20/01/2013 Sunday Politics East


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Here Makan Eastman, moves to end the misery of pagan Lions. - Mac


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Welcome to Sunday Politics East. Later in the programme, a rise in


the number of people in this region being driven into payday loans.


not go anywhere near them, ever. They are very, very dangerous


spiral to get involved in. A new relationship with Europe - the


manifesto for change led by MPs in this region. There is a general


sense that the party backs the idea of reform and renegotiation and not


leaving and in that regard we are Riyaz one we do not -- with the


Prime Minister. First let's meet our guests, Labour's Kelvin Hopkins,


MP for Luton North, and Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP and rapporteur for


offshore oil and gas safety and the fiscal framework directive


overseeing the accountability of public spending. I want to start


with a quick word about the incinerator row. This week King's


Lynn MP Henry Bellingham, supported by other Norfolk MPs, has


criticised Norfolk County Council for the way it approved plans for a


waste incinerator in the town. is wrong for any council to ride


roughshod over local people when local people have made their --


their views crystal clear. Democracy is ill-served when we


have a consultation and then we ignore its findings. Vicky Ford,


protesters say that 93 % of protesters -- of people voted


against the scheme. This is a test of localism, isn't it? Yes, what is


the point of asking local people their views if you then don't


listen. As an MEP I try to stay well away from local issues because


it is the last thing we want, for me to get involved in local


planning issues, but I think the developers have these sort of


incinerators have done a really bad job in the UK at winning public


opinion. The public are not happy with these, they think there is a


lot of risk, and that is an issue across the UK, that people are


concerned about that. In Sweden they build them with viewing


galleries because people like them. Simon Wright, let's talk about the


localism issue. Are you are a fan of localism or do you think it


raises people's hopes about delivery? Localism is that the


heart of what Liberal-Democrats are tied with -- trying to achieve. To


have a council ride roughshod over local opinion, I agree, the way


they have gone about this is completely wrong. I was one of the


number of MPs who wrote to Eric Pickles, asking him to call in the


process. I am pleased he has done that. More from both are due in a


moment. Times are tight for everybody but some people find


themselves so desperate for cash that they end up taking out short-


term loans with extremely high interest rates. So-called payday


loans. There was growing concern about the effect they are having,


particularly because the number of people resorting to them has soared,


by 43 % last year, according to debt charity. Here in the East


unsecured debt is almost 5 % higher than the national average. Last


month the government pledged to Thai teak regulation, in a year's


time, but alternatives like credit unions are under growing pressure.


-- Titan Reg elect -- regulations. -- to tighten regulation. Laurie


Smith suffered after getting into a spiral of debt. It was ridiculously


easy for me to get those loans out, bearing in mind my credit history.


They can't have looked very thoroughly into my history. What


was bankrupt. It was a problem with her car that prompted her to borrow


�300 the started her cycle of debt. -- that started. I could not see a


way out, I had to earn more money or not spend as much, but I did not


have as much as I did before so that was hard. Concern over payday


loans has risen to such a level that the government, pushed into a


U-turn by the Lords, has given the plant authority the ability to


limit loans. Two -- too little too late for Linda. Not her real name.


Having lived with payday loans fur a good seven or eight years now, it


is just as well I am tough. -- for a good. The complete mental trauma,


you can't think of anything else. She was rescued by the local credit


union, who sorted out her finances. Certainly in the last year, 18


months, huge numbers of people coming with pay-day lanes, not just


one, several. -- payday loans. Even people who are not working, they


seem to be able to get the loans. While more and more payday loan


companies joined the market, many credit unions are struggling for


funds. Before Christmas we did not know whether we would have enough


money to lend to our members, let alone anybody who came in looking


for more emergency money. Credit unions need premises and money for


volunteers, something Cambridge City Council have this week decided


to fund, as well as money for riskier loans. They will have much


more sensible lakes of interest and they do not lock people into


punitive cycles. Another benefit is that the credit unions insist on a


saving element, which encourages responsible money management and


hopefully makes people less likely to get into these problems in the


future. It is when you are at your most vulnerable that they have got


you. Desperation will make you do things you would not normally


rationally do. People who use payday loans deserve more


protection, according to a report by the Office of Fair Trading, but


until recently the government has resisted taking action. I think


there are three things the government should do, one is to


deal with the obscene level of low pay in our economy, and they do


shoes at -- they should do something about capping interest


rates, which they do across much of Europe, even in the United States.


The government should do that now and not wait until 2014. The third


thing is they should open access to alternative forms of capital.


Without action, 2013 could be a year of opportunity for companies


like these. Earlier this week Debra Matt Goss


will come -- Russell Hammond from the consumer finance Association,


which represents about -- around 70 % of the payday loan market. She


asked him if people are being exploited because they are


vulnerable. Most people are not vulnerable, they are financially


stressed, they might be on low incomes or even at medium in comes


and they are managing their budget in an uncertain economy. -- even


medium in comes. Do you think there should be better regulation? When


you look at the way people are using payday loans and the


popularity of the product and the level of growth in response to the


fact that that is what consumers want and we are providing, if you


take that into context and you make sure that you have good standards


of round it and there are industry standards as well as the statutory


regulations that exist, and the major players are come -- complying


with those, then you have a strong and competitive market. I do accept


that some areas need improvement. When any -- when an industry is


young and growing quickly it is inevitable that you will have some


teething problems. As a body we are addressing those. Vicky Ford, this


is more than just teething problems, isn't it? Absolutely. I am very


pleased that there is going to be better regulation of this industry.


I went to see the food bank in Haverhill in autumn and they give


debt advice. They told me there are 400 different ways that people on


lower income has can access this sort of credit, 400 different


moneylenders in one town. Isn't the point that if people were paid a


decent wage on minimum grade -- minimum wage they would not have to


resort to these high-interest loans? I am not sure that is just


be issued. Sometimes people are borrowing to mend their cars. It is


a bit like credit cards, everybody offering more and more credit and


lowering the credit, taking credit from one lender and another and


another, and that explodes the whole thing. In September I wrote


to the Chancellor about this because part of my concern is that


if it is not regulated in the UK it will get regulated in Europe. What


I have seen, for example, in the mortgage market is that when you


leave it up to Europe to regulate their come up with a one-size-fits-


all piece of regulation that does not solve the problem. Vicky


talking about Europe there. Of course the United States has banned


payday loans in some states. Should we look at banning them here?


certainly need to regulate them properly. 0 was concerned to hear


the cases in those Riddick -- their video. -- I was concerned. They are


not unique, I visited the Citizen's Advice Bureau in Norwich and they


said it was a growing problem. The problem with these loans is that


people take them out and sometimes they will get another one out to


pay for the first one and there is a spiral and it becomes incredibly


problematic for those individuals. We need to strengthen consumer


protection. The financial conduct authority will have the tools it


needs to do that. In the short term, because the body is not in place to


do that yet... Not until 2014. There is an issue about timescales.


In the meantime government has been working with the industry to bring


forward a new code of practice for consumers. I have met the senior


management team of wonder, and they said our business model is


fantastic. In which case, if you think you are doing the right


things, you should not be against proposing a set of regulations that


means that other lenders who are not operating to the standards that


you say are OK cannot do it. Clearly people are getting into


problems from multiple lenders, when you have loan after loan, and


it is not just the interest rate that is the issue. I think we need


to look at it and we also need to encourage banks to be lending more.


We are going to leave the subject there because I want to move onto


the big one of Europe, which have caused has dominated discussion in


Westminster this week. Even by the Prime Minister's long awaited


speech on Britain's future role in the UK has been postponed, that has


not hampered MPs from our region from having their say, with many


taking a leading role in the debate. Europe plays a large part in the


life of this region. 64 % of our trade is with the EU, far higher


than the national average. Millions of pounds of European funding has


gone into improving towns like Great Yarmouth and the transport


upgrade in Cambridgeshire. The region has also been affected by


immigration of course, with many workers taking up farm work in the


Fens. A growing number of Conservatives believe it is time


for a rethink. This week the fresh Start group called for repatriation


of powers from Europe, including taking control of social


legislation and restricting the right of emigrants to claim


benefits. It puts pressure on public services but more


importantly it causes a lot of resentment if the speed of


immigration is too fast. If there is a sense that people are coming


here to benefit from the benefits system rather than to work. There


is another issue - in my constituency employment levels are


very good but in other parts of the East, where unemployment is high,


there is a sense where in a great - - immigrant workers are taking jobs


that British people could do. What we don't want is to see the added


level of resentment that comes from people coming here to claim


benefits. A paper has been launched which claims the benefits of the


single market were vastly overrated and it could be more beneficial to


the UK economy to pull out altogether. The MP for North Essex


can tell us more about that. This region, 64 % of trade is with


Europe. Do you think we would be better out? Can I correct you to


start with, the paper does not says that. It simply asks the question,


is the single market really worth it? We are constantly told because


it is the be-all and end-all of our European membership, the overriding


reason why we have to stay in. People used to argue we would have


to join the single currency in order to preserve the single market.


We are asking, what is the balance of advantage? Overall for the


United Kingdom economy, though we do export quite a substantial


amount of our goods to the European Union, we actually export more


outside of Europe as a whole. Even if we did leave the single market


we would still be a trading gateway to Europe. I am interested in one


of the other claims, that the UK economy would create more jobs if


it didn't face the costs and burdens of the EU. Could you give


me an example? If you look at it this way, if you look at the total


of the UK economy, the UK economy exports probably less than 8.7 % of


GDP to the European Union. We only export, we don't export all but to


do the year, most of it is domestic and to non-EU countries. We have to


accept even rigged election on 100 % of our economy for that 8.7 %,


making it more expensive for us to export to China. This week, there


was cutting jobs because they can't export to Europe because Europe is


in decline. Exports to the rest of the world are growing but we bear


the costs of EU regulation and a contribution to the EU budget in


order to be a member of the Union. What do you make of the fresh Start


approach? There are a lot of approach is going around, fresh


start is one of them. If you ask the simple question, should Britain


have the right to make its own laws, that is what democracy is about. At


the moment more and more laws are being made by the European Union in


the name of the single market when all we wanted was the trade. A new


relationship, and this is where I agree with David Cameron, is where


-- is what we need, our relationship based on trade and


political corporation, not laws being made by institutions which


increasingly will govern a federal state that we don't want to be Pat


-- be part of. -- co-operation are the Liberal Democrats a lone voice


in this region in favour of the EU? It is a fantasy to imagine we can


Ula -- unilaterally renegotiate the terms of the EU. At there is no way


to base that as a starting point. We need to focus on leading in


Europe building -- and building allies with other nation-states to


reform the way the EU works. We know that we can make the free


market work more effectively, we know we do -- we need to do more to


cut red tape and to introduce political reforms such as the Crazy


to-ing and fro-ing between Brussels and Strasbourg, but we can only do


this by building relationships within the union. We have had the


fresh Start approach, where do you stand on everything? As somebody


who has been campaigning for reform and a referendum for five years, I


can wait a week or two before the Prime Minister's speech, but I


think he is going to give us that. I think be in or out debate is


simplistic. The status quo does not exist any more. We are not part of


the eurozone or the monetary union, we can't be in the fisting or


banking union, so that rules they are making for the eurozone, you


can't cut and paste that on to the 10 countries outside the eurozone.


The status quo is changing already. Be out debate is a concern for a


lot of our business because they don't want to end up with laws in


Brussels which affect British businesses but without them being


able to have an negotiation on those rules. Fresh start has


started to look at the detail of these negotiations and I am really


pleased with that, that we have started to say not the simplistic


in or out suggestion... Why d'you think we have so many Euro-sceptics


in this region? I think we have a lot of big issues. Take the


immigration discussion mentioned before. Migration but work is one


thing, migration for health care or welfare is a different issue. It is


not just the UK but has an issue with that. In the fresh Start


document they name 12 other countries in Europe who have named


this as an issue. Last week a German MPs agreed on that issue.


Simon Wright, Nick Clegg has said that a referendum would cause five


years of uncertainty, damaging the country. This is going to cause


another rift in the coalition, isn't it? There are about 3.5


million jobs in the UK and at a time when we know the economy is


fragile why do we want to undermine confidence in investment within the


UK? I want to squeeze in the political round-up of the week.


Here it comes. Winter white out across the East as


sub-zero blizzard conditions brought chaos for travellers.


Police were putting in extra hours but it was the scrapping of


military police at Colchester that worried the town's MP. I urge the


minister at least to reinstate some of the police. Runway clearance was


under way at Stansted but in Southend it looks like council cuts


have grounded the summer air show. While all councils faced tight


budgets, the Corby MP thinks that switching off street lighting is a


step too far. It means people are frightened to go out at night,


increasing crime. Dangerous driving at whatever time of day was the


focus for Jamie Bulger's parents, who joined their MP to lobby the


government on sensing. Only one or three of these drivers goes to jail,


and only one in 10 for more than five years.


Let's pick up on the issue of street lights. Simon Wright, switch


them off for keep them on? Keep them on. At this time of year


particularly be brisker accidents on icy pavements and roads across


no doubt Northamptonshire and also Norfolk, of course that will make


things more dangerously. -- at the risk of accidents. It would save


money, wouldn't it? Yes, but I was at Tilbury power station and unless


we renegotiate our energy laws would be you a lot more lights will


be going off. -- with the EU. you are stargazer, Simon Wright?


have been quite interested in the BBC programme, Star-gazing, but no,


I am not one myself. Thank you both very much indeed. That is all we


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