30/09/2012 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


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.


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


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2115 seconds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


considered particularly glamourous but getting to grips with


infrastructure when it comes to flooding is something all


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


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


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


built. Our correspondent Mark Denten asked the local MP Ian


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


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


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


before we even start the construction of the new flood


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


uncertainty over government funding. The flooding that caused the


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


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


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


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


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


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


from these problems with the erratic weather and heavy rainfall.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


former housing minister - is to make sure there are appropriate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


but then maybe some smaller communities where it has to be


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


economic policies. The government accuses Ed Miliband of attacking


the austerity programme without explaining where Labour's cuts


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


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


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


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


he consider setting up a new version of the development agency


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


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


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


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


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


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


not commit to a regional development agency, what specialist


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


training. When you see the astronomical increase in youth


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


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


are leaving young people languishing on the dole. You will


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


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


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


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


make the judgments about what we can afford, including pay


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


multilateral approach. A new nuclear power station for Cumbria -


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


committing to overturn everything a previous government does. That is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


wrong Miliband. At least the government has got a regional


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


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


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


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


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


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


exploit our strength in manufacturing, in growth sectors


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Cumbria political reporter Megan Paterson went to find out more.


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


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


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


formula is designed to make the allocation of money between a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


less power to direct funds to schools in greater need.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


for Education said the government was firmly committed to rural


schools and recognise that the challenges they face. It believes


the new funding formula still gives local authorities the power to


protect small schools. In rural areas like Cumbria and


Northumberland, there is greatest concern. MPs in Colombia are


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


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


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


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


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


into the current formula. But not everyone is convinced that


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


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


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


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


academies. Whatever the outcome, teachers are hoping their pupils


will be the winners. Whatever the details of this


formula, it takes some spectacular mismanagement for the government to


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


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


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


schools of similar size is with similar challenges have different


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


have promised there will be a minimum funding guaranteed. Some


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


burdensome but I was speaking to some schools in my constituency


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


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


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


relatively deprived area that has had good educational standards,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


What is important is that the Government listens and local MPs


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


be seen to be a better and more straightforward and understandable


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


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


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


close because of local circumstances but a change of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Constable of Durham expressed his reservations about any police and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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