16/03/2014 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew Neil looks ahead to the budget and speaks to UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 16/03/2014. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Morning folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. George Osborne's fifth


Budget will offer more tax relief for the lower paid but not for


middle income earners being thrust into the 40p tax bracket. That's our


top story. Ed Balls says millions of people


aren't feeling any benefit from the recovery. We'll discuss the economy


with big political beasts from Labour, the Conservatives, and the


Lib Dems. Now that Ed Miliband has effectively ruled out an in/out EU


referendum, how does UKIP deal with Tory claims that a vote for UKIP


means no of cycling. The three areas of


London getting a cash boost to try something different.


And with me as always our top political panel - Nick Watt, Helen


Lewis and Janan Ganesh. They'll be tweeting their thoughts using the


hashtag #bbcsp throughout the programme. So, just three months


after his last major financial statement, George Osborne will be at


the despatch box again on Wednesday, delivering his 2014 Budget. The


Chancellor has already previewed his own speech, pledging to build what


he calls a "resilient economy". The message I will give in the Budget is


the economic plan is working but the job is far from done. We need to


build resilient economy which means addressing the long-term weaknesses


in Britain that we don't export enough, invest enough, build enough,


make enough. Those are the things I will address because we want Britain


to earn its way in the world. George Osborne's opposite number, Ed Balls,


has also been talking ahead of the Budget. He says not everyone is


feeling the benefit of the economic recovery, and again attacked the


Government's decision to reduce the top rate of tax from 50 to 45%.


George Osborne is only ever tough when he's having a go at the week


and the voiceless. Labour is willing to face up to people on the highest


incomes and say, I'm sorry, justifying a big tax cut at this


time is not fair. We will take away the winter allowance from the richer


pensioners, and I think that's the right thing to do. George Osborne


might agree, but he's not allowed to say so. That was the Chancellor and


the shadow chancellor. Janan, it seems like we are in a race against


time. No one argues that the recovery is not under way, in fact


it looks quite strong after a long wait, but will it feed through to


the living standards of ordinary people in time for the May election?


They only have 14 months to do it. The big economic variable is


business investment. Even during the downturn, businesses hoarded a lot


of cash. The question is, are they confident enough to release that


into investment and wages? Taking on new people, giving them higher pay


settlements. That could make the difference and the country will feel


more prosperous and this time next year. But come to think of it, it


strikes me, that how anticipated it is, it's the least talked about


Budget for many years. I think that is because the economy has settled


down a bit, but also because people have got used to the idea that there


is no such thing as a giveaway. Anything that is a tax cut will be


taken away as a tax rise or spending cut. That's true during the good


times but during fiscal consolidation, it's avoidable. --


unavoidable. There is a plus and minus for the Conservatives here.


49% of people think the government is on roughly the right course, but


only 16% think that their financial circumstances will improve this


year. It will be a tough one for the Labour Party to respond to. I agree


with Janan. Everyone seems bored with the run-up to the Budget. The


front page of the Sunday Times was about fox hunting, the front page of


the Sunday Telegraph was about EU renegotiation. Maybe we are saying


this because there have not been many leaks. We have got used to


them, and most of the George Osborne chat on Twitter was about how long


his tie was. Freakishly long. I wouldn't dare to speculate why.


Anything we should read into that? I don't know. For a long while there


was no recovery, then it was it is a weak recovery, and now, all right,


it's strong but not reaching everyone in the country. That is


where we are in the debate. That's right, and the Conservative MPs are


so anxious and they are making George Osborne announcing the rays


in the personal allowance will go up, saying it might go up to 10,750


from next year, and Conservative MPs say that that's OK but we need to


think about the middle voters. People are saying the economy is


recovering but no one is feeling it in their pocket. These are people


snagged in at a 40p tax rate. The Tories are saying these are our


people and we have to get to them. He has given the Lib Dems more than


they could have hoped for on raising the threshold. Why is he not saying


we have done a bit for you, now we have to look after our people and


get some of these people out of that 40% bracket? Partly because the Lib


Dems have asked for it so insistently behind-the-scenes.


Somebody from the Treasury this week told me that these debates behind


the scenes between the Lib Dems and Tories are incredibly tenacious and


get more so every year. The Lib Dems have been insistent about going


further on the threshold. The second reason is that the Tories think the


issue can work for them in the next election. They can take the credit.


If they enthusiastically going to ?12,000 and make it a manifesto


pledge, they can claim ownership of the policy. The Liberal Democrats


want to take it to 12,500, which means you are getting into minimum


wage territory. It's incredibly expensive and the Tories are saying


that maybe you would be looking at the 40p rate. The Tories have played


as well. There have been authorised briefings about the 40p rate, and


Cameron and Osborne have said that their priority was helping the


lowest paid which is a useful statement to make and it appeals to


the UKIP voters who are the blue-collar workers. And we are


right, the economy will determine the next election? You assume so. It


was ever that is. It didn't in 1992 or 1987. It did in 1992.


Ed Miliband's announcement last week that a Labour government would not


hold a referendum on Europe unless there's another transfer of powers


from Britain to Brussels has certainly clarified matters. UKIP


say it just shows the mainstream parties can't be trusted. The


Conservatives think it means UKIP voters might now flock back to them


as the only realistic chance of securing a referendum. Giles Dilnot


reports. When it comes to Europe and


Britain's relation to it, the question is whether the answer is


answered by a question. To be in or not to be in, that is the question,


and our politicians have seemed less interested in question itself but


whether they want to let us answer it. Labour clarified their position


last week. There will be no transfer of powers without an in out


referendum, without a clear choice as to whether Britain will stay in


the EU. That seems yes to a referendum, but hold on. I believe


it is unlikely that this lock will be used in the next Parliament. So


that's a no. The Conservatives say yes to asking, in 2017, if


re-elected, but haven't always. In 2011, 81 Tory MPs defied the PM by


voting for a referendum on EU membership: the largest rebellion


against a Tory prime minister over Europe. Prompted by a petition from


over 100,000 members of the public. The wrong question at the wrong time


said the Foreign Secretary of a coalition Government including


selfie-conciously-pro European Lib Dems, who had a referendum pledge in


their 2010 manifesto, but only in certain circumstances. So we have


the newspapers, and the public meeting leaflets. UKIP have always


wanted the question put regardless. But Labour's new position may change


things and The Conservatives think so. I think it does, because, you


know, we are saying very clearly, like UKIP, we want a referendum, but


only a Conservative government can deliver it because most suffer


largest would say it is possible in the first past the post system to


have a UKIP government -- sophologists. And then it's easy for


as to say that if a UKIP vote lets in a Conservative government, then


they won't hold a referendum. UKIP seem undaunted by the clarifications


of the other parties, campaigning like the rest but with a "tell it


how it is, just saying what you're thinking, we aren't like them"


attitude. They seem more worried about us and what we want, and I


don't see that in the other parties. In parts of the UK, like South


Essex, it's a message they think is working. They are taking the voters


for granted again and people have had enough. People are angry, they


see people saying they will get a vote on the European Union, but then


it just comes down the road. They were quick to capitalise on the


announcements, saying only the Conservatives will give you say, so


does it change things? Not really. We have been talking about a


referendum and having a debate on the European Union for years, and


the other parties are playing catch up. They have a trust issue. Nobody


trusts them on the European Union and that is why people come to us.


Who the average UKIP voter is, or how they voted before is


complicated, and what dent they might make on Conservative and


Labour votes in 2015 is trickier still, but someone's been crunching


the numbers anyway. We reckon it is between 25 and 30% of the electorate


broadly share the UKIP motivation, so to top out at that level would be


difficult. That's an awful lot of voters, but it's not the majority,


and this is the reason why the main parties can't afford to just openly


appealed to the UKIP electorate too hard because the elections are won


and lost amongst the other 70%, the middle-class, the graduate, the


younger, ethnic minorities. An appeal to the values of UKIP voters


will alienate some of the other groups, and they are arguably more


significant in winning the election. Whatever, the numbers UKIPers seem


doggedly determined to dig away at any support the other parties have


previously enjoyed. Giles Dilnot reporting. UKIP's


leader, Nigel Farage, joins me now for the Sunday Interview.


Nigel Farage, welcome back. Good morning. So the Labour Party has


shot a fox. If Ed Miliband is the next by Minister, there will not be


a referendum customer there's a long way between now and the next


election, and Conservative party jobs and changes. We had a cast-iron


guarantee of a referendum from camera, then he three line whip


people to vote against it, and now they are for it. What the Labour


Party has done is open up a huge blank to us, and that is what we


will go for in the European elections this coming year in May. I


think there is a very strong chance that Labour will match the


Conservative pledge by the next general election. There may be, but


at the moment he has ruled it out, and if he does not change his mind


and goes into the election with the policy as it is, the only chance of


a referendum is a Tory government. If you think the Tories will form a


majority, which I think is unlikely. Remember, two thirds of our voters


would never vote Conservative anyway. There is still this line of


questioning that assumes UKIP voters are middle-class Tories. We have


some voters like that, but most of them are coming to us from Labour,


some from the Lib Dems and a lot of nonvoters. But it come the election


you failed to change Mr Miliband's line, I repeat, the only chance of a


referendum, if you want a referendum, if that is what matters,


and the polls suggest it doesn't matter to that many people, but if


that is what matters, the only way you can get one is to vote


Conservative. No, because you have a situation in key marginals,


especially where all three parties are getting a good share, where we


will see, and this depends a lot on the local elections and the European


elections, there are target constituencies where UKIP has a


reasonably good chance of winning a seat, and that will change the


agenda. Every vote for UKIP makes a Tory government less likely. Arab


voters are not Tory. Only a third of the UKIP boat comes from the


Conservative party -- our voters are not Tory. -- the UKIP vote. It was


mentioned earlier, about blue-collar voters. We pick up far more Labour


Party and nonvoters than conservatives. On the balance of


what the effect of the UKIP boat is, the Tories should worry about


us, they should worry about the fact they have lost faith with their own


electorate. Even if there is a minority Ed Miliband government, it


means no referendum. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are now at one on


the matter. The next election is in a few weeks time, the European


elections. What happens in those elections will likely change the


party stands and position on a referendum. The fact that Ed


Miliband has said this means, for us, our big target on the 22nd of


May will be the Labour voters in the Midlands and northern cities, and if


we do hammer into that boat and we are able to beat Labour on the day,


there's a good chance of their policy changing. One poll this


morning suggests Labour is close to you at 28, the Conservatives down at


21, the Lib Dems down at eight. You are taking votes from the


Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. We are certainly taking


votes from the Lib Dems but that is comparing the poll with one year ago


when I don't think most people knew what the question really was. You


seem to be in an impossible position because the better you do in a


general election, the less chance there will be a referendum by 2020.


No, look at the numbers. Only a third of our voters are


Conservatives. When we have polled voters that have come to us, we


asked them if there was no UKIP candidate who would you vote for,


less than one in five said Conservative. Less than one in five


UKIP voters would be tempted to vote Conservative under any circumstances


so the arithmetic does not suggest we are the Conservative problem, it


suggests we are hurting all of the parties and the reason the Tories


are in trouble is because they have lost their traditional base. Why do


you think Nick Clegg is debating Europe? I think they are in


trouble, at 8% they could be wiped out, they could go from 12 to


nothing and I think it is a chance for Nick Clegg to raise their


profile. They are fringe party with respect to this contest so I see why


he wants to do it. One of our big criticisms is that we have not been


able to have a full debate on national television on the


alternatives of the European Union so I am looking forward to it. How


are you preparing? I think you can be over scripted with these things.


Are you not doing mock debates? No, I am checking my facts and figures


and making sure that I can show the British people that in terms of


jobs, we would be far better off not being within the European Union, not


being within its rule book, not suffering from some of the green


taxes they are putting on the manufacturing industry. The idea


that 3 million jobs are at risk, I want to show why that is nonsense.


Who do you think is playing you in their mock debates? They probably


went to the pub and found someone! We will see. You have promised to do


whatever it takes to fund your European election campaign, how much


has been given so far? Just give it a few weeks and you will see what


Paul is planning to do. He has made a substantial investment in the


campaign already. How much? I'm not answering that for now. We are well


on our way to a properly funded campaign and our big target will be


the big cities and the working vote in those communities. Your deputy


chairman Neil Hamilton is another former Tory, he says so far we


haven't seen the colour of his money. Exactly two weeks ago, and


things have changed since then. Mr Sykes has written a cheque since


then? Yes. This morning's papers saying you will be asking MEPs to


contribute ?50,000 each, is that true? Over the next five years, yes.


Not for the European campaign. So lack of money will not be an excuse.


We will have a properly funded campaign. How we raise the kind of


money needed to fund the general election afterwards is another


question. What is UKIP's policy on paying family members? We don't


encourage it and I didn't employ any family member for years. My wife


ended up doing the job and paid for the first seven years of my job. She


is paid now? Until May, then she comes off the payroll am which


leaves me with a huge problem. In 2004 you said, UKIP MEPs will not


employ wives and there will be no exceptions. An exception was made


because I became leader of the National party as well as a leader


of the group in European Parliament. Things do change in


life, and you can criticise me for whatever you like, but I cannot be


criticised for not having a big enough workload. No, but you didn't


employ your wife when you had told others not to do it your party.


Nobody else in my party has a big job in Europe and the UK. We made


the exception for this because of very unusual circumstances. It also


looks like there was a monetary calculation. Listen to this clip


from a BBC documentary in 2000. It is a good job. I worked it out


because so much of what you get is after tax that if you used the


secretarial allowances to pay your wife on top of the other games you


can play, I reckon this job in Stirling term is over a quarter of


?1 million a year. That is what you would need to earn working for


Goldman Sachs or someone like that. I agree with that. More importantly


the way you really make money in the European Parliament is being their


five days a week, because you sign in every day, you get 300 euros


every day, and that is how people maxed out. The criticism of me is


that I am not there enough so whatever good or bad I have done in


the European Parliament, financial gain has not been one of the


benefits. There have been allegations of you also employing a


former mistress on the same European Parliamentary allowance, you deny


that? I am very upset with the BBC coverage of this. The ten o'clock


news run this as a story without explaining that that allegation was


made using Parliamentary privilege by somebody on bail facing serious


fraud charges. I thought that was pretty poor. You have a chance to do


that and you deny you have employed a former mistress? Yes, but if you


look at many of the things said over the last week, I think it is


becoming pretty clear to voters that the establishment are becoming


terrified of UKIP and they will use anything they can find to do us down


in public. Is an MEP employs his wife and his former mistress, that


would be resigning matter, wouldn't it? Yes, particularly if the


assumption was that money was being taped for work but was not being


done. Who do you think is behind these stories? It is all about


negative, it is all about attacks, but I don't think it is actually


going to work because so much of what has been said in the last week


is nonsense. A reputable daily newspaper said I shouldn't be


trusted because I had stored six times for the Conservative party, I


have never even stored in a local council election. I think if you


keep kicking an underdog, it will make the British people rally around


us. Is it the Conservatives? Yes, and the idea that all of our voters


are retired colonels is simply not true. We get some voters from the


Labour side as well. Would you consider standing in a Labour seat


if you are so sure you are getting Labour votes? Yes, but the key for


UKIP is that it has to be marginal. Just for your own future, if you


fail to win a single soul -- single seat in the general election, if Ed


Miliband fails to win an outright majority, will you stand down as


UKIP leader? I would think within about 12 hours, yes. I will have


failed, I got into politics not because I wanted a career in


politics, far from it. I did it because I don't think this European


entanglement is right for our country. I think a lot of people


have woken up to the idea we have lost control of our borders and now


is the moment for UKIP to achieve what it set out to do. Will UKIP


continue without you if you stand down? Of course it will. I know that


everyone says it is a one-man band but it is far from that. We have had


some painful moments, getting rid of old UKIP, new UKIP is more


professional, less angry and it is going places. Nigel Farage, thank


you for being with us. So, what else should we be looking


out for in Wednesday's Budget statement? We've compiled a Sunday


Politics guide to the Chancellor's likely announcements.


Eyes down everyone, it's time for a bit of budget bingo. Let's see what


we will get from the man who lives at legs 11. Despite some good news


on the economy, George Osborne says that this will be a Budget of hard


truths with more pain ahead in order to get the public finances back


under control. But many in the Conservative party, including the


former chancellor Norman Lamont, want Mr Osborne to help the middle


classes by doing something about the 4.4 million people who fall into the


40% bracket. Around one million more people pay tax at that rate compared


to 2010 because the higher tax threshold hasn't increased in line


with inflation. Mr Osborne has indicated he might tackle the issue


in the next Conservative manifesto, but for now he is focused on helping


the low paid. It's likely we will see another increase in the amount


you can earn before being taxed, perhaps up another ?500 to ?10,500.


The Chancellor is going to flesh out the details of a tax break for


childcare payments, and there could be cries of 'house' with the promise


of more help for the building industry. The Help To Buy scheme


will be extended to 2020 and there could be the go-ahead for the first


Garden City in 40 years. Finally, bingo regulars could be celebrating


a full house with a possible cut in bingo tax.


And I've been joined in the studio by the former Conservative


chancellor Norman Lamont, in Salford by the former Labour Cabinet


minister Hazel Blears, and in Aberdeen by the Lib Dem deputy


leader, Malcolm Bruce. Let me come to Norman Lamont first, you and


another former Tory Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, have called in the


fall in the threshold for the rate at which the 40p clicks in. I would


have preferred an adjustment in the Budget but I agree with what you are


saying, it sounds like the Chancellor will not do that. My main


point is that you cannot go on forever and forever increasing the


personal allowance and not increasing the 40% tax threshold


because you are driving more and more people into that band. It is an


expensive policy because in order to keep the number of people not paying


tax constant, you have to keep adjusting it each year. When this


was introduced by Nigel Lawson, it applied to one in 20 people, the 40%


rate, it now applies to one in six people. By next year, there will be


6 million people paying base. Why do you think your Tory colleagues seem


happy to go along with the Lib Dems and target whatever money there is


for tax cuts rather -- on the lower paid rather than the middle incomes?


They are not helping the lowest paid. If you wanted to really help


the lowest paid people you would raise the threshold for national


insurance contributions, which is around ?6,000. Is it the Lib Dems


stopping any rise in the 40p threshold? We are concentrating on


raising the lower threshold because we believe that is the way to help


those on lower incomes. Whilst they haven't benefited as much as the


lower paid they have participated and I think people understand right


now, if you were going to prioritise the high earners, when we are still


trying to help those on lower and middle incomes who haven't enjoyed


great pay increases but have got the benefit of these tax increases, that


is why we would like to do it for the minimum wage level. But the


poorest will not benefit at all. The poorest 16% already don't pay tax.


Why don't you increase the threshold at which National Insurance starts?


You only have two earned ?5,500 before you start to pay it. You've


got to remember that the raising of the threshold to ?10,000 or more was


something the Tories said we could not afford. Why are you continuing


to do it? If you want to help the working poor, the way would be to


take the lowest out of national insurance. The view we take is they


are benefiting, and have benefited from, the raising of the tax


threshold. You now have to earn ?10,000, we hope eventually 12,500,


and that means only people on very low wages. If you opt out of


national insurance, you're saying to people that you make no contribution


to the welfare system, so there is a general principle that people should


participate and paying, and also claim when they need something out.


We thought raising the threshold was simple and effective at a time of


economic austerity and the right way to deliver a helpful support to


welcoming people. -- working people. With the Labour Party continue to


raise the threshold, or do they think there is a case that there are


too many people being dragged into the 40p tax bracket? If Norman


Lamont thinks this is the right time to benefit people who are reasonably


well off rather than those who are struggling to make ends meet, then


genuinely, I say it respectfully, I don't think he's living in the world


the rest of us are. Most working people have seen their wages


effectively reduced by about ?1600 because they have been frozen, so


the right thing is to help people on modest incomes. I also understand


that if the 40% threshold went up, the people who would benefit the


most, as ever, are the people who are really well off, not the people


in the middle. The Conservatives have already reduced the 50p tax on


people over ?150,000 a year, and we have to concentrate on the people


going out to work, doing their best to bring their children up and have


a decent life and need a bit of help. I think raising the threshold


is a good thing. We would bring back the 10p tax, which we should never


have abolished, and do things with regard to childcare. At the moment,


childcare costs the average family as much as their mortgage, for


goodness sake. We would give 25 hours free childcare for youngsters


over three and four years old. That would be a massive boost the working


families. We are talking about nurses, tube drivers, warrant


officers in the army. There are many people who are not well off but have


been squeezed in the way everybody has been squeezed and they are


finding it continuing. I am stunned by Malcolm's argument where


everybody should pay something so you should not take people out of


national insurance, but the principle doesn't apply to income


tax. You can stand that argument on its head and apply it to income tax.


Most people don't see a difference between income tax and national


insurance, it's the same thing to most people. It is true that it


isn't really an insurance fund and there is an argument from merging


both of them. But we have concentrated on a simple tax


proposition. Norman is ignoring the fact the people on the 40% rate have


benefited by the raising of the personal allowance. To say they have


been squeezed is unfair. The calculation is that an ordinary


taxpayer will be ?700 better off at the current threshold, and about


?500 better off at the higher rate. It is misleading to say the better


off we'll be paying more. I agree with Hazel, if you go to the 40%


rate, it's the higher earners who benefit the most, and we won't do


that when the economy is not where it was before the crash. How much


will the lower paid be better off if you reintroduce the 10p rate?


Significantly better off. I don't have the figure myself, but they'd


be significantly better off and the Budget should be a mixture of


measures to help people who work hard. That is why I think the


childcare issue has to be addressed. ?100 a week of the people


with childcare payments. It is a massive issue. We want the job is


guaranteed to get young people back into work. There's been hardly any


discussion about that, and we have nearly 1 million people who have


been out of work for six months or more, and as a country we need to do


something to help that. 350,000 full-time students, so it is a


misleading figure. It is not a million including full-time


students. All parties do this. It sounds to me, Malcolm Bruce, you


have more in common with the Labour Party than you do with the


Conservatives. You want an annual levy on houses over ?2 million, so


does Labour. A lot of your members want to scrap the so-called bedroom


tax and so does labour. You think every teacher should have a teaching


qualification, and so does Labour. Your policy on the EU referendum is


the same. Let me go on. And you want to scrap the winter fuel allowance


for wealthy pensioners. We want to make sure we get the public finances


in order and we have grave reservations about the Labour Party


promises. But they followed your spending plans in the first year.


The point we are making is spending plans in the first year.


The point we are making is we can make a fairer society and stronger


economy if you keep the public finances moving towards balance. We


don't think the Labour Party will take a stand that track. It is


interesting that the Labour Party want to introduce the 10p rate that


Gordon Brown abolished. We consider that before we can -- committed to


the 0% rate -- we considered that. It makes a complicated system


difficult and we think it's better doing it that way. As a fiscal


conservative, why are you talking about any tax cuts when the deficit


is over ?100 billion, and effectively, anything you propose


today can only be financed by more borrowing. I totally agree with you.


I said that this week. I thought the best thing would have no Budget. The


main thing is to get the deficit down. My argument is is that you


have an adjustment in tax rates it should be shared between the


allowances and the higher rate, but I don't think that the progress on


the deficit is something we can give up on. This is still a very long way


to go. We're only halfway through. Hazel, does it make sense to borrow


for tax cuts? I am reluctant to do this, but I agree with both Norman


and Malcolm. Malcolm Bruce wants to borrow for tax cuts. We absolutely


need to get the deficit down and get finances on a strong footing. But we


also have to think about having some spending in the system that in the


longer run saves us money. We all know we need to build new homes. I


don't think it's necessarily the right priority to give people in


London mortgage relief in terms of ?600,000. We have to get the balance


right. Sometimes it is right to spend to save. I'm afraid we have


run out of time. There will be plenty more discussion in the lead


up to the Budget on Wednesday. It's just gone 11:35am. You're


watching the Sunday Politics. We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland who


leave us now for Sunday Politics Scotland. Coming up here in 20


minutes, Frances O'Grady, the General Secretary of the TUC, joins


us discuss Hello and welcome to Sunday Politics


in Northern Ireland. Three hundred jobs go at Coleraine's DVA and the


DUP accuses Sinn Fein of endangering hundreds more over welfare reform


delays. Scare stories or a cause for genuine concern? We talk to the


Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton. Described as a political giant, we


look back at Tony Benn's involvement in politics here over the years.


And with their thoughts on it all, the economist Paul Gosling and


academic Pete Shirlow. The loss of some 300 jobs at the


Driver and Vehicle Agency could be just the tip of the iceberg if


welfare reform is not implemented here, says the DUP. The former


Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, has forecast that 1600 civil servants


employed by the Department of Work and Pensions could be in danger of


redundancy - but is he being alarmist? With me now is Mr Wilson's


successor as Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton. Thank you for joining us.


Let's start with the job losses in the DVA. Did the announcement that


we were losing 300 jobs - most of them in Coleraine - come as a


surprise? We think we knew for a long time that the jobs were under


threat. We are mounted a strong case. We knew that the government


and Westminster wanted to cut costs. Some of those jobs could have been


done in Coleraine and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. We have a good


track record of doing work like that. We also do it for benefits and


for Social Security as well. You made a robust case, you had a


petition of 40,000 signatures objecting to the change. It did not


make any difference. I think a good case was made. It was not as a prize


that the government were looking at this. It does show that this


decision has been not -- has not been taken here but has been taken


by Westminster. There will be a ruthlessness if we do not in


Northern Ireland do things in welfare reform. The situation could


get worse because in a speech on Thursday night, you warrant that the


next four years could eclipse the last four years. It is not the sort


of message I like to put out there, but I would feel my job if I do not


stress that is to be ball. We are getting lots of good evidence that


the economy is growing, unemployment is falling, the housing department


-- area is going in the right direction as well. We are about


halfway down that road of austerity and in Northern Ireland we will feel


the impact for the next four years. The Treasury has signalled the 70%


of expenditure for the next few years. What could that mean for


Northern Ireland? If you look at the projections for 2015-16 where we do


have data, we have ?100,000 taken out of our budget. That is coming on


the back of all the cuts that we have had to deal over the last


couple of years. It presents us with a choice, going for a crude front


line cut which can be designed to protect the centre of government we


can look at what government does and look at making changes more


effectively and efficiently. The government has made a promise to be


balanced the economy. If you look at what has happened in that context,


then perhaps it is what we would expect. We would expect to see a


reduced dependence on public sector employment. We have a large public


sector in Northern Ireland. It has been too large for too long. The


private sector has to be grown, that is why we are seeing a reduction in


corporation tax. It is a challenge looking from where we are coming


from. A third of our employment is in the public sector, it is hard to


be balanced in terms of the private sector. I am determined that public


sector which has provided a cushion of the last couple of years, the


private sector has struggled in this country. That can be seen as a drag.


If it is reformed, if we can make it improve, it will be a beneficial


contribution to the economy. It is pretty bad, Sammy Wilson, your


predecessor highlighted the risk. He said 1600 jobs are at risk in the


civil service. Do you agree with them? I do agree with him. I have


been giving the same message over the last few months. The lack of


leadership shown by parties like Sinn Fein are threatening... What


about the DUP? We have achieved quite a lot, we have flexibility


that would ensure that the bedroom tax does not affect people who are


already getting hit by other benefit cuts in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein


and others are refusing to move forward. That is not just


threatening further reductions, we have lost ?15 million this year. We


will lose more in the next few years and penalties. Around 1500 jobs in


Northern Ireland where people are doing Social Security work on behalf


of customers in England and Wales could be lost. They are likely to be


lost. As we have seen with the DVA this week, why would an English


minister want to keep jobs in Northern Ireland. Interesting


figures. You have set aside ?50 million for the first penalty. It


goes up incrementally, it will increase to 1,000,000,005 years?


Yes. -- ?1 billion in five years. In five years it will have gone up.


Never mind what the Chancellor will pass on in terms of the cuts across


the whole of the UK. These are self-inflicted fines which have been


as a result of a lack of leadership from parties like Sinn Fein. It will


have a real affect on people on the ground. It will have a devastating


effect on public services Northern Ireland. It is not a lack of willing


this on my part or members of my party. -- willingness. We have been


making this clear to the SDLP, Sinn Fein and others. We cannot afford to


take this hit, vulnerable people will suffer because of the impact of


this on public service deliveries. Thank you very much. Paul, what do


you make of those figures? It demonstrates the difficulty we have


with devolution. Theoretically, although we have devolution,


politicians have very little choice to implement the vast majority of


the welfare reforms. What we need is for the Republicans are nationalists


to work together. I think that is what the focus in Northern Ireland


will be, not whether one particular party is blocking one particular


part of welfare reform. But an ability to work together to better


Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein take a very different view and says the


other parties are causing the problems. Somebody needs to do


something very quickly to sort things out. If there had been a


solution at around Richard Haass, these would sort themselves out. We


have a political system that is not functioning. The failure to reach an


agreement on welfare reforms just a symptom of that. Pete, how do you


see it? I think given the complex geography is we have, the impacts of


this will be even. It will affect constituents more. The other issue


is, what is the response to this in terms of the third sector and how we


develop other areas in the public sector so we have more than just the


argument about we said no, you said yes. We have seen success in other


areas, other parts of Europe where they have looked at different ways


to improve the economy. Do you see any sign of political will or desire


to make that choice? There is a lack of knowledge just -- not just with


politicians. We have not come to terms with our modern default


society. Any thoughts on that, Simon? Is there any truth in that


politicians have been focused elsewhere. We are putting ourselves


at a disadvantage? What you described as the other issues are


incredibly important. How they fit into the grand scheme of politics in


Northern Ireland. Are they holding us hostage? We have been in Stormont


for seven, coming on eight years. We have made progress in bread in the


areas. This is not an issue we are facing. Given the issues are steady


is giving us, reality is starting to bite. We will have to make difficult


decisions, some that we may not like in their entirety but we will have


to do something about. What we have done in terms of welfare of, and


flexibility is that we have negotiated, shows that we can use


devolution to work again some of the worst things we come against from 's


-- Westminster. The cost of not receiving and losing ?1 billion will


make it incredibly difficult for us to take better decisions on the


cuts. This is not the only issue. We need to improve social housing. We


have blockages in other areas across the reform. Thank you all very much


indeed. St Patrick's Day has turned into St


Patrick's 'Week' it seems, especially for politicians from this


island who made their annual pilgrimage to Washington for a


series of high profile engagements. The Taoiseach met President Obama


while the First and Deputy First Ministers met Vice President Biden.


The Secretary of State was there too and Martina Purdy asked her if she


agrees with Richard Haass's comment that the peace process here might


not be quite as robust as people think. No, I think there are in many


parts of the world who have looked at the success that has been


achieved in Northern Ireland, and wish they could have emulated it. It


is difficult to transplant a particular model to other parts of


the world. I genuinely think that political readership in Northern


Ireland should be proud of what they have achieved. But they also


recognise there is more work to be done. That is something that


President Clinton emphasised in his visit to Northern Ireland. It is


something the Prime Minister recognised. Ensuring that many more


children have ways out of their barriers based on religion. What I


have been taking to Washington as a message is that this is what has


been achieved in Northern Ireland, real progress. A recognition that


further work could yield tremendous further benefits and taking Northern


Ireland further forward, that is a message that has been


sympathetically received by Washington. It seems we are further


back than we were a few months ago. What is this that is of the six


cases, can you shed any light? The controversy around OTRs and what


they have been positive than a setback. There still appears to be a


willingness from the party of all political leaders in Northern


Ireland to work forward on this. I hope that the OTR crisis will not


see the party leaders meetings abandoned altogether. On those


excuses, we have set up an enquiry, headed up by one of the most senior


and well respected judges in the country. We are determined to


provide the facts of how the scheme operated. Including what the current


position is in relation to cases which remained under review. -- and


on those excuses. Can you tell us that London is not handling those


excuses now? No, they are not. The Secretary of State talking to


Martina Purdy. His interest in Northern Ireland was


long-standing and he helped keep the issue on the Westminster agenda -


just one of the many tributes paid to Tony Benn who died on Friday.


During his long and sometimes controversial political career, Mr


Benn gave support to Sinn Fein and advocated a united Ireland. But


despite - or maybe because of that - he opposed the Labour Party formally


organising here. Mark Langhammer campaigned for many years to change


the policy and is with me now. Welcome to the programme. You knew


Tony Benn a little bit, you met him a couple of times. I met him at a


conference in Blackpool in a tearoom with a senior education official.


Who was from north Belfast and who had access with all of these men. We


met in context of the Labour Party policy at the time. It was for unity


by consent. It meant that the Labour Party government had the vote. Ed


Miliband was governor of Northern Ireland. It was a colonial position.


Eamon had spoken with two wings, there was our view that Labour


should get in and contest elections. Those with the view that


Labour should get out. How did he justify it to you? He topped about


socialism and Chrissie. How did he see his position about a democratic


one? -- he spoke about socialism and democracy. He was a very humorous


man. The one thing about Tony Benn, he was very rooted in the movement.


He was really from the Methodist tradition than anything else. His


mother had beaten into them, you do all the good you can. He was very


unlike the sort of political class of the day. He was a conviction


politician, he was quite partisan politician, I think. He was an


national figure in the way that nobody else in the Labour Party was.


You agreed with them in terms of left right politics. He was a bit of


a hero in terms of that. Not really. At the critical time, I think Tony


Benn did the wrong thing. What he said that he was a cynical as and he


supported as a technology Minister, Meridian. Whenever the Bevan Atlee


consensus started to break down in the 70s. It was about full


employment, the NHS, putting people first, essentially. At a certain


stage the labour movement was working at a surly. -- adversarial


way. There was Barbara Kassel and Ted Heath, at a critical time, he


voted and went against bullet and industrial democracy and effectively


open the door to Thatcherism. -- Bullock. Insofar as that he was


able to bring Sinn Fein in from the political called, was his


contribution helpful or not? I think it was a good contribution through


his diaries. When Callaghan visited Northern Ireland, you will remember


that footage of him speaking out of the window, at that stage Callaghan


was introduced with the notion that Labour should govern. When it got


into the government -- Cabinet meeting, the critical thing was


avoiding responsibility. The Foreign Minister said exactly


the same thing, keep it arms length. Keep it out there. If you did


nothing else, you opened a window on the adverse resolve the middle-class


at that time. Let's hear from Paul and Pete.


He was to a lot of people and man of principle first and foremost. But


still his policies were full of contradictions. There were a whole


case of those. His stanza Northern Ireland did change somewhat over


time. He called for United stations to come in here. He was when I met


once in England many years ago he did have a capacity to learn. He


made a speech once that I was that, it was talking about unionists as


colonialists. I challenged him on it. I said my family have been in in


Northern Ireland and 500 years in which time we have become indigence.


He would engage with you, but he would be sharp if he disagreed with


you. -- indigenous. We have to remember, an intellectual and


capable man. But also had his faults. I met Tony many times. He


was a lovely man and should be remembered for his engaging


personality, the fact that he brought ideas of democracy and


accountability to the forefront and we should remember that way. Let's


take a look back at the week in 60 Seconds with Rosy Billingham.


We are not going away. A message from victims as a widower accounts


to MLAs how she lost her husband. -- a Wood Hill. 17 bullets were put


into his back. Richard has had a stark warning for us in Washington.


The passage of time will only create an environment and social division


will intensify, violence will increase. Jonathan Powell joined the


peace process stands by his claim that the DUP knew about OTR course


versions. What we want to try and do is have politicians solving some of


these problems of the past, not trying to beat each other over the


head over it. An enquiry into political interference was resolved.


I am chairing this enquiry. You are not sharing it very well.


failure marked success. -- not success. Andrew, back to you.


Has George Osborne got a rabbit in his Budget hat? Will the Chancellor


find a way to help the squeezed middle? And how do Labour respond?


All questions for The Week Ahead. And joining Helen, Janan and Nick to


discuss the budget is the general secretary of the Trades Union


Congress Frances O'Grady. Welcome back to the programme. I know the


TUC has a submission, but if you could pick one thing that you wanted


the Chancellor to do above all, what would it be? We want a budget for


working people, which means we have to crack the long-term problem of


investment in the British economy. Certainly I would like the


Chancellor to merit that title they want of the new workers party, and


take action on living standards, but if they're going to do that it's got


to be about unlocking investment. In the period where the economy has


been flat-lining there has been little business investment, but


there are signs towards the end of last year that it is beginning to


pick up. But a long way to go. The problem is we have key industries


like construction and manufacturing that are still smaller than they


were before the recession. The government itself, of course, has


slashed its own capital investment budget by half. There is plenty of


good and important work that needs to be done from building houses to


improving the transport system, to improving our schools. And the


government really needs to pick up that shovel and start investing in


our economy to get the decent jobs we need, the pay increases we need,


and that in itself will help stimulate demand. It was Alistair


Darling who cut in 2011, and it's interesting that Ed Balls in his


plans for the next parliament would run a current budget surplus by the


end of the parliament as opposed to George Osborne who would have an


overall budget surplus. That gives Ed Balls or -- more wriggle room to


do what you talk about, but he is reticent to talk about it. He does


not want to say that he has an opportunity to spend on investment


because he fears if he says it he will be attacked by the


Conservatives for being irresponsible. Why is business doing


this? The recession was deeper than any since the war and the recovery


was slower than almost any since the war. The lag, the time it takes to


get over that is longer than anyone expected. I read the same evidence


as you towards the end of last year pointing to money being released,


and it depends what it is released on, whether it is capital investment


or bringing in people on higher wages. The one surprise in the


downturn is how well the employment figures have done, but they have not


invested in new capacity and they are sitting on a lot of dosh. I


looked at one set of figures that said if you took the biggest company


in Britain, they have about 715 billion pounds in corporate treasury


-- the biggest companies. I think it's reduced a little but they are


sitting on a mountain in dash of skills. Yes, but they're not


investing in skills, wages, or sustainable jobs. The new jobs we


have seen created since 2010, the vast majority of them have been in


low paid industries, and they are often zero hours, or insecure, or


part-time. So it's not delivering a recovery for ordinary working


people. Government ministers, as you know when you lobby them, they are


anxious to make out that they know the job is not done and the recovery


has just begun, but the one bit they are privately proud of, although


they can't explain it, is how many private-sector jobs have been


created. A lot of unions have done sensible deals with employers to


protect jobs through this period, but it's not sustainable. The


average worker in Britain today is now ?2000 a year worse off in real


terms than they were. On a pay against price comparison? It doesn't


take into account tax cuts. The raising of the personal allowance is


far outweighed by the raising VAT. Does the raising of the threshold


which the Lib Dems are proud of and the Tories are trying to trade


credit for, does it matter to your members? -- take credit for. It


matters that it is eclipsed by the cuts in benefits and know what is


conned any more. We're going to hear a lot about the raising of the


allowance, but as long as the real value of work, tax credits, things


like that, people won't feel it in their pocket, and they will find it


harder and harder to look after their family. When you look at the


other things that could take over from consumer spending which has


driven the recovery, held by house price rising in the south, it is


exports and business investment, and you look at the state of the


Eurozone and the emerging markets which are now in trouble, and the


winter seems to have derailed the US recovery. It won't be exports.


Indeed, the Obie Eich does not think that will contribute to growth until


2015 -- OBI. So the figures we should be looking at our business


investment. And also the deficit. The deficit is 111 billion, and that


is a problem, because we are not at the end of the cutting process,


there are huge cuts to be made. I understand we are only a third of


the way through. That will definitely affect business


confidence. It is clear that the strategy has failed. Borrowing has


gone up and it's not delivered improved living standards and better


quality jobs, so cutting out of the recession is not going to work. The


structural budget deficit was going to be eliminated three weeks today


under the original plan. They missed target after target. Every economist


has their own definition of that. I think Mark Carney is right when he


says that fundamentally the economy is unbalanced and it is not


sustainable, growth is not sustainable. But if it clicked on,


it would be more balanced. It is not just north and south and


manufacturing a way out with services, but it is also between the


rich and everybody else. What do you make of the fact that there will


effectively be another freezing public sector pay, or at least no


more than 1%? Not even that for nurses and health workers. But they


will get 3% progression pay. 70% of nurses will not get any pay rise at


all. They get no progression pay at all. I think this is smack in the


mouth. Smack in the mouth to dedicated health care workers who


will feel very, very discontented about the decision. Danny


Alexander, I saw him appealing to health workers do not move to strike


ballots and said they should talk to their department. But about what? Is


that real pay cut has been imposed, what are workers left with? So do


you expect as a result of yet more tough controls on public sector pay


that unrest is inevitable? I know some unions will be consulting with


their members, but ultimately it's always members who decide what to


do. It does seem to me insulting not to at least be honest and say that


we are cutting real pay of nurses, health care workers, on the back of


a ?3 billion reorganisation of the NHS that nobody wanted and nobody


voted for. Their long-term changes taking place here that almost talks


about -- there are long-term changes. It is how lower percentage


wages have become of GDP on how big the percentage of profits is. It


seems to me there is a strong case for some kind of realignment there.


The biggest event of my life, in this world, is the entry of a couple


of billion more people into the labour supply. At the end of the


Cold War, India and China plugged into the global economy. If there is


a greater supply of that factor of production, logically you conclude


that wages will fall or stagnate and that has been the story in this


country and America and large parts of Western Europe in the last


generation. What is not possible is for governments to do much about


it. They can ameliorate it at the margins, but the idea that the


government controls living standards, which has become popular


over the last six months, and the Labour Party have in establishing


that, and I don't think it's true. George Osborne's options are


astonishingly limited compared to public expectations. If wages have


reached a modern record low as percentage of GDP, who is going to


champion the wage earner? We have lost Bob Crow, Tony Benn passed


away, so who is the champion? The trade union movement is the champion


of ordinary workers. We need those larger-than-life figures that we


will mess. Have you got them yet? We have a generation of workers coming


through. One thing about the loss of Bob Crow is that the whole union


movement has responded strongly to that, and we want to say that we are


strong and united and here to stand up for working people and we will


fight as hard as Bob Crow did. Whoever replaces Bob Crow or Tony


Benn, we can be sure they will not come from Eton because they all have


jobs in the government. I want to put up on the screen what even


Michael Gove was saying about this coterie of Old Etonian 's.


He's right, is he not? He's absolutely right. We have the idea


of the manifesto being written by five people from Eton and one from


Saint Pauls. A remarkable example of social mobility that George Osborne,


who had the disadvantage of going to Saint Pauls has made it into that


inner circle. Here is the question, what is Michael Gove up to? If you


saw the response from George Osborne, there was no slap down, and


they know this is an area they are weak on an David Cameron will not


comment on it. If this had been a Labour shadow minister making a


similarly disloyal statement, they might have been shot at dawn. But


there is a real tolerance from Michael Gove to go freelance which


comes from George Osborne. It's about highlighting educational


reforms that he wants to turn every school in to eat and so it won't


happen in the future. But it's also pointing out who did not go to Eton


school and who would be the best candidate to replace David Cameron


as leader, George Osborne, and who did go to Eton school, Boris


Johnson. Michael Gove is on manoeuvres to destroy Boris


Johnson's chances of being leader. It's a good job they don't have an


election to worry about. Hold on. I think they are out of touch with


businesses as well as working people. You ask about who is talking


about wage earners. Businesses are. They are worried that unless living


standards rise again there will be nobody there to buy anything. We are


running out of time, but the TUC, are enthusiastic about HS2? We


supported. We think it's the kind of infrastructure project that we need


to invest in long-term. He could, if we get it right, rebalance north and


south and create good jobs along the way -- it could. Thank you very much


tool. I have to say that every week -- thank you very much to you all.


That's all for today. I'll be back next Sunday at 11am, and Jo Coburn


will be on BBC Two tomorrow at midday with the Daily Politics.


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


Download Subtitles