30/10/2016 Sunday Politics Scotland


With guests Iain Duncan Smith, Chi Onwurah and Haras Rafiq of the Quilliam Foundation. Isabel Oakeshott, Steve Richards and Tim Shipman are on the political panel.

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Morning folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.


Theresa May says she wants to help people who are


"just about managing" - so should she reverse


George Osborne's cuts to benefits that are supposed to help people


Prominent London Imam Shakeel Begg is an extremist speaker,


says the High Court, after claims made on this programme.


So why is Mr Begg still being allowed to advise the Police?


Hillary Clinton fights back over the FBI's renewed investigation


into her use of a private email server - is this the boost


Donald Trump needed to reignite his chances of winning the White House?


We'll be asking the Scottish Government's Higher Education


minister how she plans to ensure students from poorer backgrounds


And haunting the studio on this Halloween weekend,


the most terrifying political panel in the business -


Tim 'Ghost' Shipman, 'Eerie' Isabel Oakeshott and


First this morning, two new models of car to be built,


securing 7,000 jobs at the car plant in Sunderland and a further 28,000


The news from Nissan on Thursday was seized on by Leave campaigners


as evidence that the British economy is in rude health


This morning, the Business Secretary, Greg Clark, was asked


what assurances were given to the Japanese firm's bosses


Well, it's in no-one's the interest for there to be tariff


barriers to the continent and vice versa.


So, what I said is that our objective would be to ensure that we


have continued access to the markets in Europe and vice versa, without


tariffs and without bureaucratic impediments.


That is how we will approach those negotiations.


We're joined now from Newcastle by the Shadow Business


Welcome to the programme. Labour has been a bit sceptical about this


Nissan decision. Can we begin by making it clear just what a great


achievement this is, above all for the workers of Sunderland who have


some of the highest productivity in the world, have never been on strike


for 30 years, and produce cars of incredible quality. This is their


victory, isn't it? Andrew, you are absolutely right. The Nissan plant


in Sunderland is among the most productive in the world. The workers


of Nissan are amongst the most productive as well. And it's really


a victory for them and for the trade unions and the business


organisations, and everybody who campaigned to make sure that the


government couldn't ignore their future. It's our future. I'm the MP


for Newcastle. It makes a huge difference to the region. We are a


region that still likes to make things that work. It is a huge part


of our advanced manufacturing sector. So it's really something we


welcome as well as the job security. I'm glad we have got that on the


record from the Labour shadow business secretary. But your Shadow


Chancellor, John McDonnell, claims the government is ignoring


manufacturers and cares only about a small banking elite. In what way is


safeguarding 30,000 industrial jobs in the North safeguarding a


financial elite? As I said, we're really pleased that the campaigning


by trade unions and the workforce, and business organisations, meant


the government felt they couldn't ignore Nissan workers. Let's also be


clear that we want that kind of job security for all of those working in


manufacturing and in other sectors as well. And sweetheart deals for


one company, no matter how important they are, that does not an


industrial strategy make. Why'd you say it is a sweetheart deal? Greg


Clark told the BBC this morning that what was assured to Nissan is an


assurance he gives to the whole industrial sector? I was really


pleased to see Greg Clark felt he had to say something, even though


it's sad that we having our industrial strategy, you like, or


our approach to Brexit delivered piecemeal to the media rather than


to the British people and Nissan, actually. But he want published the


letter. He said he has told us what is in the letter and that


reassurances given on training, on science and on supporting the supply


chain for the automated sector. You must be in favour all -- of all of


that? We are in favour of an industrial strategy. Greg Clark,


unlike Sajid Javid, cannot say industrial strategy. I'm still


puzzling to find out what it is you disagree with. Let me put the


question. You said the assurances he has given to Nissan are available to


the car manufacturing sector in general and indeed to industry in


general. What is your problem with that? Two things. Let him publish


the letter so we can see that, let him have the transparency he's


pretending to offer. But also, we need an industrial strategy that


joined. He talked about electric joined. He talked about electric


cars and supporting green cars. That was in regard to Nissan. At the same


time the government has slashed support for other areas of green


technology. So what is it? That is not to do with the Nissan deal.


Labour implied at some stage there was some financial inducement, some


secret bribes, that doesn't seem to be the case. You are not claiming


that any more -- any more. Then you claimed it was a sweetheart deal for


one company. That turns out not to be the case. What criticism are you


left with on this Nissan deal? I would be really surprised if all


that Nissan got was the reassurances that Greg Clark is shared with us.


He didn't answer the question of what happens if we can't get


continued tariff free access to the single market, if we are not within


the single market or the Customs Union. Do you really think a


negotiator like Nissan, who are very good at negotiating, they would have


excepted making this significant investment without some further


reassurances? Do you think there is some kind of financial bride and if


so what is the evidence? I would like to see the letter published and


I would also like to understand what would happen... There are 27


countries which need to agree with the deal we have from Brexit. What


will Nissan, how will Nissan remain competitive? How will the automotive


industry remain competitive? Greg Clark says he reassured them on


that. But how will that be so if we do not get access? We haven't heard


anything about that. He talks about reassurances given to Nissan. We


need to make -- to know where we're going to make sure Brexit is in the


interest of all workers, not only those who work for a Nissan and not


only those who can get the attention of Greg Clark. He assured Nissan


that Britain would remain a competitive place to do business.


That was the main assurance he gave them. He would help with skills and


infrastructure and all the rest. Since you are -- intend to repeal


the trade union laws that have made strikes in Britain largely a thing


of the past, and you plan to raise corporation tax, you couldn't give


Nissan the same assurance, could you? We could absolutely give Nissan


the assurance that we will be, our vision of the future of the UK, is


based on having a strong manufacturing sector. Repealing


trade union laws? As we have seen at Nissan, the industrial sector is


dependent on having highly trained, well skilled workers. -- highly


skilled, well-trained. You don't have that by getting -- having an


aggressive policy and trade union laws or by slashing corporation tax


and not supporting manufacturing investment. Remember, the last


government took away the Manufacturing allowances which


supported Manufacturing and slashed corporation tax. That is their


solution. It is a low tax, low skill economy they want.


Thank you. Sorry I had to rush you. I'm grateful for you joining us.


I'm still struggling to see what is left of Labour's criticism? Yeah,


except for this. This was a valid point she just made. What we know


for sure is that Greg Clark could say to Nissan, my aim is to get


tariff free deal. There is no way he could guarantee that. None of us


know that. I don't think that was enough. I think clearly there was a


more detailed package involving training and other things. He has


acknowledged this, albeit we do not know the precise mechanism. What I


think is interesting about this is if you reverse what happened this


week, at a time when the government says Britain is open for business


and it is going to have an industrial strategy, so far it is a


bit vaguely defined. Nissan hadn't made this commitment. Imagine what


would have happened? It is an impossible scenario. The government


seems to me was obliged to make sure this didn't happen. Let's not forget


Nissan has invested hundreds of millions in the north-east. It has


been a huge success story. When I spoke to workers from Nissan, they


were so proud because they went to Japan to teach the Japanese had to


be more productive. The idea that Nissan was just going to walk away


from this given its track record, its importance, wasn't really


credible. The government had some bargaining chips. Absolutely, of


course they weren't going to walk away. The majority of people in the


area in which Nissan is braced -- based, voted for Brexit. Nissan


knows it is in a powerful position because it is an emotive sector.


Clearly the government didn't want to have some big showdown. I


honestly don't think this is a smoking gun. The Labour Shadow


minister really struggled to articulate what exactly she thinks


the government is hiding. I think the reassurances were given were


pretty anodyne, really. They were anodyne and general. And what Greg


Clark was setting out was an objective and he made the right


noises, and Nissan exercised its right to sabre rattle. It does have


a history of doing that. The one thing that would now be clear given


Greg Clark's performance this morning on the BBC, is that if we


were to discover some kind of financial incentive directly linked


to this investment, not more for skills or infrastructure, that is


fine, but some direct financial investment, compensation for


tariffs, which would be illegal under World Trade Organisation


rules, what you might call a financial bride, the sect -- the


business Secretary's position would be untenable? He would be in a very


difficult position indeed. Just released the letter. There is


nothing to hide. Put it out there. The most revealing thing is that


people are getting wildly excited about the fact Greg Clark announced


Britain's negotiating position would be that we would like tariff free


trade with Europe. This is regarded as an insight into what this comment


is doing and it says a great deal about how little we have been told


in Parliament and the media about what they are up. Do you think it is


exciting we are going for tariff free trade? We're easily excited


these days. We don't know. This is where these things are at such a


tentative phase. We don't know how the rest of the European Union is


going to respond to Britain's negotiating hand. We know Britain


once the best of everything, please. It is a starting point. But that is


not how it is going to end up. We are getting wider than that. We have


will have to see. Now, Universal Credit,


a single payment made to welfare claimants that would roll together


a plethora of benefits whilst encouraging people into work


by making work pay. But have cuts to the flagship


welfare scheme reduced work incentives and hit the incomes


of the least well-off? Well, some of the government's


own MPs think so, and, as Mark Lobel reports,


want the cuts reversed. Theresa May says she wants


a country that works for everyone, that's on the side


of ordinary, working people. It means never writing off people


who can work and consigning them to a life on benefits,


but giving them the chance to go out and earn a living and to enjoy


the dignity that comes But now some in her party


are worried that the low earners will be hit by changes


to Universal Credit benefit system originally set up to encourage


more people into work. We also need to focus tax credits


and Universal Credit Concern centred on the Government's


decision in the July 2015 budget to find ?3 billion worth of savings


from the Universal Credit bill. Conservative MP Heidi Allen


is working on a campaign to get MPs in her party to urge


the Prime Minister to think again. I want her to understand for herself


what the outcomes might be if we press ahead


with the Universal Credit, Do you think Theresa May, right now,


understands what you understand? To be fair, unless you really


get into the detail, and I have through my work


on the Work and Pensions Select Committee, I don't


think anybody does. Independent economic analysts


at the IFS agree with Heidi Alan that cuts to Universal Credit weaken


incentives to work. One of the key parts


of the Universal Credit system That is how much you can


earn before your credit As the Government has


sought to save money, both under the Coalition and now


they Conservative Government, both under the Coalition and now


the Conservative Government, that work allowance has been cut,


time and time again. The biggest cuts happened


in the summer budget of 2015. That basically reduces the amount


of earnings you get to keep It weakens the incentive people have


to move into work. What do changes to the Universal


Credit system mean? The Resolution Foundation think-tank


has crunched the numbers. If you compare what would have


happened before the July 2015 summer budget to what will happen by 2020,


even if you take into account gains in the National Living Wage


and income tax cuts, recipients will be hit


by annual deductions. Couples and parents would receive,


on average, ?1000 less. A dual-earning couple with two


children under four, with one partner working full-time


on ?10.50 an hour and the other working part-time on the minimum


wage for around 20 hours a week, they would


receive ?1800 less. Hit most by the changes


would be a single parent with a child under four,


working full-time I think, if I'm honest,


it is unrealistic, given the economic climate,


to expect everything to be reversed. What I would like to see


is an increase in the work allowances to those people


who will be hardest hit. That is single parents and second


earners hoping to return to work, because they are the people we need


to absolutely make The Sunday Politics understands that


about 15 to 20 Conservative MPs are pushing for changes ahead


of the Autumn Statement. A former cabinet minister told us


that they believed further impact analysis should be done to find out


if any mitigation measures Former Work and Pensions Secretary


Iain Duncan Smith, an architect of the system, now says


the cuts should be reversed. But his former department has told


us that it has no plans to revisit the work allowance changes announced


in the budget last year. What I would say to Heidi Allen


and IDS, they got it right the first time and they should stick


to the vote they cast last year, because these reforms actually


do make sense. What interests me is the fact


we are trying to move people off welfare into work,


we are raising the wages people earn by massively increasing


the minimum wage and this People are coming off


welfare and into work. Campaigners are pushing for savings


to come from other areas to relieve The other thing we have to start


looking at is the triple Financially it has been a great


policy, and it was absolutely right that we lifted pensioners


who were significantly behind, for many years, in terms of income


levels, but they have I think it is time for us to look


at that policy again, because is costing us an awful


lot of money. With just over three weeks to wait


until the Conservative leadership's new economic plan is unveiled


in the Autumn Statement, its top team is under pressure


from within its own ranks to use it And I'm joined now by former Work


and Pensions Secretary, Welcome back to the programme.


Theresa May said she is on the side of the just managing, the working


poor. But they are about to be hit from all sides. Their modest living


standards are going to be squeezed as inflation overtakes pay rises,


they will be further squeezed because top-up benefits in work are


frozen. Incentives to work are going to be reduced by the cuts in


universal benefits. So much for being on the side of those just


managing? Theresa was right to focus on this group. The definition has to


be the bottom half, in economic terms, of the social structure. It


doesn't look good for them? This is the point I am making, it is an


opportunity to put some of this right. One of the reasons I resigned


in March is because I felt the direction of travel we had been


going in had been to take far too much money out of that group of


people when there are other areas which, if you need to make some of


those savings, you can. The key bit is that the group needs to be helped


through into work and encouraged to stay in work. There was a report


done with the IFS, when we were there, at Universal Credit. It said


Universal Credit rolled out, as it should have been before the cuts,


people would be much more likely to stay in work longer and earn more


money. It is a net positive, but that is now called into question.


Let's unpick some of the detail, but first, do you accept the words of


David Willets? It says on the basis of the things I read out to you that


the just managing face a significant and painful cut in real terms if we


continue on the way we are going. I do, in essence. That is the reason


why I resigned. I felt Heidi raised that issue as well, that we got the


balance wrong. It is right that pensioners get to a certain point,


when they are on a level par, doing the right thing over five years.


Staying with that process has cost us ?18 billion extra this year, in


total. It will go on costing another 5 billion. Then there is the issue


of tax allowances. I want to remind you and viewers what David Cameron


told the Conservative conference in 2009. If you are a single mother


with two children, earning ?150 a week, the withdrawal of your


benefits and the additional taxes that you pay me on that for every


extra you earn, you keep just 4p. What kind of incentive is that? 30


years ago, this party won and election fighting against 98% tax


rates for the Rex richest. I want us today to show even more anger about


96% tax rates for the very poorest in our country. Real anger, and


effective rate of over 90%. Universal Credit reduces that. Some


will still face, as they lose benefits and pay tax, a marginal


rate of over 75%. That is still too high? Yes, it is the collision


between those going into work at the moment they start paying tax. A


racial Universal Credit is set at 65%. You can call that the base


marginal tax rate. 1.2 million will face 75%? That is the point about


why the allowances are so important. The point about the allowances which


viewers might not fully understand is that it was set, as part of


Universal Credit, to allow you to get certain people, with certain


difficulties, as they cross into work, to retain more benefit before


it is tapered away as they go up in hours. A lone parent, who might have


various issues, you want her to have a bigger incentive than a single


person that does not have the same commitments. It is structured so


that somebody who has difficulty going to work, they all have


slightly different rates. What happened is that last year a


decision was taken to reduce tax decision was taken to reduce tax


credits, and, on the back of that, to reduce allowances. I believe,


given everything that happened now, we need to restore that to the point


where it helps those people crossing over. You say a decision was taken,


it was a decision by the former Chancellor George Osborne in the


summer budget. Other decisions were taken in successive Budgets to raise


the Universal Credit budget, which resulted in the disincentive being


higher than many people wanted. Do you accept that has been the


consequence of his decisions? I was in the Government, we take


collective responsibility. I argued this was not the right way to go,


but when you are in you have to stay with it if you lose that argument.


There was another attempt before the spending review last year to


increase the taper, so the marginal rate would have gone up. I managed


to stop that. I'm Sibley saying, what we made as a decision last


year, given the circumstances and given that the net effect of all of


that, I think it is time for the Government to ask the question, if


we are in this to help that group of people, Universal Credit is


singularly the most powerful tool. One of the Argentine aid in the


paper published on Thursday, we are set going on doing two more races of


the tax threshold, taking more people out of tax. That has a


diminishing effect on the bottom section. Only 25p in that tax rate


will help any of those. Most of it goes to middle income? You and I


will benefit more from that. With Universal Credit, every pound you


put into that will go to the bottom five tenths. That is why I designed


it like that. He pressed the button and immediately start to changed


circumstances. Should the cuts in Universal Credit that Mr Osborne


introduced, against your argument, should they be reversed? I believe


so. I believe you can do it even if there is concern about spending. I


don't believe you need to go through with the continuing raise the tax


threshold. Cost is dependent on inflation, but give or take. It is


in the Tory manifesto? Has more than doubled. What is in the manifesto,


and Lasse Prime Minister made this clear in conference, we want to


improve the life chances of people. Today's announcement on the Green


paper is what I wrote over the last two and a half years. Big changes


necessary to how we deal with sickness benefit. That can now be


done because of Universal Credit, because people can go back to work


and it tapers away their benefits. It is the most powerful tool to sort


our people that live in poverty, Universal Credit. We need to make


sure it lands positively. If Mr Osborne's cuts were reversed, what


you and some of your backbench Tory colleagues want to do, how would


that improve the incentives of the working poor, as they try to get on


in life? They have to pay more tax, they lose some benefits. How would


it improve it? Would many still face a 75% rate? The key question is,


first and foremost, as people move through income to the point where


they are getting taxed, that group will be enormously benefited by the


re-emergence of these allowances at the right level. That is what the


IFS have said, that is what the Resolution Foundation are saying,


and the Centre For Social Justice is saying. You have to get that group,


because they are most likely to be drifting into poverty and less


incomes are right. Would it help those who face a 75% margin? We


don't face that. Exactly right. People much poorer than us do. I


would love to get the marginal rate down to testify percent, and lower,.


-- down to 65%. It is a balance of how you spend the money. I would


prefer to do that rather than necessarily go ahead with threshold


razors. I think the coronation of the marginal reduction of 65%,


getting it down to 60%, plus more allowances, will allow Universal


Credit to get to the group that is going to be, and the report written


by the IFS and ourselves, it shows it is going to be the most dynamic


and direct ability of a Government to be able to influence the way that


people improve their incomes in the bottom five deciles. Would you take


on extra work if you knew you were going to lose 75% of it? Even 65%?


This has been my argument all along. Universal Credit can help that


enormously. One point that goes missing, 70% of the bottom five


deciles will be on Universal Credit. Whatever change you make to


Universal Credit has a dramatic and immediate effect I am arguing,


genuinely, it is time to rethink this. The Prime Minister wants to


make this a priority. I am completely with her on this. I think


she made a really good start. To deliver this, we need to... You have


a lot of work to do to deliver it. Because it is a manifesto


commitment, or because they want to do it, stopping increasing the


personal allowances are not acceptable, what about bringing to


an end, by the end of the parliament, the pension triple lock


that pensioners enjoy to improve and put more money to the working poor?


What about that? Well, you are absolutely right that there is now


the danger, I think, of a mess balance between the generations.


Quite rightly at the beginning, when we came in, we have a commitment as


a Conservative Party in a manifesto to get pensions back onto earnings.


It was moved to a triple lock that guaranteed a minimum. What about


ending up now? I understand it is a promise through the Parliament, but


after 2020? I am in favour of getting it back to innings and


allowing it to rise at reasonable levels. Moving from earnings to the


triple lock has cost ?18 billion this year. Here was a high, under


pressure, as the Government was scratching around to pay more money


out of working age areas, when the budget was almost out of control on


the pension side. I'm in favour of helping pensioners, but now they are


up to a reasonable level, at a steady rate, that can be afforded by


Government, which takes the pressure off, working age people have to pay


for that. In years to come, time to end the triple lock


and use the savings to help these people we have been talking about?


As part of a load of packages, yes. It would also help with the


intergenerational fairness argument. Thank you for being with us.


Now, a prominent London Imam called Shakeel Begg -


who is Chief Imam the Lewisham Islamic Centre - is an extremist.


That was the verdict of the judge in a libel action that Mr Begg took


against the BBC, after we described him as an Islamic extremist


Mr Begg had complained about a short segment in an interview in November


2013 with Farooq Murad, the then head of the Muslim Council


of Britain, an organisation which claims to represent British


In that interview, we described Mr Begg as an extremist speaker


who had hailed jihad is the greatest of deeds.


From his base of the Lewisham Islamic Centre, Mr Begg has been


involved in a number of community organisations, including


the Police Independent Advisory Group in Lewisham,


Lewisham Council's Advisory Council on Religious Education


and as a volunteer chaplain at Lewisham Hospital.


But in his judgment, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave called


Mr Begg a Jekyll and Hyde character - a trusted figure in his local


community, but when talking to predominantly Muslim audiences


he shed the cloak of respectability and revealed the horns of extremism.


The judge cited one speech made by Mr Begg at a rally


outside Belmarsh Prisonm- the high security prison that houses


terrorists - as particularly sinister.


The judge said the imam was expressing admiration and praise


Following Friday's judgment, the hospital trust have told us that


Mr Begg's status as a voluntary chaplain has been terminated.


We have been told by Lewisham Council he is no longer


on their Religious Education Committee.


The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that


Mr Begg remains a member of their Independent Advisory Group


in Lewisham, as well as the borough's faith group.


I am joined by Haras Rafiq, chief executive of the Quilliam


Foundation. Welcome to the programme. I have here in my hand a


statement from the trustees of the Lewisham Islamic Centre. They reject


the judge's ruling as fanciful and say they are unequivocal and


unwavering in their support of Shakeel Begg as their head imam.


What do you make of that? To be honest, it doesn't surprise me. At


the end of the day he is only the imam of that mosque because he


belongs to the same theological fundamentalist views that the mosque


would portray. If they were to say he was an extremist, they would be


saying in fact that they have allowed extremist preaching and


extremist theology within their walls. I think this is a very


important decision and a very important judgment by the judge.


First of all, these people like to operate in a linear, under a veneer


of respectability. When that veneer is taken away, there are a number of


things that can happen. First of all, the BBC did very well to stand


by their guns and say, we're not going to be intimidated by somebody


who is threatening to taking -- to take us to court for potential


libel. Many other media companies have done that in the past and


people have capitulated. Also, this has exposed him. Legally now, here's


some deal can be classified as an extremist preacher, somebody who


promotes religious violence. I think the mosque really needs to take a


step back and say, how we part of the problem that we are facing


within society? Or are we going to be part of the solution? It really


concerns me. The High Court judge says that Mr Begg's speeches were


consistent with an extremist Salafist is the most worldview. What


is Salafist is and how widespread is it in UK mosques? -- mosque. It


comes from the Middle East. It is from Saudi Arabia. The enemy for


them was the old colonial Ottoman Empire. There is the quiet Salafist


to get some with their lives, lives outside society. There is a


revolutionary who tries to convert other people to their worldview. And


then there is the Salafist jihad ease. People like Islamic State etc.


We have seen of increased in recent decades because of money that has,


growing from the Middle East. When that is mixed with a political


ideology, it becomes potent. Do we have a political -- particular


problem in Britain with this in our mosques? Absolutely. Without the


theology that says hate the other, hate other Muslims, that


excommunicate other people, that says it is OK to fight and is good


to fight when you have got an enemy, we wouldn't really have a jihadi


problem. Really that is something we have to tackle. The number of


mosques and institutions supporting Salafist and Islam is has been on


the increase. Do we have a problem with what the judge called Jekyll


and Hyde characters who hide their extremism except when they are


speaking to specific groups? Absolutely. One of the things we


have focused on in the past, a number of hate preachers now in


prison, people like Anjem Choudary, and everybody focused on them. But


there is a range of people operating under that level. People who will


show one face to the community because they actually need that for


a respectability. They need that for a legitimacy. They need that to


operate. When they are behind closed doors and talking to their


constitution, that is when you will see the real face of what these


people believe. It is an increasing phenomenon. We are seeing it more.


people believe. It is an increasing And we're going to carry on seeing


it. Not just has the Lewisham mosque stuck by him, but given the clarity


of the judge's ruling, are you surprised that the Metropolitan


police would wish to continue with Mr Begg as an adviser? I'm


absolutely shocked that that decision. What Uzzy going to do?


Advise them on how to deal with extremist preachers and promote


religiously motivated violence? I don't know what he's going to advise


them on. Because we now have a judge that has ruled against him and


actually classified him as an extremist and somebody who promotes


religious violence, we actually have a possibility for the CPS to


actually prosecute him. There is a law that has been in place since


2005 called religiously motivated violence. If he has been classified


as somebody who promotes this, there is a potential for the CPS to


prosecute. I want to called into question other organisations,


interfaith organisations, other Muslims groups, who say they want to


interfaith organisations, other fight extremism, I call on them to


say, this guy is an extremist preacher, we should cut our ties


from him. This was a very high risk strategy by the BBC. The exposure


could have been over ?1.5 million of licence payers money. Will this make


it more difficult for Jekyll and Hyde characters to behave as Mr Begg


has behaved? Absolutely. It will do. One of the things they will now have


to make sure is that they are a lot more careful. Careful with what they


say to their own constituency. It won't solve the theological problem.


But it will actually stop other people from operating in this manner


and allow other media organisations to have the confidence to expose


them when they do. Haras Rafiq, thank you for joining us.


It's just gone 11.35, you're watching the Sunday Politics.


We say goodbye to viewers in Scotland, who leave us now


Good morning and welcome to Sunday Politics Scotland.


Coming up on the programme: As student grants fall and loans


increase, I'll ask the minister responsible how that squared


with the SNP's pledge to reduce inequality of access to education.


And with Brexit and talk of Indyref2 still looming large,


is the Scottish government taking its eye off the ball


The Scottish Government's announced a review of the system which helps


fund people from less-well off backgrounds to go to


Official figures out this week showed the number of students


getting bursaries or grants has fallen by 35% since the SNP


And elsewhere, higher education is facing continuing


One university principal has warned its effect


This college would have its campus and Galashiels have, like many other


further education institutions has Scotland look-mac students from less


well off backgrounds who made the vital financial support. Is the


system working as well as it should? The principal ones to see college


and university students treated on an equal basis.


There is a gap for people who come from families who do not quite


qualify for means testing, the bursary, but who cannot actually


afford to fund their college place and in the college system loans are


not available to those students. Someone who wants to train to be a


teacher can access a loan and go to university but someone who wants to


be a joiner does not have that opportunity.


She also says there just is not enough money to help out all the


students who need it but there is another concern.


The other thing we must keep an eye on our changes to the welfare


system. It can be the situation right now in Scotland where someone


can be getting less from the bursary than if they were receiving welfare


which is a huge barrier to education.


Across Scotland, there were questions about whether students get


their access to financial support. Official figures show the number of


students getting bursaries or grants fell by almost 5% in a year and the


Scottish Government has launched an enquiry into whether the system


should be changed. Another concern which could affect the ability of


University of Warwick, UK's vote to leave the EU. This week -- the


university 's ability. There is a large amount of


uncertainty and when you run the different models it ranges from bad


to awful to catastrophic. University leaders say some progress has been


made. We have an assured and current EU


students and EU students entering in 2017 well have beer after Brexit


three protected. We have had reassured us from the UK Government


that if you apply for European research funding and your project


plan is on beyond Brexit the UK Government will ensure that funding


is still continued to be provided. But there is no way to tell how


things are, they might go. Principles are in a different


position because the UK Government cannot guarantee that they cannot


give absolute assurances. They can advise people on entitlement and


such things but there remains a fundamental uncertainty we do not


know what the status of EU citizens in the UK will be a porcelain


Brexit. These changing times for higher


education gave rise to other concerns. This week students at the


Glasgow School of Art protested at what they see as a plan to put


expansion ahead of quality teaching, management says it wants to make


things better for students. Higher education is moving quickly


and we have been directly engaging with the students and we plan to do


more of that. Back in Borders College things are


more serene and over the next few years we could see change what


affects the whole further and higher education sector.


Well, a little earlier I spoke to Lucy Hunter Blackburn,


a former civil servant who headed up Higher Education at


Basically, Lucy, grants are down, loans are up, grants bound by around


35% in the SNP came to power, -- drags down. Why? The reason is set


out in a report the Government issued this week but said the reason


grants have been cut in 2013 was to protect free tuition fees. In that


sense, cutting grants is paying for not having tuition fees? That is


very much what that report says and that would be a reasonable reading


of the numbers published over the past few years, it explains why the


Government had to go after grants, because it cannot touch the subsidy


from the look-mac for free tuition. Critics say, of course, not having


tuition fees does not benefit students from lower income


backgrounds as much as having a proper grants system. Is there is


merit in that argument? If what you are interested in it who


ends up with all the depth and we should be interested in that, it is


clear when he got grants the people who take on debt are the poorest


students whose families cannot help them out and sort the more you push


your money into the subsidies further up the income scale the less


money you have to help people further down that scale from taking


out larger student loans. The Scottish Government was quite


vulnerable on this and recently but in England the amount they are


abolishing grants and everyone will have a loan. I guess Scottish


Government can say, grants may have been falling here, times are tough,


but we are not doing anything as dramatic as an angler.


That is fear, the in England is a very poor outcome for students and I


completely agree. It is a shame the only ever look at include because


you could look at the other devolved nations and they would find they


have kept much higher levels of grants and we now have.


You did a report earlier this year on the broader question of access to


higher education and you showed access to higher education for young


people for the most deprived areas in Scotland lags other nations of


the UK, particularly in God. To give a figure, if you are from --


particular in England. If you are from the well of patronage or four


particular in England. If you are times more likely to go to


university, the figure was 2.4 times in England. Why is the gap so big


between Scotland and England? A lot of our young people who come from


disadvantaged areas go to college instead of University and some of


them will move to university. What we have not done in Scotland is


expand the opportunities for direct entry to university as much as they


have done in England so it is clear the chance of getting into


universities suffer here and the entrance requirements are higher and


we have far more courses were high requirements.


The figures for young people from lower income backgrounds pipping


straight into universities are better not just in England but also


in Wales and Northern Ireland. -- getting straight into. All the other


UK nations have a higher proportion of disadvantaged children going


straight to university. There has been a fast improvement in


Scotland even though we lag behind other UK nations, but you found


almost all of that increase in young people into higher education from


lower income backgrounds, they were going into sub degree courses in


college. There is anything that looked at the


all entrances into higher education up to the age of 30 and when you


look at that the growth has been an entry into college-level courses. So


look at that the growth has been an higher National diploma which are an


important part of the Scottish education system, but the change in


proportion of people getting into university by the age of 30, going


directly into university, had been a very small and rather static.


There is a plan in England to increase the number of universities,


the Government outlined various proposals on this. They have not


been taken up in Scotland but what the given what you just said would


it not be a good idea to have an expansion of universities in


Scotland? There are two things. You need either new institutions or more


space in the coloured ones. In England it is to allow, make it


easier for private providers to come into the education sector. -- or


more space in the current universities.


We have a well established university system but the space in


it is tight because we subsidised places so heavily and what that


means is we could see the acceptance rate proportion of Scots being


accepted hasn't not quite sharply through UCAS over the last nine or


so years whereas we have not increased in the proportion of


people from outside Scotland. -- win as we have increased. -- whereas we


have increased. Should we build more universities, as is the plug on


England's? I would expand the one we have got. For a small nation we have


a number, 18 institutions designated as universities or higher education


institutions, that is not a bad number for a country of 5 million,


it is more about the space we have currently. They may need to expand


to build more space but we are not talking about massive expansion,


just a debt of breathing space means we can get back to the kind of


success rates for applicants from Scotland to Scottish universities we


would have seen nine or so years ago. -- just a bit of breathing


space. Thank you. Well, the Scottish Government


minister responsible for Higher Education is Shirley-Anne


Somerville. I spoke to her


earlier this morning. The figures out this week show the


amount of money the Scottish Government is giving out in


bursaries and grants has gone down by 35% since the SNP first came to


power. Why is that? The changes we made in 2013 to the student support


package was built with stakeholders at that time to ensure that students


have the maximum amount of money in the pockets. That is what we


delivered up time, and that is a combination of bursaries and loans.


I know now that stakeholders have concerns that bad Allens has not


reflected well on students and how they are experiencing this system,


which is why we have launched a review of student support this week,


to make sure we take a fresh look at what is going on. If you review says


the balance is wrong, we need to give more money in bursaries and


loans, a rebalancing, you will do that? The review group has to be


aware of the financial context the government is working in. It has be


based on a realistic view of the financial context we are in,


particularly when we are going financial context we are in,


through Brexit. I am not saying rebuke to have to deliberate one way


or the other, the entire point of having a rebuke -- review group


chaired by a review... As the figures show in England, you come


chaired by a review... As the from a well-off backgrounds, you are


four times more likely to go to university than someone from a


low-income backgrounds. Sorry, in Scotland, you were four times more


likely. In England, only 2.5 times. There is not just a big inequality


in access to higher education, there is a big difference between Scotland


and the other nations in the UK. We are the worst. Why do you think that


is? We measure things differently appeared and we do down in England.


I think that is why it is often difficult to have a cross boundary


discussion on that. When I spoke to John Swinney about this recently, he


expected that this gap was there, as I remember. So you can't just say it


is down to a blizzard of statistics. No, we could get into a debate about


whether we use a different measure of statistics. Lets not. If you are


young person from a low-income in England, you are considerably more


likely to get into university than you are in Scotland. Let's not put


numbers on it. Why is that? There are a number of reasons why the


Scottish education system is different. Many people here can


going to college and turns university, and that's a different


course of action Pennington. We can also just do a degree at a college


in Scotland, but you don't get immigrants. We're not being


complacent, and that's exactly why the Scottish Government has accepted


the recommendations of the widening access commission, that was in the


last Parliament, and we are now going for it to come up with


stakeholders and universities, ensure that those recommendations


are put in place. Are you saying that because of this difference that


we have appear, or young people can sometimes go to college and then to


university, that the difference between Scotland and England is an


illusion, or you saying... No, I'm saying it is not as stark as the


figures you presented. I accept that we do have more to do, and that's


exactly why we are taking actions. There has been an improvement over


the last few years. We are seeing more people from the most deprived


communities gaining access to university. But that is entirely


down to people going into sub degree courses and colleges. Not anything


wrong with doing now, but that's what accounts for the improving


figures. You're not getting more people straight into university. No,


that I think one of the other aspects is looking at the murder


journey. This idea of leaving school, going to university and if


you don't make that decision you had your chance. Mass-mac the learner


journey. We are looking to ensure that any person wants to go to


college first and then university, or does a university degree or


diploma at a college, that is equally as important and valid as


someone that goes to university. We need to ensure we are developing the


Scottish education system. It's not as linear as we might have had in


the past, when you or I were at university. The problem for you is


that Nicola Sturgeon has staked a reputation as first Minister on


doing something about this issue. What targets do you have? Is it not


by the end of your current period in office, you will be able to come


back on this programme and tell me that, however you measure it, the


gap in opportunity for young people from lower income backgrounds in


Scotland's is now the same as in England? No, the commission that


target the government has accepted, as has the stakeholders, too ensure


that by 2020 we have many more people going from the most deprived


communities will stop the targets are about the government and the


universities. Why is it not your aspiration that people from lower


income backgrounds should have the aspiration that people from lower


same opportunities as in England? I want them to have better


opportunities than England. But they have considerably worse


opportunities at the moment, so wouldn't the benchmark -- a


benchmark be to say we want it to be the same as it went? No, we are


setting the benchmark -- benchmark higher. How will opportunities for


young people from lower income backgrounds in Scotland differ from


those in England by the end of the period in office? The commission


looked at many examples, but one of them is to ensure that those who


work from your areas and skills where they might not have the same


attainment levels as those that are in more affluent backgrounds,


actually have what is called a contextualised admissions into


universities. One of the key areas we are looking at is that people who


were in a high school from April backgrounds need to be able to get


into university, and is not all about grades. The time when you


could measure whether a student was good or bad simply by their graves


has long gone. We are ensuring a contextualised admissions process is


fair. Universities are doing this already. By the end of your period


in office, through this contextualised admissions preceding


that you have just described, a young person from a lower income


background in Scotland will have more chance, because you said you


wanted to do better, more chance of getting into university than they do


in England? If that is the right decision for them. So that is the


benchmark we should judge you on? The benchmark is set out in the


commission report. That you have just said you want them to have


better opportunities than just said you want them to have


England, where they don't have that we can say you failed? The


recommendations are there for all to see. Absolutely, they are there for


myself and the government to be judged on. We are taking access


within the commission's recommendations widening access


already. But those with care experience, for example. We are


already doing short-term measures to improve widening access to those


with -- those within particular groups. This is a long-term issue.


By 2020, we will see great development. Can you point to any


evidence from Scottish Government researchers which shows that the


policy of having no tuition fees is leading to greater access to


university, or indeed to college, for students from lower income


backgrounds? The figures have shown in the last few years that the


number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds that are applying to


university has increased, and the number of entrants has also


increased. Can you point to any research which shows that that is


connected in anyway with adding low -- having no tuition fees? I can


point to an absolute printable as to why tuition is there. So this


principle doesn't require any evidence? No, it is a founding


principle of the education policy. Even if it could be demonstrated, as


Lucy Hunter Blackburn argued, that having a policy of no tuition fees


was meaning that grants would be cut, making it more difficult than


people from lower income backgrounds to get to university, it is the


principal overriding any evidence that could count against it? She has


given her opinion. You have said it is a principle which you have just


accepted, you can point to any evidence that shows no tuition fees


is increasing the chances for a lower income young people. There is


no evidence to suggest that free tuition fees are preventing people


from lower backgrounds. At best it is neutral? It is a matter of


opinion. We have a principle within the SNP that you should be able to


go to university based on your ability to learn and not your


ability to pay. Is the defining policy of your governments is to


reduce inequalities in access, surely to say it is a matter of


principle which overrides evidence, or a matter of opinion, isn't good


enough? There is no evidence to say that free tuition is putting people


off. She gave her opinion and she is privately entitled to it. I believe


that the free education... Wouldn't it be a priority for you to go to


your civil servants, the once you are still bear, not ones like Lizzie


Hunter Blackburn who have left, and said, we have this policy, at least


to put my mind at rest, can we find out if there is any evidence that it


is doing anything to increase access? You don't seem to have done.


I look at the evidence of the amount of people coming from worst of


backgrounds and I look at what is happening down south. Will you


commission such a study now? I look at what is happening down elsewhere


they do have 27 thousand pounds worth of debt that it could link the


ball. And access to university for young people from low background is


utterly better. -- considerably better. It will be interesting to


see what happens now that they have abolished maintenance grants. I


don't think England's as a policy that we would support here. That is


a different issue. I accept that they're doing now is, but there is


no evidence that having the tuition fees -- having no tuition these is


to tearing people from lower income backgrounds. You have a better


chance of going to university in England only do in Scotland. There


are myriad of reasons why these things will happen. One of the


reasons is that we have an entirely different type of education system.


People will go to college to study and use... People have to end, but


it seems slightly extraordinary that you haven't commissioned your civil


servants to look at the evidence in England and here and find out


whether there is any connection chewing tuition fee policy and...


Our government policy is that free education is integral and you should


be able to go to university regardless of how much money your


parents have all stop we will have to leave it there. Thank you very


much. Now, as well as higher education,


problems have also been mounting in other areas


like health and policing. Analysis of the National Health


Service here by Audit Scotland found that only one its targets


was met last year. Meanwhile, Police Scotland


are looking at a likely overspend in their budget for this


year of ?17.5 million. I'm joined now by George Adam


from the SNP and Miles Briggs I wonder, is the Scottish Government


focusing too much on independence and neglecting its duties to run


Scotland's? I am taking a wild guess here, but I suspect you'd think they


are. Absolutely. I think this week's audit report has demonstrated that


more than ever. The government has now missed seven out of eight of its


NHS targets. It has been in power for ten years, and patients are


suffering. I think it's clear from that that the Scottish Government


have taken their eye off the job. I think you have to look at this and


the actual context, which is that there are 18 pieces of legislation


currently being consulted on, that the government is dealing with a lot


of the issues and the day-to-day and the day job. One of the biggest


issues is the fact that Brexit is going to take ?11.2 billion, if it


is a Tory had exit. We have to stand up Scotland and make sure we that.


Brexit doesn't explain why your party can't run the health service.


That's not true. The health service got ?13 billion of funding this


year, more than ever. The patient surveys say there are more patients


saying the service is working better than ever before. This is the Tories


once again trying to take away from the issues that we need to discuss,


which is the day-to-day life which Brexit files cars are trying to move


away. Why is that wrong? Look at the facts that for ten years we have not


had an NHS workforce plan. Maybe facts that for ten years we have not


Gordon would like to... Maybe George would like to say why that is? I'm


not them to say, I don't have a clue! The first Minister failed to


answer that question. Like you have just seen earlier in your piece


about education, in each area where the SNP are responsible, we have


seen Scotland go backwards. Gomis ministers need to start to get a


grip of what they are responsible for. -- Scottish ministers. In that


audit reports, one of the big policies of the SNP government, and


one that many would agree with, is to try to integrate the NHS with


social care. That helps both patients and could potentially save


a massive amount of money. According to that reports, despite this being


talked about not just by the SNP but by previous governments for over a


decade, the SNP government has got no system of benchmarks in place to


know whether this policy will actually be implemented or not. It


has no idea how much it would cost and no plan in place for staff.


That's pretty shocking, isn't it? The idea is to integrate health and


social care and ensure people get the service they need when they need


it, that is important. We are working towards bats and there will


be challenges but we are getting working towards bats and there will


there and dealing with these issues. The point that Scotland makes is not


just you are not getting there quickly it is because there are no


proper benchmarks and planes you cannot have any idea if you are


getting there or not. There are tests and benchmark and


ordered Scotland have pointed to certain things we will take on


boards -- Audit Scotland. They keep talking about that we keep talking


about Brexit but that could potentially take 80,000 jobs away


from Scotland. That is keeping an eye on the day job and standing up


for Scotland. That is a reasonable point. It would


be remiss of the Government not to print much of its time both


analysing the possible effects print much of its time both


Brexit and trying to argue with the UK Government for what it sees as


the best way to handle it. It would be dereliction of duty not to do so.


I have not mentioned at Brexit but is where the focus on policy is in


Scotland and the UK Government want the Scottish Government to work


together to deliver the best possible Brexit and I only wish SNP


ministers would do that and stop was the grievance politics. Which we see


everyday. The Scottish Government is trying to draw up detailed proposals


for what it sees as a halfway house whereby Scotland could remain in the


UK but not suffer hard Brexit. It is perfectly reasonable, given the way


Scotland voted in the referendum and the mandate the Scottish Government


has, for them to do that. Negotiations are taking place now


and now is the time for these ideas to be put forward and the me said


that is there but the clear message I hear, as someone who voted to


remain, I do not want to see the Scottish Parliament use that to


peddle an independent agenda once more which two years ago we voted to


say no to. That is where we need to seek the Scottish Government move


forward. This is the Tories obsession with


independence. They are willing to discuss with the people in the


Sunderland about the Nissan jobs, they voted to leave so they are


willing to do that behind closed doors but the will not talk to the


Scottish Government to do likewise. Thank you both very much.


It's time to look back at the events of the past week and see what's


With me now are the political editor of The Herald, Tom Gordon,


and the former Labour MP for Glasgow North, Ann McKechin.


What did you make of that last point, Tom? There clearly are


mounting problems but it seems not unreasonable for the Government to


focus a bet on Brexit so perhaps they are both right. It is not a


binary choice, it just shows the business of Government is hard and


Brexit has made it even harder so I think you have to cut the Government


some slack. There are ?1 problems they must focus on the immediate


circumstances, they must deal with Brexit. -- there are long term


problems. If you take that Audit Scotland report, they have been in


power since 2007, it is quite shocking.


They were elected in 2007 on a promise of fighting for local


services and now they are trying to undertake the reforms that were


omitted about ten years ago. They have become the Labour Party. The


face the same dilemma Labour faced a decade ago. It is not easy because


labour did suffer from that because it is all very well talking about


doing this and that is what the problem is everybody now accepts to


rebalance the health service and promote this integration you must


close some acute facilities and perhaps people will have to travel a


bit more in order to release money you can put into care in the


community but as soon as you experienced, there are people on the


street saying you are closing our hospitals, this is outrageous. The


Audit Scotland report is a wake-up call that there must be a serious


debate about how we shift that call that there must be a serious


budget from acute health care into social care and the Audit Scotland


report says we have not even started that, despite the demographic


problems, rising ageing population... The Audit Scotland


report also makes the point, the Labour Liberal backed Government


were talking about that long before then. We spoke before the 2010


election about social care integration south of the border that


has been a similar discussion about how we do that, but cutting local


authority budgets by far greater extent than other public service


budgets, and Scotland has had a consequence and that is we do not


have the adequate level of care and our communities to care for a


greater number of elderly people. Tom, this discussion earlier about


how education, I think we may have got some pledges from Shirley but


this is a difficult one for the Government because Nicola Sturgeon


has staked her reputation on it. There is room for waffle is limited.


They must come up with hard targets and demonstrate they have met them.


She said Judge me at the end of this Parliament on whether I have


narrowed the attainment gap. You picked up on the point of the


principle of free education. This shows is a problem when the


principal becomes a commandment because Alex Salmond had halved in


stone but the rocks would melt before they got rid of this. They


are not locked into it, what may. Government have to be flexible and


pragmatic as conditions change and in the long term this principle may


have to be flexed but right now they are stuck with it. Labour's position


on tuition fees has been all over the place. I think you are against


them again, aren't you? Having ?9,000 fees a year, like in England,


is not sustainable. You think there could be smaller fees? There is a


need, as Tom said, change in circumstances you need to look again


at other ways in which to finance higher education. I am not here as a


party spokesman today but I think both sides of the border we do not


have a long-term and sustainable financial settlement in terms of


have a long-term and sustainable undergraduate students. What you


have just said, in the guide to what politicians say, the technical term


for what you said is blather. The technical and if we need to be


prepared for innovation and creative ways of resolving this and the


Minister to be failed to accept your point about the evidence clearly


showing we have not met the attainment gap and we are the worst


of all the home nations and we need to do better.


The danger for the Government is these things are so complicated and


if you set targets omitting them is not easy, not simple.


Something that came out in the health debate is we need a


consensual cross-party debate but there is no chance before the local


elections. I'll be back at the


same time next week.


Andrew Neil and Gordon Brewer are joined by Iain Duncan Smith, Chi Onwurah and Haras Rafiq of the Quilliam Foundation. The Daily Mail's Isabel Oakeshott, commentator Steve Richards and Tim Shipman of The Sunday Times are on the political panel.

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