01/12/2013 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron.

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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. George Osborne


announces a ?50 cut to annual household energy bills. We'll talk


to Lib Dem president Tim Farron ahead of the Chancellor's mini


budget this week. Net immigration is up for the first


time in two years. Labour and the Tories say they want to bring it


down, but how? Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper joins us for the


Sunday Interview. The harder you shake the pack, the easier it will


be for some cornflakes to get to the be for some cornflakes to get to the


top. The Mayor of London says inequality and greed are essential


to spur economic activity. Schools Minister David Laws says


standards need to accepts the housing situation in the


capital is now a crisis. Another week, another strategy? Can this one


deliver? And with me throughout today's


programme, well, we've shaken the packet and look who's risen to the


top. Or did we open it at the bottom? Helen Lewis, Janan Ganesh


and Sam Coates. All three will be tweeting throughout the programme


using the hashtag #bbcsp. So, after weeks in which Ed Miliband's promise


to freeze energy prices has set the Westminster agenda, the Coalition


Government is finally coming up with its answer. This morning the


Chancellor George Osborne explained how he plans to cut household energy


bills by an average of fifty quid. What we're going to do is roll back


the levees that are placed by government on people's electricity


bills. This will mean that for the average bill payer, they will have


?50 of those electricity and gas bills. That will help families. We


are doing it in the way that government can do it. We are


controlling the cost that families incurred because of government


policies. We are doing it in a way that will not damage the environment


or reduce our commitment to dealing with climate change. We will not


produce commit men to helping low-income families with the cost of


living. Janan, we are finally seeing the coalition begin to play its hand


in response to the Ed Miliband freeze? They have been trying to


respond for almost ten weeks and older responses have been quite


fiddly. We are going to take a bit of tax year, put it onto general


taxation, have a conversation with the energy companies, engineered a


rebate of some kind, this is not very vivid. The advantage of the


idea that they have announced overnight is that it is clear and it


has a nice round figure attached to it, ?50. The chief of staff of


President Obama, he said, if you are explaining, you're losing. The


genius of this idea is that it does not require explanation. He would


not drawn this morning on what agreement he had with the energy


companies, and whether this would fall through to the bottom of the


bill, but the way he spoke, saying, I am not going to pre-empt what the


energy companies say, that suggests he has something up his sleeve. Yes,


I thought so. The energy companies have made this so badly for so long.


It would be awful if he announced this and the energy companies said,


we are going to keep this money for ourselves. I do not think he is that


stupid. The energy companies have an incentive to go along with this


don't they? My worry is that I am not sure how much it will be within


the opinion polls. I think people might expect this now, it is not a


new thing, it is not an exciting thing. Say in the markets, they may


have priced the ten already. If by Thursday of this week, he is able to


say, I have a ?50 cut coming to your bill. The energy companies have


guaranteed that this will fall through onto your energy bill, and


they have indicated to me that they themselves will not put up energy


prices through 2014, has he shot the Ed Miliband Fox? I think he has a


couple of challenges. It is still very hard. This is an answer for the


next 12 months but did is no chance announced that Labour will stop


saying they are going to freeze prices in the next Parliament. He


will say, I have not just frozen them, I have done that as well and I


have cut them. When people look at their energy bills, they are going


up by more than ?50. This is a reduction in the amount that they


are going up overall. Year on 0 will be for George Osborne. He will


have to come up with something this time next year. The detail in the


Sunday papers reveals that George Osborne is trying to get the energy


companies to put on bills that 50 has been knocked off your bill


because of a reduction by the government. He is trying to get the


energy companies to do his political bidding for him. It will be


interesting to see if they go along with that, because then we will know


how cross the arm with Ed Miliband. Let's get another perspective.


Joining me now from Kendal in the Lake District is the president of


the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. Good


morning. Let me ask you this, the coalition is rowing back on green


taxes, I do comfortable with that or is it something else you will rebel


against? I am very comfortable with the fact we are protecting for the


money is going. I am open to where the money comes from. The notion


that we should stop insulating the homes of elderly people or stop


investing in British manufacturing in terms of green industry, that is


something that I resolutely oppose, but I am pleased that the funding


will be made available for all that. You cannot ignore the fact that for


a whole range of reasons, mostly down to the actions of the energy


companies, you have prices that are shooting up and affecting lots of


people, making life hard. You cannot ignore that. If we fund the


installation of homes for older people and others, if we protect


British manufacturing jobs, and raise the money through general


taxation, I am comfortable with that. It is not clear that is going


to happen. It looks like the eco-scheme, whereby the energy


companies pay for the installation of those on below-average incomes,


they will spin that out over four years, not two years, and one


estimate is that that will cost 10,000 jobs. You're always boasting


about your commitment to green jobs, how do square that? I do not believe


that. The roll-out will be longer. The number of houses reached will be


greater and that is a good thing. My take is that it will not affect the


number of jobs. People talk about green levies. There has been


disparaging language about that sort of thing. There are 2 million people


in this country in the lowest income families and they get ?230 off their


energy bills because of what isn't -- because of what is disparaging


the refer to as green stuff, shall we call it. There will be more


properties covered. We both know that your party is being pushed into


this by the Tories. You would not be doing this off your own bad. You are


in coalition with people who have jettisoned their green Prudential


is? -- credentials. You have made my point quite well. David Cameron s


panicked response to this over the last few months was to ditch all the


green stuff. It has been a job to make sure that we hold him to his


pledges and the green cord of this government. That is why we are not


scrapping the investment, we are making sure it is funded from


general taxation. I am talking to you from Kendal. Lots of people


struggle to pay their energy bills. But all these things pale into


insignificance compared to the threat of climate change and we must


hold the Prime Minister to account on this issue. Argue reconciled to


the idea that as long as you're in coalition with the Tories you will


never get a mansion tax? I am not reconciled to it. We are trying to


give off other tax cut to the lowest income people. What about the


mansion tax? That would be potentially paid for by another view


source of finance. That would be that the wealthy... We know that is


what you want, but you're not going to get that? We will keep fighting


for it. It is extremely important. We can show where we will get the


money from. I know that is the adamant. That is not what I asked


you. Ed Balls and Labour run in favour of a mansion tax, have you


talked to them about it? The honest answer is I have not. It is


interesting that they have come round to supporting our policy


having rejected it in power. So if Labour was the largest party in


parliament but not in power, you would have no problem agreeing with


a mansion tax as part of the deal? If the arithmetic falls in that way


and that is the will of the British people, fear taxes on those who are


wealthiest, stuff that is fear, which includes wealth taxes, in


order to fund more reductions for those people on lowest incomes, that


is the sort of thing that we might reach agreement on. You voted with


Labour on the spare room subsidy. Again, that would be job done in any


future coalition talks with Labour, correct? I take the view that the


spare room subsidy, whilst entirely fail in principle, in practice it


has caused immense hardship. I want to see that changed. There are many


people in government to share my view on that. So does Labour. The


problem was largely caused Labour because they oversaw an increase in


housing costs both 3.5 times while they were in power. The government


was forced into a position to tidy up an appalling mess that Labour


left. You voted with Labour against it, and also, you want... No, I


voted with the party conference Let's not dance on the head of the


ten. Maybe they voted with me. - on the head of a pin. You are also in


favour of a 50% top rate of income tax, so you and Labour are that one


there as well? No, I take the view that the top rate of income tax is a


fluid thing. All taxation levels are temporary. Nick Clegg said that when


the 50p rate came down to 45, that was a rather foolish price tag


George Osborne asked for in return for as increasing the threshold and


letting several million people out of paying income tax at the bottom.


So you agree with Labour? In favour of rising the tax to 50p. I take the


view that we should keep our minds open on that. It is not the income


tax level that bothers me, it is whether the wealthy pay their fresh


air. If that can be done through other taxes, then that is something


that I am happy with. -- their fair share. Given your position on the


top rate of tax, on the spare room subsidy, how does the prospect of


another five years of coalition with the Tories strike you? The answer


is, you react with whatever you have about you to what the electorate


hand you. Whatever happens after the next election, you have got to


respect the will of the people. Yes, but how do you feel about it? We


know about this, I am asking for your feeling. Does your heart left


or does your heart fall at the prospect of another five years with


the Tories? My heart would always follow the prospect of anything


other than a majority of Liberal Democrat government. Your heart must


be permanently in your shoes then. Something like that, but when all is


said and done, we accept the will of the electorate. When you stand for


election, you have got to put up with what the electorate say. I have


not found coalition as difficult as you might suggest. It is about


people who have to disagree and agree to differ. You work with


people in your daily life that you disagree with. It is what grown ups


do. A lot of people in your party think that your positioning yourself


to be the left-wing candidate in a post-Nick Clegg leadership contest.


They think it is blatant manoeuvring. One senior figure says,


this is about you. Which bit of the sanctimonious, treacherous little


man is there not to like? What can I see in response to that. My job is


to promote the Liberal Democrats. I have to do my best to consider what


I'd defend to be right. By and large, my position as an MP in the


Lake District, but also as the president of the party, is to


reflect the will of people outside the Westminster village. That is the


important thing to do. Thank you for joining us. David Cameron has said


he wants to get it down to the tens of thousands, Ed Miliband has


admitted New Labour "got it wrong", and Nick Clegg wants to be


"zero-tolerant towards abuse". Yes, immigration is back on the political


agenda, with figures released earlier this week showing that net


migration is on the rise for the first time in two years. And that's


not the only reason politicians are talking about it again.


The issue of immigration has come into sharp focus because of concerns


about the number of remaining ins and Bulgarians that can come to the


UK next year. EU citizenship grants the right to free movement within


the EU. But when Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007, the


government took up its right to apply temporary restrictions on


movement. They must be lifted apply temporary restrictions on


end of this year. According to the 2011 census, about one eyed 1


million of the population in England and Wales is made up of people from


countries who joined the EU in 004. The government has played down


expectations that the skill of migration could be repeated. This


week David Cameron announced new restrictions on the ability of EU


migrants to claim benefits. That was two, send a message. That prompted


criticism is that the UK risks being seen as a nasty country. Yvette


Cooper joins me now for the Sunday interview. Welcome to the Sunday


Politics, Yvette Cooper. You criticised the coalition for not


acting sooner on immigration from Romania and Bulgaria but the


timetable for the unrestricted arrival in January was agreed under


Labour many years ago, and given the battle that you had with the Polish


and the Hungarians, what preparations did you make in power?


We think that we should learn from some of the things that happened


with migration. It would have been better to have transitional controls


in place and look at the impact of what happened. But what preparations


did you make in power? We set out a series of measures that the


Government still had time to bring in. It is important that this should


be a calm and measured debate. There was time to bring in measures around


benefit restrictions, for example, and looking at the impact on the


labour market, to make sure you do not have exploitation of cheap


migrant Labour which is bad for everyone. I know that but I have


asked you before and I am asking again, what did you do? We got


things wrong in Government. I understand that I am not arguing.


You are criticising them not preparing, a legitimate criticism,


but what did you do in power? Well, I did think we did enough. Did you


do anything? We signed the agency workers directive but too slowly. We


needed measures like that. We did support things like the social


chapter and the minimum wage, but I have said before that we did not do


enough and that is why we recommended the measures in March. I


understand that is what you did in opposition and I take that. I put


the general point to you that given your failure to introduce controls


on the countries that joined in 2004, alone among the major EU


economies we did that, should we not keep an embarrassed silence on these


matters? You have no credibility. I think you have got to talk about


immigration. One of the things we did not do in Government was


discussed immigration and the concerns people have and the


long-term benefits that we know have come from people who have come to


Britain over many generations contributing to Britain and having a


big impact. I think we recognise that there are things that we did


wrong, but it would be irresponsible for us not to join the debate and


suggest sensible, practical measures that you can introduce now to


address the concerns that people have, but also make sure that the


system is fair and managed. Immigration is important to Britain


but it does have to be controlled and managed in the right way. Let's


remind ourselves of your record on immigration. The chart you did not


consult when in power. This is total net migration per year under Labour.


2.2 million of net rise in migration, more than the population


of Birmingham, you proud of that? -- twice the population. Are you proud


of that or apologising for it? We set the pace of immigration was too


fat and the level was too high and it is right to bring migration down.


So you think that was wrong? Overruled have been huge benefits


from people that have come to Britain and built our biggest


businesses. -- overall. They have become Olympic medal winners. But


because the pace was too fast, that has had an impact. That was because


of the lack of transitional controls from Eastern Europe and it is why we


should learn from that and have sensible measures in place now, as


part of what has got to be a calm debate. These are net migration


figures. They don't often show the full figure. These are the


immigration figures coming in. What that chart shows is that in terms of


the gross number coming into this country, from the year 2000, it was


half a million a year under Labour. Rising to 600,000 by the time you


were out of power. A lot of people coming into these crowded islands,


particularly since most of them come to London and the South East. Was


that intentional? Was that out of control? Is that what you are now


apologising for? What we said was that the Government got the figures


wrong on the migration from Eastern Europe. If you remember particularly


there was the issue of what happened with not having transitional


controls in place. The Government didn't expect the number of people


coming to the country to be the way it was. And so obviously mistakes


were made. We have recognised that. We have also got to recognise that


this is something that has happened in countries all over the world We


travel and trade far more than ever. We have an increasingly globalised


economy. Other European countries have been affected in the same way,


and America, and other developing countries affected in the same way


by the scale of migration. I am trying to work out whether the


numbers were intentional or if you lost control. The key thing that we


have said many times and I have already said it to you many times,


Andrew, that we should have a transitional controls in place on


Eastern Europe. I think that would have had an impact on them level of


migration. We also should have brought in the points -based system


earlier. We did bring that in towards the end and it did restrict


the level of low skilled migration because there are different kinds of


migration. University students coming to Britain brings in billions


of pounds of investment. On the other hand, low skilled migration


can have a serious impact on the jobs market, pay levels and so on at


the low skilled end of the labour market. We have to distinguish


between different kinds of migration. You keep trying to excuse


the figures by talking about the lack of transitional controls. Can


we skip the chart I was going to go to? The next one. Under Labour, this


is the source of where migrants came from. The main source was not the


accession countries or the remainder of Europe. Overwhelmingly they were


from the African Commonwealth, and the Indian subcontinent.


Overwhelmingly, these numbers are nothing to do with transitional


controls. You can control that immigration entirely because they


are not part of the EU. Was that a mistake? First of all, the big


increase was in the accession groups. Not according to the chart.


In terms of the increase, the changes that happened. Secondly in


answer to the question that you just asked me, we should also have


introduced the points -based system at an earlier stage. Thirdly there


has been a big increase in the number of university students coming


to Britain and they have brought billions of pounds of investment. At


the moment the Government is not distinguishing, it is just using the


figure of net migration. And that is starting to go up again, as you said


in the introduction, but the problem is that it treats all kinds of


migration is aimed. It does not address illegal immigration, which


is a problem, but it treats university graduates coming to


Britain in the same way as low skilled workers. If Labour get back


into power, is it your ambition to bring down immigration? We have


already said it is too high and we would support measures to bring it


down. You would bring it down? There is something called student visas,


which is not included in the figures, and it does not include


university graduates, and it is a figure that has increased


substantially in recent years. They come for short-term study but they


do not even have to prove that they come for a college course. They do


not even have to have a place to come. Those visas should be


restricted to prevent abuse of the system and that is in line with a


recommendation from the Inspectorate and that is the kind of practical


thing that we could do. Can you give us a ballpark figure of how much


immigration would fall? You have seen the mess that Theresa May has


got into with her figures. She made a target that it is clear to me that


she will not meet. I think that is right. She will not meet it. Can you


give as a ballpark figure by which we can judge you? If she had been


more sensible and taken more time to listen to experts and decide what


measures should be targeted, then she would not be in this mess. You


cannot give me a figure? She has chosen net migration. She has set a


target, without ifs and buts. I think it is important not to have a


massive gap between the rhetoric and reality. Not to make promises on


numbers which are not responsible. OK, you won't give me a figure.


Fine. Moving on to crime. 10,00 front line police jobs have gone


since 2010 but crime continues to fall. 7% down last year alone. When


you told the Labour conference that you do not cut crime by cutting the


police, you were wrong. I think the Government is being very complacent


about what is happening to crime. Crime patterns are changing. There


has been an exponential increase, and that is in the words of the


police, in online crime. We have also seen, for example, domestic


violence going up, but prosecutions dropping dramatically. There is a


serious impact as a result of not having 10,000 police in place. You


have talked about the exponential increase in online and economic


crime. If those are the big growth areas, why have bobbies on the beat?


That would make no difference. It is about an approach to policing that


has been incredibly successful over many years, which Labour introduced,


which is neighbourhood policing in the community is working hard with


communities to prevent crime. People like to see bobbies on the beat but


have you got any evidence that it leads to a reduction in crime?


Interestingly, the Lords Stevens commission that we set up, they have


reported this week and it has been the equivalent of a Royal


commission, looking at the number of people involved in it. Their strong


recommendation was that this is about preventing crime but also


respectful law and order, working with communities, and so they


strongly took the view with all of their expertise and the 30 different


universities that they have involved with it, that on the basis of all


that analysis, the right thing was to keep bobbies on the beat and not


push them cars. Instinctively you would think it was true. More


visible policing, less crime. But in all the criminology work, I cannot


find the evidence. There is competing work about why there has


been a 20 year drop in overall crime and everybody has different opinions


on why that has happened. The point about neighbourhood policing is that


it is broader than crime-fighting. It is about prevention and community


safety. Improving the well-being of communities as well. Will you keep


the elected Police Commissioners? Big sigh! What the report said was


that the system is flawed. We raised concern about this at the beginning.


You will remember at the elections, Theresa May's flagship policy, at


the elections they cost ?100 million and there was 15% turnout. You have


to have a system of accountability at the police. Three options were


presented, all of which are forms. So you have to have reform. It is


not whether to have reformed, it is which of those options is the best


way to do it. The commission set out a series of options, and I thought


that the preferable approach would be collaboration and voluntary


mergers. We know they won't volunteer. There have been some


collaboration is taking place. I think the issues with police and


crime commissioners have fragmented things and made it harder to get


collaboration between police forces. Everybody is asking this


question, just before you go. What is it like living with a nightmare?


Who does all the cooking, so I can't complain! Says Miliband people are


wrong, he is a dream cook? He is! In a speech this week, Boris Johnson


praised greed and envy as essential for economic progress, and that has


got tongues wagging. What is the Mayor of London up to? What is his


game plan? Does he even have a game plan and does he know if he has one?


Flash photography coming up. Boris. In many ways I can leave it there.


You'd know who I meant. And if you didn't, the unruly mop of blonde


hair would tell you, the language. Ping-pong was invented on the dining


tables of England. Somehow pulling off the ridiculous to the sublime.


It is going to go zoink off the scale! But often having to speed


away from the whiff-whaff of scandal. Boris, are you going to


save your manage? There's always been a question about


him and his as role as mayor and another prized position, as hinted


to the Tory faithful this year at conference, discussing former French


Prime Minister Alan Juppe. -- Alain Juppe. He told me he was going to be


the mayor of Bordeaux. I think he may have been mayor well he was


Prime Minister, it is the kind of thing they do in funds -- AvD in


France. It is a good idea, if you ask me. But is it a joke? He is much


more ambitious. Boris wants to be Prime Minister more than anything


else. Perhaps more than he wants to be made of London. The ball came


loose from the back of the scrum. Of course it would give great thing to


have a crack at, but it is not going to happen. He might be right. First,


the Conservatives have a leader another Old Etonian, Oxford,


Bullingdon chap and he has the job Boris might like a crack at. What do


you do with a problem like Boris? It is one of the great paradoxes of


Tory politics that for Boris Johnson to succeed, David Cameron must feel.


Boris needs David Cameron to lose so that he can stand a chance of


becoming loser. -- becoming leader. And disloyalty is punished by


Conservatives. Boris knows the man who brought down Margaret Thatcher.


Michael Heseltine, who Boris replaced as MP for Henley, never got


her job. In 1986, she took on the member for Henley, always a risky


venture. And why might he make such a jibe, because he's won two more


elections than the PM. Conservatives like a winner. Boris, against Robert


expectations, has won the Mayor of London job twice. -- public. He


might've built a following with the grassroots but he's on shakier


ground with many Tory MPs, who see him as a selfish clown, unfit for


high office. And besides, he's not the only one with king-sized


ambition, and Boris and George are not close, however much they may


profess unity. There is probably some Chinese expression for a


complete and perfect harmony. Ying and yang. But in plain black and


white, if Boris has a plan, it's one he can't instigate, and if David


Cameron is PM in 2016, it may not be implementable. He'd need a seat and


it wouldn't be plain sailing if he did make a leadership bid. My


leadership chances, I think I may have told you before, or about as


good as my chances of ying reincarnated as a baked bean. Which


is probably quite high. So if the job you want with Brown-esque desire


is potentially never to be yours what do you do? He is, of course, an


American citizen by birth. He was born in New York public hospital,


and so he is qualified to be President of the United States. And


you don't need an IQ over 16 to find that the tiniest bit scary.


Giles Dilnot reporting. Helen Lewis, Janan Ganesh and Sam Coates are


here. Is there a plan for Boris and if so, what is it? I think the plan


is for him to say what he thinks the Tory activist base wants to hear


just now. He knows that in 18 months time they can disown it. I think he


is wrong, the way the speech has played has a limited number of


people. He has cross-party appeal. He has now reconfirmed to people


that the Tories are the nasty party and they have been pretending to be


modernised. Is it not the truth that he needs David Cameron to lose the


2015 election to become leader in this decade? It is very interesting


watching his fortunes wax and wane. It always seems to happen in inverse


proportion to how well David Cameron is doing in front of his own party.


There is no small element of strategy about what we are doing


here. The problem with Boris is that he's popular with the country, but


hard-core supporters. This was an hard-core supporters. This was an


appeal to the grassroots this week. He is not the only potential


candidate. If we were in some kind candidate. If we were in some kind


of circumstance where Boris was a runner to replace Mr Cameron, who


with the other front the? I think it will skip a generation. The recent


intake was ideological assertive. I do not buy the idea that it will be


Jeremy Hunt against Michael Gove. I then, that generation will be


tainted by being in government. It is interesting, what is he trying to


pull? He is ideological. He does not believe in many things, but he


believes in a few things quite deeply, and one is the idea of


competition, both in business and academic selection. He has never


been squeamish about expressing that. We do make mistakes sometimes,


assuming he is entirely political. Look at all the Northern voters who


will not vote for the Tories even though they are socially or economic


will not vote for the Tories even the Conservatives. I do not think he


helps. Who in the Tories would help? That is a tough question. To


reason me has also been speaking to the hard right. -- Theresa May. I


have been out with him at night It is like dining with a film star


People are queueing up to speak to him. Educational selection is one of


the few areas that he can offer He has gone liberal on immigration as


are made of London would have to. Good morning. Coming up this week,


the schools Minister David Laws says attainment among poor people in


North East schools is unacceptable. We have an exclusive interview. With


me to discuss education issues are...


First, the loss of NPower jobs in Sunderland. With energy bills rising


and Labour promising a price freeze, the job losses come at a politically


sensitive time. James Wharton who represents four the `` Thornaby has


been warning politicians not to score points at this time. We have


seen a lot of politicians making quite cheap populist points to try


to win over easy votes about energy prices and electricity companies.


The reality is that full `` that will impact on jobs, share prices.


These are not easy issues to resolve.


Let's talk to our politicians here. James Wharton says you are playing


politics. It is ironic that the Prime Minister has decided to come


round to Labour point of view in asking the energy companies to


freeze bills. I do not think we can call it a cheap point any more.


People have high bills to pay, and they need as much help as they can


get. If we did not have privatised energy companies in the first place,


it would be easier to make the changes.


Labour is not going to scrap the privatisation of these businesses


however? That is right, but we have published a green paper that looks


at all of the different ways that we can fix the market during the 20


month period when bills would be frozen. I am going to stop you


there. Labour was right to point out these job losses in the north`east


say something about these companies. You cannot fix the energy


market. That is the real problem. If we are going to do something about


energy prices, we need to do something significant. I think the


best opportunity is something like fracking. Since fighting came into


the United States, energy prices have fallen by about 20%. That sort


of thing can make a real difference. Some people like the idea fracking,


some people it. I do not want to debate that. But these jobs and the


behaviour of the company, is the behaviour of NPower indicative of


their behaviour to customers as well? Ethic it says and points out


that in the north`east we are dependent on too small a of large


employers. Some in the private sector is, some public. `` I think


it says. But there are lots of new private sector jobs being created.


Automotive jobs, renewable jobs. The Conservatives are right that there


is a bit of jeopardy here. If you mess with the markets, you hit


companies like NPower. I do not think it is a fair claim to make. In


the run`up to 1997 when Labour were proposing to have a tax on the


profits of utility companies, the Tory government at that time said it


would be a disaster, the energy companies will respond badly, but


those things it did not happen. We were able to carry that out. It did


not have a negative effect. We do need a supply of good jobs in small


businesses in the North East. That is something I am passionate about.


But the position on quayside, we have seen closures of key


employers. `` Teesside. This week saw a prison in the North


East taken over by a private company.


In the Northumberland countryside, a landmark for over 40 years. Each MP


Northumberland. `` `` HMP Northumberland. Sodexho has


taken over the running of this prison. They want to cut jobs. They


are talking about the redundancy of front`line prison staff, prison


officers, principal officers, who will go away from the supervision of


prisoners on the ground. There could be a riot , anything. This woman has


lived near the prison for 12 years, she is worried about the future. How


will they were staff managed to control these prisoners? There could


be an escape. Sodexho did not want to be interviewed, but said...


If we can bring in new ideas, bring in benefits, that is fine, but that


must be on the basis that there are enough officers to ensure its


safety. Prison takeovers are something new


and there is a `` there is apprehension here.


Are people right to be worried? I do not think they need to be worried.


We are used to having public services provided by people in the


public sector. GPs, dentists, they are all private. As long as things


are controlled and regulated in the proper manner, this could deliver


better services for less and that sounds like something that is worth


looking at. If this saves money for the


taxpayer, is more efficient, it is good news? It is putting profit


ahead of public safety. It is all very well for Sodexho Justice saying


it will be safe and secure, but we have seen the new prison at oak`wood


receiving an appalling report the inspectorate.


The last Labour government ended up with private prisons. We have not


got off lenders roaming the streets. `` off `` offenders. Serco is under


investigation by the fraud squad for potential criminal activity. This is


the sort of thing we are dealing with.


Is this just about the dogma of privatisation? I do not think so.


The last Labour government pursued privatisation. There are lots of


examples where there are superb public services provided by public


servant `` private companies. Neither one nor the other is


dogmatically right. Public services provided by public employees is not


necessarily always the late thing either. `` always the right thing


either. The prison Governors Association have told me that


prisons in the public sector now are operating on a benchmarked system


now. Every year, schools and colleges in


our region seem to celebrate better results. But secondary schools in


our region are below average compared to similar schools and


other region. `` in other regions. Is it time for radical action?


These pupils in Durban speak French. Results here at this community


School are on the up. But in other parts of the North East and Cumbria,


it is a less positive picture. There are big issues for the North East,


we still have a long way to travel in terms of matching the performance


of other regions. This goes inspectorate, Ofsted,


shares those concerns. It says... As the North East and Cumbria aims


to improve education, one area they are looking at very closely is


London and schools like this one. Here in the capital, results are


gone from being among the worst in the country to among the best. Some


put that down to a scheme called London challenge. London challenge


is about school to school support and offering challenges to head


teachers. You could be directed to schools in London where the


expertise lay so you could improve your school's potential. It was very


ambitious, saying there is nothing we cannot do? Absolutely. Those lead


advisers questioned those headteachers and those schools have


improved. The London challenge ran for eight years and saw the biggest


improvement among pupils from hard up families. No teachers in the


North East are campaigning for a similar approach here. It is


important that they have coordination so that schools can


work together. The expertise is here already. You would like to see extra


money from the government to help with this? I think it will need


extra money if it is going to be effective. We do not need huge sums


of money. But we do need some additional funding if we are going


to buy that time that we need for people to work together effectively.


But with Ofsted demanding rapid improvement, that time to improve


may be in short supply. We spoke to the schools Minister


David Laws. It does worry me that some parts of the country have a


lower proportion of good and outstanding schools. We want all


parents to be able to access a good or outstanding school and where


there is a shortfall in this, we need to take action. Ofsted has gone


into Northumberland because it is so worried. If it finds the council is


at fault, would you take action? If we find that our local authority is


failing in its duties, we will take action. We would expect to make a


judgement about whether a particular authority is capable of improving,


whether it has a strong plan for improving. One wider concern is the


attainment, or lack of attainment, by three school meal pupils. `` free


school meals. The premium that we have Britain has only been for a few


years. `` that we have put in. We are expecting a massive improvement


in the performance of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In


many parts of the North East, attainment by disadvantaged young


people is just not good enough. It is unacceptable to us.


Who is to blame for that, is it the schools, the local authorities? We


understand why it is difficult for those schools. Often those


youngsters are not getting the right support in the home environment. But


the experience of London shows that even when youngsters playing into


the school environment fireman `` bring into the school environment a


lot of problems, the school can do a lot about that. Here in London, we


have had a revolution in the performance of disadvantaged


youngsters with many of them doing just as well as those from more


normal backgrounds. That is the type of improvement they expect to see


throughout the country. Michael Gove has talked about a culture of


defeatism, do you think that is the problem? I am not going to comment


on every school or part of the North East, because I know that there are


lots of schools with real aspiration and passion, but sometimes there can


be communities with a tradition of economic decline and households


where nobody has gone into higher education and sometimes teachers in


those areas tell me they have great difficulty in getting aspirations at


the right level. Parents and schools need to work together with the


government. There are good schools in the


north`east, but there appears be a problem, what is to blame? There are


good schools, but it is a problem. We have lots of unemployed young


people and yet we have skills shortages. Unless we do something


about it, we will find those jobs are taken by workers from abroad.


What can we do about it? We need a schools challenge in the North East,


that was recommended by the recent review. But without the money


available to London. There is enough money in the system. The sums of


money that are required are available. It has to be the very top


of the agenda and all of us have to be involved. This is needs to be


involved with local schools. Acting as mentors, guiding the curriculum,


giving apprenticeships. It is hard to avoid the conclusion


that our council 's shoulder the blame here? `` that our councils. It


is very rich of David Laws to point the finger. It is ironic that the


London challenge was set up by a Labour government. In the North


East, there are some areas that do not perform as well as other areas,


but on balance, we do better than our neighbours in Yorkshire and the


Humber. In your area of Stockton, 24% of pupils on free school


meals... It is not acceptable to point the finger at councils. David


Laws is talking about children arriving at school ill`prepared. Yet


we have seen cuts to sure start. Underinvestment in school supports


services. The educational maintenance allowance scrapped. The


connection service has been devastated. And 500 fewer teachers


in North East schools. None of those things are exclusive to the North


East. But it is worse here. What they should is where there is a


focus, there are solutions and improvements that can be put into


place. At the end of the day, we have to take local responsibility.


Local authorities who have that responsibility have to take the lead


for driving the North East schools challenge. That is what they must


do. There are some political issues but


will always arose passions. `` arouse.


Cumbria County Council is planning to cut all subsidies for buses.


Added 70 services are likely to disappear. `` aren't 70 services.


Does the Minister think it is right that a London`based company wants to


place two wind turbines bigger than the London eye in our region?


The issue of apprenticeships was debated. They have only been at work


for a year, but now a review commissioned by Labour says police


and crying commissioners should be abolished. `` Police and


and crying commissioners should be picked out. People thought


touching on eugenics and things like that. That is all we have time for.


Thank you. What rabbit has George Osborne got up his sleeve? And


what's David Cameron up to in China? All questions for The Week Ahead. To


help the panel led, we are joined by Kwasi Kwarteng, Tory MP. Welcome to


the Sunday Politics. Why has the government been unable to move the


agenda and to the broad economic recovery, and allowed the agenda to


stay on Labour's ground of energy prices and living standards? Energy


has been a big issue over the last few months but the autumn state and


will be a wonderful opportunity to readdress where we are fighting the


ground, the good economic news that we delivered. If you look at where


Labour were earlier this year, people were saying they would they 5


million people unemployed. They were saying that there should be a plan


B. He is not in the Labour Party? Elements of the left were suggesting


it. Peter Hain told me it would be up to 3 million people. Danny


Blanchflower said it would be 5 million people. So we have got to


get the economy back to the centre of the debate? Yes, the game we were


playing was about the economy. That was the central fighting ground of


the political debate. We were winning that battle. Labour have


cleverly shifted it onto the cost of living. It is essential that the


government, that George, talks about the economy. That has been its great


success. I do not think this has been a week of admitting that Labour


was right, plain cigarettes packaging, other issues. If you look


at the big picture, where we are with the economy, we have the


fastest growing economy in the G-7. Despite Labour's predictions, none


of this has happened, none of the triple dip has happened. The British


economy is on a good fitting. That is a good story for the government


to bat on. You say that people have stopped talking about the economic


recovery, but it is worse than that, people have stopped talking about


the deficit? As long as people were talking about the deficit, the


Tories were trusted. But people have forgotten about it. This country


still spends ?100 billion more than it raises. Yes, I am of the view


that the deficit, the national debt, is the biggest question facing


this generation of politicians. You are right to suggest that the


Conservative Party was strong on this. That head, not deficit, is not


going to come down in the foreseeable future? It is rising.


This is a test that George Osborne is not going to pass. We know what


is coming in the Autumn Statement, it is lots of giveaways, paying for


free school meals, paying for fuel duty subsidies. We are still talking


about the cost of living, not changing it actively wider economy.


There might be extra money for growth but it is not clear what will


happen to that. If it is time for giveaways, let's speak about Labour.


I have never been a fan of giveaways. Fiscal prudence is what


our watchword should be. Look at the headlines. Each time, the deficit


figures, the debt figures, were always worse than predicted. This


year it will be significantly better. I think that is significant.


Any kind of recovery is probably better than no recovery at all. When


you look at this recovery, it is basically a consumer spending boom.


Consumer spending is up, business investment is way down compared with


2008, and exports, despite a 20 devaluation, our flat. Let's get one


thing straight, it is a recovery. Any recovery is better than no


recovery. Now we can have a debate about, technical debate about the


elements of the recovery. It is not technical, it is a fact. There is


evidence that there is optimism in terms of what are thinking...


Optimism? If I am optimistic about the economy, I am more likely to


spend money and invest in business. So far you have not managed that?


Exports have not done well either? Exports are not a big section of the


British economy. But of course, they are important. But given where we


were at the end of last year, no economist was saying that we would


be in this robust position today. That is true, in terms of the


overall recovery. Now the PM loves to "bang the drum abroad for British


business" and he's off to China this evening with a plane-load of British


business leaders. And it's not the first time. Take a look at this


Well, you might not think exports unimportant, but clearly the Prime


Minister and the Chancellor do. They are important, but they are not what


is driving the growth at the moment. We used to talk about the need for


export led recovery is, that is why the Prime Minister is going to


China. Absolutely, and he's doing the right thing. Do we have any


evidence that these tend of trips produce business? The main example


so far is the right to trade the Chinese currency offshore. London


has a kind of global primacy. London will be the offshore centre. Is that


a good thing? I have no problem at all with this sort of policy. I do


not think that Britain has been doing this enough compared with


France and Germany in recent years. I am optimistic in the long term


about this dish -- about British exports to China. China need machine


tools and manufacturing products. In 20 years time, China will be buying


professional groups, educational services, the things we excel at.


All we need to do is consolidate our strengths, stand still and we will


move forward. The worst thing we can do is reengineer the economy towards


those services and away from something else. We have a lot of


ground to make up, Helen? At one stage, it is no longer true, but at


one stage you could say that we exported more to Ireland, a country


of 4 million people, than we did to Russia, China, India, Brazil, all


combined. I believe we form 1% of Chinese imports now. The problem is


what you have to give up in exchange for that. It is a big problem for


David Cameron's credibility that he has had to row back on his meeting


with the Dalai llama. This trip we have been in the deep freeze with


China for a couple of years. This trip has come at a high cost. We


have had to open up the City of London to Chinese banks without much


scrutiny, we have had to move the date of the Autumn Statement, and


there is no mention of human rights. It is awkward to deal with that all


in the name of getting up to where we were a few years ago. A month


after strong anchor -- one month after Sri Lanka, where he apologised


three human rights abuses, this is difficult to take. Do we have any


idea what the Prime Minister hopes to do in China this time? I am not


sure there is anything specific but when you go to these countries,


certainly in the Middle East China, they complain, why has the Prime


Minister not come to see us? That is very important. High-level


delegations from other countries go to these places because the addict


-- because they are important export markets. You might look at the Prime


Minister playing cricket over there, and wonder, what is that for? I do


not mind the Prime Minister Rajoy cricket. This is a high visibility


mission, chose that politicians in Britain care. You are part of the


free enterprise group. It had all sorts of things on it like tax cuts


for those on middle incomes or above the 40% bracket, tax cuts worth 16


billion. You will get none of that on Thursday, we are agreed? No. But


he does have two budgets between now and the election and if the fiscal


position is using a little bit, he may have more leeway than it looked


like a couple of months ago. Yes, from a free enter prise point of


view, we have looked at the tax cuts that should be looked at. The 4 p


rate comes in at quite a low level for people who, in the south-east,


do not feel particularly wealthy. They are spending a lot of money on


commuting, energy bills. The Chancellor has been very open about


championing this. He says that the 40p rate will kick in at a slightly


higher rate. Labour had a bad summer and the opinion polls seem to be


narrowing. Then they had a good hearty conference season. The best.


Has the Labour lead solidified or increased the little, maybe up to


eight points? If it is a good Autumn Statement, or the Tories start to


narrow that lead by the end of the year? If they go into 2014 trailing


by single digits, they cannot complain too much. That gives them


18 months to chip away at Labour's lead. But do they do that chipping


away by eight bidding Labour or do they let time take its course and


let the economic recovery continue, maybe business investment joins


consumer spending as a source of that recovery, and a year from now,


household disposable income begins to rise? That is a better hope than


engaging in a bidding war. Be assured, they will be highly


political budgets. That's all for today. The Daily Politics is on BBC


Two at midday all this week, except on Thursday when we'll start at


10:45 to bring you live coverage and analysis of the Chancellor's Autumn


Statement in a Daily Politics special for BBC Two and the BBC News


Channel. Remember if it's Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news, interviews and debate. With shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron.

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