Back at home in Melton Mowbray, it
was not private money that transforms Julian's life but a
publicly funded local authority projects.
Who families need help. Families like mine was need help. Lottery
winners, businesses, anything. Anyone with money. They could help
and make life better for families going through hell.
So will these bonds work? The chief executive of the British
Association of Social Workers, Hilton Dawson, has joined us in the
studio. Julian Spong said that it does not matter where the money
comes from. He is absolutely right. It does not
matter where the money comes from but the programmes must work and
have a real effect. That is the crucial matter in this. That
includes all the public provision that is made available to him and
families in his situation. It started life as a Blairite idea,
Chris, but is this privatising the Paul?
I think there are a lot of people who have questions and you heard
Polly Toynbee in the police say it is all very well to get an
investment is something like a road scheme, where there is a simple
investment and result. But what is the methodology for it -- the
methodology for measuring the result in issues like this? We need
to get the money in from resources for all sorts of reasons. We need
to reduce alcoholism, reoffending, and if we can be measured and it is
robust, we need to try this out. That is what the pilot scheme is
all about. And Tim Robinson in that he's said he was worried about this
would work in practice but he is trailing the scheme?
He I think councils need to think outside the box and look at
innovative ways of funding it. This is a pilot scheme and we need to
evaluate it and see if it can be rolled out across the country.
There are so many families who need help and I think we have to try and
find a way to solve the problems and to help them have a fulfilling
life. They are not getting it at the moment.
Hilton Dawson, how would you set about measuring the success of the
work the investors put in here? I think I would stick to a defined
range of programmes, quite honestly. Here in Nottingham we have the
example of Graham Allen and Sabino a great deal of the evidenced based
programs that can help families make changes, and huge changes to
the lives of very young children. That is the sort of programme that
needs to be financed by this sort of initiative. A very clear outcome.
But you need to look over many years to see that?
We do need to stick with it. That has been one of the failings, quite
honestly. That is why we do not see so much success. We must not throw
the baby out with the bath water. A local authorities to have expertise,
dedicated public servants and us a real knowledge about the best way
of helping families and communities. Do not lose that in the process.
Chris, it is going to be a nightmare to prove that there is a
return on this? For yes, that is where I am
slightly anxious. These should be areas where there should be public
investment any way. Cuts will hit some of the key services like
social care and crime reduction. People will be desperate there any
alternative they can find but is this going to be cost-efficient?
That is what people will ask. And how long will investors have to
prove they have made savings to get a profit?
They need to prove they had done the work and got results. It will
take time. It is not a quick fix. Some families need working with for
a very long time. People in prisons need a lot of help because some are
illiterate and have never. To give them the skills get into work,
which is an issue with families, Cup is very difficult. It will not
be easy. It will not be quick. It could provide a solution and we
will look at innovative ones. What about the warning the from
Polly Toynbee that the government may end up bailing out investors?
It is an important point and I do think it is important that we do
not come for these whizz-bang ideas. If it can be measured and you can
be certain of that it will deliver an outcome, fine, let us try it out.
Mike own view is that there are no ways around that. Sometimes you
have to prioritise public investment. It is worth trying
things like this in pilot form but I would not put all my eggs in one
basket. Pauline, will the government not
bail-out investors if things do not work out?
I think it would be very hard to bail out investors. Investors know
that if you win, sometimes you do, and sometimes you lose. If they do
fail, I hope that is the risk they appreciate taking. That is what
comes when investing in any business.
It does sound like there is a lot the risk attached to this?
Yes, and there is a danger of playing safe and colluding over
what need to be substantial outcomes. This is not a panacea. It
is only a pilot. It cannot replace the very substantial levels of
public investments which will continue. We need to have that
investment in these communities. Allied to the correct programmes,
this could bring some real freshness into situations and some
real help to the families we have seen.
It could mean a radical change to the way we so per up -- the way we
approach society's problems in the future?
Indeed. It is a regular criticism of welfare services that sometimes
they prop up a problem situation is said are dealing with it. This
could be a way forward. Now it is time for our round-up of
the main political stories in the region was 60 seconds with John
Hess. Communities secretary Eric Pickles
claims Nottingham is now the only local authority which has failed to
list all its spending on items above �500. The city's Labour
leader insists it would cost more money than it is worth.
With Nottingham's workplace parking levy fast approaching, Boots has
announced it will pay half the cost to its workers. Experience is going
the whole hog. It has agreed to pay the lot.
If you want to vote in the East Midlands on whether we should stay
in the EU, you will have to move to Corby. 13 constituency referenda
are being organised by the Campaign Group the People's pledge.
Leicestershire is considering axing three bus travel for disabled
passengers before 9:30am. -- free bus travel. The council says it can
no longer afford to subsidise the 8000 people who will lose out.