22/01/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


22/01/2012

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1774 seconds

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

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

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

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rise and unemployment figures. Our guests today are Catherine

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

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

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

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

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Drummond. A commission or will not be responsible for operational

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policing. It is more about governments. It is about

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responsibilities at and around the budget and strategic decisions. It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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talk now to Lord Beecham, Newcastle councillor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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problem of fragmentation. The police commissioner, whose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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single person going to be accountable, visible to and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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politicised police force. The chief constable still has control of

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

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

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

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

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opposed to actually preventing crimes happening in the first place.

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

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Any police commissioner might not give any priority to rural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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understands the priorities of people and what they want to see

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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an unfortunate legacy. Some of the highest rates of

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asbestos related deaths anywhere in Britain. Victims cannot get any

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compensation because their employers Insurance records cannot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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relatives of people like Liz Bradshaw?

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

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insurance businesses are struggling. The insurance industry as billions

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

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

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

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

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government, they introduce the compensation Act of 2006 which

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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families without compensation. The taxpayer end up footing the bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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we should have something similar to that which covers uninsured drivers

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of cars. These families need compensation and support and the

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

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

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

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Theatres, museums and libraries across County Durham could be

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

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millions on VAT. The Transport Minister arrived on Tyneside to

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

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

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

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

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unemployment amongst women. Where does the Prime Minister think a

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

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Darlington Football Club has been saved from liquidation - for the

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

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

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

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What would you say to that question? Everybody understands

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

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

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

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

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programme starting. We have got their abilities in relation to

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

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

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

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

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Catherine McKinnell, of what impression are you getting from

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

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

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

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impact on the North East, a disproportionate impact, is

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

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

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

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

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targeted disproportionately on areas like the North East. By party

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

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

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

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

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Unemployment did not mushroom overnight. Unemployment was

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

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

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because the government cuts are having a detrimental impact. We

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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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