22/01/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss present. Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna on Labour's plan for the economy and is it time to leave the European Court of Human Rights?

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Why families who lost loved ones to cancer-causing asbestos are missing


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1774 seconds


out on compensation they say they This region is one of the worst for


cancer deaths. From exposure to asbestos. We have a special report


on those seeking compensation. We're also talking about the latest


rise and unemployment figures. Our guests today are Catherine


McKinnell and Guy Opperman. This autumn, voters will choose a


police and crime commissioner. He will be paid between 70 and �85,000


Ministers say it will allow people to hold their local forced to


account. That is a view shared by the Mayor of Hartlepool, Stuart


Drummond. A commission or will not be responsible for operational


policing. It is more about governments. It is about


responsibilities at and around the budget and strategic decisions. It


could be a positive. If you ask a lot of people who the members of


the police authority are, they will struggle to name them. It does


bring that sort of public face to the police force. You have a job a


smear of Hartlepool, but is this a position that interests you? -- as


mere of Hartlepool. Your poor by the 50th person that has asked me


that this week! I have not planned my life that far ahead yet. Let us


talk now to Lord Beecham, Newcastle councillor.


I gather you're not a fan of this idea. Why? For a whole host of


regions -- reasons. It will cost a lot of money at a


time when police budgets are being cut. There is a danger that this


will politicise policing in a way that we have not experienced in


this country. I think it would be difficult for them to sustain


pressure from candidates who have stoked up the fear of crime as a


means of getting elected. Third, there is the programme - by the


problem of fragmentation. The police commissioner, whose


decisions can only be challenged by two thirds of the committee the


serve under him, will have it power to raise almost 11% of council tax


on his own. That is a serious concentration of power and than


single pair of hands. The Northumbria, one person is supposed


to be accountable from the region from Berwick Down to Sunderland.


You do not like the idea. What we're talking about is making this


is -- making the system more democratic? It is pitting the power


in a single pair of hands. We will see what the turnout for the


election is. David Cameron's favourite policeman is the Police


Commissioner in New York. He is so impressed that he is thought --


that it is thought he wanted him appointed Police Commissioner. He


does not understand why they should be going over to an American system


which he finds deeply flawed and heavily politicised. How is that


single person going to be accountable, visible to and


responding to people in a region as large as Northumbria? It is not as


if the police are not making big efforts just now. They regularly


attend public meetings, they have done for years. It is an effective


relationship. Thank you very much. Guy Opperman, you have heard the


case against - what do you make of it? I think democracy is a good


thing. I do not know why he's so scared of the people. If we want


more policemen on the beat, isn't that a good thing? I do not have


any difficulty with that. The type of policing we ripped -- the Prison


we have is with the police authority nobody knows. If you can


name a dozen or so people batter on it, you're a better man than I. The


policing is from Westminster... A chief constable is enforcing what


Westminster says Cobb not what the local people here say. Local people


will have control over the way the police force has run. But if it


ain't broke, why fix it? Cleveland and Northumbria say that --


apparently came first for public trust. Why change it? And London,


they have cut knife crime and the murder rate is down. There is the


suit is underground system in Europe. -- the safest Underground


system. I take the view that you cannot say when -- no one person


can do this. Catherine McKinnell, a good idea, it will cut crime? If it


ain't broke, don't fix -- don't fix it. I am worried it's going to


break it. There are a lot of cuts happening. To restructure in this


way, at a time when they are facing significant constraint on their


budgets, is quite irresponsible. But trusting the public to have a


say - is that such a bad thing? We have a long history of a non


politicised police force. The chief constable still has control of


oppositional matters. I had been out on the beat with the police. I


have seen how much the do, not just to prosecute crimes or catch


criminals, but to prevent crime and that is what I worry. The shift


will go on reaching targets, meeting figures, bumper numbers, as


opposed to actually preventing crimes happening in the first place.


There is a potential democratic problem here for you. Isn't there?


Any police commissioner might not give any priority to rural


Northumberland. I think they would, actually. You may get independents


standing who are totally non- political. Do you Know Where It's -


- you know there any here? I am absolutely certain independents


will stand in Cumbria. I am absolutely certain. The candidates


I have heard mention her the same people that sure the police


authorities. Would it be a failure of Labour to find this new


individuals to make this job work. -- to make this job were? I think a


lot of people are coming forward. We need to get someone who


understands the priorities of people and what they want to see


their police force delivering, but can speak for the whole community.


You have had a very important point. Sometimes, the loudest voices will


get the most representation and when it comes to crime, that is not


always the best approach. This is something that was in both of the


coalition parties' manifestos. In 2008, David Hanson said in the


House of Commons, it is a good thing. They have changed their mind


in the last few years. The North's history of heavy industry has left


an unfortunate legacy. Some of the highest rates of


asbestos related deaths anywhere in Britain. Victims cannot get any


compensation because their employers Insurance records cannot


be traced. We have been to hear the story of a family. He could walk in


the room and he would fill it. He was quite shy. That was until you


got to know him. He was just amazing. Liz remembers happier


times. A year ago, he died from asbestos related illnesses. He


worked as a photographer. He was present when they were taking the


photographs, when you dismantling their engines. -- when they were


dismantling the the engines. You could see the particles in the air.


30 years on, the family is still battling for compensation. Because


his employer has gone out of business in the meantime, the


insurance records lost, they have so far been unsuccessful stalls --


unsuccessful. I promised him I would see it right or the bitter


end. He nodded his head, because at that time, he could hardly speak.


He should not have gone through that there. Other people should not


have to. With the death toll from asbestos related cancer rising,


that frustration is shared by others. A generation ago, workers


were being exposed to asbestos in all sorts of occupations. It was in


the heavy industries, like these shipyards, where the exposure was


most common. Now many of the jobs have gone but the legacy of chronic


ill health are still very much with us. More than 2000 people died from


this every year. The figure in the North East has around 150, one of


the highest rates in the country. At least one in 10 victims are not


be able to trace their employer's insurance. Campaigners want a fund


to help families to miss out on compensation, paid for by the


insurance industry. There is a long time lag between the point in time


where the victim is exposed and when the effects cocaine. -- when


the effects happen. A lot of the companies have gone out of business


and it is not possible to trace the insurers. Pressure on the


Government is growing, but the insurance industry opposes the move.


We do not think it is right that in circumstances where there may not


have been insurance in place but there 40 years ago, thought to


date's employers to fund that. They want to be sure that everything is


done to trace the original insurance and it is paid on that


basis. Lewis fight on, so that she can hold some of to account for her


husband's unnecessary death. Why have be able not acted to help the


relatives of people like Liz Bradshaw?


I think we have, actually. The insurance Minister - sorry, the


insurance businesses are struggling. The insurance industry as billions


and billions of pounds, this is not huge amounts of money. How were you


going to do it so there are not burdens upon the population? The


Labour Party -- the Labour Party had the same thing. They were


unsympathetic to a private member's bill. To be fair to the Labour


government, they introduce the compensation Act of 2006 which


cover some of these things. We know what we can do, that is why there


is a consultation that cut and that is why it is going forward. I


strongly support the idea. I have dealt with cases myself when I was


a lawyer before I became an MP. Catherine McKinnell, is a difficult


to work this out? Of the government some credit, it is trying to do it.


It is taking far too long. I have seen a question today, it is the


same response that we got 18 months ago. We are talking to people, we


are considering the matter. That is just not good enough. It is leaving


families without compensation. The taxpayer end up footing the bill


for looking after these people when the insurer should be covered. --


should be covering it. Labour introduced a consultation on this,


20th February 10. It was months away from the election, they would


not have to keep their promise. That is a very cynical way of


looking at it! The onus is on the current government to get moving


and get the insurance industry to excepted. A lot of people involved


in the government suspect that the government wants to kick it into


the long grass. The two of us agree that you need to stand up for those


workers who have been exposed to asbestos. Both of us are in full


agreement on that. How you go forward is difficult. There was 13


years for Labour to introduce this. There is a code of practice. There


are still 40% of those claims which are not being looked after. I think


we should have something similar to that which covers uninsured drivers


of cars. These families need compensation and support and the


need what is rightfully and legally theirs. It has been a busy


political week but we have managed to squeeze it into what action-


packed minute. -- into one action-packed minutes.


Theatres, museums and libraries across County Durham could be


handed over to a charitable trust. They believe they could save


millions on VAT. The Transport Minister arrived on Tyneside to


have a look at the modernisation of the Metro. Unemployment in the


North East rose by another 11,000. One Tyneside MP was quick to put


the Prime Minister on the spot. And the North East, unemployment among


slum and is rising at twice the rate of VAT amongst men. --


unemployment amongst women. Where does the Prime Minister think a


woman's place is? At home, in the workplace, or in the JobCentre?


Darlington Football Club has been saved from liquidation - for the


moment, at least. The town's MP said she was even willing to work


behind the bar if it helped save her home town pub. The eagle-eyed


among she will notice that it was Catherine McKinnell's question.


What would you say to that question? Everybody understands


that unemployment is a tragedy for every single family. It affects you


and all of your loved ones. There is a huge problem. No one can


diminish that and I do not dispute the statistics. We are doing


something, we are trying to turn this around. We have got the work


programme starting. We have got their abilities in relation to


apprentices. There are 34,000 apprentices now compared to 18,000


last year. We have double that in Hexham, in my constituency. The


Employment Minister is coming to an event I have organised. A thing


that is a good thing. The BBC should come. We may well do.


Catherine McKinnell, of what impression are you getting from


your constituents? They are deeply worried. We see a wage freeze, we


see a BT -- a VAT increase. The Government are talking a good talk


but it is having the opposite effect of what they're saying. An


impact on the North East, a disproportionate impact, is


overwhelming. This is a big change in the labour market, isn't it?


We're moving from a dependence on the public sector to more private


sector jobs. Readers need to be patient, don't we? There cutting so


fast and so quickly and in the wrong way. Most of these cuts are


targeted disproportionately on areas like the North East. By party


has not said it will not reverse these cuts. There has just said it


will not -- it cannot commit to what cuts it will reverse. You must


dread the day these employment figures come out. The worrying is


it for you seen these figures rising and continuing to rise?


Unemployment did not mushroom overnight. Unemployment was


already... In your own constituency, it was roughly the same as it was


right now. Unemployment was going down and now it is going up again


because the government cuts are having a detrimental impact. We


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news with Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna on Labour's plan for the economy and is it time to leave the European Court of Human Rights?

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