02/06/2013 Sunday Politics East


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county councils bring sweeping weather and decisions in Europe, see


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2447 seconds


of the programme. I'm Etholle George. This week we're down on the


farm, where it's less of a rural idyll than an agricultural disaster


area. More farmers than ever have been badly affected thanks to the


weather this year. Particularly the dairy industry, where many are still


getting less for their milk than it costs to produce. It has not been


easy. For the work we have to do, there is not enough money in Ed at


the moment. For the last couple of years, we have really struggled.


And the fallout from the County Council elections continues, with


the UK Independence Party taking a higher profile in the East than ever


before. It's a rainbow coalition for Norfolk. UKIP are the main


opposition, which has given the county its first Labour leader for


more than a decade. We speak to him later. But first to our guests.


Geoffrey Van Orden, Conservative member of the European Parliament


for the East. And Richard Howitt, the East's Labour MEP. And a story


this week about the exploitation of thousands of migrant workers who are


desperate for somewhere to live. These are the pictures from just one


town, Wisbech, where there are more than 1,000 overcrowded and


unlicensed properties. Whole families with young children are


sharing one room and there are cases of 20 people living in each house.


Geoffrey Van Orden, a big problem across the region, so what is to be


done? Of course, it is appalling what we are seeing, and we have to


properly in force the law as far as these dwellings are concerned and


the conditions in which people are living. It points to a wider


problem, the number of migrants coming from eastern Europe and


elsewhere, but in other region particularly, from eastern Europe,


and concentrated in areas such as Wisbech. I was there a couple of


weeks ago campaigning and I saw for myself the numbers of people from


Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and other places. But... I have to say,


we are doing more about this and we need greater opportunities for local


people. Richard Howitt, is this is what is meant as freedom of


movement? It is good you did this Ed -- did this investigation. I think


people's real concern is not just numbers, and numbers game that they


can never win, it is about fear for your -- you are less likely to get a


job because someone else has taken it. If migrant workers are treated


fairly, with proper housing and wages, they will not undercut local


Labour. Thank you both very much for the moment. Now to the plight of our


farmers. While politicians wrestle with reforms in Europe, farmers are


doing battle against the elements. An unprecedented 90% of them are


being pushed closer to the breadline. And nowhere is that more


true than in the dairy industry. The crisis continues, despite coalition


hopes for a voluntary code of practice.


The grass still has not grown much on this cold, wet nurse land in


South Norfolk. -- marshland. But they had run out of feed, so they


had to be put out on the land. is not enough money in it at the


moment for the work we have to do. We have struggled. Do you feel like


giving up? It has come to that. It has crossed my mind, but hopefully,


we have now crossed a low-cost system and we can see a


breakthrough. It is no better in the chicken shed, where the price for


eggs matches the price of the. one year ago, -- the price of feed.


About one year ago, we did not think we could carry on. Why did you carry


on? We wanted to see what would happen.


They reckon they get 1p per litre for their milk because they have not


signed up to the voluntary code of practice, and they are also losing


600 �600 per year in environmental subsidies from Europe -- �6,600 per


year in environmental subsidies for neuro. -- Europe. We are in the


final round of the Common Agricultural Policy's reform


negotiations, with hope a deal can be struck in June. The National


Farmers' Union wants to make sure any budget cuts are spread across


the EU and don't analyse farmers here. Unfortunately, the UK


Government does not put farming at the top of its priorities. The


French have already done a deal to get an extra 1 billion euros for


their farmers. I am worried, as this horse trading goes on for weeks,


English farmers in particular, the ones I represent, will be sold down


the river. Even this week's Suffolk show could not dodge the bad weather


that has caused havoc. We are at least one month late coming into the


summer. We had summing -- we are having major problems. We are about


three weeks to one month late and that has to relate, especially as we


are still called in May, to a later harvest. I am not sure it can catch


up. Yet they are managing to bottles hundreds of metres for a growing


rapeseed oil market. While the market for milk really breaks even.


This farm has been in the family for three generations, but cannot


provide a future for two sons. love the animals here and love to


see them out. Earlier this week, Andrew Sinclair


spoke to Sir James Paice, who is himself a farmer. He was the Farming


Minister that introduced the voluntary code of practice for the


dairy industry before he was moved from his post.


I hope that the rest of those processors will sign up, that the


organisation, of which they are all members, will exert more Prince --


pressure, and all the pressure it can, because this was a deal done


between both sides of the industry, with government as a catalyst to


make it happen. Hopefully, a relationship between producers and


processors will carry them into the future. Wouldn't a mandatory scheme


be better? It is still there, and it is up to the present ministers to do


that to introduce it. Do you think we should? Do not forget, we


launched this in September, the day I lost my job as minister, and we


knew it would be at least this April before it would be up and running,


so it is early days to make a judgement. But the job of


legislation is still available, but limited, because it is the EU that


can only address certain issues. if that is not enough, there are no


worries about CAP reform, and future payments, our farmers right to be


worried? I think they are, and I think this reform of CAP was a great


opportunity for Europe as a whole to look forward. We put the days of


surpluses and butter and milk lakes behind us and we are looking at a


period of 30-40 years we have the world could be short of food and we


need to refocus the CAP. That opportunity has not been grasped by


anyone. What we are seeing now is going to be a mess, not resolved,


not satisfactory for anybody in Europe, but I certainly think that


is a risk that British farmers, particularly, could lose out from


some discussions. Why are we doing so badly? We hear reports the French


have an extra �1 billion. The dead. Why are we getting this wrong


mission marked -- they did. When these decisions were taken, such as


with France, and switching money, and the different arms of the CAP,


those decisions were taken at the behest of the Treasury, rather than


in the best interests of British farmers. One criticism I have heard


from British farmers is many people in government, particularly the


Treasury and civil servants, do not understand farming. Do you think


that is true? I think it is true. I have no doubt after two and a half


years in government, and a huge section does not understand farming,


and not keeping up to speed with changes. Some of the rhetoric is


still about those days of and cutting production and farmers being


subsidised. They have not caught up. Geoffrey Van Orden, a damning


indictment that the Treasury does not understand farming. It is very


difficult area and that is no doubt, after the last reform discussions,


many of us were disappointed that we were not able to do more for British


farmers in the way that they want. Over the years, over decades now,


we're British farmers have not got a fair section of the CAP payments. At


the moment, something like 50 billion per year is spent on Sun,


and British farmers get about 3 billion of that. People watching


will be wondering what you as Europe-1-macro are doing, surely it


is your job to negotiate on farmers behalf? -- as MEPs. There are some


differences. We have heard that this is a government that cares more


about cutting the amount going down rather than how it is spent. There


was one attack on George Osborne the from a conservative. There are clear


dividing lines. The National farmers union once a common policy as


possible. It does not want other countries, such as the French,


getting money under the table and then missing out. Yet you and your


colleagues voted against a more competitive CAP. There are many


areas we are, very consciously, we wanted to help local farmers.


Sometimes, we find ourselves not voting in the way the government


like. Can I just introduce what our position is as UK farming goes? Open


Europe have put some figures David Cameron had the chance to


challenge that money going to the friends and chose not to do so. One


environment, we should have environmental compliance for the


money going to farmers. Farmers are stewards of the environment, many


supporting this, yet the Conservative MEPs voted against


this. We want to see British farmers having higher standards of welfare.


Exactly. But conservatives voted against it. We are very strong


supporters of animal welfare. We want to see incentives to farmers


that are productive and producing sustainable farming. That is what we


want to encourage. You say that. You voted differently in March. For Sir


James Paice to come on, Cambridge Tory MP, man who abolished the


agricultural wages board, meaning some people lose holidays and sick


pay, I think... I just want to... are trying to create a more


efficient farming industry across the United Kingdom. Of course that


is what we want. But those figures revealed a distortion in where the


money goes. It was already geared against us, and British farmers, in


the European Union. That has been the system for many years. We shall


leave that they are for now. Thank you. -- leave that there. A fresh


wind is blowing through some of our county halls following this month's


elections. With both Cambridgeshire and Norfolk now in no overall


control. Strange bedfellows are being forced to work together. In


Norfolk, a rainbow alliance of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP


and the Greens has been formed. While in Cambridgeshire, the


Conservatives are being allowed to run a minority administration. And


there's another big change coming in. Both authorities have voted to


do away with the cabinet system of local government. Instead of a


handful of members from the ruling party making all the decisions,


committees of councillors will be set up to run things. The key thing


about it is bringing back what we see as the democratic deficit lost


over years, making decision processes back in the chamber over


there, and what it has two B, so that is why we are united together


to bring that into existence, a committee system making decisions in


the chamber, to all 84 members. And not just our members, including


Conservative members as well. advocated the cabinet system,


because we need to respond to pressing issues. One of the reasons


it was introduced is because decision-making is so very slow and


the committee system. Take not the County Council, for example,


employing 25,000 people, a very large organisation, and we need to


be able to react and plan and do that accordingly and one of the


problems with the committee system is everyone works in silos


underneath their committee, not enough across the board working.


George Nobbs, the Labour leader of Norfolk Council, joins us from


Norwich. Why do you prefer the committee system? It is not just me,


it is four parties out of five in Norfolk County Council. What the


system advocated is decisions like the one about the incinerator of


Kings Lynn, dragging on for well over three years, still massive


protest, planning applications and enquiries, and that was a decision


made by a cabinet of ten people, where the council never had a chance


to discuss it. It may sound strange to people outside, but people do not


understand that the council does not vote on things at present, it is


made by a small group of people, and we are trying to change that.


you worried no decisions could be made? What a good decisions, but no


decisions. Quite the opposite. -- lots of good discussions, but no


decisions. Quite the opposite. It will take as a year to change the


system, because that is what the law says. This is not a Labour policy,


because other Labour administrations are not doing the same thing, and


this could be party political. cannot see how it could be if it was


not an across-the-board. Some other councils are adopting it. We must


get away from the silly idea that we must have dogma and local


government. The Conservatives have done things a certain way for


several years, they have had their own way, run roughshod, and assisted


them on nobody else. We have tried to do a different approach, with


several parties working together. UKIP, Liberal Democrats, Greens and


labour are four parties with different views on a huge range of


subjects, but coming together on this essential issue, for the people


of Norfolk themselves. Stay with us. Geoffrey Van Orden, labour and UKIP


coalition, strange bedfellows. All-macro absolutely. This was never


part of Labour policy. absolutely. This was never part of


the policy. I think what the Conservative leader of Norfolk has


suggested is perhaps there ought to be a discussion amongst all the


parties to work out the best way forward and that is the way to do


it. George Nobbs, do you disagree? think you are living in a fantasy


world. What was said was what do I have to do to become leader? You are


living... Richard Howitt, you are quite keen on this idea of


committees. I am keen on democracy, and the electorate spoke in May,


kicking the Conservatives out, and I am deeply proud as a Labour leader


of Norfolk County Council. On issues that George and labour really cares


about, and the Mehdi people of Norfolk, -- and the local people of


Norfolk, schools, for example. And they can deal with issues where the


Conservatives failed. More people voted conservative than for any


other party in Norfolk. More people voted for UKIP than was anticipated.


Perhaps, more right thinking voters than previously, but ending up with


a left leaning leader. How does that work? George Nobbs? Can I answer


some of those bizarre points. Most of the people that voted are


represented by the coalition I lead. Your idea is that 32% voted


conservative and get 100% of the government. That is going to end.


coalition more democratic? UKIP are not in the Cabinet and there are no


UKIP policies endorsed by Labour here. I give evidence against the


incinerator in Kings Lynn, and feel strongly it is a bad environmental


solution. The fact that as a new majority in Norfolk on that issue


alone, I celebrate. We shall leave it there. George Nobbs, thank you


for your time. We've seen some anniversaries this week. It's a year


since Mary Portas set out to revive our high streets and six months


since the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners. Chris Bond


rounds it all up in 60 seconds. Tough times on the high street and


despite a cash injection from the regional Guru, Mary Portas, some


businesses are still in the slow lane. Meanwhile, speeding up heavy


traffic the aim of some Essex County Council us, who want a ban on


lorries taking over on the A12. Charles Clarke once ran the Home


Office, who this week criticised the cost and role of some recently


elected Police and Crime Commissioners. After six months, the


signs are not good and I see no positive response to the existence


of them. And reflecting on the positives and negatives after 20


years in Brussels, one MEP announced he will not stand for re-election.


If you go back to where we started, we were a group of people meeting


and talking shop, now with the Lisbon Treaty, we have real powers


and we can change government's laws.


Gentleman, Robert Sturdy, standing down before next year's elections.


Any of you planning on that? Not at all. Lots more to be done. Robert is


a decent man. It is a sign of the changing nature of the Tory party.


What about your plans? My ambition is for Jeffrey to retire when he


loses next year, and I am hopeful to carry on. Being an MEP takes up


time. What about ambitions beyond politics? One day, I will think


about my third career, but I am not ready yet, still a lot to be done in


the European Parliament and chairing -- and changing Europe policy. It


has been a wrong struggle, -- it has been a long struggle, but we're


getting there. I am proud to stay next year. I wish you good luck.


They are not stopping being MEPs any time soon. Thank you both very much


for joining us. That's all for now. Don't forget Deborah McGurran's blog


for all the latest political updates. Join us at 11 o'clock next


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