09/02/2014 Sunday Politics North East and Cumbria


Andrew Neil and Richard Moss with the latest political news on the floods, plus an interview with shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.

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morning, folks, welcome to the Sunday Politics. Rising flood water,


a battered coastline, the winter Sunday Politics. Rising flood water,


storms forced the Government to take control. Is it hanging the


Environment Agency out to dry? Embarrassment for the Government is


the Immigration Minister resigns after he discovered he was


a cleaner with no right to work here a cleaner with no right to work here


for seven years. Ed Miliband a cleaner with no right to work here


promised an end to what he called the machine politics of union fixes


in the Labour Party, just doesn't feel right.


In London after two days of disruption in the capital the Mayor


Boris Johnson will be talking to ask about strife on the Underground All


of that and after a week of very public coalition spats can David


Cameron and Nick Clegg keep the coalition show on the road? Two


senior party figures will go head to head. And with me, Helen Lewis, Nick


Watt and Iain Martin who would not know they Somerset Levels from their


Norfolk Broads, but that will not stop them tweeting their thoughts.


We start with the strange Case of the Immigration Minister, his


cleaner and some lost documents Yesterday Mark Harper tendered his


resignation, telling the media he had discovered the cleaner who


worked for him for seven years did not have the right to work in the


UK. The Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he had done the


honourable thing. I was sad to see him go, he was a strong minister.


Had he been a member of the public he would not have done anything


wrong, but he set himself a very high standard and he felt that


standard and honourably stood down. This would seem like a good


resignation, maybe unlike the Baroness Scotland one years ago on a


similar issue, but have we been told the full story? We wait to see that.


Labour have picked up saying he is an honourable man, that the reason


why he resigned is these very owners checks that landlords and employers


will have to perform on employees over their documentation. The most


interesting line is that, we do not require them to be experts or spot


anything other than an obvious forgery. The suggestion that there


is the document he was presented with originality, which he lost was


on home office paper and was perhaps not entirely accurate. That is the


embarrassment. He is the minister putting through a bill that will


demand tougher checks on people and he himself did not do enough checks


to discover she was illegal. There is an odd bit where he involves the


home office later to check her out as well. He writes a resignation


letter and he has to hold himself to pay higher standard. He has done the


David Laws approach to this, resign quickly and he can come back. David


Cameron wants him to return swiftly to the frontbenchers. He is a state


school educated lad. He is the kind of Tory that the Tories are in short


supply of. He is a rising star. I would caution on this idea that it


is customary that whenever anyone resigns, it is always thought they


will come straight back into office. If only the outside world worked


like that. It is not, in a company if the HR person resigns, he is such


a great chap he will be back next week. There is a silver lining for


David Cameron is he has been able to move Harriet Bond up as he moves


everyone up. But nobody will see her in the whips office because she is


not allowed to appear on television. And if you three want to resign Do


not hate you are coming back next week. But we will do it with honour.


It has been a hellish week for residents of coastal areas with more


storms bringing more flooding and after Prince Charles visited the


Somerset Levels on Tuesday the Government has been keen to show it


has got a grip on the situation at last.


For last weekend's Sunday Politics I made the watery journey to the


village of Muchelney, cut off for a whole month. Now everyone has been


dropping in. First it was Prince Charles on a park bench pulled by a


tractor. He waded into the row about how the floods have been handled.


Next it was the chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, who


faced angry residents. Sought the river is out. That is precisely what


we are going to do. Where he faced, a resident, he did not need that


many. David Cameron went for a look as well and gave the region what it


wanted, more pumps, more money and in the long-term the return of


dredging. There are lessons to learn. The pause in bridging that


took place from the late 1990s was wrong and we need to get dredging


again. When the water levels come down and it is safe to dredge, we


will dredging to make sure these rivers and stitches can carry a


better capacity. The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has not been


seen again because he is recovering from emergency eye surgery. In the


meantime the floodwaters rose ever higher. Some residents were told to


evacuate. In Devon the railway was washed away by the waves leaving a


big gap in the network. Look at the weather this weekend. If you can


believe it, the storms keep rolling in. What is the long-term solution


for flood prone areas of the country? I am joined from Oxford by


the editor of The Ecologist magazine, Oliver Tickell, and by


local MP Tessa Munt. Tessa, let me come to you first. What do you now


want the Government to do? I want it to make sure it does exactly as it


promises and delivers what every farmer and landowner around here


knows should have been done for years. First, to solve the problems


we have right now, but to make sure there is money in the bank for us to


carry on doing the maintenance that is necessary. Was it a mistake not


to do the dredging? When the waters start to subside does dredging


become a key part of this? Yes, of course. It is something the farmers


have been asking for four years When you wander along a footpath by


a river and you see trees growing and there is 60% of the capacity


only because there is silt, it needs to have a pretty dramatic action


right now and then we need to make sure the maintenance is ongoing


Oliver Tickell, was it a mistake to stop the dredging? If the dredging


had happened, the land would not be covered in water for so long?


Clearly it is necessary to do at least some dredging on these rivers


and in particular because these rivers are well above ground level.


They are carrying water that comes down off the hills well above the


level of the flood plain on the Somerset Levels. They naturally tend


to silt up. But the key thing is that is only a small part of the


overall solution. What we need is a catchment wide approach to improve


infiltration upstream and you also need to manage the flood plain on


the levels and upstream so as to have active flood plain that can


store water. This idea it is just about dredging is erroneous.


Dredging is a part of it, but it is a catchment wide solution. Dredging


is only a small part of the solution he says. Yes, of course it is. But


look here. With the farmer is locally, the landowners, they know


this land will carry water for a few weeks of the year, that is not a


problem. But this water has to be taken away and there is a very good


system of drainage and it works perfectly well. In my area there are


serious problems because the dredging has not taken place. There


are lunatic regulations around were when they do do some of dredging,


the Environment Agency is asked to take it away because it is


considered toxic waste. This is barmy. We need to take the stuff out


of the rivers and build the banks up so we create protection in the


future. We have to make sure the dredging is done but make sure the


drainage works well and we have pumps in places and we have


floodgates put onto the rivers. We need to make sure repairs are done


more quickly. All right, let me go back to Oliver Tickell. Is it not


the case a lot of people on your side of the argument would like to


see lands like the Somerset Levels return to natural habitat? Looe I


would like a degree of that, but that does not mean the whole place


needs to turn into wilderness so it will remain agricultural landscape.


Everybody, all the interested parties who signed up to a document


called vision 2034 the Somerset Levels envisages most of the area of


the Somerset Levels being turned over to extensive grassland and that


is what it is best suited for. Let me put that to Tessa Munt. Have you


signed up to this where you will end up with extensive grassland? I have


seen it, but grass does not grow if water is sitting on this land for


weeks and weeks. What you have to remember is a lot of the levels are


managed very carefully and they are conservation land and that means


cattle are allowed to go out at certain times of the year and in


certain numbers. It is well managed. Do you accept it should return to


grassland? Grassland, fine, but you cannot call land grassland in the


flipping water is on it so long that nothing grows. It is no good at


doing that. You have got to make sure it is managed properly.


Drainage has been taking place on this land for centuries. It is the


case the system is there, but it needs to be maintained properly and


we have to have fewer ridiculous regulations that stop action. Last


year the flooding minister agreed dredging should take place and


everything stopped. Now we have got the promise from the Prime Minister


and I thank Prince Charles for that. Is it not time to let the local


people run their land rather than being told what to do by the


Environment Agency, central Government and the European Union?


The internal drainage boards have considerable power in all of this.


They wanted to dredge and they were not allowed to. The farmers want to


dredge that is what is going to happen, but they have signed up to a


comprehensive vision of catchment management and of environmental


improvement turning the Somerset Levels into a world-class haven for


wildlife. It is not much good if your house is underwater. The


farmers themselves, the RSPB, the drainage boards, they have all


signed up to this. The real question now is how do we implement that


vision? You give the money to the drainage boards. At the moment they


pay 27% of their money and have been doing so for years and years and


this is farmers' money and it has been going to the drainage boards


and they pay the Environment Agency who are meant to be dredging and


that has not happened. We have to leave it there. We have run out of


time. Last week saw the Labour Party


adopts an historic change with its relationship with the unions.


Changes to the rules that propelled Ed Miliband to the top. Ed Miliband


was elected Labour leader in 20 0 by the electoral college system which


gives unions, party members and MPs one third of votes each. This would


be changed into a simpler one member, one vote system. A union


member would have to become an affiliated member of the party. They


would have to opt in and pay ?3 a year. But the unions would have 50%


of the vote at the conference and around one third of the seats on the


National executive committee. The proposals are a financial gamble as


well. It is estimated the party could face a drop in funding of up


to ?5 million a year when the changes are fully implemented in


five years. The leader of the Unite trade union has welcomed the report


saying it is music to his ears. The package will be voted on at a


special one of conference in March. And the Shadow Business Secretary


Chuka Umunna joins me now for the Sunday Interview. Welcome back. In


what way will the unions have less power and influence in the Labour


Party? This is about ensuring individual trade union members have


a direct relationship with the Labour Party. At the moment the


monies that come to us are decided at a top level, the general


secretaries determine this, whether the individual members want us to be


in receipt of those monies or not so we are going to change that so that


affiliation fees follow the consent of individual members. Secondly we


want to make sure the individual trade union members, people who


teach our children, power via - fantastic British businesses, we


want them to make an active choice, and we are also recognising that in


this day and age not everybody wants to become a member of a political


party. We haven't got much time The unions still have 50% of the vote at


Labour conferences, there will be the single most important vote, more


member -- union members will vote than nonunion members, their power


has not diminished at all, has it? In relation to the other parts of


the group of people who will be voting in a future leadership


contest, we are seeking to move towards more of a one member, one


vote process. At the moment we have the absurd situation where I, as a


member of Parliament, my vote will count for 1000. MPs are losing. .


They still have a lot of power. I am a member of the GMB union and the


Unite union, also a member of the Fabians as well so I get free votes


on top of my vote as a member of Parliament. We are moving to a


system where I will have one vote and that is an important part of


this. You asked how many people would be casting their votes. The


old system, up to 2.8 million ballot papers were sent out with prepaid


envelopes for people to return their papers were sent out with prepaid


turnout. The idea that you are going to see a big change... Even if


your individual party members. In one vital way, your purse strings,


your individual party members. In the unions will be more powerful


than ever because at the moment they have to hand over 8 million to


than ever because at the moment they fraction of that now. They will get


to keep that money, but then come the election you go to them and give


them a lot of money -- and they will have you then. They won't have us,


as you put it! The idea that individual trade union members don't


have their own view, their own voice, and just do what their


general secretaries do is absurd. They will make their own decision,


and we want them to make that and not have their leadership decide


that for them. Let me go to the money. The Labour Party manifesto


will be reflecting the interests of Britain, and the idea that somehow


people can say we are not going to give you this money unless you do


this or that, we will give you a policy agenda which is appropriate


for the British people, regardless of what implications that may have


financially. They will have more seats than anybody else in the NEC


and they will hold the purse strings. They will be the


determining factor. They won't be. Unite is advocating a 70% rate of


income tax, there is no way we will have that in our manifesto. Unite is


advocating taking back contracts and no compensation basis, we would not


-- there is no way we would do that. How many chief executives of the


FTSE 100 are backing Labour? We have lots of chief executives backing


Labour. I don't know the exact number. Ed Miliband has just placed


an important business person in the House of Lords, the former chief


executive of the ITV, Bill Grimsey. How many? You can only name one


Bill Grimsey, there is also John Mills. Anyone who is currently


chairman of the chief executive With the greatest respect, you are


talking about less than half the percent of business leaders in our


country, we have almost 5 million businesses, not all FTSE 100


businesses, not all listed, and we are trying to get people from across


the country of all different shapes and sizes. Let's widen it to the


FTSE 250. That is 250 out of 5 million companies. The largest ones,


they make the profits and provide the jobs. Two thirds of private


sector jobs in this country come from small and medium-sized


businesses, and small and medium-sized businesses are an


important part of a large companies supply chains. So you cannot name a


single chairman from the FTSE 2 0, correct? I don't know all the


chairman. Are you going to fight the next election without a single boss


of a FTSE 250 company? I have named some important business people, but


the most important thing is that we are not coming out with a manifesto


for particular interests, but for broader interest. Let me show you,


Digby Jones says Labour's policy is, "if it creates wealth, let's kick


it" . Another quote, that it borders on predatory taxation. They think


you are anti-business. I don't agree with them. One of the interesting


things about Sir Stuart's comments on the predatory taxation and I


think he was referring to the 5 p rate of tax is that he made some


comments arguing against the reduction of the top rate of tax


from 50p. He is saying something different now. Digby of course has


his own opinions, he has never been a member of the Labour Party. Let me


come onto this business of the top rate of tax, do you accept or don't


you that there is a point when higher rates of income tax become


counter-productive? Ultimately you want to have the lowest tax rates


possible. Do you accept there is a certain level you actually get less


money? I think ultimately there is a level beyond you could go which


would be counter-productive, for example the 75% rate of tax I


mentioned earlier, being advocated by Unite in France. Most French


higher earners will pay less tax than under your plans. I beg your


pardon, with the 50p? Under your proposals, people here will pay more


tax than French higher earners. If you are asking if in terms of the


level, you asked the question and I answered it, do I think if you reach


a level beyond which the tax burden becomes counter-productive, can I


give you a number what that would be, I cannot but let me explain -


the reason we have sought to increase its two 50p is that we can


get in revenue to reduce the deficit. In an ideal world you


wouldn't need a 50p rate of tax which is why during our time in


office we didn't have one, because we didn't have those issues. Sure,


though you cannot tell me how much the 50p will raise. In the three


years of operation we think it raised ?10 billion. You think. That


was based on extrapolation from the British library. It is at least


possible I would suggest, for the sake of argument, that when you


promise to take over half people's income, which is what you will do if


you get your way, the richest 1 currently account for 70 5% of all


tax revenues. -- 75%. Is it not a danger that if you take more out of


them, they will just go? I don't think so, we are talking about the


top 1% here. If you look at the directors of sub 5 million turnover


companies, the average managing director of that gets around


?87,000. Let me narrow it down to something else. Let's take the .1%


of top taxpayers, down to fewer than 30,000 people. They account for over


14% of all of the income tax revenues. Only 29,000 people. If


they go because you are going to take over half their income, you


have lost a huge chunk of your tax base. They could easily go, at


tipping point they could go. What we are advocating here is not


controversial. Those with the broadest shoulders, it is not


unreasonable to ask them to share the heavier burden. Can you name one


other major economy that subscribes to this? Across Europe, for example


in Sweden they have higher tax rates than us. Can you name one major


economy? I couldn't pluck one out of the air, I can see where you are


coming from, I don't agree with it. I think most people subscribe to the


fact that those with wider shoulders should carry the heavy a burden We


have run out of time but thank you for being here.


Over the past week it seems that Nick Clegg has activated a new Lib


Dem strategy - 'Get Gove'. After a very public spat over who should


head up the schools inspection service Ofsted, Lib Dem sources have


continued to needle away at the Education Secretary. And other


senior Lib Dems have also taken aim at their coalition partners. Here's


Giles Dilnot. It's unlikely the polite welcome of these school


children to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and his party colleague


schools minister David Laws would be so forthcoming right now from the


man in charge of schools Conservative Michael Gove. Mr Laws


is said to have been furious with The Education secretary over the


decision to remove Sally Morgan as chair of Ofsted. But those who know


the inner working of the Lib Dems say that's just understandable. When


you have the department not being consulted, it would be possible for


him to not publicly comment. The remarkable thing would be if he


hadn't said anything at all. We should be careful to understand this


is not always part of a preplanned decision. There is a growing sense


that inside Number Ten this is a concerted Lib Dem strategy, we also


understand there is no love lost between Nick Clegg and Michael Gove


to say the least, and a growing frustration that if the Lib Dems


think such so-called yellow and blue attacks can help them with the


election, they can also damage the long-term prospects of the Coalition


post 2015. One spat does not a divorce make but perhaps even more


significant has been Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander s


recent newspaper interview firmly spiking any room for George Osborne


to manoeuvre on lowering the highest income tax rate to 40p. All this


builds on the inclusion in Government at the reshuffle of


people like Norman Baker at the Home Office and Simon Hughes at Justice


people who are happier to publically express doubt on Conservative


policy, unlike say Jeremy Browne who was removed and who has made plain


his views on Coalition. It is difficult for us to demonstrate that


we are more socialist than an Ed Miliband Labour led party. Even if


we did wish to demonstrate it, doing it in coalition with the


Conservatives would be harder still. Nonetheless a differentiation


strategy was always likely as 2 15 approached, so is there evidence it


works? Or of the work we publish shows the Lib Dems have a huge


problem in terms of their distinctiveness, so attacking their


coalition partners or the Labour Party is helpful in showing what


they are against, but there are bigger problem is showing what they


are for. And one Conservative MP with access to Number Ten as part of


the PM's policy board says yellow on blue attacks are misplaced and


irresponsible. At this stage when all the hard work is being done and


the country is back on its feet the Lib Dems are choosing the time to


step away from the coalition. That is your position, but do you suspect


coming up to the next election we will see more of this? I think the


Lib Dems are about as hard to pin down as a weasel in Vaseline. And


with the public's view of politicians right now, and wants to


be seen as slicker than a well oiled weasel? And we have Lib Dem peer


Matthew Oakeshott and senior Conservative backbencher Bernard


Jenkin. Matthew, the Lib Dems are now picking fights with the Tories


on a range of issues, some of them trivial. Is this a Pirelli used to


Lib Dem withdrawal from the coalition? I do not know, I am not


privy to Nick Clegg's in strategy. Some of us have been independent for


some time. I resigned over treatment of the banks. That is now being


sorted out. But what is significant is we have seen a string of attacks,


almost an enemy within strategy When you have Nick Clegg, David Laws


and Danny Alexander, the three key people closest to the Conservatives,


when you see all of them attacking, and this morning Nick Clegg has had


a go at the Conservatives over drug policy. There is a string of


policies where something is going on. It is difficult to do an enemy


within strategy. I believe as many Lib Dems do that we should withdraw


from the coalition six months to one year before the election so we can


put our positive policies across rather than having this tricky


strategy of trying to do it from within. Why does David Cameron need


the Lib Dems? He probably does not. The country generally favoured the


coalition to start with. Voters like to see politicians are working


together and far more of that goes on in Westminster then we see. Most


of my committee reports are unanimous reports from all parties.


Why does he need them? I do not think he does. You would be happy to


see the Lib Dems go? I would always be happy to see a single minority


Government because it would be easier for legislation. The


legislation you could not get through would not get through


whether we were in coalition or not. The 40p tax rate, there


probably is not a majority in the House of Commons at the moment,


despite what Nick Clegg originally said. It does not make much


difference. What makes a difference from the perspective of the


committee I chair is historically we have had single party Government


that have collective responsibility and clarity. The reason that is


important is because nothing gets done if everybody is at sixes and


sevens in the Government. Everything stops, there is paralysis as the row


goes on. Civil servants do not know who they are working for. If it


carries on getting fractures, there is a bigger argument to get out If


it continues at this level of intensity of the enemy within


strategy as you have described it, can the coalition survived another


16 months of this? It is also a question should they. I never


thought I would say this, I agree with Bernard. Interestingly earlier


Chuka Umunna missed the point talking about business support.


Business is worried about this anti-European rhetoric and that is a


deep split between the Liberal Democrats and the UKIP wing of the


Tory party. That is really damaging and that is something we need to


make our own case separately on Do you get fed up when you hear


constant Lib Dem attacks on you What makes me fed up is my own party


cannot respond in kind because we are in coalition. I would love to


have this much more open debate I would like to see my own party


leader, for example as he did in the House of Commons, it was the Liberal


Democrats who blocked the referendum on the house of lords and if we want


to get this bill through it should be a Government bill. We know we can


get it through the Commons, but we need to get the Liberals out of the


Government so they stop blocking the Government putting forward a


referendum bill. And put millions of jobs at risk? I am not going down


the European road today. It strikes me that given that the attacks from


the Lib Dems are now coming from the left attacking the Tories, is this a


representative of the failure of Nick Clegg's strategy to rebuild a


centrist Liberal party and he now accepts the only way he can save as


many seats as he can do is to get the disillusioned left Lib Dem


voters to come back to the fold The site is we have lost over half our


vote at the last election and at the moment there is no sign in the polls


of it coming back and we are getting very close to the next election I


welcome it if Nick Clegg is starting very close to the next election I


to address that problem, but talking about the centre is not the answer.


Most Liberal Democrat voters at the last election are radical,


progressive people who want to see a much fairer Britain and a much less


divided society and we must make sure we maximise our vote from


there. We know what both of you want, but what do you think will


happen? Do you think this coalition will survive all the way to the


election or will it break up beforehand? I think it will break up


beforehand. Our long-term economic plan is working. The further changes


in policies we want to implement to sustain that plan are being held


back by the Liberal Democrats. When sustain that plan are being held


will they break up? It has lasted longer than I thought it would, but


it must break up at least six months before the election. Do you think it


will survive or not? The coalition before the election. Do you think it


has delivered a great deal in many ways, but it is running out of


steam. It depends what happens in the May elections. If the Liberal


steam. It depends what happens in Democrats do not do better than we


have done in the last three, there will be very strong pressure from


the inside. You both agree. Television history has been made.


Politics. Coming up: I will be Politics. Coming up: I will be


Hello and a warm welcome to you on our local part of the show. This


week a look at the attempts to improve standards in the north on


our schools. Will it satisfy Michael Gove. We have with us John


Stevenson. And coming ing coming ing , 40,000 people have had benefits


cut as they have a spare room, but where are the smaller properties for


them to move into? Let's talk about a weighty issue, the north`east is


officially the fattest region in England. We are nearly seven out of


10 people overweight. Cumbria, is apparently the fattest counties.


John, do you think that the county is the fattest in the country? I am


surprised by the statistics. I have no idea if they are accurate, but


there is an obesity issue in the country, it must be looked at and we


have to change people's lifestyles. That is the key issue, to improve


people's health. Snrp can the Government do? It is complex. It is


lifestyle, what we eat, parents, children, schools, Government has a


role to play but there is personal responsibility coming into play.


Nick Brown, this has not appeared this is down to choice. There is a


limited amount that the Government can do? Public information and under


standing is important. It is about things that are well understood like


diet, drink, alcohol and exercise. We all have our responsibility, a


personal responsibility and just to have that explained to us and then


to focus on it, that is the right thing to do.


Thank you very much. My body, of course, as you can tell


is a temple! Now a new plan to raise standards in the region's


underperforming schools at the end of 2013, 232 schools judged


inadequate or acquiring improvement. Northumberland has been critised by


off sed, Cumbria is awaiting a verdict on an inspection there.


There is a former head who wants to set up his own chain offed academies


in Cumbria. This community college in Penrith.


Like the dance students, increasingly sure`footed. A rise in


results has seen a surge at the tables and attracted the attention


of Chris Wood head. 20 years on, I find myself in this Community


College, Ullswater and on a Sunday night, a phone call from Sir


Christopher woodhead, asking if we would be interested in developing a


plan to support schools in difficulties.


While this school is improving, Cumbria has a number of struggling


schools. Three put into special measures since Christmas and more


criticism is likely when a Ofsted inspection is published school. So


Chris Woodhead sold us `` told us why he wants to help.


I love Cumbria. Coming here for 50 years, climbing the rocks and


walking the months. I know the people here. It is a place that I


have a personal affection for. It is a place that it seems from the


Ofsted reports, that there are some problems. If I can find ways to help


improve education in Cumbria, that is what I want to do.


This week, Ullswater governors agreed to work with Sir Chris.


Spreading good work like this into struggling schools.


We will work with the school, with the support and the expertise of Sir


Chris, who can bring all kinds of ideas and contacts to the table in


looking for improvements to the school. We have been approached by a


number of schools in the Eden Valley, interested in being


voluntary partners, but there will be other schools, to come, where our


role is to support them in their improvement.


Perhaps not everyone will be as enthusiastic as Ullswater as Sir


Chris, he has had detractors but with the picture being painted of


the bleak situation of schools in Cumbria, improvements are needed.


There is a model that helped to raise standards in London schools,


this is a model that could be used. There has been a bid discussed for


?30 million to get this under way. We have a high level of


unemployment. We have the lowest level of skill, I believe that the


people, given the opportunity, can attain the skills. If we want to


change the position of the north`east economically, this is


critical. We have got to start now. It is a long`term thing. We will not


see the benefit immediately but if we don't start somewhere, we will


never achieve. It is a huge opportunity for the next generation.


What is the best way to improve the standards? Are the academies the


solution. With me is Vince k Allen. How do you feel about Sir Chris


Woodhead running a chain of academies in Cumbria? I regard its


as something of an irrelevence. We have looked at the Ofsted data from


2012. We have seen that the picture of achievement from the north`east,


to North Yorkshire to Cumbria is of improvement on the previous yearment


the picture of there being a wide`scale failure on the part of


schools is not something borne out of what Ofsted is saying. It causes


concerns. What we see is what appears to be a Government practise.


Targeting North Yorkshire, targeting Durham, targeting Northumberland,


and now Cumbria. What they have in common is a lack of academies it is


hard to see that the criticism that ises about made is borne by the


information that the Ofsted produces.


The inspectors were to say to Michael Gove that they are following


an agenda than looking at the standards in schools? Looking at the


data that Ofsted produced itself, based on the inspections on the


schools, that is not the picture presented here, no.


So there is no problem? There is always room to improve. One of the


reasons that teachers come to the professionals is for the zeal to


want to improve. Give the teachers an opportunity to develop their


practise, improve what goes on in their schools and those around them,


they will jump on that opportunity. What will not help is strike action.


That is planned for next month? That is right. There is strike action set


for the end of March. People will say that is one of the problems


here. Teachers are obsessed with their problems, rather than thinking


of the young? Teachers are interested in their problem, of


course. They are far more interested in the problems of young people.


They are not coming to ing it gives a huge income, but the issue with


the strike action is that we wanted to negotiate with the Secretary of


State for Some time, we did set a date for a strike in November. We


pulled back from that when the Secretary of State said that there


would be talks. The talks did not occur. We set a date in February. We


held back. We are waiting for the discussions still to occur.


Thank you very much. John Stevenson, two academies in


Carlisle, in special measures, are they the solution? We have to be


careful. There are successful and good performing schools in Cumbria.


We have to acknowledge that a lot of students are receiving a good


education. I support the academies programme, continuing from the last


Labour Government policies. I think that they do work. We unfortunately


have two failing academies but they are taken under the wing of a larger


organisation. That is where you can improve the standards. You replicate


the standards and ideas from other schools and bring them in to improve


the school. What about Vince Allen's thought,


that Cumbria is being picked on as there are not enough academies here,


that is the reason for the drive, not the standards? I disagree. We


want to improve education levels. We want to see secondary sools improve,


I think that the academies there is greater freedom to schools and to


the heads, that helps driving up the standards.


Is this a Labour legacies `` legacy? And a lot of these authorities are


run by Labour councillors? What we do not disagree on is the need to


drive up standards. The debate is how best to do it. There are


well`performing schools. I can think of those in my constituency, that


are wholly in the public sector but standards are being driven up. So,


obviously, Labour introduced a lot of academies, do you see a hidden


agenda here? Or is is it just about the standards? I am not sure from


the film what is proposed for Cumbria. I don't know enough about


the education system in Cumbria to comment.


The local education authorities have had their chance in places like


Cumbria, Ofsted are suggesting that standards are not high enough, why


not let someone like Sir Chris Wood Head run a chain of academies to


chair the prak sis? But what evidence does that make things


better? I am suspicious of that. I think it could be better to identify


the problems in the schools and apply the resources to dealing with


the problems, rather than hand it willing over to somebody else that


says he has a solution `` handing it over to somebody else.


And the ?30 million is not for Cumbria.


For the north`east. Yes, for the north`east.


I would welcome anything that got more money into the education system


in the north`east. John Stevenson, it is the Government


putting its money where its mouth is, if it is serious about the


standards it should be putting in the money? We do put in money. The


school's money is ring`fenced. If there is concern about standards,


more can be done. A lot of money was put into the London schools, what


about Cumbria and the north`east? It is not all about money it is about


best practise. That why change of academies can be good, it can take


the schools performing well and transport the skills to those


failing it is not always about the money but about raising the


standards. It is about supporting the teachers and the professional


leadership in the schools. I am not convinced that the current


Government are doing that. Money goes to favoured projects. It is


taking away from everybody else. We have to leave it there.


Now since Housing Benefit changes were introduced in April, some


40,000 families have had money cut as they are judged to have a spare


room, but some have been able to move families into a larger


properties that has become Saudi Arabiaing bt, but the policy has run


into a problem, there is a shortage of one`bedroom properties. For Jean,


this two bedroom flat has been her home for more than 20 years, but now


it is seen as too big for her needs. Despite being out of work, she has


faced an ?11 a week cut in her benefit.


I think that the bedroom tax is unnecessarily cruel in some cases.


I have found myself not being in a position to put food on my table as


easy `` easily as I could. By accessing a local food bank,


occasionally, I have been given a bag with teabags in, bread, sugar,


coffee, etc, and the blafks `` bafshgs. That enables me to be able


to breathe a little more easily. You are living in a two bedroom flat.


You are encouraged to move to a one bedroom. Have you looked into it? I


did make an attempt to try to get a one bedroom property, but I was


refused. A sanction on the vulnerable, or a


chance for a fresh start? For Stacey it has been the latter. Part of a


home swap scheme, in which tennants with spare rooms downsized and


others upsized. In her case to a house with a garden.


I understand the frustration for people having to move. They are


leaving a house that they are lived in for a number of years but I do


appreciate it for myself and growing families that need the space and


would have had to wait a longer period of time before they


benefitted. Ministers say that the taxpayer


cannot subsidise spare bedrooms, but in areas of the north`east, there is


a problem. Not enough one bedroom how home but a surplus of two and


three bedroom properties. A situation, some claim, is being made


worse by the Government. This is one of the number of council


flats vacated by the tennants. In this area, 11 tower blocks, a


year ago we had eight voids, at the moment that is 77 voids. That is not


down to those who cannot pay the bedroom tax but it is a part of the


picture. We may have to demolish housing, redesignate some flats.


So turn a two bedroom flat to a one bedroom? Yes. Change it around. That


reduces the rent. Social housing providers in


Gateshead, Northumberland and Teesside report a rise in larger


homes falling empty, but they complain of a shortage of smaller


properties. Teesside based Coast and Country say it is has 2,000 tennants


needing homes. Some face a wait of more than 30 years.


As a result of the benefit changes, Housing Associations are seeing


increase in arrears. Up to 50 %, so they cannot build new one bedrooms.


Supporters say that action was necessary.


I do think it is right that we recognise that 250,000 people


Nashally are living in overcrowded accommodation and 400,000 people are


living in accommodation that is greater than the needs. We have to


find some solution to that problem. Bedroom tax or spare room subsidy?


Even the name is contention. Ten months on from its introduction,


opinions on the outcome are just as divided.


John Stevenson, whatever the rights and the wrongs of the change, it


will be effective in terms of the waiting list if there are not enough


one bedroom homes. 30 years of waiting is ludicrous? This is an


interesting point about housing Nashally. We are centralised, we


make a policy beneficial for one part of the country. This is


something that the government could look at where there is an


overarching policy. So you are saying that the benefit


change was wrong for a region like ours? No. I think that there are


different circumstances for different parts of the country.


But this has been applied across the country? Yes it has. And you can


look at changing the tax rate as to London having separate issues to


other parts of the country. In Carlisle, I have spoken with the


Housing Association there, they don't have an issue with the number


of one bedroom properties available. There are beneficiaries here, what


the Government talked about is happening. People moving into larger


homes that have been waiting for them. You found one, how many


others? There were others that did not wish to appear on cameras. As


few as that. I cannot give the numbers. There are


some 7,000 people disadvantaged by the policy. Half of them living in


the east of Newcastle. The overwhelming majority are those


people in what is currently classed as two bedroom accommodation. They


are only eligible for a single room now. How do they get into that? The


truth of the matter is that when the mrgs were constructed, a generation


ago, the average household size was 1. 9. Therefore it was logical for


the local authorities, when they could build houses, to build the


overwhelming of them as two bedrooms. That is what the local


authority had to let to people. The assumption at the time was that


people were renting. That is history. But it is


interesting. It sets the terms for the tennants now.


But tennants of the private sector do not have the spare room subsidy.


So it was tackling a degree of unfairness? But social housing is


social housing. It is there to make... Those in the private housing


do not have more money... It costs more to rent a one bedroom flat in


gentlemens Monday than it does to rent a two bedroom flat in more


come. The Housing Benefit covers the one bedroom, if you are eligible in


full but there is a claw back on the two bedroom... It is economic


nonsense. This is madness when councils are


reclassifying two bedroom flats as one bedroom? It shows it is a policy


that should have been allowed to bed in when the houses wag provided? It


has been brought in for two reasons. One we have to have saving.


Given what happened under the last administration in terms of the


economics. And there are a quarter of a million people in overcrowded


accommodation. We have to look after their needs as much as those where


they are in a `` accommodation with a spare room.


Now, I guess you like me did not win millions on the lottery.


But more than half of all north`east households do play the lottery each


week. MPs think that the region does not get a fair share of the money


raised. Here is that and the rest of the week's news in 60 seconds.


The north`east deserves a larger share of funding for arts and


culture, according to MPs. The capital gets ?69 per head, compared


to just ?4. 50 in the rest of England. Almost half of all lottery


grants go to London. The Prime Minister has been urged to ensure


that the counties employers has the resources to investigate victims of


potential abuse. Will the Prime Minister commit that


if it proves necessary, his secretary will meet with the PCC,


the Chief Constable and myself, to ensure that the team has the


resources it needs to see the investigation to its conclusion. The


victims deserve no less. Yoshg City Council facing budget


cuts. It 40 posts to be `` 2 who `` 240 posts to be lost too.


And Barbie toys could be not helping education for young children.


So, arts funding. It is netable, that there is this


imbalance in funding? That is true up to a point.


The 40`1 ratio, that the report has put in front of the world seems too


much. The ?69 for London per head. The funding comes from four separate


sources. The private sector, the department's main budget, the Arts


Council's budget and the National Lottery money stered the arts ``


administered through the Arts Council. On the last budget, I


agreed with the recommendation on the report there should be a


ring`fenced amount for the regional arts. That is a modest


recommendation, I think it is a good one.


John, Carlisle has not got a theatre. What events have been cut


this year? Is it time for change? We have Tulley House. That the Labour


council decided to cut their budget. That is a problem for Tulley House,


but I have sympathy. We accept that London is going to get the main


resources. It attracts tourists and all of that, but still, I think that


we in the region do get our fair contribution.


Thank you very much. That is all we have time for. We are back at the


same time, the same place next Sunday. In the meantime keep


up`to`date with all of the Sunday. In the meantime keep


Londoners who otherwise may not have a voice. Both of you, thank you so


much. Andrew, it is back to you Can David Cameron get a grip on the


floods? Can UKIP push the Conservatives into third place in


the Wythenshawe by-election on Thursday? Is the speaker in the


House of Commons in danger of overheating? All questions over the


weekend. Let's look at the politics of the flooding. Let me show you a


clip from Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, earlier on


the BBC this morning. We perhaps relied too much on the Environment


Agency's advice. I apologise. I apologise unreservedly and I am


really sorry we took the advice of what we thought we were doing was


the best. The Environment Agency is being hung out to dry by the


Government and the Government has taken over the running of the


environmental mess in the Somerset Levels. It is turning into a serious


crisis by the Government and even more so for the people who are


dealing with the flooding. There is no doubt that what has been revealed


is it is not just about what the Government did or did not do six


months ago. What is being exposed is an entire culture within the


Environment Agency, fuelled often by European directives about dredging


and all manner of other things, a culture grew up in which plants were


put ahead of people if you like All of that is collapsing in very


difficult circumstances by the Government and it is difficult for


them to manage. Chris Smith would save the Environment Agency is


acting under a law set by this Government and previous governments


and the first priority is the protection of life, second property


and third agricultural land and he is saying we are working within that


framework. It is an edifying spectacle, they are setting up Lord


Smith to be the fall guy. His term of office comes at the end of the


summer and they will find something new. But the point Lord Smith is


making is that dredging is important and it was a mistake not to dredge,


but it is a bigger picture than that. I am no expert, but you need a


whole skill solution that is looking not just bad dredging, but at the


whole catchment area looking at the production of maize. It is harvested


in autumn and then the water runs off the topsoil. You see the


pictures of the flooding, it is all topsoil flooding through those


towns. What you have got to have in the uplands is some land that can


absorb that water and there are really big questions about the way


we carry out farming. Chris Smith was meant to appear on the Andrew


Marr show this morning, but pulled back at the last minute. There must


be doubts as to whether he can survive to the summer. Where is the


chief executive of the Environment Agency? I agree with Nick that Chris


Smith has been setup in this situation. David Cameron went to the


Somerset Levels on Friday for about half an hour, in and out, with no


angry people shouting at him. You to a farm. It is agreed he has had good


crisis. But we are seen as being a London media class who does not


understand the countryside. You can imagine David Cameron in a pair of


wellies. If this was happening in Guildford, it would not have dragged


on for so long. Looe it is interesting how they are saying the


Environment Agency has put words in front of everything else. The


great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria thinks people should be


sacked at the whim. He is talking about how the Environment Agency


spent ?31 million on a bird sanctuary. It turns out the bird


sanctuary was an attempt to put up a flood defence system for a village


which has worked. That village has been saved. They compensated some


farmers for the farmland they were not going to be able to farm and put


a flood defence system further back to protect this village and then


they built a bird sanctuary. It was not ?31 million to create a bird


sanctuary, it was to save a village and it worked. But in 2008 the


Environment Agency was talking about dynamiting every pumping agency


There was a metropolitan mindset on the part of that agency. If it does


what Owen Paterson, who is now off in an eye operation, suggested a


plan to fix this, they will find a lot of what they want or need to do


will be in contravention of European directives. The Wythenshawe


by-election. There is no question Labour is going to win, probably


incredibly convincingly, one poll showing 60% plus of the vote. It


would be surprising if Labour was in any threat up there. The issue is,


does UKIP beat the Tories and if so, by how much? The latest poll was


showing it in second place as nip and tuck, but the feeling I have is


UKIP will do better. And they have got a great local candidate. The


Tories have not parachuted somebody in and they have got a local man in


and that will help them. We have all been waiting to see if the Tories


lose their head, but they might go chicken earlier than that. Will UKIP


come second? It looks like that A poll this week showed that Labour is


way ahead and UKIP possibly second. But it is an important by-election


for UKIP. If they do well in the European elections, they should


still be on a roll. They did really well in by-elections last year. If


they do not do well, is it because they are not on payroll? Or in


Manchester they have a fantastic leader of the council? Will UKIP


come a good second? I think they will and if they do not, it might


suggest Nigel Farage is losing its slightly. One thing to look out for


is how little Labour are attacking UKIP. Their election strategy relies


a lot on UKIP taking Tory votes But it could also take Labour votes


Particularly in the north and we shall see. The results will be out


on Thursday night. The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bird ,


his interventions have become more frequent and something was strange.


Have a look. I am grateful to the honourable gentleman. Order, the


Government Chief Whip has absolutely no business whatsoever shouting from


a sedentary position. Order, the honourable gentleman will remain in


the chamber. If we could tackle this problem. I say to the honourable


member for Bridgwater, be quiet if you cannot be quiet, get out, it is


rude, stupid and pompous and it needs to stop. Michael Gove. Order.


You really... Order. You are a very over excitable individual. You need


to write out 1000 times, I will behave myself at Prime Minister 's


questions. He was talking to the Education Secretary and it is not


1000 lines, it is 100 lines, at least it was in my day. Is he


beginning to make a fool of himself? There was only one over excitable


person there and that was the speaker and he is losing the


confidence of the Conservative MPs, but he never had that in the first


place. But he is an incredibly reforming speaker. He has this


strange idea that Parliament should hold the Government to account. It


will never catch on. It means very frequently there are urgent


questions. The other day he called a backbench amendment on the


deportation of foreign criminals. He could have found a way not to call


that. He is a real reformer and the executive do not like that. That is


true and he has allowed Parliament to flourish which has given us room


to breathe at a time of a coalition Government when Parliament has more


power. That is all that enough to overcome these increasingly mannered


and some of them may be preplanned interventions? The last one was last


week, and last week the speaker had a rather stressful week with the


tabloids. Something is clearly up. I think it is a real shame. I think


many of us when he was elected did not think he would make a great


speaker and there are people like Douglas Carswell and Tory rebels who


have said he is a fantastic speaker. He has given the Commons room to


breathe and he has called on ministers to be held to account when


they do not want to be. What do you think? He is seen as anti-government


and he is pro-backbencher and that is what people do not like. People


like Douglas Carswell are actually very strongly in support of him We


carry the interventions every week on Prime Minister 's questions and


we see them every week and they are getting a bit more eccentric. If I


was having to keep that under control, I would be driven slowly


mad. But his job is easier than mine. But if you look at his


deputy, Eleanor Laing, she is very robust, but she is calm. Chap who


does the budget is excellent. We are on throughout the week at midday on


BBC Two. We will be back next Sunday at 11. If it is Sunday, it is the


Sunday Politics.


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