02/06/2013 Sunday Politics East Midlands


02/06/2013

Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on the lobbying scandal with Francis Maude and Jim Murphy.


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lobbying and give voters the chance to kick out this great MPs. He did

:00:55.:00:59.

then and since come at nothing. We will ask Cabinet office Minister

:00:59.:01:04.

Francis Maude if the latest scandals will force the government to act. It

:01:04.:01:09.

is hardly the best day for MPs to complain about the deal they are

:01:09.:01:14.

getting on expenses, but many are angry about the new system.

:01:14.:01:24.
:01:24.:01:25.

Conservative MP Noureddine Doris in the Newark constituency of

:01:25.:01:35.
:01:35.:01:35.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2438 seconds

:01:35.:42:13.

Patrick Mercer, and we hear from his reputation of our politicians: We're

:42:13.:42:23.
:42:23.:42:24.

live from Newark with the latest on the Patrick Mercer story. He has

:42:24.:42:27.

resigned the Conservative whip, but should he be allowed to stay on as

:42:27.:42:35.

an independent MP? I will be getting reaction from local voters. Also

:42:35.:42:38.

this lunchtime: thousands of people across our region are asking for

:42:38.:42:41.

help as cuts in housing benefit bite. I think that the courts are

:42:41.:42:45.

going to be overrun with cases. All of the eviction process is that

:42:45.:42:55.
:42:55.:42:58.

going to come up. -- eviction processes that are going to come up.

:42:58.:43:02.

We'll go across to Newark in a moment, but first my guests in the

:43:02.:43:04.

studio are Mark Spencer, the Conservative who's a neighbour of

:43:04.:43:07.

Patrick Mercer, as the Sherwood MP, and Chris Williamson, Labour's MP

:43:07.:43:12.

for Derby North. More allegations in this morning's papers, this time

:43:12.:43:16.

involving the House of Lords. All of the peers involved have denied doing

:43:16.:43:22.

anything wrong. But for both of you, after the expenses scandal, you have

:43:23.:43:25.

a hard enough time winning the public over, this must just make

:43:26.:43:33.

your job even harder. Mark Spencer? It is, and it is enormously

:43:33.:43:40.

frustrating. There are more than 650 MPs, 640 of them are working hard to

:43:40.:43:45.

their constituents and doing a good job, and it only takes two or three

:43:45.:43:50.

to tar the rest of us with a pretty uncomfortable brush. How do you

:43:50.:43:54.

legislate for the bad apples? the things we could do with the

:43:54.:43:59.

problem of lobbying is have a registry whereby all lobbyists have

:43:59.:44:04.

to register, whether they are companies or a charity. That would

:44:04.:44:08.

be an appropriate way forward. This needs to be addressed in a

:44:08.:44:13.

cross-party way, to ensure that we have legislation to stop this

:44:13.:44:21.

problem happening again in future. This is enormously complicated. How

:44:21.:44:26.

do you distinguish between big-money lobby groups and normal

:44:26.:44:30.

constituents? This week I have talked to the Fire Brigades union,

:44:30.:44:35.

to Nottinghamshire police, to the local vicar, all lobbying me over an

:44:35.:44:39.

issue that is going through Parliament. How do you distinguish

:44:39.:44:42.

between the people who are trying to buy influence and normal, genuine

:44:42.:44:50.

people, trying to influence the political process? But we have

:44:50.:44:55.

business interests involved and foreign governments. What is a

:44:56.:45:00.

business interests? Nottinghamshire Fire and rescue our lobbying me

:45:00.:45:02.

about how they deliver their services and how their pension

:45:02.:45:10.

system works. Aren't they a lobby group not? But there is a big

:45:10.:45:15.

difference between major companies and normal people. Francis Maude

:45:15.:45:19.

said he expected measures on the statute book by the next general

:45:19.:45:25.

election. Will Labour help? If we can get that collaboration, we can

:45:26.:45:32.

find a way forward. Except that it may not be straightforward. But it

:45:32.:45:35.

is not beyond the wit of parliamentarians to come up with a

:45:35.:45:39.

resilient system that'll prevent this sort of Cobham happening again

:45:39.:45:43.

to protect the reputation of the political process. -- this sort of

:45:43.:45:53.
:45:53.:45:55.

problem. For the moment, thank you very much. It was already promising

:45:56.:46:00.

to be a big day in Newark. It's the Mayor's annual parade today. But

:46:00.:46:03.

with the resignation of the town's MP from the Tory whip, you can

:46:03.:46:06.

guarantee what the political small talk is this morning. Let's find out

:46:06.:46:12.

from Eleanor Garnier. Good morning from Newark's marketplace, where the

:46:12.:46:18.

new mayor has been welcomed into office. There will be celebration

:46:18.:46:24.

there, but not elsewhere. Will it the more like commiseration at the

:46:24.:46:29.

town's local Conservative Association now that the MP has

:46:29.:46:33.

resigned the Conservative whip. I am joined by Stuart Wallis, chairman of

:46:33.:46:40.

Newark conservatives and also, the leader of Nottinghamshire Lib Dems.

:46:40.:46:43.

Your first reaction when Patrick Mercer told you he was resigning the

:46:43.:46:52.

whip. Obviously it was shock. I had not heard anything at all. You must

:46:52.:46:56.

feel devastated after all the hard work you have put in, to building up

:46:56.:47:00.

such a healthy majority. You must feel let down. That is not quite

:47:00.:47:05.

true, if you think about this. He has been an exceptional constituency

:47:05.:47:08.

MP and has worked very hard for the town. He has earned a great deal of

:47:09.:47:13.

respect. I would like to say that there should be an inquiry into what

:47:13.:47:17.

has gone on, and until we have a report from that, it is unfair to

:47:17.:47:23.

comment in that way. If things have proved the front, then many people

:47:23.:47:28.

in this town will be saddened, but I prefer to wait for a proper inquiry

:47:28.:47:38.
:47:38.:47:38.

into the exact circumstances. that inquiry, what is the

:47:38.:47:42.

constituency organisation's relationship with Patrick? Are you

:47:42.:47:48.

still supporting him? We need to have a working relationship. Let's

:47:48.:47:55.

be honest. It is less than 40 hours since this broke. I need to have

:47:55.:47:58.

lots of conversations with Patrick and with the Conservative party

:47:58.:48:05.

before I can give you an answer to that one. If your leader Nick Clegg

:48:05.:48:09.

had been more pushy about this and got that statutory register of

:48:09.:48:13.

lobbyists in, we might not have this situation. I think that you are

:48:13.:48:19.

right. This needs to look -- needs to be looked at again. Why have we

:48:19.:48:23.

not got the power of recall, and more transparency over what MPs do,

:48:23.:48:26.

and that is because the Conservatives and Labour have made

:48:26.:48:33.

it difficult to get those powers through. The Conservatives have

:48:33.:48:41.

blocked the power of recall. This is the time to look at those things

:48:41.:48:49.

again. You can see that the Dems might not get that through. Do you

:48:50.:48:54.

think Patrick Mercer should stay as an independent or resign as an MP

:48:54.:48:56.

and force a by-election? It is down to his constituents and to his own

:48:57.:48:59.

conscience. An investigation has still to take place. This region,

:48:59.:49:02.

the East Midlands, has been marred in the past by things like cash for

:49:02.:49:07.

questions. We have got to take a stand and make sure that people have

:49:07.:49:13.

the power of recall over MPs. just heard, the investigation still

:49:13.:49:17.

has to take place, and Patrick Mercer is denying the allegations.

:49:17.:49:21.

Whether he will remain as an independent MP or not, that is

:49:21.:49:28.

something I am going to be asking local voters later on. Should

:49:28.:49:33.

Patrick Mercer stand down? He has not been convicted of anything at

:49:33.:49:38.

this moment in time. Once the facts are established, we can answer that

:49:38.:49:47.

question. The prospect of a parliamentary by-election in Newark

:49:47.:49:52.

is not going to be welcomed. Not by me, because I will probably be on

:49:52.:49:58.

the streets of Newark, delivering leaflets. We need to make the

:49:58.:50:04.

decision later on whether there should be a by-election. Why do you

:50:04.:50:08.

think the prime minister is taking so long to bring in this register of

:50:08.:50:13.

lobbyists? It is a complicated issue, joined those lines as to what

:50:13.:50:18.

is a lobby group, and what is not. We need to find cross-party

:50:18.:50:25.

consensus as well, and it needs to stand the test of time for a

:50:25.:50:34.

generation. It is disappointing that no legislative programme has been

:50:34.:50:38.

brought forward by the prime Minister on this. Perhaps this will

:50:38.:50:41.

concentrate his mind and we will see something in the next Queen's

:50:41.:50:46.

speech. It takes two to tango in the coalition. But with Labour backing,

:50:46.:50:51.

this could come through fairly quickly. I would have thought there

:50:51.:50:59.

was consensus with the Lib Dems on this. So I can't see what the

:50:59.:51:06.

impediments actually is. Probably the same impediment that under the

:51:06.:51:13.

Labour government, why didn't Gordon Brown ring this forward.

:51:13.:51:17.

proposition was brought forward when we were in government. We did

:51:17.:51:23.

include it in the manifesto. We can all point the finger of blame. We

:51:23.:51:28.

need to grasp the nettle and get on with it. Grasping the nettle.

:51:28.:51:34.

Yesterday I was speaking to Ken Clarke about this. He said that a

:51:34.:51:36.

register of lobbyists was in legislative terms, fairly

:51:36.:51:43.

straightforward. But on recall, having a mechanism whereby a

:51:43.:51:47.

by-election is triggered, that is more complex. Is he right that it is

:51:47.:51:51.

much more complex? It is much more complex because you get individual

:51:51.:51:56.

lobby groups who might target an MP will stop let's take the example of

:51:56.:51:59.

gay marriage that has just gone through Parliament. If you have a

:51:59.:52:02.

lobby group against one of those and they disapprove of how an MP votes,

:52:02.:52:12.
:52:12.:52:13.

then they can target that individual MP. It could cause mayhem. 10% of

:52:13.:52:23.

the electorate? Whichever way that, my seat as an example, the

:52:23.:52:25.

opposition could trigger a by-election quite easily. Would you

:52:25.:52:31.

welcome this? No, I wouldn't. It is a knee-jerk response to this media a

:52:31.:52:41.

few raw. -- furore. Mark is right when he says that a group of people

:52:41.:52:43.

could get together. It would undermine the political process. It

:52:43.:52:48.

is a gimmick. We have seen in California where the democratically

:52:48.:52:55.

elected Democrats candidate, for Governor, was replaced with our much

:52:55.:53:00.

what's in a ghetto is unresolved problems that flowed to the people

:53:00.:53:09.

of California as a result of that. But could this be dissed -- could

:53:09.:53:15.

this be embraced despite the opposition? We need to address these

:53:15.:53:20.

scandals that seem to keep rearing their head, and get on with the

:53:20.:53:24.

business of governing the country. The problem is, you go down this

:53:24.:53:28.

road, and it is a cul-de-sac, in my opinion and there would be many

:53:28.:53:38.
:53:38.:53:38.

unintended consequences. We'll be returning to this issue later; but

:53:38.:53:42.

now let's take a look at another story from this week. There's been a

:53:42.:53:45.

big increase in the number of people across the East Midlands seeking

:53:45.:53:48.

help with paying their rent. It comes in the wake of the

:53:48.:53:50.

introduction of the Coalition's "under-occupancy penalty", or what

:53:50.:53:52.

Chris would no doubt, call the "bedroom tax". Before its

:53:52.:53:55.

introduction last month, Sunday Politics spoke to a tenant from

:53:55.:53:58.

Derby, who was worried what it would mean for her. Tim Parker's been back

:53:58.:54:06.

to see what's happened. June McDermott unpacks her groceries.

:54:06.:54:08.

They have not come from a shop, but the food rank. Since the benefits

:54:08.:54:14.

changes, she finds herself in debt and behind on rent for the first

:54:14.:54:22.

time in her life will stop I didn't know that these places existed.

:54:22.:54:31.

thought no, no chance, but yes, absolutely. The biggest largest

:54:31.:54:36.

number of people that they are helping at the moment is people

:54:37.:54:41.

suffering from benefit cuts. Jill helps to look after her

:54:41.:54:44.

grandchildren and as a full-time carer for her father who lives

:54:44.:54:51.

nearby, but her two-bedroom flat is deemed to be too big, and that means

:54:51.:54:56.

she's having to find an extra �16 a week in rent. I have been able to

:54:56.:55:02.

pay a little bit each week to pick -- protect myself from eviction but

:55:02.:55:07.

I am only doing that because I can go to the food bank. Her landlord is

:55:07.:55:14.

the housing provider, Derwent living. It says that some tenants

:55:14.:55:21.

are being affected more than others. It all began on April the 1st. 750

:55:21.:55:26.

of our residents were subject to it. Eight weeks in, and it is early

:55:26.:55:34.

days, and about 250 of those residents are not paying what is

:55:34.:55:42.

known as the bedroom tax. The bulk of people have found ways to deal

:55:42.:55:48.

with the additional payments they are having to make. So, families in

:55:48.:55:52.

all types of situations across the East Midlands, including here in

:55:52.:56:00.

Loughborough, are facing life with the under siege at, or bedroom tax.

:56:00.:56:04.

This woman has found a part-time job to afford the under siege charge she

:56:04.:56:09.

now faces. I have to pay a little bit more, with the bedroom tax, but

:56:09.:56:14.

I am still that are off and it has worked out better for me as well.

:56:14.:56:19.

But for Jill, in Derby, the future is looking more difficult. Sometimes

:56:19.:56:26.

you just want to put your head in your hands and cried. Last time, I

:56:26.:56:30.

said that the courts would be overrun with cases. They are not

:56:30.:56:34.

going to be able to cope with all the eviction cases that are going to

:56:34.:56:38.

come up. June is still waiting to hear if she can get any extra cash

:56:38.:56:43.

from her council to help her. Thousands more people across the

:56:43.:56:48.

region face the same weight. Is this issue in danger of becoming David

:56:48.:56:55.

Cameron's poll tax? This is about trying to bring fairness to the

:56:55.:57:00.

system. There are 250,000 people with overcrowded people, and 2

:57:01.:57:03.

million people on the waiting list for a council house, and there are

:57:03.:57:07.

all of these spare bedrooms within the system, and it is about trying

:57:07.:57:11.

to bring balance so that those with spare rooms can release them and

:57:11.:57:17.

those desperate for extra space can have it. Surely he has got a point.

:57:18.:57:21.

He hasn't got a point. This is a combination of cruelty and

:57:21.:57:25.

incompetence. We are talking about people's homes here. The

:57:25.:57:31.

Conservatives, rather than building houses, want to throw people out of

:57:31.:57:36.

their houses were they have brought their families. There are not enough

:57:36.:57:41.

single bedroom properties available. I would certainly like to see Labour

:57:41.:57:46.

get rid of this. It is pretty clear, with the statements that have been

:57:46.:57:52.

made that it is unlikely to change -- survive a change of government.

:57:52.:57:56.

It is about cruelty and incompetence. There are not enough

:57:56.:58:03.

single bedroom properties are available. Labour built a lot more

:58:03.:58:07.

houses than the Conservatives are doing now. Labour did this with

:58:07.:58:09.

people in private rented accommodation so that people in

:58:09.:58:15.

private rented accommodation were not getting that extra subsidy.

:58:15.:58:19.

we are talking about here is applying this to people living in

:58:19.:58:25.

council and housing association accommodation, people who aren't by

:58:25.:58:28.

definition living on modest incomes without the resources to be able to

:58:28.:58:37.

pay this additional rent. You are forcing people, only 271 single

:58:37.:58:41.

bedroom properties came available in Derby last year and there are

:58:41.:58:45.

hundreds more people than that affected by this. We will inevitably

:58:46.:58:52.

have stories of evictions. How argue, as an MP, going to with that?

:58:52.:58:57.

The government recognises that there are people under pressure and put in

:58:57.:59:06.

place a fund of �150 million to address that. And local authorities

:59:06.:59:12.

need to act to, rather than paying large salaries to chief executives.

:59:12.:59:16.

The money in this government fund does not meet the demands placed on

:59:16.:59:21.

it. Why not boost the economy and put people back into work? Why not

:59:22.:59:27.

do that? Stefanie said that she had coped, we heard from the housing

:59:27.:59:31.

chief who said two thirds of his tenants are paying it, so it is

:59:31.:59:36.

early days. And he said that one third of them are struggling and

:59:36.:59:39.

falling behind with their rent, and we're only one month into the

:59:39.:59:47.

scheme. How are people living on extremely low incomes being able to

:59:47.:59:50.

do this? Hats off to Stefanie in that report. People like her should

:59:50.:59:57.

be encouraged. It is pushing people into poverty. It is outrageous and

:59:57.:00:05.

appalling. Time for a round-up of some of the other political stories

:00:05.:00:09.

in the East Midlands this week - in 60 seconds. Nothing was to get the

:00:09.:00:15.

new preschool. The torch Academy which runs the slack schools in

:00:15.:00:18.

Nottinghamshire is being given the go-ahead to open a new school in the

:00:18.:00:23.

north of the city. Its plans for one at Trent Bridge have been rejected.

:00:23.:00:28.

The Bosworth MP David Tredinnick has warned his party that it is losing

:00:29.:00:35.

ground to UKIP. It says Tories should match the UKIP pledge to let

:00:35.:00:40.

doctors offer herbal and alternative remedies. The European Parliament

:00:40.:00:45.

has voted to restrict the use of three pesticides linked to declining

:00:45.:00:50.

honeybee populations. The East Midlands MEP wants limitations

:00:50.:00:54.

placed on another pesticide. Abhishek County Council has

:00:54.:00:57.

appointed a new acting chief executive after the departure of

:00:57.:01:02.

former chief, Nick Hodgson. He left when Labour took over following the

:01:02.:01:06.

council elections. They have appointed Ian Stevens, the

:01:06.:01:16.
:01:16.:01:25.

environment services director. Let's return to Newark. When Patrick

:01:25.:01:29.

Mercer resigned the Conservative whip he said it was to save

:01:29.:01:32.

embarrassment for the Conservative party. But now that he's an

:01:32.:01:37.

independent MP, how does that affect local issues? I asked one local

:01:37.:01:40.

campaigner that question a few minutes ago. It should have a

:01:40.:01:44.

positive affect on the campaign. I understand he has lost the

:01:44.:01:48.

Conservative whip but he's independent now. He can speak out

:01:48.:01:54.

when he feels things are wrong, and people are not, we are not getting

:01:54.:01:58.

the right services. He can speak out. He does not have to follow the

:01:58.:02:06.

Tory party line and I hope that he does. That is what one local

:02:06.:02:10.

campaigner thinks. What about the boaters? Do they mind that he's able

:02:10.:02:15.

stand as an independent, or, should he be forced out, prompting a

:02:15.:02:21.

by-election? We feel that he's a very good MP, who does a lot of good

:02:21.:02:24.

for the town, and it is a pity that he has made a full of himself and

:02:24.:02:31.

slip up. He will continue to do a good job. This is a blip.

:02:31.:02:35.

Unfortunately it is one of these things he has got to look at himself

:02:35.:02:41.

and say, do I remain in politics. It is his decision. I think he should

:02:41.:02:48.

step down. It is exactly 48 hours since Patrick Mercer resigned the

:02:48.:02:54.

Conservative whip. And what many people here are asking is, if he's

:02:54.:02:58.

found guilty or innocent, can he win back the trust of local voters here

:02:58.:03:08.
:03:08.:03:14.

a plague on both your houses. is why I said we need to bring

:03:14.:03:18.

forward legislation to stop it happening again in future. A

:03:18.:03:21.

statutory register would achieve that. It is not without its

:03:21.:03:25.

problems, to get it right, but we need to do that. It is really

:03:25.:03:29.

important to restore faith in the bloody good process. Winston

:03:29.:03:34.

Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government apart

:03:34.:03:37.

from all the others that have been tried. We have to try and rescue

:03:37.:03:43.

democracy. When MPs return to the Commons tomorrow after yet another

:03:43.:03:47.

recess, what do you want to hear from the government? We need to look

:03:47.:03:52.

at the legislation and move forward. But none of this would be necessary

:03:52.:03:58.

if MPs acted with a bit more moral fibre and did what was right rather

:03:58.:04:08.
:04:08.:04:12.

than chase the Holytown. -- the holy pound. It is important that we

:04:12.:04:15.

restore faith in analytical process. This is the best that we have got,

:04:15.:04:21.

and we have got to make it work. The majority of MPs are good, decent,

:04:21.:04:24.

upstanding individuals who believe in what they are trying to do, who

:04:24.:04:30.

want to try and make a difference for the people that elected them.

:04:30.:04:35.

don't know what the mood on the Tory benches would be, but if you bump

:04:35.:04:40.

into Patrick Mercer tomorrow, what would you say to him? He will

:04:40.:04:45.

probably be busy with other things, but let's see what happens. Let's

:04:45.:04:50.

see, when the truth comes out in the end, and we can decide to move

:04:50.:05:00.
:05:00.:05:02.

forward. Thank you both for joining us. That's the Sunday Politics in

:05:02.:05:04.

the East Midlands, thanks to my guests, Chris Williamson and Mark

:05:04.:05:08.

Andrew Neil and Marie Ashby with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on the lobbying scandal with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy. Plus Nadine Dorries MP on MPs' expenses.


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