02/06/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


02/06/2013

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on the lobbying scandal with Francis Maude and Jim Murphy.


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Here, what impact will changes to legal aid have? And the plan to

:01:22.:01:28.

make pubs and clubs pay towards the cost of policing late-night

:01:28.:01:38.
:01:38.:01:38.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2438 seconds

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A seasonal welcome to your local part of the show for the North-East

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and Cumbria. We are talking about changes to legal aid. Will it make

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it harder to get access to justice? And a new plan to make pubs and

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clubs in Newcastle paid towards the cost of policing late-night

:42:27.:42:32.

drinking. It could drive them out of business? Our MPs have either

:42:32.:42:37.

been on holiday or back in their constituencies. The Commons has

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only SAT for around 150 days in the last 12 months. Is that too much

:42:41.:42:51.
:42:51.:42:52.

time spent away from the Westminster world? I can't remember

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any government, including a Labour one, wanting to keep MPs that

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Parliament. The longer they can keep us of Parliament, the better

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for them. It's hard for the public to understand. You are there, then

:43:04.:43:08.

you are back in the constituency. Should you be spending more time in

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Parliament? Yes, I think we should be there more that we are. It's

:43:13.:43:17.

nice to be back in your constituency, but we can now, it's

:43:17.:43:21.

more relaxed than it was when I first work in politics, we were

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there until Friday, but now we usually get away on the Thursday.

:43:24.:43:29.

In your constituency on a Friday doing your best work in your

:43:29.:43:34.

constituency. As I said before, I think it is a case of trying to

:43:34.:43:37.

keep members of parliament away from Parliament, so they can get on

:43:37.:43:43.

with business. Were MPs less trouble to you in Westminster or

:43:43.:43:49.

kicking about the constituency? public might give an interesting

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view on whether the MPs of the strivers or the skivers and this

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debate. I would probably want them away from Parliament. There's a

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parallel for councillors, where Newcastle City Council, the civic

:44:03.:44:06.

centre, it's a bit of a ghost town these days compared to the days

:44:06.:44:08.

when I first started. There seems to be less opportunity for people

:44:08.:44:12.

to come together and debate policy, and that is what politicians are

:44:12.:44:20.

there for. Our top story this week, Newcastle may be among the first

:44:20.:44:23.

cities in the country to start charging pubs and clubs that supply

:44:23.:44:27.

alcohol after midnight. The money raised from the late night levy

:44:28.:44:30.

would be spent on the cost of city centre policing and keeping the

:44:30.:44:34.

streets clean. Other councils, including York and Durham, are also

:44:34.:44:37.

considering the idea. But the owners of licensed premises say

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they already pay their taxes and the new charge could put them out

:44:41.:44:46.

of business. It's almost opening time at Newcastle's head of steam

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pub. But being open almost all hours could soon mean it paying the

:44:51.:44:56.

late night Levy, a charge was serving alcohol after midnight.

:44:56.:45:02.

late night levy, as we and other operators see it, is an extra cost

:45:02.:45:09.

on our rates, or business rates, which we already pay. Under plans

:45:09.:45:12.

by Newcastle City Council, many licensed premises opening after

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midnight could be charged between �300 to �4,400 a year depending on

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their size. This money, an estimated �400,000 a year, would be

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split, with 70 % going to the police and 30 % to the council. The

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money would be used to meet the cost of policing, cleaning up and

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taking measures to cut down on problem drinking. So far no

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councils in England and Wales have adopted a late-night levy, but

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Newcastle could be among the first to do so. Something that could mean

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some bars, pubs and clubs closing their doors forever. A at the head

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of steam, we have a 3am licence and are basically a nightclub. What

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would happen as a result, if we were to say, well, we can't afford

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to pay that, we will take it back to 12 o'clock. This pub is not

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profitable at all. It's not a case of being able to look for the levy,

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it becomes unprofitable because the majority of our trade is in the

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late night economy. Late night being after 11pm. We couldn't

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sustain the business. Newcastle has a reputation as a party city, with

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tens of thousands of revellers flocking to it on many nights.

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While that means the police have to be out on the streets and the

:46:25.:46:28.

cancer has to spend money to clean them, it also brings in millions of

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pounds to the economy. So is the council just after a slice of that

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cash, and is in danger of bringing the party to an end in party city?

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The business rates are not necessarily returned to the council.

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We have massive budget reductions come and we need to maintain the

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environment. It's important that many people still want to invest in

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the city because of its reputation of being safe. We want this money

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to be used for maintaining that. There's no suggestion that this

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money will be used for anything else. If the levy is introduced, it

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is the police who will get the largest slice of it. Now many club

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and bar owners are asking how one where that money would be spent and

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who would benefit from it? Stopping crime and disorder, trying to limit

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alcohol-related crime. There is a bit of a peak in the hours after

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midnight of some alcohol-related offending. We would probably want

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to tackle that, as they were themselves. That, I guess, is how

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the levy would be used if it is executed. I can absolutely

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guarantee that it's going to come back to Newcastle if it comes out.

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A good night out doesn't come cheap. Newcastle city council argues a

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late-night levy, but could be introduced in November if given the

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go-ahead, would help to pay for it. But some bar owners say it would

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simply squeeze them dry. The manner represents many of the pubs and

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clubs in Newcastle who will have to pay this charges Damian Conway, and

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he's here now. Anyone who's been in city centres at night know there's

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a huge policing operation needed, a Mr Kinnock afterwards. Why not

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contribute a small amount towards those costs? Firstly, there are

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very high rates being paid by pretty much every business in the

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city centre. The business rates are very high. But you are creating a

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particular problem with the policing that is needed and the

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clean-up, which isn't caused, for instance, by a department store.

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That's true, but one of our managers said recently, we pay

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�130,000 a year in rates and we don't even get our Vincenti to. I

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can see where that pub manager is, object into paying more money in

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towards the council. Some of this money will go to the police to

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anti-crime initiatives, to ameliorate the impact of crimes

:49:00.:49:07.

related to alcohol, that is a good thing to contribute to. Yes, but

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there are already good relationships that most responsible

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licensees have with the police in the city centre. Our head dormant

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meet with the police every week to try and work with them to work out

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how we can reduce crime and disorder, who should be barred from

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the premises and general initiatives to do with many things

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are. Secondly, every two months... I accept you are making efforts to

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be good citizens, but you are trying to say it will drive you out

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of business. This is �13 a night. If a pub is operating on that sort

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of margin, it's going to go out of business anyway. We are trying hard

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to keep our operations are open. We employed a lot of people...

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really be closed by this? They may not be closed but staff will have

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their hours reduced or we will have less staff. We employ a lot of

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people at other industries won't employee, because young people and

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youth unemployment is a problem. David Faulkner, you are a Newcastle

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councillor, is this a good idea or not? It's a finely balanced

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argument. The night-time economy supplies about 7000 jobs in the

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city. We are getting a promotion of Newcastle as a party city that we

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were trying to put behind us. It is putting the emphasis on what

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happens after midnight and what happens as a result of alcohol and

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clubs and pubs. My board of Newcastle is a more balanced city,

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a more diverse offer than that. It bothers me a bit that we might be

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on the one hand putting too much emphasis on party city. On the

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other hand, I think there's an argument that if you are a member

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of the public and in your neighbourhood your bins are being

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emptied less frequently, you pass - - grass is being cut Les Bikubi

:51:10.:51:13.

because it's hard times for the council, and the public purse

:51:13.:51:15.

generally is having to pay extra for the consequences of late-night

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drinking, that people might reasonably say, yes, I'm in favour

:51:18.:51:28.

of it. That might be my view, on balance. Is this a tax or a

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sensible idea? I'm on the side of the pubs. We've seen many closing

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at a rate of knots. Although Newcastle has a good reputation for

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a city, I hear London people talking about going up for a

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weekend in Newcastle, so we've got to keep that reputation, it's good

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for the area to keep people coming in. Whether this levy will do what

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it says it will do is another matter. Newcastle United Football

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Club have to pay for policing or towards policing, I don't think

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they paid all, but they do have to pay towards policing. That could be

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a point. I do realise they do pay a lot of rates. Labour introduced 24

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hour drinking, it is supposed to be a cafe culture. Do you see much

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evidence of that in Blyth or beyond? I think the pubs have had a

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rough ride in recent years. We should have had the minimum price.

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I think it's the wrong target. The problem is with pre-loading. I take

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the point that the bars have had a rough time, but I think the pre-

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loading issue and minimum pricing is something that's got come back

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onto the agenda quickly, because that's one of the real reasons why

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our towns... In the meantime, this is a charge that is being put in.

:52:52.:53:02.
:53:02.:53:03.

Is the coalition to blame for this? My view is the 2003 Licensing Act

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has proved, in retrospect, to be wrong. Everything that councils

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have done since is to try and claw back back somehow, to deal with and

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mitigate the consequences of not quite 24 hour but almost 24 hour

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drinking, and what is happening in our streets. For people to want a

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drink outside the hours of 11pm, is that unreasonable? No, it's not,

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but it can sometimes be quite unpleasant and intimidating after

:53:33.:53:43.
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11pm in city centres. I understand the cost of the police, just like

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Newcastle United, they have to pay as well. It's the same argument

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with the pubs. Are they going to put the levy back into the drink,

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is that where it is going? Where does this stop? You could accuse

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pizza places and Tiger Webb places of littering the city centre.

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should be using this kind of thing to encourage best practice. The

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legislation allows exemptions and reductions. Reductions could take

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place if we have a new Best Practice Scheme that we get

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everybody, not just a few pubs and clubs, to sign up double stop them

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they can be reductions and it is something where everybody benefits.

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His access to justice been put under threat by government changes

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to legal aid? That is the claim from the Law Society and some

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Labour MPs in the region. Under the plans, defendants will lose the

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chance to have the solicitor of their choice represent them at a

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police station or in court. But ministers say representation will

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be available, but there is definitely a need to reduce the

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legal aid bill, which costs more than �1 billion a year. This is a

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relieved young woman. Last year she was wrongly accused of assault, an

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accusation which threatened to enter hopes of becoming a nurse.

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She came to this local firm in Middlesbrough for Health, secured

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legal aid and last week was cleared. It was horrendous. I wouldn't wish

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it on my worst enemy. The anxiety and stress, and it's not just for

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myself, it was for my family. The firm really put everything into the

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court case to make sure that the truth did come out, so that I could

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go and be a nurse and finish my degree. But under the new plans,

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people like this will not be able to choose who represents them.

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Instead, they will be allocated a solicitor who has had to compete a

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new legal-aid contract. Those contracts will cut lawyers legal-

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aid fees by at least 17.5 %, and in some cases by 30 %. This firm

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believes that will kill off the traditional local solicitor. If it

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goes, I'll be going, as will most of my colleagues, I'm certain.

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These proposals are not survivable for the vast majority of the legal

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profession in this country. If these proposals come in, our

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position at the forefront of regal reputation will disappear overnight.

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Who might fill that gap? Amongst possible bidders are supposed --

:56:27.:56:31.

G4S and Eddie Stobart. That is worrying existing lawyers, has a

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place in private at the centre of legal-aid could undermine the

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justice system. You have entities which will be coming into this from

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the direction of wanting to make money out of it, and purely for

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that reason. We know that the costs and the levels of remuneration will

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be driven so low, that people would be able to spend the time that they

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are currently spending. Even now, often without renumeration, to go

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that extra length to make sure people are properly represented.

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The government has said it is consulting on proposals and will

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listen to concerns. But it says the legal aid bill of �1 billion a year

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is far too high and needs to be cut. I have to find the right balance

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between delivering Justice, delivering a system where everyone

:57:18.:57:22.

has lawyers to defend them, but at the same time making sure we bring

:57:22.:57:26.

down costs to spend money elsewhere. If it's a choice of spending more

:57:26.:57:29.

on the health service or more on the legal system, most people would

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say they want the health service. Middlesbrough MP Andy Macdonald

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sits on that just a select committee, which is about to

:57:38.:57:44.

examine the government plans. proposals will transform the

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provision of criminal legal aid. There are concerns about freedom of

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choice, access issues. It seems peculiar that we seem to be so

:57:52.:57:55.

insistent about choice in health and education but here we are doing

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away with toys. There are grave concerns about the future of

:57:59.:58:04.

justice in this country. government insists the legal-aid

:58:04.:58:07.

bill must come down. But while cutting the cost of justice will

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certainly had lawyers, is every chance that innocent people could

:58:10.:58:15.

pay the heaviest price? Ronnie Campbell, of the government is

:58:15.:58:18.

right, this legal-aid bill is far too high and its right to make

:58:18.:58:24.

changes to save money. If this government did put as much in as to

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what we are putting in the legal aid thing and get companies and

:58:28.:58:35.

multinationals to pay their tax, you wouldn't need the �1 billion.

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What do you make of the changes to legal aid? Should they cut the

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budget? Of course not. You'll have a big company, it's got a tender,

:58:46.:58:56.

and they are going to give you a solicitor. I've got one, two in

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Berrett, four in Blyth, none in Cramlington. I can see them, when

:59:00.:59:04.

these big companies come in and get the tender in, I can see the local

:59:04.:59:08.

solicitors, who are not fat cats, disappearing, because they won't

:59:08.:59:14.

get the business, the business will go to the fat cats, who will make a

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killing. Presumably, if its cuts to the bill, you would rather see

:59:21.:59:28.

money spent on the health service and on legal aid. It one of my

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constituents and - not once a solicitor and has to go to Durham,

:59:31.:59:35.

Sunderland or even Middlesbrough, how is he going to get to see his

:59:35.:59:39.

solicitor, the one he's been allocated to under this system? It

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is stupidity. Should Liberal Democrats in government oppose

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this? We should aim to change it. The way it is is unsatisfactory in

:59:52.:59:58.

my view. To remove choice is disadvantageous. People will build

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up a relationship between lawyers, solicitors and clients, and that

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would be lost because it would just be whoever you get allocated. That

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is a disadvantage. But I do understand, of course, this point

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about legal-aid in this country, it costs far more than other countries

:00:17.:00:25.

with comparative systems. What is the alternative? I support some of

:00:25.:00:30.

the proposals. For example, the whole idea that anybody who has

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disposable income of over �37,500 should not get legal aid is quite

:00:35.:00:39.

right. They shouldn't. That's one of the reasons why the money is

:00:39.:00:42.

being sucked out of the system so much in past times. There's also an

:00:42.:00:47.

issue around while legal cases go on for so long, and therefore the

:00:47.:00:50.

cost of legal-aid gets clocked up and clocked up. Something must be

:00:50.:00:54.

done about that. I don't know if the answer is to deal with the

:00:54.:01:01.

client. It needs to be changed. What is so bad about someone being

:01:01.:01:08.

allocated a lawyer? It's the access to their lawyer. If the little

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lawyers in Blyth or anywhere else in Northumberland go bust, then

:01:15.:01:20.

that client has to go to wherever that law years. He may be miles

:01:20.:01:27.

away. He might not be able to afford... The government have said,

:01:27.:01:31.

this is the way it has to be structured, perhaps they need to be

:01:31.:01:37.

fewer firms to make the money saved. There has been a lot of people

:01:37.:01:41.

getting legal-aid who could afford to pay for themselves. They could

:01:41.:01:46.

look at that one again, certainly. But what about the people who can't

:01:46.:01:50.

afford to pay? You are stopping them from getting their justice.

:01:50.:01:54.

They will be working with a solicitor, they don't know who he

:01:54.:02:00.

is, they may have to travel miles to see him. It's just not on.

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would like to see this piloted in a region, because it is a big change

:02:04.:02:10.

and we need to see the consequences. Isn't this far too typical of

:02:10.:02:13.

coalition policy? You think of something that will save money but

:02:13.:02:16.

you don't listen to the people telling you it is a mistake and you

:02:16.:02:22.

don't put it on trial. You would expect the legal profession to say

:02:22.:02:27.

it is a mistake. You understand their position. But the response to

:02:27.:02:31.

the consultation hasn't finished. The Desta Select Committee are

:02:31.:02:36.

looking at it. They will have a view, which I hope will be taken

:02:36.:02:42.

account of. All parties agree, Jack Straw as Lord Chancellor in 2009

:02:42.:02:45.

agreed that they had to be some change to the system. It doesn't

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guarantee quality now. It just doesn't mean because you've got

:02:51.:02:54.

1600 firms of solicitors involved instead of 400 that your quality is

:02:54.:03:01.

going to be better. What about Eddie Stobart making money out of

:03:01.:03:07.

it? When you've got a town of Bardon Mill, you have a few

:03:07.:03:11.

solicitors competing for what they need to do. They keep competing on

:03:11.:03:16.

their prices are competitive. These solicitors are not fat cats. They

:03:16.:03:22.

are just trying to make a living. No parliament this week, but

:03:22.:03:32.
:03:32.:03:33.

there's still plenty going on. A plan to turn a private school into

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an Academy has hit trouble. King's School in Tynemouth says staff

:03:37.:03:40.

support the idea, but North Tyneside council says the impact

:03:40.:03:44.

upon other schools in the area must be more fully considered. North-

:03:44.:03:47.

East suffragette Emily Davison was knocked down by the King's horse at

:03:47.:03:53.

the Epsom Derby, 100 years ago. She later died of her injuries and is

:03:53.:03:57.

buried in Morpeth. Penny Pryce- Jones is helping to organise events

:03:58.:04:03.

and says her influence is still strongly felt. She highlighted that

:04:03.:04:09.

women were highly intelligent. It was society and not them that were

:04:09.:04:14.

limiting what was possible. Councillors in Carlisle have been

:04:14.:04:18.

paying tribute to Joe Hendry, who died on Thursday following a heart

:04:18.:04:22.

attack. He was also leader of Carlisle's Labour group will start

:04:22.:04:24.

a campaign group which aims to put cycling at the heart of the

:04:24.:04:27.

Government's transport agenda is meeting in Newcastle this weekend.

:04:27.:04:30.

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain wants new investment to

:04:31.:04:37.

improve road safety. Finally, our tweet of the week comes from

:04:37.:04:42.

Carlisle MP John Stephenson. He had this message for his Twitter

:04:42.:04:46.

followers on Wednesday. Legs strapped, pills pop, only 300 miles

:04:46.:04:51.

to go. He actually spent the week Cycling 1000 miles from Land's End

:04:51.:04:55.

to John o'Groats for charity. I'll be treating this week, but strictly

:04:55.:05:00.

Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate, including the latest on the lobbying scandal with Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy. Plus Nadine Dorries MP on MPs' expenses.


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