25/03/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


25/03/2012

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including an interview with Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.


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In the North East and Cumbria: Battle lines are drawn over local

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pay. Should civil servants, teachers and nurses in the north be

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1833 seconds

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paid less than those elsewhere in A very warm welcome to this part of

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the show. Coming up: the government says we need more skills like this

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to help our economy. Why are they downgrading the course that these

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teenagers are studying? Will talk about that, and the content of the

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Budget. My guests are Bridget Phillipson and Jeremy Middleton.

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Will start a public sector pay, some people in the North East to be

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paid less for doing the same jobs and people in the other parts of

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the UK. The Treasury set out the case for making public sector pay

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more responsive to local markets. They say that public sector pay

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pays more than necessary, making it hard for private sector employers.

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They are called postcode pay-cuts. This business faces the challenge a

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public sector employees getting paid more than they can afford to

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pay. It is not just in relation to the hourly rate of pay, it is

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flexible working, working practices. In the North East, public sector

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salaries are 11% higher than those in the private sector. Women's pay

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is over 18% higher. I have a fear that we are looking at a two-tier

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country, with the North East very firmly in the bottom tear. We don't

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wish to be known as a low-cost economy, certainly not a low-pay

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economy. We need to pay competitive rates to attract the best talent

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into North East. Some business leaders are worried,

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but there is probably more nail- biting end there. There are 25,000

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civil servants across the North East. Local MPs said be cautious

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over local pay. It is going to take some time to try and implement. I

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think the dust is far from settled on this issue. The Chancellor

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pointedly kept Allied the point of local pay. But who wants it?

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I can tell you he doesn't, B PCS union. -- The PCS union. Kevin

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McHugh has joined money to discuss this. Each department has its own

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rate of pay. Someone in Longbenton get paid at the same grade As

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someone in Cardiff or Luton. We think this postal Descartes is a

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moral -- postcode pay-cuts is immoral. Would you agree that if

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you private sector company is trying to compete, it is hard to

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find people to fill those jobs? think that some low-grade that is

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true, but middle managers get paid more than in the civil service. It

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is a bit of a myth. You're saying that those figures are wrong?

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think they are slightly skewed. We have millions of people who one

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employee at the moment, and in this region we have people queuing up

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for every job. 7% of the Civil Service get paid less than �15,000

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a year. When not talking great sums of money. If this goes ahead, how

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strongly we commanders fight? Would they strike? I think they would.

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The Civil Service has just had two years of a pay freeze, and again to

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get a 1% cap in the next two years. George Osborne is saying that he

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wants to give us less than people in the south. He's not saying that

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an MP Newcastle will get less than Labour MP in Luton. That is

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nonsense. What case is there for this? The government has announced

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that they will be a review. They have said that departments can go

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ahead with this. They have gone a little further. It all depends how

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it will be implemented. I don't envisage they will be any pay cut

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in the public sector. If they came in a tour, it would be bigger

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increases in some parts of the country. I don't think it would be

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universal. It won't be applied to doctors, teachers, nurses, people

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who are not fundamentally mobile. They could be applied in some areas

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of the Civil Service. It is only right that we look at some

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potential benefits of that. For example, if it becomes cheaper to

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run civil service operations in the North East, for example, as opposed

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to London, then that would make a more attractive case for bringing

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more people here. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the Treasury

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being relocated here. Bridget Phillipson, this is the key, it

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might have made the North East more competitive? I think this will have

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a devastating impact on the North East economy. It will increase the

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divide between the north and south, and entrench those problems. I

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think if you had a police officer and a paramedic doing a job in

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Sunderland, they should receive the same level of pay as someone in

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Southampton. If you're doing the same job, you should be paid the

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same wage. It will suck demand out to the private sector in the North

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East. These public servants spend money here. You have introduced

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local pay rates in the Court Service when you ring government?

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Bows were very different circumstances. -- of those were

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very different circumstances. were pay increases in some parts of

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the country, but not the North East? In the North East, you have

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10 a jobseeker's chasing every job. There is not a lack of people who

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are wanting employment. The private sector can take their pick of the

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candidates. There is no evidence about this theory that having

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higher public sector wages stopping the private sector from expanding?

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I was talking to a businessman, he was talking about the wages that he

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pays. I think we need to keep a reasonably open mind, until we can

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see what the benefits could be. It could mean attracting more jobs

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here, and there could be benefits of the private sector in attracting

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some of the very best talent. I would like to understand what those

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benefits could be. Thanks for a much for now.

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There were a few other nuggets for the North in the Budget. Newcastle

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become a super connected city, with ultra-fast broadband. There will be

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local enterprise partnerships in the North East, and an increase in

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personal allowances should lift 32,000 people out of tax altogether.

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The fiscal measures to benefit a small, because of the lower pay

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here. -- to benefit are more. think it is absolutely

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extraordinary. They are letting it ordinary working people out of the

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tax system. I would prefer to see a cut in VAT, putting money back in

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the pockets of people. I would have preferred to see some investment in

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manufacturing firms. We have a real challenge in the North East, and I

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think it is a real problem, that people are being hit hard, there is

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a squeeze on living standards, VAT has risen, tax, the government has

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made deny a logical choice -- has made an ideological choice. This

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was pretty thin pickings for the North East. No major infrastructure

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investment, that must be disappointing? I think you are

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right. The big change was taking people out of the tax net. We

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benefited more than people in any other region. It was all paid for

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by the increase in stamp duty. Less than 1% of houses over 2 million

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are sold in this region. We wanted to see some structural investment,

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none of that? They have been a whole series of measures coming

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through, whether it be be regional growth fund, or the enterprise

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zones, the government does want more investment. They have an extra

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�1 billion for the regional growth fund. We have to secured that

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funding, and invested. There are funds available. The government is

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trying to make it a good place to do business. They have cut business

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taxes, is that not a good move? wanted to see them are delivering

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on jobs and growth. I wanted to see a fair Budget, it is unfair if

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where pensioners are having to pay for a tax break for the richest.

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what more could have been done? would have liked to see more

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investment in manufacturing. We were pressing for a repeat in the

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bank's tax. We have a real crisis hearing the North East, and the

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government is not taking the action necessary. You stand accused of

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doing very little? That is completely untrue. We are reducing

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the deficit, keeping exchange rates low. That is why the private sector

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is doing well. We have the only region which has a surplus.

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Staying with the economy, the gunmen once more young people to

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consider a career in Engineering. There are vocational courses which

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allow them to study them at school, that is not necessarily the case

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though. Getting under the bonnet of a

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sports car. It is every teenager's dream. At this Teesside school it

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also part of the curriculum. It is a fantastic opportunity to get them

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involved in engineering. We Abri in other subject areas, maths, I T.

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You get to see what engineering would be like in a real working

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environment. We have built this car. We have been to France to do civil

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engineering. That makes a practical and academic has made the

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engineering diploma popular with employers as well as schools. These

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are likely to be some of the last students to study its, that because

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the government plans to cut the qualification's value from seven

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GCSEs to one. These are our very best students. We will be limiting

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them a massively, if they get downgraded. The students could come

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out with a handful of GCSEs in the right subject areas would be

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limited, it would be an injustice to take them out. Looking ahead,

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that would be bad for the economy as well as young people. Business

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and young people will lose the opportunity to catch these young

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people at the point when they are most enthusiastic in their lives.

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That point when they are at 16, wanting to make those decisions,

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whether to move on to a Modern Apprenticeship, or a level courses

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that are engineering based. This course is highly rated by pupils

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and teachers, but there have been criticism of other vocational

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qualifications available. There is a sense that the system is ripe for

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reform. The government is drastically reducing the number a

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subject. A former headteacher agrees there had been too many soft

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options. Personal beauty care, horse care, aspects of engineering

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which were of value. We need to get back to the basics of education,

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get children properly educated to a high standard up to 16, and then

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allow variety and depth in other ways after that. Even if a shake-up

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is necessary, some question whether engineering was the right target.

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Supporters of the Diploma include Rolls-Royce and JCB. This

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engineering firm worries that any change will mean less recruits

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coming through the ranks. We cannot attract people into engineering,

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and one of the benefits is to get young people educated into thinking

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that engineering is a good career choice. If we don't inspire the

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next generation to make as well as study things, the price could be

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paid not just in the classroom, but here on the factory floor.

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Bridget Phillipson, whatever the merits, the will -- the real issue

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was that schools were using these causes to inflate their results?

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This engineering diploma was the -- was developed with businesses, so I

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don't understand why the government feels the need to back down. Firms

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such as Siemens and JCB were involved in developing its. I want

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to see the government investing in vocational education. It is not a

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dogmatic return to blazers and a style of education that no longer

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exists. We want good jobs, building on the success of vital engineering

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firms in the region. This Diploma sends a funny signal out.

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Engineering say they want this course? It is vital. A message is

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that if you want a job, and you want a good job, the best chance of

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getting it is in engineering. does this pass the message on?

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There is a complete commitment to that. The important background to

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all of this is the report that said under the last administration,

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there was a collapse in core skills. Maths, English, science. Why did

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that happen? There was a massive reduction in those core skills. The

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vast majority of those people were not being educated to a standard in

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which they could get higher education, that had to change.

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Let's do some maths, the school says this course takes a three

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times as long to teach, it's only worth one GCSE, so they went

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teacher? -- they won't teach it? is not been taken away. There are

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only 4% other vocational such beds which are recognised -- 4% of a

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vocational subject which are recognised. The government is

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creating a lot of apprenticeships, and trying to utilise skills?

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possible to support a traditional academic subject. -- support

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traditional academic subject. It is important that the government does

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not throw out anything that which is not traditional -- which is not

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traditional. Thank you very much. The Chancellor to have just under

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one hour to deliver his Budget. Our own Billy Whizz, Mark Denten, has

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done the whole thing in 60 seconds. Almost 10,000 jobs will be cut by

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local councils and the North East. The biggest cuts will be made in

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Durham, Newcastle and Hillsborough. The Archbishop of York has been

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hotly tipped to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury. He has

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played down speculation. There has been a call for help for the

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pharmaceutical industry. There has been a loss of 450 jobs. I want to

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make use of the North East's potential. I want to keep that

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manufacturing centre opened. I would like the government to assist

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in the recovery of this centre. Opponents of the government's

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changes to the NHS held a candlelight vigil in Newcastle. The

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plans were approved by MPs. Finally, pies, pates and sausage rolls will

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be more expensive in October because there VAT. It got a less

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than warm response from the customers are great. -- all but

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