Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with political news, interviews and debate, including business secretary Vince Cable and former Conservative cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.
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After the Tory's disaster showing at the sleeve by-election, David
Cameron says there will be no lurch In the North East and Cumbria: New
laws to tackle dangerous dogs. And why the Government says this
family's house in Northumberland is too big for them and will cut their
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2197 seconds
Hello and a warm welcome to your local part of the show. With me to
chew over the fat of this week's stories, Hexham MP Guy Opperman and
Grahame Morris from Easington. Coming up: Why the Government
believes this family's house in Northumberland is too big for them
and says it will cut their benefits if they don't agree to move.
Coming up: But let's kick off with
controversial comments by Education Secretary Michael Gove. He's
reported as saying that people can smell the sense of defeatism in
some of the region's schools. And he named East Durham as a prime
example of an area where there was too little ambition from the local
authority. Grahame, has the Secretary of State got the perfect
right to raise concerns if he has than? These are deeply offensive
comments to parents, children, staff. He is absolutely wrong in
terms of the levels of achievement and of improvements that have been
achieved in its East Durham schools like the Science College and others
were the results are far above the national average. Michael Gove has
to take some culpability taking away its Educational Maintenance
Allowance, tripling tuition fees, ending the Building Schools for the
Future programme. I do not think the tuition fees affects the
schools. In terms of ambition, it could. It was not how far language.
He has been to the north-east many times and certainly I echo. We
should be supporting our teachers and families and children who were
doing a great job. In Northumberland, we have got a
council who are not necessarily going forward and are penalising
people trying to apply for academies. The point is legitimate
the made that vocal authorities need to step up to the plate -- the
point is a legitimate Lee made but for local authorities need to step
Our top story this week is about new laws to tackle dangerous dogs.
A quarter of a million people are attacked and injured by them every
year. And the Government has agreed to tighten up the law including
compulsory microchipping. That's in response to a campaign promoted by
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery. 14 people have been killed then dog attacks
since 2005. Fate children and six adults. Hundreds of children have
been attacked and received life- changing injuries and disfigurement
in the same period -- eight children and six adults.
Prosecutions remain low as do court penalties.
Postal workers are among those who are most often victims of dog
attacks. Paul Clay is from the Communication Workers Union which
represents them. How big is this problem for your members? A massive
problem. People laugh when you say you have been attacked by a dog.
They do not realise the reality of being savaged by something that has
got teeth that barmaid for ripping skin and flesh to bits. Very
unpleasant. What are the government's plans to tackle this?
It will help. The reality of what we are working with is that it
might help after the attacks what it is not going to help -- but it
is not going to help before. The biggest problem when we watched the
debate in Parliament was when the minister got up, not when the MPs
got up and said generous support, we should be making sure
responsible dog ownership is at the front. When the minister got up and
said he was going to work with the animal welfare groups fit did not
make much sense to postal workers that have been bitten and chased
down every street in the country. In terms of prevention,
microchipping. I suppose the problem is irresponsible owners
might not bother with it. Does it help at all? Of course it helps.
The legislation would move things forward. Compulsory insurance and
making sure we can have behavioural orders and the police can end force
them would make even better sense. It is obviously welcome the
government is legislating on this but why is it taking so long to get
it on the books? We are a nation of dog-lovers. I am not sure we all
are! I was bitten in the last election by a dog, I assume. By a
dog. I am sure it was a liberal dog. I had blood and everything and
experienced what he has been through. It is wonderful news that
the laws are coming in. It helps with traceability and also with a
dog welfare. 6000 dogs are put down every year because they cannot be
traced. That is a fantastic thing if we could stop that. It is
fantastic but why not just get on and do it? You have got to consult
and get the traceability in. By 2016, every dog will be chipped
Andy will be in a position it will be sorted out by then. You cannot
say to everybody tomorrow. Do you accept that explanation? My good
friend and colleague in the video made some excellent points. The
issue about private land and addressing that which the
consultation has identified, timing is critical and 5000 postal workers
a year are reporting incidents of dog attacks. Nurses, doctors,
Communication Workers... The government needs to work with
greater speed. Some people might soap, is it a priority to push this
legislation through rather than any other? There is a cost to it,
treatment from the NHS. People losing time to prove such injuries.
I think the government can find time if they wish. They have found
time for more controversial issues in recent months. I am sure they
could if the will was there. There is the issue of the enforcement as
well which is critical. Briefly, isn't microchipping a sledgehammer
to crack a nut? What you've just going to end up prosecuting people
rather than the ones who would not bother? The bottom line is this.
Something must be done. We have consulted on this and it has cross-
party agreement. I think it is a good thing that the government is
finally sorting this matter up. Thank you very much for now.
Almost half of all people in the North East living in social or
rented accommodation are judged by the Government to be in houses that
are too big for them. That's the highest number in England. The
Government wants to encourage them to move to smaller properties. So,
from April, working-age families will be assessed for the number of
bedrooms they actually need and will have their benefits reduced by
up to a quarter if they have too many extra rooms. Mark Denten
reports. This family at home in their three-
bedroom semi-. Two sons and mum and dad. You could not get two people
in either bedroom unless there were on beds. The double bedroom is
ideal for a married couple. We have not got a sitting room either.
Officially they have an under occupied house. Because the boys
are under 16, they should be sharing a room. From April, they
face a housing benefit cut of �48 a month. It is no good starting to
take everything off the lower incomes. I have found at least 20
families the same as us who have got two children who are in three
or four-bedroom houses and they are getting hit as well. From April,
they will be among 50,000 people in the north-east affected by the
government's new under occupancy charge. The critics call it the
bedroom tax. The idea is to shave �23 billion off the housing benefit
bill. How will it work? If people have won a spare room their housing
benefit will be cut by 14%. If they have to spare rooms, 25% cut. The
government is giving councils an extra �30 million to help people
cope with the extra cost. That does not convince these people. These
campaigners of pensioners and veterans of the poll tax protests.
They will not be affected by the latest changes but so they have a
duty to make young people aware of them. When they get the money in
April, the children will be flawed. You cannot blame people if riots
occur because sometimes that is the only way to get across how you feel.
How can people cope with the loss of income? You have the right to
live way you want to live. government supporters say changing
the policy his fur. Too much emphasis has been placed on certain
people claiming Hammett which it will cost and to stay in the house
they are in -- claiming how much it will cost them. They are families
in crowded accommodation. latest part of this debate is an
MP's breakfast. Normally I'd cooked porridge with milk but this has
been cooked with water. She has to spend a week living on �18. That is
how much front of her constituents will be left with. It is completely
impossible to eat a balanced diet. I ran out of money on Sunday. There
was nothing left to eat. I would say to her that I wait for her to
do something to assist families in overcrowded accommodation. Whose
responsibility is that? It is the responsibility of the last Labour
government. The ministers insist many
overcrowded families will benefit but hard choices must be made when
housing is limited. There is a hard choice for people like this family
too. Pay extra or move out. It is easy to talk about people
losing money. But you are less keen to talk about the people who this
will help, the thousands of people in overcrowded accommodation.
is an easy solution to that. Cap the rents and build more social
housing. There is not enough. We are spending �24 billion on housing
benefit and only �1 billion on building new social and affordable
houses. There is a huge disparity there. Is it Labour's failure to
build enough homes in the first place? I except it was a failure
and we need to address it. This government have done nothing to cap
dramatically increasing rents in the private sector. I have cases,
1300 people affected in my constituency alone, they have been
driven from effectively council housing from the social housing
sector into the private sector, in two smaller accommodation which is
more expensive. It is perverse that the government are forcing them to
do this. Isn't the overcrowding argument a red herring? This is a
cynical method of cutting the Housing Bill. Most people will not
want to move. As you rightly highlighted, we inherited a housing
crisis. There is not enough social housing and that is why we are
trying to build more and we have reformed the planning laws and
there is over a billion pounds going into social housing. We are
addressing the lack of houses. I have 12,000 people in
Northumberland, thousands in my own constituency, they are seeking
social accommodation. If there are people with a 2, 3, four-bedroom
houses and they are not using all of the bedrooms, those people have
got a choice. Fever they pay the difference themselves -- either
they pay the difference themselves or move. This is a circular
argument. They are not enough homes but where will the people move to?
All of the housing associations say, we have not got the stock to put
people in. I spoke to the housing association that that family are
concerned with and they are working with all of their local people and
they say they have consulted with them and they are working with them.
We have got �50 million of the local authorities... That is a tiny
amount when you consider the thousands of houses. It is with the
�390 million that came with the scheme. That is a discretionary
thing. The money is there. accusation might be that your
labour... Are you worrying people when there is help on hand if
councils choose to lose it? There is not enough help and there are
groups significantly disadvantaged. The disabled, elderly couples.
know they are exempt. They are not exempt. That is not correct. There
are groups serving in the armed forces... I think this is a huge
issue. There are 34 protests and demonstrations across the country
plan for 16th March including a couple in our region that I will be
joining. Is this not just actually getting people on benefits to join
the real world? If anybody not on benefits has to pay for a bigger
house, they have to play a bigger price. Many of the people
advocating this policy on the Conservative front bench don't know
anyone who is unemployed or disabled. Someone on jobseeker's
allowance on �71 a week faced with paying an additional �22 a week.
How can they find that money? This is a social justice issue. Is this
a poll tax moment? No. This is addressing a housing benefit that
cost 20 Billy -- �23 billion which the Labour government accepted we
have to deal with. Subsidies paid to people. We would like the money
to be spent on more social housing, schools and hospitals. We will have
to leave it there. I apologise. I am sure it is a subject we will
come back to. Now, who should look after people
who are on probation? In the past it's been the Probation Service.
But now the Government wants to allow private firms and charities
to supervise low and medium-risk offenders. If they manage to keep
them out of trouble, they'll be paid for their success. It's the
same model used in the Government's controversial work programme. But
does it put public safety at risk? You do not want to take a backward
step. You want to help yourself and maybe help your family, you have
got to have somebody to talk to and somebody 2.2 in the right direction.
This month spent time in prison after being charged with affray. On
release, he came back to Carlisle to try and start again.
probation service helped me secure somewhere to live. If you come out
cold, you may fall back into the place you were before you went in.
The government proposals would see the rehabilitation of people like
this man passed to private firms or charities. That is 70% of cases.
People who have repeatedly shot lifted to those who have been
involved in domestic violence. The plans have been met with strong
opposition from Cumbria's police and crime commissioner. He stood as
the Conservative candidate in elections. He is also the former
chairman of the county's probation trust. When I stood for election, I
was led to believe I would be in charge of the commissioning of all
services related to criminal justice in Cumbria. This appears
not to be the case because the government has said it is going to
commission services centrally. I ask the question, hype can I be
held to account for criminal levels in Cumbria of a service which I
have no part in the commissioning process? -- How can I be held to
account? The plans have been described as dreadful over off.
Another man says they are risky and flawed. The commissioner elsewhere
says the reforms pose a major risk to public safety. In North
Yorkshire, the commissioner has worries about the payment by
results element. It comes after Chris grayling describe PCCs as the
blue in his rehabilitation revolution. Is the revolution about
to come unstuck -- the blue in the revolution. I do not think the
scheme will put local delivery at risk. It should bring best practice
in. People who are interested in getting reoffending down have
nothing to fear. Probation trusts in the north-east and Cumbria so
they do not fear competition and want to see fewer people committing
crimes of course but they question the proposed methods of reducing
reoffending. Our decisions are made on a basis of public interest and
if the payment by results model is introduced, I am concerned the
decisions may be made on a different basis. To make decisions
in the public interest, you need to no you public. If it is run by a
company that is down in London or event in Manchester, it is quite
faceless. Cumbria it is a wide rural community. They do not know
the ins and outs of it. This is a hare-brained idea.
Trusting private companies with little or no experience to
supervise sex offenders, perpetrators of domestic violence.
I have written a book on this issue and I have spent 20 years working
with probation offenders. I have prosecuted nine murder trials and
seen the way probation work and they do a good job. But to so they
cannot have some competition... of their cases. Seven out of 10
people who leave prison reoffend. If you think that is a good
statistic, I do not. I just want to pick up on the statistic because
that includes people who have been sentenced to less than a year which
probation have nothing to do with. Yes, they do. People who leave
prison need mentoring. What they have not got at the moment is that.
It should be provided, not just by probation, but by charities who are
already working in the sector. Some do a great job providing literacy
and the bridge between custody and real life outside. There is great
scope for this to work and we talk about the two years to work through
the proposals, there has been a consultation. As the probation
service said, they do not fear competition. What is so great about
the current system if the reoffending rates... I do not think
there is no justification for privatising this. The probation
service has won a national award. The Minister presented the award to
them and spoke in glowing terms about their performance and their
satisfaction of victims and the reduction of the reoffending rates.
Why can't somebody do well or if not better? This is usually risky
because they are talking about low and medium risk prisoners and that
is people who are burglars, drug users, people involved in domestic
violence. There something goes wrong as it has with the
government's work programme that was piloted over the last year also
and in fact be success rate has been about 3.6% getting people into
work, severely criticised, very expensive, payment by results. It
is unfortunate if someone cannot find a job, but if it is in the
justice system, it is rather more dangerous. Answer that criticism.
Payment by results introduced by the Labour government. Doncaster
prison is the most successful payment by results prison in the
country. They should be supporting it. This is a Frankenstein version
of payment by results and it is extremely risky in terms of public
safety. They run prisons. That is what they do. Thank you very much.
Those of you old enough to remember Mrs Thatcher will certainly recall
one of her most controversial policies - selling off council
houses. David Cameron has revived the idea. With that and the rest of
the week's political news, here's Mark Denten.
A council is to reduce funding and asks volunteers to run five of its
libraries. Civil suffer failures over the West Coast Rail contract
will cost tax payers millions of pounds.
The number of people buying their own council house under the right-
to-buy scheme is at its highest since 2007. The government wants to
encourage more sales. I am keen to ensure that whoever you are,
whichever part of the country, if you want to do this, you should be
able to and we will support you very strongly. Another council has
scrapped plans to introduce parking charges. More than 2000 objections.
The former Bishop of Durham has taken his seat in the Lords. The
name of the new bishop is expected to be renounced in the summer -- be
announced in the summer. That is about all from us. Next
week, I will be reporting from Norway. Finding out if the
Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including business secretary Vince Cable and former Conservative cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell.