17/11/2013 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


The latest political news, interviews and debate in Northern Ireland.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 17/11/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


Downing Street announces an inquiry into allegations of hardball


Downing Street announces an inquiry and intimidation by unions in


industrial disputes. That's our top story.


Thousands dead. Hundreds of thousands without homes. Millions


affected. What is Britain doing to help the Philippines in the wake of


Typhoon Haiyan? We'll ask International Development Secretary


Justine Greening. Winter is coming and so, it seems,


is another crisis in England's hospitals. I'll be asking the Shadow


And coming up here, should the to


And coming up here, should the Assembly have the power to alter the


levels of income tax and stamp duty? We'll examine NI21's big ideas and


the SDLP's demand for the return of the Civic Forum. Join


fatalities on the capital's streets, and renewed calls to get lorries off


the roads in peak hours. With me, the best and brightest


political panel that money can buy. Janan Ganesh, Nick Watt and this


week, Zoe Williams, who'll be tweeting their thoughts throughout


the programme. The Government has announced a


review to investigate what the Prime Minister has called "industrial


intimidation" by trade union activists. Bruce Carr QC will chair


a panel to examine allegations of the kind of tactics that came to


light during the Grangemouth dispute, when the Unite union took


their protests - replete with a giant rat - outside the family homes


of the firms' bosses. Earlier this morning the Cabinet office minister,


Francis Maude spoke to the BBC and this is what he had to say. To look


at whether the law currently works and see if it is ineffective in


preventing the kind of intimidatory activity that was alleged to have


taken place around range mouth during the previous disputes --


Grangemouth. We make no presumptions at the beginning of this. I do think


it is a responsible thing for the government to establish what


happened and really do a proper review into whether the law is


adequate to meet the needs. That was Francis Maude. This is a purely


political move, isn't it? Unite did this a couple of times, it is hardly


happening all over the country but the government want to say, we are


prepared to investigate Unite properly, Labour isn't. This seemed


a lot worse when I thought it was a real rat. I thought it was a giant


dead rat. I am not sure if you know much about rats but real rats are


not this big, even the ones in London. The thing is, obviously it


is naked politics but I think it is more intelligent than it looks. They


are trying to taint Miliband as a week union puppet and that doesn't


really wash. They hammer away with it and it might wash for some


people. But it really castrates Miliband in the important issues he


has to tackle. Zero hours, living wage, all of those things in which


he needs to be in concert with the unions, and to use their expertise.


He is making them absolutely toxic to go anywhere near. It keeps the


Unite story alive, have to kill -- particularly since Mr Miller band is


under pressure to reopen the investigation into what Unite are up


to -- Mr Miliband. They are frustrated, not only at the BBC but


the media generally at what they think is a lack of coverage. I see


the political rationale from that respect. There is a risk. There are


union members who either vote Tory or are open to the idea of voting


Tory. All Lib Dem. If the party comes across as too zealous in as --


its antipathy, there is an electoral consequence. Ed Miliband has been


careful to keep a distance. Yes, they depend on vast amounts of


money. When Len McCluskey had a real go at the Blairites, Ed Miliband was


straight out there with a very strong statement. Essentially Len


McCluskey wanted Blairites in the shadow cabinet sacked and Ed


Miliband was keen to distance himself or for that is why it is not


quite sticking. Another story in the Sunday papers this morning, the Mail


on Sunday got hold of some e-mails. When I saw the headline I thought it


was a huge cache of e-mails, it turns out to be a couple. They peel


away the cover on the relationship between Ed Miliband and Ed Balls,


with some of Ed Miliband's cohorts describing what Mr balls is trying


with some of Ed Miliband's cohorts to do as a nightmare. How bad are


the relations? They are pretty bad and these e-mails confirm the


biggest open signal in Westminster, which is that relations are pretty


tense, -- open secret. That Ed Miliband doesn't feel that Ed Balls


is acknowledging the economy has grown that Labour needs to admit to


past mistakes. The sort of great open signal is confirmed. On a scale


of 1-10, assuming that Blair-Brown was ten. I think it is between six


and seven. They occupy this joint suite of offices that George Cameron


and -- David Cameron and George Osborne had. It is not just on the


economy that there were tensions, there were clearly tensions


economy that there were tensions, HS2, Ed Balls put a huge question


over it at his conference. There will be more tensions when it comes


to the third runway because my information is that Mr balls wants


to do it and Ed Miliband almost resigned over it when he was in


government. I don't think Ed Miliband is thinking very


politically because he has tried live without Ed Balls and that is


not tenable either. -- life without. He has defined a way of making it


work. That is where Tony Blair had the edge on any modern politician.


He didn't want to make Ed Balls his Shadow Chancellor, he had to.


Somebody said to him, if you make Ed Balls Shadow Chancellor, that will


be the last decision you take as leader of the Labour Party. Is it as


bad? I was surprised at how tame the e-mails were. At the FT it is


compulsory, one French word per sentence! To call him a nightmare,


compared to what they are willing to say in briefings, conversations,


bits of frustrations they express verbally come what is documented in


the e-mails is actually pretty light. It has been a grim week for


the people of the Philippines as they count the cost of the


devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan. HMS Daring has just arrived


near the worst hit areas - part of Britain's contribution to bring aid


to the country. It has been one of the worst natural


disasters in the history of the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan hit the


country nine days ago, leaving devastation in its wake. The numbers


involved are shocking. The official death toll is over 3600 people, with


many thousands more unaccounted for. More than half a million people have


lost their homes and the UN estimates 11 million have been


affected. David Cameron announced on Friday that the UK government is to


give an extra ?30 million in aid, taking the total British figure ?250


million. An RAF Sea 17 aircraft landed yesterday with equipment to


help aid workers get too hard to reach areas. HMS Illustrious is on


its way and due to arrive next weekend. The British public have


once again dipped into their pockets and given generously. They have


given more than ?30 million to the Disasters Emergency Committee.


The International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, joins


The International Development me now for the Sunday Interview.


Good morning, Secretary of State. How much of the ?50 million that the


government has allocated has got through so far? All of it has landed


on the ground now. HMS Daring has turned up, that will be able to


start getting help out to some of those more outlying islands that


have been hard to reach. We have seen Save the Children and Oxfam


really being able to get aid out on the ground. We have a plane taking


off today that will not read just carrying out more equipment to help


clear the roads but will also have their staff on board, too. We have


?50 million of aid actually on the ground? We instantly chartered


flights directly from Dubai where we have preprepared human Terry and


supplies, and started humanity work -- humanitarian supplies.


A lot of it has now arrived. I think we have done a huge amount so far.


We have gone beyond just providing humanitarian supplies, to getting


the Royal Air Force involved. They have helped us to get equipment out


there quickly. We have HMS Illustrious sailing over there now.


Why has that taken so long? It was based in the Gulf and is not going


to get there until two weeks after the storm first hit and that is the


one ship we have with lots of helicopters. The first decision we


took was to make sure we could get the fastest vessel out there that


was able to help HMS Daring. HMS Illustrious was just finishing an


exercise and planning to start to head back towards the UK. We have


exercise and planning to start to said to not do that, and diverted


it. Shouldn't it have happened more quickly? We took the decisions as


fast as we were able to, you can't just turn a big warship around like


the HMS Illustrious. We made sure we took those decisions and that is


while it will be taking over from HMS Daring come and that is why HMS


Daring is ready there. It will be able to provide key support and


expertise that has not been there so far. The US Navy is doing the heavy


lifting here. The US Navy had the USS Washington, there is an aircraft


carrier, 80 planes, 5000 personnel and they have the fleet, they are


doing the real work. We obviously helping but the Americans are taking


the lead. It is a big international effort. Countries like the US and


the UK, that have a broader ability to support that goes


the UK, that have a broader ability call humanitarian supplies -- have


made sure we have brought our logistics knowledge, we have sent


out our naval vessels. It shows we are working across government to


respond to this crisis. Why does only just over 4% of your aid budget


go on emergency disaster and response? A lot depends on what


crises hit in any given year. We have done a huge amount, responding


to the crisis in Syria, the conflict there and the fact we have 2 million


refugees who have fled the country. We are part of an international


effort in supporting them. Shouldn't we beginning more money to that


rather than some of the other programmes where it is harder to see


the results question of if we were to give more money to the refugees,


it would be a visible result. We could see an improvement in the


lives of children, men and women. What we need to do is alongside that


is stop those situations from happening in the first place. A lot


of our development spend is helping countries to stay stable. Look at


some of the work we are doing in Somalia, much more sensible. Not


just from an immigration but there is a threat perspective. There is a


lot of terrorism coming from Somalia. You only have to look at


Kenya recently to see that. Which is why you talk about what we do with


the rest of the spend. It is why it is responsible to work with the


government of Somalia. Should we give more, bigger part of the budget


to disaster relief or not? I think we get it about right, we have to be


flexible and we are. This Philippine relief is on top of the work in


Syria. Where can you show me a correlation between us giving aid to


some failed nation, or nearly failed nation, and that cutting down on


terrorism? If you look at the work we have done in Pakistan, a huge


amount of work. Some of it short-term. It is written by


terrorism. That is -- ridden by terrorism. That is not going to fix


it self in a sense. Look at the work that we do in investing in


education. The things that little girls like Malala talk about as


being absolutely key. We are ramping up our aid to Pakistan, it will be


close to half ?1 billion by the time of the election. Why should British


taxpayers be giving half ?1 billion to a country where only 0.5% of


people in Pakistan pay income tax, and 70% of their own MPs don't pay


income tax. It is a good point and that is why we have been working


with their tax revenue authority to help them increase that and push


forward the tax reform. You are right, and I have setup a team that


will go out and work with many of these countries so they can raise


their own revenues. You really think you will raise the amount of tax by


sending out the British HRM see? How many troops I we sending out to


protect them? They don't need troops. We make sure that we have a


duty of care alongside our staff, but we have to respond to any crisis


like the Philippines, and alongside other countries we have two work


alongside them so that they can reinvest in their own public


services. If they can create their own taxes, will we stop paying aid?


We need to look at that but the new Pakistan Government has been very


clear it is a priority and we will be helping them in pursuing that.


Let me show you a picture. Who are these young women? I don't know, I'm


sure you are about to tell me. They are the Ethiopian Spice Girls and


I'm surprised you don't know because they have only managed to become so


famous because your department has financed them to the tune of ?4


million. All of the work we do with women on the ground, making sure


they have a voice in their local communities, making sure they have


some control over what happens to their own bodies in terms of


tackling FGM, female genital mutilation... Did you know your


department has spent ?4 million on the Ethiopian Spice Girls? Yes, I


do, and we have to work with girls and show them there is a life ahead


of them with opportunity and potential that goes beyond what many


of them will experience, which includes early and forced marriage.


It is part of the work we do with local communities to change


attitudes everything you have just said is immeasurable, and they


broadcast on a radio station that doesn't reach most of the country so


it cannot have the impact. It only reaches 20 million people and the


project has been condemned saying there were serious inefficiencies.


That aid report was done a while ago now, and it was talking about the


project when it first got going, and a lot of improvements have happened


since. I would go back to the point that we are working in very


difficult environments where we are trying to get longer term change on


the ground and that means working directly with communities but also


investing for the long-term, investing in some of these girls


start changing attitudes in them and their communities. Why does the


British taxpayers spend ?5 million on a Bangladesh version of Question


Time? We work with the BBC to make sure we can get accountabilities...


That is bigger then the BBC Question Time Normal -- budget. That includes


the cost of David Dimbleby's tattoo! We are working to improve


people's prospects but also we are working to improve their ability to


hold their governments to account so that when they are not getting


services on the ground, they have ways they can raise those concerns


services on the ground, they have with the people who are there to


deliver services for them. In your own personal view, should the next


Conservative Government, if there is one, should you continue to ring


fence spending on foreign aid? But it is critical that if we are going


to spend 7.7% of our national income, we should make sure it is in


our national interest and that means having a clear approach to


humanitarian responses, in keeping the country safe, and a clearer


approach on helping drive economic development and jobs so there is a


long-term end of the dependency. Do you believe in an shrine in the


percentage of our GDP that goes on foreign aid in law? Yes, and


percentage of our GDP that goes on a coalition agreement. There have


been a lot of agreements that you are sceptical about ring fencing. We


are focused on shaking up the economy and improving our public


finances. Why haven't you done that? At the end of the day we will be


accountable but we are committed to doing that. You are running out of


time, will you do it? I hope we can find the Parliamentary time, but


even if we don't, we have acted as if that law is in place and we have


already met 0.7% commitment. If you are British voter that doesn't


already met 0.7% commitment. If you believe that we should enshrine that


in by law, which means that with a growing economy foreign aid will


rise by definition, and if you think we should be spending less money on


the Ethiopian Spice Girls, for whom should you wrote in the next


election? I think we have a very sensible approach. I don't know what


the various party manifestoes... The only party who thinks we shouldn't


be doing this is UKIP. I think you have to look at the response to both


the Philippines crisis and Children In Need. Of all the steps we are


taking to get the country back on track, it shows the British people


will respond to need when they need it and it is one of the things that


makes Britain's special. Thank you. "It's always winter but


never Christmas" - that's how doctors describe life inside


accident and emergency. The College of Emergency Medicine have warned


that this year could bring the "worst crisis on record". If that


dire prediction comes, expect a spring of political recriminations,


but how prepared are the NHS in England? And what do they make of


this autumnal speculation? Giles has been to Leeds to find out.


This winter has already come to our hospitals. It had an official start


date, November the 3rd. That is when weekly updates are delivered to the


NHS's most senior planners, alerting them to any sudden changes in


patient numbers coming in. Where do they numbers register most then


A They are the barometer for what is going on everywhere else, and


they are the pressure point, so if the system is beginning to struggle


then it is in the A department that we see the problems. It is not


that the problems are the A departments, but they are the place


where it all comes together. Plans to tackle those problems start being


drawn up in May and they look at trends, even taking notice of any


flu epidemics in New Zealand. They also look at the amount of bets. But


the weather, economic realities, structural reforms, and changes to


the general health of the population, are all factors they


have to consider. We get huge amounts of information through the


winter in order to help the NHS be the best it can be, but we had to


redouble our efforts this year because we expected to be a


difficult winter. We know the NHS is stretched so we are working hard to


be as good as we can be. That means they are looking at winter staffing


levels, plans to ask for help from neighbouring hospitals, and


dovetailing help with GP surgeries, and still having the ability to move


up an extra gear, a rehearsed emergency plan if the NHS had to


face a major disease pandemic. You spend any time in any of our


hospitals and you realise the NHS knows that winter is coming and they


are making plans, but you also get a palpable feeling amongst health


workers across the entire system that they do get fed up of being


used as a political football. Doctors and all health care


professionals are frustrated about the politics that surrounds the NHS


in health care. They go to work to treat patients as best as they can,


and the political knock-about does not help anyone. I find it


frustrating when there is a commentary that suggests the NHS


does not planned, when it is surprised by winter, and wherever


that comes from it is hard to take, knowing how much we do nationally


and how much our hard working front line staff are doing. When the


Coalition have recently tried to open up the NHS to be a more


independent body, it is clear the NHS feel they have had an unhealthy


dose of political wrangling between parties on policy. The NHS is not


infallible or making any guarantees, but they seem confident that they


and their patients can survive the winter.


Joining me now from Salford in the Shadow Health Secretary, Andy


Burnham. Tell me this, if you were health secretary now, you just took


over in an emergency election, what would you do to avoid another winter


crisis? I would immediately halt the closure of NHS walk-in centres. We


heard this week that around one in four walk-in centres are closed so


it makes no sense whatsoever for the Government to allow the continued


closure of them. I would put nurses back on the end of phones and


restore an NHS direct style service. The new 111 service is not in a


position to provide help to people this winter. I think the time has


come to rethink how the NHS care is particularly for older


come to rethink how the NHS care is propose the full integration of


health and social care. It cannot make any sense any more to have this


approach where we cut social care and let elderly people drift to


hospitals in greater numbers. We have two rethink it as a whole


service. So you would repeal some of the Tory reforms and move


commissioning to local authorities so the NHS should brace itself for


another major top-down health reorganisation? No, unlike Andrew


Lansley I will work with the organisations ie inherit. He could


work with primary care trusts but he turned it upside down when it needed


stability. I will not do that but I will repeal the health and social


care act because last week we heard that hospitals and health services


cannot get on and make sensible merger collaborations because of


this nonsense now that the NHS is bound by competition law. Let me get


your views on a number of ideas that have been floated either by the


press or the Coalition. We haven't got much time. Do you welcome the


plan to bring back named GPs for over 75s? Yes, but it has got harder


to get the GP appointment under this Government because David


to get the GP appointment under this scrapped the 48-hour guarantee that


Tony Blair brought in. He was challenged in the 2005 election


about the difficulty of getting a GP appointment, and Tony Blair brought


in the commitment that people should be able to get that within 48


hours. That has now been scrapped. Do you welcome the idea of allowing


everyone to choose their own GP surgery even if it is not in our


traditional catchment area? I proposed that just before the last


election, so yes. Do you welcome the idea of how a practice is being


rated being a matter of public record, and of us knowing how much,


at least from the NHS, our GP earns? Of course, every political party


supports transparency in Of course, every political party


More information for the public of that kind is a good thing. Do you


welcome this plan to make it will form the collect in an NHS hospital


-- make wilful neglect a criminal offence. It is important to say you


can't pick and mix these recommendations, you can't say we


will have that one and not the others. It was a balanced package


that Sir Robert Francis put forward. My message is that it must be


permitted in full. If we are to learn the lessons, the whole package


must be addressed, and that includes safe staffing levels across the NHS.


Staff have a responsible to two patients at the government also has


responsible at T2 NHS staff and it should not let them work in


understaffed, unsafe conditions -- a responsibility to NHS staff. Is


there a part of the 2004 agreements that you regret and should be


undone? A lot of myths have been built up about the contract. When it


came in, there was a huge shortage of GPs across the country. Some


communities struggle to recruit. This myth that the government have


built, that the 2004 GP contract is responsible for the AM decries is,


it is spin of the worst possible kind -- the A crisis. You would


redo that contract? It was redone under our time in government and


change to make it better under our time in government and


money. GPs should be focused on improving the health of their


patients and that is a very good principle. Not so great if you can't


get 24-hour access. I agree with that. We brought in evening and


weekend opening for GPs. That is another thing that has gone in


reverse under Mr Cameron. It is much harder to get a GP appointment under


him and that is one of the reasons why A is an oppressor. -- under


pressure. What do you make of the review into intimidatory tactics by


unions? If there has been intimidation, it is unacceptable,


and that should apply to unions as well as employers. Was Unite wrong


to turn up and demonstrate? I don't well as employers. Was Unite wrong


know the details, this review will look into that presumably. I need


reassurance that this is not a pretty cool call by Mr Cameron on


the designed to appear near the election -- that this is not a


political call. Are you sponsored by unite? No. Do you get any money from


Unite? No. What have you done wrong? It seems others are getting money


from Unite. Can I tell you what I think is the scandal of British


party political funding, two health care companies have given ?1.5


million in donations to the Tory party, they have ?1.5 billion in NHS


contracts. I wonder why you don't spend much time talking about that


and obsess over trade union funding. We are happy to talk about that. We


see from e-mails that Mr Miliband's closest advisers regard Mr Ed Balls


as a bit of a nightmare, do you see a bit of a nightmare about him as


well? I don't at all, he is a very good friend. I can't believe that


you are talking about those e-mails on a national political programme.


My goodness, you obviously scraping the barrel today. I have been in


front-line labour politics for 20 years. I can't remember the front


bench and the wider party being as united as it is today and it is a


great credit to Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. We are going into a general


election and we are going to get rid of a pretty disastrous coalition


government. It was worth spending a few seconds


government. It was worth spending a having nightmares. Thank you for


joining me. It's just gone 11:30am. You're


watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20 minutes, I'll be


talking to the MP accused of using his


Hello, and welcome to Sunday Politics in Northern Ireland. It's


the newest party on the block, but can NI21 deliver realistic


alternatives? Its leader Basil McCrea says Stormont should be given


more tax powers. It will increase accountability, it will make a


greater propensity for local parties to work together, it will make them


more accountable and I think it will make for better government.


Also up for discussion today - its last incarnation was in 2002, but


now the SDLP wants to see a return of the Civic Forum. Alex Attwood


will be telling me why. The economy is starting to grow, but when will


people's standard of living increase? We'll be asking if we're


finally beginning to emerge from the economic downturn. And to discuss


all of that and more, I'm joined by the political correspondent of the


News Letter, Sam McBride, and the University of Ulster's Dr Cathy


Gormley-Heenan. The party political conference season is well and truly


upon us. Yesterday it was the turn of the newest party here, NI21. Its


leader, Basil McCrea, wants Westminster to allow local


politicians the authority to raise or reduce the levels of income tax


and stamp duty. He set up the party this year, along with John


McCallister, after the two men left the Ulster Unionist Party. Stephen


Walker went along to the party's inaugural conference for Sunday


Politics. Outside Belfast's Europe Hotel, NI21 show their colours.


Inside they claimed to have found a new political formula. This marks


the first opportunity for NI21 to map out in detail some of their


policies. But what do their activists and supporters make of


their plans, in particular the idea that the Executive could control


levels of income tax? I think it is an aspiration. If we want to grow up


as a party and the country, we should be looking at saying we need


responsibility for ourselves. I am happy in my income tax that I am


contributing, it involves local people. Income tax is where the


finances come from, and if you control how you tax people, the more


power that comes to Stormont the better and the more effective


parliament can be. Basil McCrea believes greater fiscal powers will


make devolution stronger. It will increase accountability, it will


help Northern Ireland parties to work together, and I think it will


make for better government. What do the Business Committee think? We


need to be cautious in the steps we take in that. We have been at the


forefront of the devolution of corporation tax. If you go into more


broad measures such as income tax, it requires a lot more to be done


before we can be sure where that path will go. Other policies


included an official opposition at Stormont and the First and Deputy


First Minister becoming Stormont and the First and Deputy


ministers. Peter and Martin are joined. One cannot order a fish


supper without the other one. Let's call it what it is, a joint office.


So how should we now view NI21? You look at people around the room, this


is the first time they have come to politics. But are they ready for the


hard slog of standing in elections, pounding the puck past and knocking


on doors? That will be a challenge to get past this idealism and a


vague feeling that things aren't right and translated into commitment


to do something. So their first conference is over but another first


is on the horizon. Next to me the Council and European elections


resent NI21 with their first electoral test.


Let's get some reaction from my guests, Cathy Gormley-Heenan and Sam


McBride. Cathy, Basil's big thought, local politicians being


able to set income tax and stamp levelled levels. Good idea? Yes, I


am glad he rated because Northern Ireland has declared itself from the


debate on tax, up to this point we have had some tentative


conversations about fiscal devolution and autonomy but nothing


more substantial. Sam, is that how you see it? People talk about this


before but it never happens. The argument for work which was made


yesterday is that it helps Stormont grow up, it lets them raise their


own taxes so grow up, it lets them raise their


about cuts here or there, they need to take responsibility themselves


and that is a good argument. The problem is that Northern Ireland


gets a huge help from Westminster, millions of pounds each year. If


Northern Ireland races all its own income tax, it would be obvious how


much we get from Westminster. Those sorts of questions weren't really


addressed. Another notion was getting rid of the office of First


Minister and Deputy First Minister and calling it it is -- what it is,


a joint office. I imagine that would inflame matters in some quarters.


This would raise by the Alliance in 2007 and Martin McGuinness had asked


the Hansard team to change the D in OFMDFM to a small deed to signify


that it is a joint office, so there have been some moves at signifying


that this is a joint office, which it is but it has never been


explicitly said, and I think the NI21 remarks shine a spotlight on


that. The issue of an opposition was raised. John McCallister's pitch to


be leader of the Austrian party was about going into opposition. That is


what differentiates them from the Alliance Party, which is their big


task. There was some meat on the bones of what the opposition stuff


would mean but also the role of the speaker, which is technical but


crucial in making the speaker more like the speaker at


crucial in making the speaker more where they have less control, the


parties have less control of that process. Did you get the sense it


was a successful conference or will it weather on the vine? It was a


successful conference in the short space of time they had. A lot of


young people, energy, Basil McCrea's speech was a bit rambling


but there were things that enthused people. Liam Clarke's point, lots of


youthful enthusiasm but will it translate to political commitment? I


think it will. One strapline was a post-agreement party for a


post-agreement generation, and most people voting for the first time in


the next elections were born as the agreement was signed, so there is an


appetite there. Thank you both for now.


There's been a lot of talk over now.


past week about jobs and business in general, and mention even of the


"green shoots" of recovery. But is that too optimistic? In a moment


I'll be talking to the chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee, Daithi


McKay, and David McIlveen, who sits on the Enterprise Trade and


Investment Committee. But first, our economics and business editor, John


Campbell, assesses if things are really improving, and if there are


hard facts to back up the feel-good factor. The economy is recovering


but the pace of growth is slow. We have a long way to go before we get


back to where we were before the recession. There were a couple of


bits of good news, the decline in unemployment is continuing and some


evidence that job creation has picked up. Inflation also fell this


week but other figures show the service sector, the biggest part of


the local economy, shrank during the year, but most economists say the


growth we have seen it not pick up until the third quarter during the


summer months. Next week, with the new instalment of the house price


index, expect that to show an increase in transaction but not


prices, we also get a survey of earnings which will show how much


pressure household budgets are under, because a question for the


economy is how can it grow if people's wages are falling in real


terms? John Campbell setting out the stall there. The Sinn Fein MLA


Daithi McKay is the chair of the Assembly's Finance Committee. He's


with me now, along with the DUP's David McIlveen, who's private


secretary to the Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton. John ended his


comments with an interesting assessment, which may be a good


place to dart. How can the economy grow if wages are static or


place to dart. How can the economy in real terms? Over the past nine


months, there has been a continuing fall in the employment rate. We have


seen more good news stories, more direct foreign investment and


exports are up, which indicates indigenous businesses are doing


well, so the elephant in the room is the cost of living. People go to the


shops on a weekly basis and spend over ?100 each time, the cost of


goods is another issue, and a lot of these issues can be dealt with if


you take control of fiscal powers, as was referred to in your previous


peace. Are you backing Basil McCrea in that demand? They are backing us


because we raised the issue, but income tax and stamp duty were two


issues raised a couple of weeks ago on some commission recommendations


so it is limited in terms of their scope. Do you agree, David McIlveen,


that the parties at Stormont and Simon Hamilton has to get his hands


on the real evils of power, the capacity to raise or lower income


tax? The term green shoots of recovery I would hope is permanently


etched from vocabulary, because we have to realise whom and bust did


not work and we now need a level head to ensure our economy grows at


a sustainable rate. I do not believe devolving fiscal powers to Stormont


is the best way forward, surely because it is fantasy politics.


Conservative estimations indicate we received ?11 billion more each year


then what we sent in tax receipts. That is around ?6,500 for every


citizen of Northern Ireland. I don't know about Sinn Fein or NI21, but if


they want to go to the electorate and tell them they will give them a


?6,500 greater tax bill, they are braver amend alive. What about stamp


duty? These things come as a part -- at a cost. We have targeted requests


for fiscal powers to areas where we believe we can gain an overall


economic benefit. Corporation tax, air traffic duty. So should we just


soak it up? Wages are static or falling, you don't want the levers


of power to change things, which some people think would be an


important asset. We just have to get on with it? There are two things we


can do. We can keep household taxes low and this Assembly has delivered


that. Second, we can create better higher paid jobs. We know our


economy is too reliant on the public sector. There have been more


private-sector jobs created in the last two years then in the history


of Northern Ireland. That is good news. Daithi McKay, so you are


engaged in in fantasy politics? Dublin had chances in terms of the


taxes down there. We don't have that here, we have guesses based on the


surveys 's David referred to. They are not based on actual figures.


Dublin is a sovereign state in control of its own affairs, the


reality for us is that we are part of the UK economy. You have to


accept that. I don't accept that. It is backed at the moment. But to get


back to fiscal powers, what we are entitled to is accurate figures in


terms of taxes we raise so we can go to London with a stronger hand when


it comes to the economy. But look at corporation tax. That was trailed as


a great panacea but it hasn't happened and now we are told it is


on the long finger and will come at a cost. It is a risky thing to


engage. We have to take risks. You cannot keep throwing out estimates


and scaring people off because ultimately this economy will not go


anywhere. In terms of moving this issue forward, we need a proper,


mature debate as is happening in Wales and Scotland. The real problem


is the dogma that has been introduced by Unionist politicians


because when Sammy Wilson, the previous Finance Minister, was


questioned about devolution, he said he would be opposed to it because he


is a Unionist. That does not cut it with the Business Committee. -- with


the people who want to see this happen. You should be practical, not


dogmatic? We have to use devolution to our best advantage and it is


ironic we have a Sinn Fein representative saying we should be


more like what is happening across the border. I struggle to find


anyone in Northern Ireland today who would want to be in an economy which


has undergone such extreme austerity as Republic of Ireland has had to


face. Briefly, can you comment on the petrol bomb attack on an


Alliance Party office in East Belfast last night? Naomi Long says


it's an attack on democracy. Is she right? I agree entirely with that.


We have experienced many attacks on our people on property we are no


stranger to how that feels. This is an attack on democracy. It's not


only was an attack on an elected representative's office but it could


have damaged adjoining premises. I don't see how that is good for East


Belfast. Our thoughts should be with Naomi and all their elected


representatives working in that office and their families because


this has a huge impact that people do not realise, but in terms of


Belfast, we do not want to do not realise, but in terms of


repeat of what happened here before. We want to see a happy and


productive Christmas and see businesses grow and flourish as they


should have done this year. Thank you both. Time now for a look at


what's been making the headlines in the political week gone past.


Tributes were paid to one of the SDLP's founders. From Cranfield to


Crossgar, everyone had the highest respect for Edinburgh they. Stormont


was told to hurry up welfare reform. ?400 million a month does not sound


a lot but it will be 60 million in the first year. Another bill was


killed by Mark H Durkan. I am not scrapping the national parks built


but I am shelving it. Parading talks continued but there was no


breakthrough. They were helpful meetings. That does not mean there


was a miracle. And Edwin Poots gave us some marriage guidance. Many


people who are heterosexual desire lots of other folks. Those of us who


are married should not be doing that, so people can resist urges.


Now, if you've been a keen follower of local politics for a while,


you'll very probably recall the Civil Forum. It was set up in 2000


to address pressing social economic and cultural matters. However, its


life was short-lived, and it hasn't met since 2002. Tomorrow, the


Assembly will debate an SDLP motion to recall it by as soon as the end


of January. Let's hear more from Alex Attwood, who's proposed the


motion. Thank you for joining us. It met 12 times between 2000 and 2002,


and then slipped away into the shadows. Doesn't it look a bit like


a relic of the past at this stage? I think the greater strength of


society today and over the last ten or 20 years has been the party of


our civic groups. They held this place together during the years of


conflict and they are the people, and Richard Haass could tell you


this, who have given the wisest advice to this new talks process. I


think it is time now to scale up the input of civic society into our


politics, and doing so will make politics more honest than we have


seen recently. Do we really need a Civic Forum to do that, because you


have said there have been hundreds of submissions from civic society to


the house is all talks without this form? Lets take as an example the


victims form, add all the indications are that while its work


is challenging, it has shaken up well and that creates a better


understanding of the issues around victims and helps politicians to do


what has to be done on their behalf. In respect of civic groups,


we need to build an inclusive society, we need to capture all


those who give good authority and advice. Creating a new Civic Forum


is one way of doing so, and in my view will create a great point of


contrast between the failure of party politics and the strength of


civic groups. But isn't this a spectacular own goal on your part


because by calling for the reintroduction of the Civic Forum,


you are admitting our politicians have failed us. Yes, we have. Look


around us at the flags and parades dispute, look at politics degrading.


Some parties clearly had a bigger responsibility to govern and they


have the biggest failure in not leading or governing. But your party


has failed to. It is part of that overall failure? I think politics


has failed people in Northern Ireland. I think it is more true for


some parties than others, but how are we going to have the image of


Download Subtitles