25/03/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


25/03/2012

Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including an interview with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.


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Here: A warning that the closure of a hostel for vulnerable teenagers

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will force some of them onto the streets.

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1830 seconds

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And, how we're sitting on huge Hello, I'm John Hess. Our guests in

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the East Midlands are the Conservative MP for Bosworth, David

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Tredinnick and John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw. Coming up:

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Is the price of spending cuts too high? A homeless charity tells us

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it's being forced to close a hostel for vulnerable teenagers. It warns

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more young people will end up sleeping rough.

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Plus, our region is sitting on some of the biggest reserves of shale

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gas in the country. The question is, should we exploit them?

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First briefly, the Budget. David, can you give me an example

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of how the Budget has helped businesses and people wanting to

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get into work in your own constituency? We have just had this

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huge enterprise zone just outside Hinckley announced, creating at

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least 2000 new highly paid jobs, be an average of �40,000 in year in

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salaries. Bring in the corporation tax rate down will help businesses

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in the area, and also the top rate will stop people going abroad.

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it a quick fix or long term? think it is part of a long-term

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solution. When you have high tax rates people tried to avoid them.

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This Chancellor has said he wants people to pay their taxes. We will

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be paying taxes - petrol up more than three pence, it is great if

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you are in business, to see record Petrel lovers. Pensioners getting

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hit. Even if you want to go on holiday in a caravan in England.

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You will be paying 20% VAT. This is nonsense. It does nothing for

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business. A You are a member of the Treasury Select Committee. The one

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thing everyone agrees on is that we need to get the economy going again.

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Growth was predicted to be 2.5% and the last Budget, now it is

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predicted to be under 1%. In other words, we are not growing the

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economy. Yet the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility is

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forecasting growth of 2% next year, 2.7% in 2014 - much higher than the

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Eurozone. They always predict higher, and it when it comes to the

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real year, this year, it is much lower. They also predict, by the

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way, which -- that national debt is going to be going up every single

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year. Not delivering, David, on that key issue of dealing with a

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deficit reduction. Even during the boom years, a number of private

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sector jobs in the West Midlands was declining. We have a

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fundamental structural problems, and we have to deal with this

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massive budget deficit that Labour have left us. This new budget that

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we have just had makes it easier for people to take jobs, people in

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the private sector. We have got help for younger people, and, by

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reducing this debt burden we will, in the end, create the new jobs we

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need for the benefit of the country. Yet the Chancellor has warned he

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will cut another �10 billion off the welfare bill. Why should

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vulnerable people in our region pay an even higher price for a crisis

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that they say they are not responsible for and did not cause

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in the first prize? We have passed a new bill through Parliament to

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create a universal benefit, and stop some of the abuses that we

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have had in the past. Some of the benefit was going to people who

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should not have had it in the first prize. We want a much more targeted

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benefits system. John Mann, what you say to David, where he said

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earlier that lowering the top rate of tax, reducing corporation tax,

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will attract more companies to Britain, and by implication more

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companies to the East Midlands? any people benefiting are the

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millionaires who are getting the vast amounts of their tax. That

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does nothing for anyone. There is nothing in this for small

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businesses. Petrol prices going up does nothing for small business,

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and that is what the East Midlands needs. For the moment, thank you.

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Next, spending cuts are taking an increasing toll, particularly on

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local charities. Now Framework has told the Sunday Politics it's being

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forced to close a hostel for vulnerable teenagers, as I've been

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finding out. Heading to a hostel that won't be

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here next Spring. By the time these daffodils have wilted, this shelter

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for the homeless in Nottingham will be closed because of local council

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spending cuts. 19-year-old Daniel Whitehead, who was homeless for

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almost two years, is having to look for new accommodation again. How

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valuable would you say this service is? With all the support and that,

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it has been good for me and the people I have lived with that. It

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is quite valuable, really. This is one of the flats run by the

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Framework charity for the homeless. The room's been cleared because of

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a funding cut of �250,000 by Labour-run Nottingham City Council.

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The hostel offered 14 vulnerable young homeless people a roof over

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their head. It shuts at the end of the month. It will mean that young,

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homeless and vulnerable people who need support to establish the

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skills that they need to live independently will no longer get

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that support, and they will be left to fend for themselves. Neither

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Nottingham City Council or the Labour politician in charge of

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housing agreed to be interviewed about this. In a statement, the

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The blame game is of little interest for Daniel. It is

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important for all the people who are homeless, really. If it wasn't

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there, where will people go? Government insists it's protected

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its �6.5 billion Supporting People programme and expects councils to

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do the same. That message hasn't been heard here. The hostel shuts

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in just over a week. Can we cut through this blame game

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here. Is the Government seriously suggesting that councils like

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Nottingham are wilfully choosing to scrap funding for hostels like this

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one when they could keep it open? Yes, that is the case. The money is

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there, but they are not using it. It is not ring-fenced. So, there is

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a degree of politics in this. It is very unwise. All of the homes we

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have in Hinckley are open, so I don't know what this Labour-

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controlled council are doing. are what, taking a local decision?

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It is a local decision. There is money available for these projects,

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but they are not caring to use it. A so, in effect, John Mann, David

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Tredinnick is saying this is Nottingham City Council's joys.

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Well, strangely, Conservative Nottingham County Council in my

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area has also cut its Supporting People programme by a huge amount,

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and what they say is the Government has forced them to do it. And that

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is the case. What we have had is the Government cutting the

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Supporting People budget across the country and saying to local-

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authority is they have still got the responsibility for homelessness

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and Supporting People, but we're not giving you any money to do it.

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That is the dilemma of all councils of all parties, and the vulnerable,

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including the would be and future home this... It is a scandal. There

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is a danger of this happening in my area and other parts of

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Nottinghamshire. You say it is a scandal, yet the Housing Minister

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is saying Supporting People funding has been protected. He says it's up

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to councils to invest in vulnerable teenagers like Daniel. And the

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money is there - �6.5 billion nationally.

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It has been precisely been cut. They say used for general money.

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All councils with huge cut are having to balance out the different

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priorities. We are seeing part of the country, including in my area,

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problems with Supporting People, problems with the Budget, and

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people like this potentially getting thrown out on the street.

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Isn't this one Budget that should be protected for the most

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vulnerable people in society? the money is there. It is not ring-

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fenced. But I think it is important that councils do their utmost to

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keep these homes open and support organisations that are providing

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services for drug addicts, people who are on the streets... But the

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Government has said they have cut the budget by 12%. There is a

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rationalisation because of a big overspend generally in affairs in

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the UK at the moment, but if we don't support these homeless

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shelters and houses like that, these people often end up in police

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stations or hospitals. We have to pick up a much larger built later

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on. It is a very sensitive area. We have touched on deficit reduction

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already. Is it realistic to expect any budget to be fully protected,

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given the economic climate we are in? Of course not, but it is a

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false economy to throw people out onto the street, to encourage drug-

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taking and crime and alcoholism, which is precisely what will happen.

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People need a home, and young people in pubs, but -- perhaps

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because they had been thrown out of the family home for whatever reason,

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they need to have somewhere to live or they will end up on drugs and

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doing crime. I have to agree. We must support vulnerable people and

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make sure they don't sleep rough and get into trouble.

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Let's see if there's any agreement on our next issue. We can reveal

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that the East Midlands is sitting on some of the biggest reserves of

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shale gas in the country. A reason to celebrate, or should we be

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worried about what might happen if we exploit them?

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So, could the tranquil beauty of the Vale of Belvoir become one of

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Britain's biggest gas fields. From here to the Derbyshire Peak

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District is one of the country's biggest reserves of shale gas. This

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is Melton Mowbray, celebrated for its pork pies, yet it could be

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ingredients a mile underground that could give this town and many

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others in the East Midlands rich pickings in a new dash for gas.

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This geologist is inside a labyrinth of a national collection

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of rock specimens at the British Geological Survey headquarters. He

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is looking for box 14189. It contains ancient stones, drilled

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just north of Derby in the Swinging 60s, when the any interest in gas

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was jumping Jack Flash. This black line in the court is an old plant

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stem, about 250 million years old, and it is the organic matter within

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the start of material that will generate Matt -- gas. It looks

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psychedelic, but this is a Geographic map with Melton Mowbray

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in the bottom corner. But this is what begets the gas industry so

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excited - this thick green belt represents the shale gas reserves

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in this area alone. The reserves have been identified in three main

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areas of the East Midlands. But, how is the gas extracted? The water

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is pumped in at very high pressures. It will spread the rocker open. If

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you imagine that this ball is sound, Sanders also pumped into the

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borehole, it goes into the fractious, and that keeps the

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Thatcher's open and creating a pressure gradient by which Gas can

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flow from the rock into the borehole. It is called fracking.

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That, together with new drilling technology, has opened up new

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possibilities. But, it is controversial. In Blackpool,

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fracking of the Lancashire coast created minor earth tremors.

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Drilling was suspended pending a government safety review. In

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America, critics claim fracking contaminates the water supply with

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gas. This fireball in a bathroom basin became an internet sensation.

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Former Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson is now sustainable energy

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policy adviser for Friends of the Earth. The experience from America

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is that if you give an untrammelled permission to race down that route,

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you will end up with thousands of drilling sites, producing billions

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of gallons of toxic waste that are just poured back onto the land.

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Once those companies have milked the profits, the community is

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affected and will pick up the legacies for generations to come.

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The UK reserves, according to one industry expert, are the equivalent

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of seven North Sea gas fields. This is the office of the Department for

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an even here, officials admit they don't know the full extent of shale

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gas in the UK. In a statement, the Energy Minister, Charles Hendry,

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also says that they don't know how economically or environmentally

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viable it will be to extract. At best, he says, it is years away.

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But he goes on to say that if it comes good, we must be ready to

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take full advantage of it. That may be the signal for a new dash for

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gas that could transform the country's economy, but also our

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countryside. This is a huge energy policy issue

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we are talking about here. We are also told that the Government is

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going to make an announcement pretty soon on whether to approve

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new drilling applications. Your constituency seems to be sitting on

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some of this shale gas. Should we had -- go-ahead and exploit them?

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It would be a new name for people, the Gainsborough trough, and I

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don't think many people have heard that term before. I have got an

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open mind on whether this is usable or not. I have an open mind. I have

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got a lot of fears about the potential for water pollution. In

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my area, the water tables and linkage in, this is critical water

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- this is water that we are using all the time. So, there are dangers

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that. But think what is important is the public are engaged in the

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debate. People in my area do not know that there is this possibility,

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whether it is an opportunity or a threat, and they need to be able to

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participate in that debate, rather than the Government are jumping

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ahead without them knowing. That is why I welcome your reporting on it

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today. David didn't it, is the Government likely to jump ahead on

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such a key issue? Given all those pollution concerns as well. We have

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to look at all energy sources, and I would sooner see this in

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operation than these giant windmills on shore, which I think

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are inefficient, and against which there has been quite a reaction.

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The problem will be if we have communities that find methane gas,

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out of the taps, as has happened in America. We need to have tougher

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regulations than in the US, but we can't ignore eight times the

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reserves of the North Sea if they are unsure. How do we get that

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assurance? How do we assure those residents who might be living on

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some of those huge reserves of shale gas? You either trial away

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from people's homes, or you have tougher regulations. Sensible

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regulations to reassure communities. We are in a wild now where energy

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is at a premium. Prices have gone through the roof. We have to look

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at all possible opportunities. have seen battle prices go through

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the roof over the last week caused it. John Mann, you heard Alan

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Simpson their who said that the toxic waste from drilling could

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pose a huge environmental problem. The danger of water contamination

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clearly is the problem with shale gas and specifically with fracking

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- the process to get it. But we should bear in mind, there is a

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range of other possibilities with energy in our area that is

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underground. We are using grand tours -- ground sauce heat pumps to

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draw heat to heat pensioners' homes already. It has been very

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successful. We need to be careful that we don't jump for what the

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energy companies say are the quick gains - bit games for them - and

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not put investment in the things which are slowly but surely working

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which are no risk to anyone, and are in fact free in terms of the

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energy bills. David, the National shale gas reserves dwarf those, we

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are told, of the North Sea. Surely there is going to be pressure on

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ministers are to exploit them, and it is going to become irresistible?

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We have to look at this massive resource. It does have quieted

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toxic process, but there should be ways of taking it forward safely.

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That is my concern. I don't think we can do everything from ground

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source heating. I think it is valuable in his plays, but this is

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a massive new source of power which the nation needs if it is to

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develop its industries and get people into work, and give them

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happy lives. John Mann, you have touched on it already, but how do

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we have that much wider public debate? By informing people, by

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allowing role -- local people to participate. Telling them the

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options. People will then discover themselves the pros and cons. But

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people need to know what is underground, what the Government is

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tentatively thinking about, and then we can have that open debate.

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That is what I would encourage. We can then make rational decisions

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with local people. And the prospect of being self-sufficient in gas?

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we can do that without any risk to local water supplies, I would be

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for it. Yes, it is part of our energy package. There are

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controversies in other areas, over nuclear power, but this is

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something that must be considered. Thank you very much indeed.

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Now it's time for our round-up of some of the other political stories

0:50:360:50:46
0:50:460:50:46

in the East Midlands this week with The Conservative MP for North West

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Leicestershire, Andrew Bridgen, has called for an urgent debate on the

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state of the construction industry. His constituency has some of the

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largest brick factories in the country.

0:50:570:51:00

Tory Party Chairman, Baroness Varsi, didn't take kindly to a suggestion

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that she was one of the reasons Roger Helmer has resigned as a

0:51:030:51:10

Member of the European Parliament. I feel that it is no surprise that

0:51:100:51:15

he has gone, and it may well be that his views really are more in

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tune with the party that he has now chosen to join.

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Derby councillors have approved a controversial application for a new

0:51:210:51:25

mosque in Normanton. It'll include a 21 metre high minaret.

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Finally, plaudits from the Prime Minister for the work done by

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Nottingham North Labour MP, Graham Allen, on early intervention to

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help disadvantaged families. We are going to be setting up the early

0:51:380:51:41

intervention foundation which will be funded in order to make the

0:51:410:51:44

arguments that he has put very effectively, whichever side of the

0:51:440:51:51

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