03/03/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


03/03/2013

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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Transcript


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After the Tory's disaster showing at the sleeve by-election, David

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Cameron says there will be no lurch In the North East and Cumbria: New

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laws to tackle dangerous dogs. And why the Government says this

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family's house in Northumberland is too big for them and will cut their

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2197 seconds

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Hello and a warm welcome to your local part of the show. With me to

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chew over the fat of this week's stories, Hexham MP Guy Opperman and

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Grahame Morris from Easington. Coming up: Why the Government

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believes this family's house in Northumberland is too big for them

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and says it will cut their benefits if they don't agree to move.

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Coming up: But let's kick off with

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controversial comments by Education Secretary Michael Gove. He's

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reported as saying that people can smell the sense of defeatism in

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some of the region's schools. And he named East Durham as a prime

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example of an area where there was too little ambition from the local

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authority. Grahame, has the Secretary of State got the perfect

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right to raise concerns if he has than? These are deeply offensive

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comments to parents, children, staff. He is absolutely wrong in

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terms of the levels of achievement and of improvements that have been

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achieved in its East Durham schools like the Science College and others

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were the results are far above the national average. Michael Gove has

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to take some culpability taking away its Educational Maintenance

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Allowance, tripling tuition fees, ending the Building Schools for the

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Future programme. I do not think the tuition fees affects the

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schools. In terms of ambition, it could. It was not how far language.

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He has been to the north-east many times and certainly I echo. We

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should be supporting our teachers and families and children who were

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doing a great job. In Northumberland, we have got a

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council who are not necessarily going forward and are penalising

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people trying to apply for academies. The point is legitimate

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the made that vocal authorities need to step up to the plate -- the

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point is a legitimate Lee made but for local authorities need to step

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Our top story this week is about new laws to tackle dangerous dogs.

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A quarter of a million people are attacked and injured by them every

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year. And the Government has agreed to tighten up the law including

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compulsory microchipping. That's in response to a campaign promoted by

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Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery. 14 people have been killed then dog attacks

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since 2005. Fate children and six adults. Hundreds of children have

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been attacked and received life- changing injuries and disfigurement

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in the same period -- eight children and six adults.

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Prosecutions remain low as do court penalties.

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Postal workers are among those who are most often victims of dog

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attacks. Paul Clay is from the Communication Workers Union which

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represents them. How big is this problem for your members? A massive

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problem. People laugh when you say you have been attacked by a dog.

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They do not realise the reality of being savaged by something that has

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got teeth that barmaid for ripping skin and flesh to bits. Very

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unpleasant. What are the government's plans to tackle this?

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It will help. The reality of what we are working with is that it

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might help after the attacks what it is not going to help -- but it

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is not going to help before. The biggest problem when we watched the

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debate in Parliament was when the minister got up, not when the MPs

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got up and said generous support, we should be making sure

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responsible dog ownership is at the front. When the minister got up and

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said he was going to work with the animal welfare groups fit did not

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make much sense to postal workers that have been bitten and chased

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down every street in the country. In terms of prevention,

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microchipping. I suppose the problem is irresponsible owners

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might not bother with it. Does it help at all? Of course it helps.

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The legislation would move things forward. Compulsory insurance and

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making sure we can have behavioural orders and the police can end force

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them would make even better sense. It is obviously welcome the

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government is legislating on this but why is it taking so long to get

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it on the books? We are a nation of dog-lovers. I am not sure we all

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are! I was bitten in the last election by a dog, I assume. By a

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dog. I am sure it was a liberal dog. I had blood and everything and

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experienced what he has been through. It is wonderful news that

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the laws are coming in. It helps with traceability and also with a

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dog welfare. 6000 dogs are put down every year because they cannot be

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traced. That is a fantastic thing if we could stop that. It is

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fantastic but why not just get on and do it? You have got to consult

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and get the traceability in. By 2016, every dog will be chipped

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Andy will be in a position it will be sorted out by then. You cannot

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say to everybody tomorrow. Do you accept that explanation? My good

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friend and colleague in the video made some excellent points. The

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issue about private land and addressing that which the

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consultation has identified, timing is critical and 5000 postal workers

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a year are reporting incidents of dog attacks. Nurses, doctors,

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Communication Workers... The government needs to work with

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greater speed. Some people might soap, is it a priority to push this

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legislation through rather than any other? There is a cost to it,

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treatment from the NHS. People losing time to prove such injuries.

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I think the government can find time if they wish. They have found

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time for more controversial issues in recent months. I am sure they

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could if the will was there. There is the issue of the enforcement as

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well which is critical. Briefly, isn't microchipping a sledgehammer

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to crack a nut? What you've just going to end up prosecuting people

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rather than the ones who would not bother? The bottom line is this.

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Something must be done. We have consulted on this and it has cross-

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party agreement. I think it is a good thing that the government is

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finally sorting this matter up. Thank you very much for now.

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Almost half of all people in the North East living in social or

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rented accommodation are judged by the Government to be in houses that

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are too big for them. That's the highest number in England. The

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Government wants to encourage them to move to smaller properties. So,

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from April, working-age families will be assessed for the number of

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bedrooms they actually need and will have their benefits reduced by

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up to a quarter if they have too many extra rooms. Mark Denten

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reports. This family at home in their three-

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bedroom semi-. Two sons and mum and dad. You could not get two people

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in either bedroom unless there were on beds. The double bedroom is

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ideal for a married couple. We have not got a sitting room either.

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Officially they have an under occupied house. Because the boys

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are under 16, they should be sharing a room. From April, they

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face a housing benefit cut of �48 a month. It is no good starting to

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take everything off the lower incomes. I have found at least 20

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families the same as us who have got two children who are in three

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or four-bedroom houses and they are getting hit as well. From April,

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they will be among 50,000 people in the north-east affected by the

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government's new under occupancy charge. The critics call it the

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bedroom tax. The idea is to shave �23 billion off the housing benefit

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bill. How will it work? If people have won a spare room their housing

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benefit will be cut by 14%. If they have to spare rooms, 25% cut. The

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government is giving councils an extra �30 million to help people

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cope with the extra cost. That does not convince these people. These

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campaigners of pensioners and veterans of the poll tax protests.

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They will not be affected by the latest changes but so they have a

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duty to make young people aware of them. When they get the money in

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April, the children will be flawed. You cannot blame people if riots

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occur because sometimes that is the only way to get across how you feel.

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How can people cope with the loss of income? You have the right to

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live way you want to live. government supporters say changing

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the policy his fur. Too much emphasis has been placed on certain

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people claiming Hammett which it will cost and to stay in the house

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they are in -- claiming how much it will cost them. They are families

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in crowded accommodation. latest part of this debate is an

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MP's breakfast. Normally I'd cooked porridge with milk but this has

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been cooked with water. She has to spend a week living on �18. That is

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how much front of her constituents will be left with. It is completely

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impossible to eat a balanced diet. I ran out of money on Sunday. There

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was nothing left to eat. I would say to her that I wait for her to

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do something to assist families in overcrowded accommodation. Whose

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responsibility is that? It is the responsibility of the last Labour

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government. The ministers insist many

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overcrowded families will benefit but hard choices must be made when

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housing is limited. There is a hard choice for people like this family

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too. Pay extra or move out. It is easy to talk about people

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losing money. But you are less keen to talk about the people who this

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will help, the thousands of people in overcrowded accommodation.

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is an easy solution to that. Cap the rents and build more social

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housing. There is not enough. We are spending �24 billion on housing

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benefit and only �1 billion on building new social and affordable

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houses. There is a huge disparity there. Is it Labour's failure to

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build enough homes in the first place? I except it was a failure

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and we need to address it. This government have done nothing to cap

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dramatically increasing rents in the private sector. I have cases,

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1300 people affected in my constituency alone, they have been

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driven from effectively council housing from the social housing

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sector into the private sector, in two smaller accommodation which is

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more expensive. It is perverse that the government are forcing them to

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do this. Isn't the overcrowding argument a red herring? This is a

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cynical method of cutting the Housing Bill. Most people will not

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want to move. As you rightly highlighted, we inherited a housing

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crisis. There is not enough social housing and that is why we are

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trying to build more and we have reformed the planning laws and

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there is over a billion pounds going into social housing. We are

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addressing the lack of houses. I have 12,000 people in

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Northumberland, thousands in my own constituency, they are seeking

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social accommodation. If there are people with a 2, 3, four-bedroom

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houses and they are not using all of the bedrooms, those people have

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got a choice. Fever they pay the difference themselves -- either

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they pay the difference themselves or move. This is a circular

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argument. They are not enough homes but where will the people move to?

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All of the housing associations say, we have not got the stock to put

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people in. I spoke to the housing association that that family are

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concerned with and they are working with all of their local people and

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they say they have consulted with them and they are working with them.

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We have got �50 million of the local authorities... That is a tiny

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amount when you consider the thousands of houses. It is with the

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�390 million that came with the scheme. That is a discretionary

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thing. The money is there. accusation might be that your

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labour... Are you worrying people when there is help on hand if

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councils choose to lose it? There is not enough help and there are

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groups significantly disadvantaged. The disabled, elderly couples.

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know they are exempt. They are not exempt. That is not correct. There

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are groups serving in the armed forces... I think this is a huge

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issue. There are 34 protests and demonstrations across the country

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plan for 16th March including a couple in our region that I will be

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joining. Is this not just actually getting people on benefits to join

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the real world? If anybody not on benefits has to pay for a bigger

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house, they have to play a bigger price. Many of the people

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advocating this policy on the Conservative front bench don't know

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anyone who is unemployed or disabled. Someone on jobseeker's

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allowance on �71 a week faced with paying an additional �22 a week.

:52:36.:52:43.

How can they find that money? This is a social justice issue. Is this

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a poll tax moment? No. This is addressing a housing benefit that

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cost 20 Billy -- �23 billion which the Labour government accepted we

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have to deal with. Subsidies paid to people. We would like the money

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to be spent on more social housing, schools and hospitals. We will have

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to leave it there. I apologise. I am sure it is a subject we will

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come back to. Now, who should look after people

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who are on probation? In the past it's been the Probation Service.

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But now the Government wants to allow private firms and charities

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to supervise low and medium-risk offenders. If they manage to keep

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them out of trouble, they'll be paid for their success. It's the

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same model used in the Government's controversial work programme. But

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does it put public safety at risk? You do not want to take a backward

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step. You want to help yourself and maybe help your family, you have

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got to have somebody to talk to and somebody 2.2 in the right direction.

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This month spent time in prison after being charged with affray. On

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release, he came back to Carlisle to try and start again.

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probation service helped me secure somewhere to live. If you come out

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cold, you may fall back into the place you were before you went in.

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The government proposals would see the rehabilitation of people like

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this man passed to private firms or charities. That is 70% of cases.

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People who have repeatedly shot lifted to those who have been

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involved in domestic violence. The plans have been met with strong

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opposition from Cumbria's police and crime commissioner. He stood as

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the Conservative candidate in elections. He is also the former

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chairman of the county's probation trust. When I stood for election, I

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was led to believe I would be in charge of the commissioning of all

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services related to criminal justice in Cumbria. This appears

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not to be the case because the government has said it is going to

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commission services centrally. I ask the question, hype can I be

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held to account for criminal levels in Cumbria of a service which I

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have no part in the commissioning process? -- How can I be held to

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account? The plans have been described as dreadful over off.

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Another man says they are risky and flawed. The commissioner elsewhere

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says the reforms pose a major risk to public safety. In North

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Yorkshire, the commissioner has worries about the payment by

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results element. It comes after Chris grayling describe PCCs as the

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blue in his rehabilitation revolution. Is the revolution about

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to come unstuck -- the blue in the revolution. I do not think the

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scheme will put local delivery at risk. It should bring best practice

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in. People who are interested in getting reoffending down have

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nothing to fear. Probation trusts in the north-east and Cumbria so

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they do not fear competition and want to see fewer people committing

:55:53.:55:58.

crimes of course but they question the proposed methods of reducing

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reoffending. Our decisions are made on a basis of public interest and

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if the payment by results model is introduced, I am concerned the

:56:07.:56:11.

decisions may be made on a different basis. To make decisions

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in the public interest, you need to no you public. If it is run by a

:56:20.:56:27.

company that is down in London or event in Manchester, it is quite

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faceless. Cumbria it is a wide rural community. They do not know

:56:31.:56:39.

the ins and outs of it. This is a hare-brained idea.

:56:39.:56:42.

Trusting private companies with little or no experience to

:56:42.:56:45.

supervise sex offenders, perpetrators of domestic violence.

:56:45.:56:50.

I have written a book on this issue and I have spent 20 years working

:56:50.:56:53.

with probation offenders. I have prosecuted nine murder trials and

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seen the way probation work and they do a good job. But to so they

:56:57.:57:03.

cannot have some competition... of their cases. Seven out of 10

:57:03.:57:08.

people who leave prison reoffend. If you think that is a good

:57:08.:57:12.

statistic, I do not. I just want to pick up on the statistic because

:57:12.:57:15.

that includes people who have been sentenced to less than a year which

:57:15.:57:20.

probation have nothing to do with. Yes, they do. People who leave

:57:20.:57:24.

prison need mentoring. What they have not got at the moment is that.

:57:24.:57:29.

It should be provided, not just by probation, but by charities who are

:57:29.:57:34.

already working in the sector. Some do a great job providing literacy

:57:34.:57:38.

and the bridge between custody and real life outside. There is great

:57:38.:57:42.

scope for this to work and we talk about the two years to work through

:57:42.:57:47.

the proposals, there has been a consultation. As the probation

:57:47.:57:51.

service said, they do not fear competition. What is so great about

:57:51.:57:57.

the current system if the reoffending rates... I do not think

:57:57.:58:00.

there is no justification for privatising this. The probation

:58:00.:58:04.

service has won a national award. The Minister presented the award to

:58:04.:58:09.

them and spoke in glowing terms about their performance and their

:58:09.:58:13.

satisfaction of victims and the reduction of the reoffending rates.

:58:13.:58:19.

Why can't somebody do well or if not better? This is usually risky

:58:19.:58:23.

because they are talking about low and medium risk prisoners and that

:58:23.:58:29.

is people who are burglars, drug users, people involved in domestic

:58:29.:58:32.

violence. There something goes wrong as it has with the

:58:32.:58:36.

government's work programme that was piloted over the last year also

:58:36.:58:41.

and in fact be success rate has been about 3.6% getting people into

:58:41.:58:45.

work, severely criticised, very expensive, payment by results. It

:58:45.:58:50.

is unfortunate if someone cannot find a job, but if it is in the

:58:50.:58:55.

justice system, it is rather more dangerous. Answer that criticism.

:58:55.:59:00.

Payment by results introduced by the Labour government. Doncaster

:59:00.:59:04.

prison is the most successful payment by results prison in the

:59:04.:59:08.

country. They should be supporting it. This is a Frankenstein version

:59:08.:59:13.

of payment by results and it is extremely risky in terms of public

:59:13.:59:22.

safety. They run prisons. That is what they do. Thank you very much.

:59:22.:59:25.

Those of you old enough to remember Mrs Thatcher will certainly recall

:59:25.:59:27.

one of her most controversial policies - selling off council

:59:27.:59:30.

houses. David Cameron has revived the idea. With that and the rest of

:59:30.:59:37.

the week's political news, here's Mark Denten.

:59:37.:59:44.

A council is to reduce funding and asks volunteers to run five of its

:59:44.:59:47.

libraries. Civil suffer failures over the West Coast Rail contract

:59:48.:59:55.

will cost tax payers millions of pounds.

:59:55.:59:58.

The number of people buying their own council house under the right-

:59:58.:00:04.

to-buy scheme is at its highest since 2007. The government wants to

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encourage more sales. I am keen to ensure that whoever you are,

:00:08.:00:13.

whichever part of the country, if you want to do this, you should be

:00:13.:00:18.

able to and we will support you very strongly. Another council has

:00:18.:00:27.

scrapped plans to introduce parking charges. More than 2000 objections.

:00:27.:00:31.

The former Bishop of Durham has taken his seat in the Lords. The

:00:31.:00:36.

name of the new bishop is expected to be renounced in the summer -- be

:00:36.:00:41.

announced in the summer. That is about all from us. Next

:00:41.:00:45.

week, I will be reporting from Norway. Finding out if the

:00:45.:00:50.

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.


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