22/04/2012 Sunday Politics East Midlands


Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, including an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

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In the East Midlands: Are some GPs being unfair to women


who want abortions? And is the Government going cold on


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1735 seconds


the electrification of Midland Hello, I'm Marie Ashby with the


talking points in the East Midlands. Our guests this week need little


introduction. Former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is


Labour MP for Derby South and Stephen Dorrell, Conservative MP


for Charnwood, is chairman of the Health Select Committee.


Coming up: East Midlands MPs combine forces to fight for Midland


Mainline to be electrified. But is the Government going cold on the


idea? And a reality check for the Lib Dems in one of our cities.


First, an issue that always generates controversy - abortion.


This week a Chesterfield surgery hit the headlines over a notice


warning some of its doctors won't speak to patients about


terminations or emergency contraception. So should GPs be


free to exercise their conscience? Or are they overstepping the mark?


Kate Smurthwaite from the Abortion Rights campaign is also with us.


The surgery says the notice is there to save women the time and


embarrassment of seeing a doctor who's not prepared to give them an


abortion referral. What is the problem with that? People going


into the surgery, it is shocking to see. You don't expect to see a sign


of it says because of our religious backgrounds these other treatments


you can and can't have had different doctors. There is


something shocking about it. That said, we know that around the UK,


around one in five doctors has an issue with termination and will not


refer. We need to find some way that women can see doctors who are


happy to give them the treatment they need. I am not 100 %


comfortable of a sign in his surgery. I don't normally go into


the doctors and explained my ailments to the receptionist. I


wait for the privacy of a consultation room. Clearly, we need


to let women know that if they are not going to get the treatment they


want from one doctor, they can be referred. You can always ask for a


female doctor or if you have a preference a witch doctor you see.


That is useful. If I know there is a doctor that they think fair


religious views are more important about my bodily autonomy, I don't


want to see them about an ear infection even. Do you agree with


Kate that the surgery is piling pressure on women who already have


a difficult decision to make? have mixed feelings. It has always


been the case that doctors have a right to say this is not something


I personally am comfortable with. But they are not going to perform


the abortion. Surely they should be able to give advice? Well, some


people are not comfortable with that. Certainly, I'd take it Kate's


point entirely, it is awkward for somebody. It would be particularly


awkward to have that difficult conversation with a doctor who says,


no, I want nothing to do with this. It is also a bit awkward to have to


have this conversation with a receptionist. Maybe that is


something that we ought to look out to try to ease that problem as much


as possible, for both parties. is one thing that doctors might


refuse to carry out abortions but surely they should not refuse to


talk to a patient. I don't that -- I don't think that surgery is


saying we refuse to talk. There are saying that if a patient has come


in seeking a termination, it is probably in the interests of that


patient as well ours of the doctor to avoid the circumstances. I think


we're all agreeing that what we are looking for is a sympathetic way of


ensuring that the necessary difficulty is avoided. Do you think


doctors are taking their principles too far by refusing to see someone


who wants abortion advice? It is a very long-standing convention, as I


understand it. There has been an acceptance and understanding for a


very long time. Put the question of the other way. If someone has a


conscientious objection to being involved in terminations, is that


the reason why somebody who otherwise has a commitment to a


medical career should be denied the opportunity of using their skills


for the benefit of the patients? are not just talking about


abortions. Some doctors will not give a emergency contraception like


the morning-after pill. Doesn't that lead more women down the line


of thinking the only thing that is available to me is it an issue?


it shouldn't lead to that conclusion. But it could.


shouldn't if there is any kind of advice given. The reason the


emergency termination... The medical termination using a police


regarded by the doctor as a reason for conscientious objection, and


they regard that as a form of abortion. What do you think? It is


not a form of abortion. All the medical evidence suggests it


doesn't cause an embryo that has implanted and was ever to be


discharged. Pit-stops implantation and fertilisation, which is what


happens when you don't get pregnant. -- it stops. That is a side issue.


The issue is we have quite high levels of doctors at their who


choose to exercise his conscientious objection. You are


right, it's been around for something -- for a long time but


that doesn't mean it is acceptable. For a long time we sent small boys


up chimneys. It doesn't mean that was a good idea. It is difficult


because it is a slippery slope. There are people out there who have


religious objections to blood transfusions and those who think


that those who have a smoking addiction shouldn't be entitled to


treatment. We must not go down a road where people say I don't want


to be involved with that. We have seen a slip from abortion to this


thing about emergency contraception. Sooner or later, people will talk


about contraception in the same way. We have to stamp it out now. Should


things stay as they are? I don't accept the argument that this is a


slippery slope and what next? The truth is, this is a discrete


subject that has been much fought over and this is the conclusion


that has been arrived at. Perhaps too discreet. Maybe we should


discuss it more. I'd been easily defined. I don't think there is any


evidence that the boundaries of the debate are being shifted. Thanks


for joining us. Next: our MP's combined forces this


week to press the government to electrify the Midland Mainline.


They practically queued up to support a motion from Loughborough


MP, Nicky Morgan. It is about unfairness. There is �12 billion


being invested in railways and only �200 million being invested in the


Midland Main Line. It is likely to grow by 800,000 over the next 20


years also so there is clearly a demand for the service but there is


also a huge economic benefit. Upgrade of the Midland Main Line


would bring huge benefits to Leicester for example and also I


imagine, Loughborough. independent report prepared for the


councils and executive estimated that up grading and electrifying


the Midland Main Line would generate �450 million worth of


wider economic benefits in terms of higher business productivity. This


of course includes the creation of hundreds of jobs through


construction activities and the refurbishment works on the trains


themselves, as well as encouraging more businesses to relocate and


invest around the Midland Main Line the corridor as journey times


reduced. While the business case for London mainline metrication


does indeed look impressive -- Midland Main Line, there can be no


doubt that the project would be complex and challenging and it


would be an expensive one to deliver. Network Rail is -- has


estimated that the capital cost of electrification would be �530


million, not including the other improvements referred to in the


debate. Major engineering work would be required, just to make


room for the overhead wires. Over 50 bridges would have to be rebuilt.


Not so long ago... Theresa Villiers accepted the case for improving the


line. Now, looking at that, it looks like she is not so sure.


all know that we live in very straitened circumstances of the


burden of proof on people who are arguing, as we all are, the case


for this investment has got somewhat more difficult because of


the circumstance. There seemed to be a lot of yes but so. -- yes,


buts... That figure covers the cost of the new bridges and the extra


gauge. The question is whether this is an investment that delivers a


return both in terms of the improved rail performance and in


terms of wider economic performance. The answer is that it does. Do you


get the feeling that she has already made up her mind? I cannot


remember a time when every MP, the length of the Midland Main Line,


didn't support electrification and I've never met an MP from that area


who could understand why it has ever gone ahead. I think Stephen is


right. It is likely to be a question of money. The fact is, why


has it never, in all these years, been a high priority project? A


remember once being told, we were all told, that it was because there


were a lot of business users on the Midland Main Line. You would think


that would be a better reason for it to be done but somehow, it has


never happened. I hope before I leave politics that it will happen.


That is a challenge! It seems grossly unfair that according to


Sir Alan Meale the East Midlands has received only �200 million of


the �12 billion invested in rail networks. That is a way of looking


at it. I prefer personally the approach that simply says, let's


look at this as a discrete project. It delivers a return to rail users


and a return to the wider economic benefit of their communities on the


line. That by itself is an argument for doing it. It does seem that


�500 million seems a small price to pay. It sounds ridiculous, �500


million! But look what we get back from it is what people are saying.


It's a big project, there is no question of that. If you look


around the country of Investment taking place in Israel, in other


parts of the country, it is very hard to understand why this has not


been a higher priority. -- Investment taking place on the


railway. You can see from the film you have shown, there were a number


of East Midlands MPs present at that debate to express support.


Margaret, myself, the majority of the East Midlands MPs have written


to ministers and have made the case. That we will go on doing. Is it a


question of keeping on going? keeping nagging away!


Next, in less than two weeks, voters in one of our cities will be


heading for the polls. And it could mean the end for the only Tory, Lib


Dem Coalition in the region. It may not have the chandeliers and


mahogany furniture of the cabinet room in Number 10 but Derby's


cabinet does have plenty in common with David Cameron's. There's one


big difference though. While Ed Miliband has to put up with the


status quo until 2015, in Derby, there are elections almost every


year. And this time, power is in the balance. The manifestos for


Derby may reveal something about the way each party is treating this


election. This is the Conservatives won. It is 12 pages long. The Lib


Dems manifesto is eight pages long. Labour's manifesto is one piece of


paper. You can never take the election for granted. You need to


get out on the doorstep, secured a promise of individuals to vote for


you, make sure all polling day that they are going out and voting for


you. The reason our manifesto is short is we want to over deliver


and and a promise. A let's look at the numbers. To win outright


control of the Council, you need 26 councillors. Labour are close to


that magic number, they have got 22 at the moment. They tell me they


are pretty confident of picking up at least before macro they need for


a majority. Privately, the kiss it is think they will... They hope


that Labour's gains will not come from them but for the Lib-Dems and


said. The Lib Dems are the smallest party at the moment with 12


councillors but they have to defend of those seats this year. If last


year's results were repeated again this year, it could be a very bad


fear for the did Dems. I think things have moved on a lot the last


12 months. We've been out for the doors, telling people what they


have been doing and everything is still to play for. We've got a


couple of weeks to go. The signs are out there on the doorstep have


been positive. Like their coalition partners, the Conservatives are


keen to highlight the big regeneration projects they have


invested in. But will this big- spending be enough to impress


voters? What matters is stability and investors and businesses having


confidence in the council administration. I think they have


been reasonably confident and happy with the coalition administration


as we've had it. From my point of view, I would prefer an all-out


Conservative administration. What of the smaller parties? Could they


get their only George Galloway? They are putting up far more


candidates between them than they have in any recent election.


Council budgets will fall again next year of the year after. With


the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems are promising a third council tax


freeze on top. With so little wriggle room, you have to wonder


whether being in charge of their local council right now as much fun.


But local politics isn't the only game being played here. Unlike its


neighbours, Derby is not being asked if it wants an elected mayor.


It is not getting a local enterprise zone either. For a city


that can sometimes feel like its football club is a championship


side rather than a Premier League One, on 3rd May at least, Derby


will be in the FA Cup final politically speaking. You can be


sure if Labour win, Ed Miliband will hail it as the start of a


winning streak. If the coalition can hold them off, you will hear


the cheers from Westminster all the way up the motorway.


Well as Chris Doidge made clear, unlike Leicester and Nottingham who


have elections every four years, Derby has three every four years. A


recipe for greater democracy or instability? One for you to answer,


Margaret. There are different views but I have always been in favour of


the electorate having an opportunity every year to take some


decisions and to influence what happens, instead of being stuck


with one outcome over that whole period. What other benefit would


there be to that system? It gives you a chance for people to reflect


the mood of how things are going. For example, a few years ago, we


had a group that were elected to lead the council who made various


promises and which had gone within days, almost, of the local election.


The following year, the electorate had a chance to respond. Having


elections every year makes councillors more accountable,


doesn't it? The other argument is that at a time when local elections


are often driven by reactions to national events and opinion polls,


it smooths out the effects of the swings around public opinion,


around the performance of the national government. As Margaret


says, there are views from both parties, all parties. I don't think


there's any great appetite to go down this road. I think we would


prefer a system which says that we have local elections every four


years and in the interim years, we have the county elections.


don't fancy having a general election every year for example!


There was a time in the 17th century when there was a strong


argument for that but we didn't adopt it. Have we moved on from


them? The other side of the coin, Margaret, is that if councils have


to worry about elections every year, are they not much less likely to


make tough decisions which would make themselves unpopular with the


electorate? I don't think that it necessarily follows. Councillors


who are looking to the long-term interests of the place they are


elected to help to run the will be prepared to take those decisions,


and have, from time to time. What it does mean is that they are


perhaps a bit more responsive to the electorate than they would


otherwise be. And that has to be a good thing. Of course it is a good


thing that councillors are responsive to the electorate. I


don't think you necessarily have to have annual elections to focus the


minds of elected officials on the fact that one day they will face


the voters in the ballot box. Just time to update you on some of


the other stories making the news in the East Midlands this week in


Sixty Seconds, with Our Political Editor John Hess.


The GMB Union is holding meetings with BMI over the number of jobs


under threat as a result of the proposed takeover by British


Airways.The union estimates three hundred jobs could go at BMI's


headquarters and more than a hundred and fifty in its


maintenance hangars at East Midlands Airport. Angry


demonstrators made their presence felt at a meeting of Derbyshire


County Council.They were protesting against cuts which they claim would


decimate youth services.The council wants charities and other groups to


get involved. It'll review its policy next month. David Parsons


wins confidence vote. The leader of the Conservative majority in


Leicestershire, David Parsons, has survived a no confidence motion


brought by Labour and Lib Dem councillors. He's currently being


investigated over his expenses claims. Finally, VAT on warm


pasties is something of a hot potato for the Government. Now


Leicester South MP, Jon Ashworth, wants assurances that we won't be


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