30/09/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


30/09/2012

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, and interviews with deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman and the Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb.


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In the North East and Cumbria: We talk to Labour leader Ed Miliband.

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Plus, the rural schools that could lose out on tens of thousands of

:01:34.:01:44.
:01:44.:01:44.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2115 seconds

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pounds because of a new Government Hello, and a very warm welcome to

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your local part of the show just for the North East and Cumbria.

:37:05.:37:09.

Coming up: Why some schools in Cumbria fear they could lose up to

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a THIRD of their budget if a new Government funding formula is

:37:12.:37:15.

introduced. My guests this week are two Teesside MPs - Hartlepool's

:37:15.:37:19.

Iain Wright and Stockton South MP James Wharton. Well, Stockton is

:37:19.:37:22.

just one of the many places where residents have been flooded out of

:37:22.:37:25.

their homes this week - it's been the same awful story, of course,

:37:25.:37:28.

for people living in Morpeth and many parts of County Durham,

:37:28.:37:38.
:37:38.:37:41.

Teesside and North Yorkshire. It is painful for people, isn't it?

:37:41.:37:44.

A local beck cricket banks and people had to sleep overnight in

:37:44.:37:52.

the local swimming baths. -- broke its banks. It has a huge impact on

:37:52.:37:58.

individuals. Before we get into the meat of this, have all politicians

:37:58.:38:01.

been a bit guilty with failing to grapple with the enormity of this

:38:01.:38:07.

problem? What you will see, with volatility and climate change, is

:38:07.:38:13.

more and more of these extreme weather conditions. It might not be

:38:13.:38:17.

considered particularly glamourous but getting to grips with

:38:17.:38:19.

infrastructure when it comes to flooding is something all

:38:19.:38:23.

politicians of all parties need to tackle. Well, in Morpeth, of course,

:38:23.:38:27.

it's a repeat of the flooding of 2008. But four years on, the flood

:38:27.:38:29.

defences that would have saved people's homes haven't yet been

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built. Our correspondent Mark Denten asked the local MP Ian

:38:32.:38:39.

Lavery what he could do about it. It is essential that we investigate

:38:39.:38:43.

every means possible to try and bring forward a new system before

:38:43.:38:47.

2014. The last thing in the world we want is this to happen again

:38:47.:38:50.

before we even start the construction of the new flood

:38:50.:38:55.

defence system. But the system was in place, the finances were in

:38:55.:39:01.

place, but the coalition government decided to cut the budget for the

:39:01.:39:04.

third defence systems in 2010, which meant we had to find the

:39:04.:39:08.

finance. The local authority came to the rescue so the financial

:39:08.:39:13.

package is there and the planning is there. Everything is there now

:39:13.:39:17.

to start this system, which is a Rolls-Royce system. My view is that

:39:17.:39:22.

we should be seeking to ensure that this is brought forward. It never

:39:22.:39:29.

mind waiting until 2014. We should start at A S A P two ensure the

:39:29.:39:34.

best interests of the people here in Morpeth. You pulled the plug on

:39:34.:39:38.

this funding as part of your cuts. The people who paid the price are

:39:38.:39:43.

the people who have had their homes flooded again. It is just not the

:39:43.:39:48.

case that one government is failing to invest in flood defences. The

:39:48.:39:54.

government will be spending over the next four years... There was

:39:54.:39:58.

uncertainty over government funding. The flooding that caused the

:39:58.:40:01.

investigation of the scheme was in 2008 and it does take time to bring

:40:01.:40:05.

these things in. A minister was in Morpeth the other day and made it

:40:05.:40:10.

very clear that scheme will go ahead. We have seen a huge increase

:40:10.:40:12.

in the amount the government is going to be spending on flood

:40:12.:40:16.

defence schemes in the north-east. It is not a moment too soon because

:40:16.:40:19.

we can see that, increasingly, we are having communities that suffer

:40:19.:40:26.

from these problems with the erratic weather and heavy rainfall.

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As the government allowed to too many homes to be built on flood

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plains? I think it is important that homes and buildings are built

:40:34.:40:39.

in appropriate areas. I have to take issue with what James said. We

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have seen a 27% cut in flood defences. It has been incredibly

:40:43.:40:49.

short-sighted. Ian Lavery was spot- on when he said they had cut and as

:40:49.:40:54.

a result, people's homes had been flooded. A we are not going to get

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agreement on the figures. This general principle is that if you

:40:58.:41:03.

had not built as many homes in vulnerable areas, they would not be

:41:03.:41:09.

flooded. What you need to do - and I looked at this closely as a

:41:09.:41:11.

former housing minister - is to make sure there are appropriate

:41:11.:41:15.

schemes in place. We need more homes for the population of our

:41:15.:41:21.

country. You need to mitigate the risk with appropriate defences and

:41:21.:41:27.

infrastructure. It costs a fortune. So, what do we do? Have to we

:41:27.:41:37.
:41:37.:41:39.

abandon York because it is going to be flooded every year? unsure

:41:39.:41:44.

government's planning policies going to make this was? -- on to

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York. A lot of the places where we are seeing problems, those houses

:41:51.:41:55.

have been there for a long time. This is a changing weather pattern.

:41:55.:41:59.

We can avoid making it worse. have to invest in it and that is

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what this government is to ring. It is going to spend more every year,

:42:03.:42:10.

in this tough environment, than Labour spent in 13 years. We have

:42:10.:42:14.

got change in weather and we have to get value for money when

:42:14.:42:17.

investing in this sort of project. Clearly there is a real need for

:42:17.:42:23.

that investment. We will see it in Morpeth, with those defences start

:42:23.:42:29.

very soon. You can always do more and we have to continue to campaign,

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to be sure they get the priority they need. We cannot abandon York

:42:38.:42:41.

but then maybe some smaller communities where it has to be

:42:41.:42:45.

ensured that because of the defences is not going to be worth

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more than the value of their homes. A one of the things the last Labour

:42:49.:42:52.

government did was to come to an agreement with insurance companies,

:42:53.:42:57.

whereby people at risk of flooding had appropriate, in -- affordable

:42:57.:43:03.

insurance premiums. The government is very late in coming to the

:43:03.:43:08.

negotiating table. Thanks very much. Now, the Labour conference gets

:43:09.:43:12.

under way this afternoon. And the party goes into it with a decent

:43:12.:43:16.

lead in the opinion polls. But Labour is facing scrutiny of their

:43:16.:43:19.

economic policies. The government accuses Ed Miliband of attacking

:43:19.:43:23.

the austerity programme without explaining where Labour's cuts

:43:23.:43:28.

would fall. Ed Miliband made friends at this year's minors'

:43:28.:43:38.
:43:38.:43:40.

Taylor in Durham but he has to answer whether supporting...

:43:40.:43:50.
:43:50.:43:53.

Billions of pounds... When I met Mr Miliband this week, we started by

:43:53.:44:03.
:44:03.:44:03.

talking about the economy. If Labour won the next election would

:44:04.:44:06.

he consider setting up a new version of the development agency

:44:06.:44:11.

One North East? We are going to set up a youth jobs task force because

:44:11.:44:15.

the biggest priority I have is to get the ball back to work. That is

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what day one for me as Prime Minister will be about. We are

:44:19.:44:22.

going to wear with councils to ask how we can do it even before we get

:44:22.:44:27.

to government. I understand that and that helps the country. But our

:44:27.:44:30.

region has the worst employment rate in the country. If you will

:44:30.:44:33.

not commit to a regional development agency, what specialist

:44:33.:44:38.

help can you offer? Youth jobs - I think that is the big priority.

:44:39.:44:42.

When you go round and talk to people and see what has happened to

:44:42.:44:46.

long-term youth employment in the north-east, that needs to happen.

:44:46.:44:49.

don't understand what you are going to do specifically for the north-

:44:50.:44:54.

east. We are going to levy a banker's' bonus tax and use the

:44:54.:44:59.

money to put young be back to work. We are going to say to employers

:44:59.:45:02.

that we will give the money for wages but they have to provide

:45:02.:45:06.

training. When you see the astronomical increase in youth

:45:06.:45:10.

unemployment brighter across the north-east, it is such a priority

:45:10.:45:14.

for people. It is the right thing to do and people will ask why we

:45:14.:45:18.

are leaving young people languishing on the dole. You will

:45:18.:45:23.

have met quite a few public sector workers recently. They have had to

:45:23.:45:26.

endure a pay freeze, which you supported for the last couple of

:45:26.:45:31.

years. Will we see more pay freezes if you are in office? We will make

:45:31.:45:38.

that judgment at a time of the election. Let me explain. We will

:45:38.:45:42.

make the judgments about what we can afford, including pay

:45:42.:45:47.

settlements in the public sector, at the time of the election. When

:45:47.:45:50.

we know what the public finances are like, at the time of the

:45:50.:45:54.

election, we will set out our place. We have announced nothing about

:45:54.:45:58.

what we will do in government at about pay and you would at expect

:45:58.:46:03.

us to do at this stage. It is the top position to say, let's put jobs

:46:03.:46:08.

ahead of pay now in this Parliament. I understand why people are upset

:46:08.:46:11.

about that. We have got to be realistic about the choices we

:46:11.:46:14.

would be facing if we were in government now. The difference

:46:14.:46:18.

between us and this government is that we would make sure it was fair,

:46:18.:46:22.

so it was not a 1% pay increase right across the board about we

:46:22.:46:26.

treated the low-paid much better than the high paid. Second, we will

:46:26.:46:30.

not be going down the road of regional pay. The government is

:46:30.:46:33.

saying they want regional pay with people in the North paid less than

:46:33.:46:36.

in the South. But is totally wrong and a Labour government is not

:46:36.:46:41.

going to go down the road of regional pay. You are looking for

:46:41.:46:46.

new ideas, I am sure. Nick Brown has a new idea - cancel Trident and

:46:46.:46:50.

spend the money on tuition fees. Would you support that? We have set

:46:50.:46:54.

out how we would lower tuition fees. We would put a gap of �6,000 on

:46:54.:46:59.

them. You could make them even lower if you cancel Trident. We are

:46:59.:47:04.

looking at the issue of defence spending and what will happen to

:47:04.:47:08.

Trident. I am not for a unilateral disarmament. We should have a

:47:08.:47:16.

multilateral approach. A new nuclear power station for Cumbria -

:47:16.:47:21.

will you come into that even if it means spending taxpayers' many?

:47:21.:47:24.

am in favour of nuclear power and we showed in government how we can

:47:24.:47:29.

make nuclear power happen. It is not so much about taxpayers' money.

:47:29.:47:33.

There is not an easy answer. I think it is part of the solution.

:47:33.:47:37.

It is not the only solution but part of the solution to the

:47:37.:47:41.

problems we face. Iain Wright, you and your colleagues have gone on

:47:41.:47:47.

and on about the demise of One at North Beast. Are you disappointed

:47:47.:47:55.

he would not bring it back? In my role as shadow industry minister at,

:47:55.:47:58.

what businesses do not want is this that in new terms from government-

:47:58.:48:02.

to-government. You have criticised the government wants. You have a

:48:02.:48:08.

chance to reverse it. Let's see what the local economic

:48:08.:48:13.

partnerships are doing. One in the Tees Valley is doing well. The last

:48:13.:48:17.

thing businesses want to have is more uncertainty, which means less

:48:17.:48:21.

investment. We need to try to provide as clear a cause as

:48:21.:48:25.

possible. It is a question of seeing what works, rather than just

:48:25.:48:29.

committing to overturn everything a previous government does. That is

:48:29.:48:32.

not proper politics and businesses do not want to see that. James

:48:32.:48:36.

Wharton, maybe your government will not introduce regional pay but as

:48:36.:48:40.

long as it is on the table, it is pretty toxic for your party in this

:48:40.:48:46.

region. I would be very surprised if we saw regional pay introduced.

:48:46.:48:52.

It is something that we may well see forgotten but time will tell.

:48:52.:48:56.

The Treasury is right to look at all options. It is damaging because

:48:56.:48:59.

it gives the possession -- perception that people in the north

:48:59.:49:03.

are worth less than people in the South. A I accept that that is an

:49:03.:49:06.

argument the Labour party will try to put forward but it is not one in

:49:06.:49:10.

which we should engage. I do not think it is likely to happen so the

:49:10.:49:14.

idea that we need to spend a great deal of time worrying about it...

:49:14.:49:18.

It is just not going to come. For all the questions you asked, I do

:49:18.:49:22.

not be you got any answers. Watching Ed Miliband, he just did

:49:22.:49:26.

not look like a future prime minister. But Labour Party got the

:49:26.:49:33.

wrong Miliband. At least the government has got a regional

:49:33.:49:37.

policy. It has the regional growth fund and the local economic

:49:37.:49:40.

partnerships. What is Labour's policy? We need to rebalance the

:49:41.:49:46.

economy, not just in terms of the sectors. The north-east has huge

:49:46.:49:49.

potential when it comes to rebalancing. I don't hear anything

:49:49.:49:54.

different and James would probably say. We need an industrial strategy,

:49:54.:49:59.

in close conjunction with business, with industry, to ensure we can

:49:59.:50:03.

exploit our strength in manufacturing, in growth sectors

:50:03.:50:08.

like the automotive industry and energy on Teesside. We need a clear

:50:08.:50:12.

framework of policy to allow that to happen. We do not have a

:50:12.:50:17.

certainty. Public sector workers are very angry about what you'll

:50:17.:50:20.

leader did in terms of the pay restraint. It sounds like there may

:50:20.:50:26.

be more in the future. We are three years away from a general election.

:50:26.:50:30.

Public finances are deteriorating markedly. We do not know what we

:50:30.:50:34.

would inherit and 2015 so it is perfectly reasonable for the leader

:50:34.:50:37.

of the Labour Party not to be able to commit three years away from it

:50:38.:50:45.

general election. I know workers in my own constituency are suffering...

:50:45.:50:53.

Group briefly, how wrong could keep pay freeze last? It was initially

:50:53.:50:56.

introduced to four two years. We would like to see it removed as

:50:56.:51:03.

quickly as it is practical to do so. Now, rural schools often face a

:51:03.:51:06.

struggle for survival. But now there's fears that a change to the

:51:06.:51:09.

way the Government allocates money could force some of them to cut

:51:09.:51:11.

staff or close down altogether. In Cumbria, almost a hundred schools

:51:11.:51:14.

could lose out - although others would gain from the changes. Our

:51:14.:51:20.

Cumbria political reporter Megan Paterson went to find out more.

:51:20.:51:26.

The more precise the measurements, the better the result. A few more

:51:26.:51:30.

drops of alkali to make it neutral. But when it comes to school budgets,

:51:30.:51:34.

it is hard to reach the bear-pit solution. A national funding

:51:34.:51:38.

formula is designed to make the allocation of money between a

:51:38.:51:41.

school simpler. But schools and Cumbria believe it will cost them

:51:41.:51:48.

precious resources. At this school, they stand to lose more than

:51:48.:51:53.

�250,000 - a third of the Budget. If they were to go ahead as has

:51:53.:51:56.

been suggested, that would have a very detrimental effect on my

:51:56.:52:00.

school and all the other small secondary schools in Cumbria. It

:52:00.:52:04.

could potentially close them. One family comes down from a farm on a

:52:04.:52:09.

Land Rover, are picked up by a village minibus, and that brings

:52:09.:52:13.

them to the pub car-park and then the school bus picks them up. They

:52:13.:52:22.

are already doing a journey of an hour to school. I think three

:52:22.:52:27.

Allison a bus is a long time for children. All schools, regardless

:52:27.:52:31.

of size, it would be given the same lump sum of cash under the plans.

:52:31.:52:36.

That would be topped up based on factors like the number of pupils

:52:36.:52:40.

and levels of deprivation. But overall, councils will have far

:52:40.:52:46.

less power to direct funds to schools in greater need.

:52:46.:52:51.

problem with a national formula is, obviously, it means every local

:52:51.:52:54.

authority has to allocate funding in the same way, with very limited

:52:54.:52:59.

discretion. At the moment, we have greater discretion to target the

:52:59.:53:04.

funding that Cumbria has to the areas we think are a priority. In

:53:04.:53:09.

future, our hands are going to be tied. Based on Cumbria County

:53:09.:53:13.

Council's figures, 98 Schools here will lose money under the new

:53:13.:53:21.

formula, with reductions ranging from 1% to 30%. By 132 schools will

:53:21.:53:28.

gain with increases between 6% and 25%. In a statement, the Department

:53:28.:53:32.

for Education said the government was firmly committed to rural

:53:32.:53:35.

schools and recognise that the challenges they face. It believes

:53:35.:53:38.

the new funding formula still gives local authorities the power to

:53:38.:53:43.

protect small schools. In rural areas like Cumbria and

:53:43.:53:47.

Northumberland, there is greatest concern. MPs in Colombia are

:53:47.:53:54.

hopeful they can get ministers to adapt the formula. -- Cumbria.

:53:54.:53:57.

is very serious but is easily fixed if we can get the county council

:53:57.:54:02.

and the government to agree. All that needs to happen is that a

:54:02.:54:08.

separate fund could be used to flexor be top of the schools that

:54:08.:54:13.

could potentially close. -- flexibly. It needs to be crude but

:54:13.:54:18.

into the current formula. But not everyone is convinced that

:54:18.:54:22.

campaigning will make a difference. I do not think in recent years we

:54:22.:54:26.

have had much evidence that local issues have been taken into account.

:54:26.:54:31.

In education, the agenda now from Michael Gove is for academies and

:54:32.:54:36.

central control of a cannabis, not about local schools. -- of

:54:36.:54:43.

academies. Whatever the outcome, teachers are hoping their pupils

:54:43.:54:49.

will be the winners. Whatever the details of this

:54:49.:54:54.

formula, it takes some spectacular mismanagement for the government to

:54:54.:54:58.

turn its own supporters against its own policy. It would have that was

:54:58.:55:01.

actually the case. One of the problems the government is trying

:55:01.:55:05.

to address is that under the current complex system, two similar

:55:05.:55:08.

schools of similar size is with similar challenges have different

:55:08.:55:12.

levels of funding. That needs to be ironed out but in doing that, we

:55:12.:55:15.

have promised there will be a minimum funding guaranteed. Some

:55:15.:55:20.

schools will be winners and some less successful but no school will

:55:20.:55:27.

lose more than 1.5% per pupil funding, which is a pretty high cap.

:55:27.:55:31.

These schools are saying up to 30% budget cuts. The schools say there

:55:31.:55:35.

is no way they could survive. don't be we will see schools get

:55:36.:55:45.
:55:46.:55:46.

that sort of funding cut. - but don't think. There will be a cap to

:55:46.:55:51.

ensure no school loses more than 1.5% per pupil and many, many

:55:51.:55:55.

schools will do better out of this. There will always be winners and

:55:55.:55:59.

losers in any change to a formula for stop it is up to councils to

:55:59.:56:05.

use common sense, isn't it? I am in favour of a system that is less

:56:05.:56:08.

burdensome but I was speaking to some schools in my constituency

:56:08.:56:13.

this week. I mentioned I was going to be on here talking about a

:56:13.:56:16.

national funding formula. They were incandescent about it. It is not

:56:16.:56:22.

just a rural areas. It seems across the board in Hartlepool, in a

:56:22.:56:26.

relatively deprived area that has had good educational standards,

:56:26.:56:31.

pupils will miss out. This is not fair and we will support any system

:56:31.:56:36.

that is simpler but much fairer. Michael Gove is not listening.

:56:36.:56:41.

odd thing about this is that not just in Hartlepool but in Cumbria,

:56:41.:56:45.

some of the schools are in relatively poor urban areas. He

:56:45.:56:55.
:56:55.:56:59.

goes against the idea of the Bupa premium. -- people a premium.

:56:59.:57:03.

you have a net benefit overall, it brings a lot of money in. In any

:57:03.:57:07.

change, there will be those who do better and those who do less well.

:57:07.:57:11.

What is important is that the Government listens and local MPs

:57:11.:57:14.

make the cases, where there are anomalies, to make sure it is done

:57:14.:57:20.

right. No schools are going to lose out to the levels that has been

:57:20.:57:25.

talked about in the predictions. The guarantee will kick in and

:57:25.:57:29.

protect their funding. To do you accept they raise this safety net

:57:29.:57:34.

guarantee? Grip were nine mentioned I was coming on here, head teachers

:57:34.:57:38.

said to me that their pupils would lose out and their education would

:57:38.:57:48.
:57:48.:57:48.

suffer. Are you saying teachers are wrong? Teachers will legitimately

:57:48.:57:52.

have concerns about any change. When this is implemented, it will

:57:52.:57:56.

be seen to be a better and more straightforward and understandable

:57:56.:58:01.

system and will be fairer, across the board, for young people. Does

:58:01.:58:05.

it matter if schools close? In an age of austerity, isn't bad going

:58:05.:58:09.

to happen? Of course it matters. Schools will sometimes have to

:58:09.:58:12.

close because of local circumstances but a change of

:58:12.:58:18.

funding formula should not directly lead to schools closing. Thank you

:58:18.:58:21.

both for your contributions. I'm sure you've been glued to the

:58:21.:58:24.

party conference coverage this week. I don't know about you, but I just

:58:24.:58:28.

can't get enough of those Lib Dems. If so, you may just have missed

:58:28.:58:31.

some of the other political goings- on this week. But never fear - Mark

:58:31.:58:38.

Denten is here, with his regular round-up of the week in 60 seconds.

:58:38.:58:43.

The decision to move printing of a local paper out of the area with

:58:43.:58:47.

the loss of 81 jobs has been condemned by the Bishop of Durham.

:58:47.:58:50.

He said it was bad news for Sunderland and a north-east but

:58:50.:58:54.

welcomed the prospect of new jobs at Rolls-Royce. The outgoing Chief

:58:54.:58:58.

Constable of Durham expressed his reservations about any police and

:58:58.:59:03.

Crown Commissioners, who will be elected in November. I have

:59:03.:59:08.

concerns about the rationale behind them and about some of the dilemmas

:59:08.:59:11.

that may be presented between the chief constable and a police and

:59:11.:59:16.

crime commission a. A one-to-one relationship does away with some of

:59:16.:59:22.

the checks and balances that the police authority has now. The party

:59:22.:59:26.

-- Labour Party chose its candidate to fight for Carlisle in the next

:59:26.:59:31.

election. She is currently eight city councillor. It will be

:59:31.:59:34.

farewell to Stephen Hughes, who has announced he will not stand again

:59:35.:59:39.

at the next election, having served 30 years in the European Parliament.

:59:39.:59:42.

And that's about it from us. Next week we'll be looking at the

:59:42.:59:45.

growing campaign against the closure of local banks. I'll also

:59:45.:59:48.

be speaking exclusively to Prime Minister David Cameron. So do join

:59:48.:59:51.

us from 11am next Sunday for that. In the meantime you can follow me

:59:51.:59:55.

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