13/05/2012 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West. The Government's promised to make supermarkets pay


farmers a fair price, but the retail giants say that'll mean


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2006 seconds


Hello, and welcome to the Sunday Politics in the South West. Coming


up. The undelivered promise to give voters the power to sack naughty


MPs. I'm joined by somebody who's becoming on old hand on this


programme, Labour MP Alison Seabeck, who is gamely struggling with a


cold today. And by a Sunday Politics debutant - though


certainly no political virgin - the Lib Dem peer, cornwall councillor


and former MEP, Robin Teverson. This week the government had the


bit of news to warm the cockles of shadow defence ministers, like to,


it announced it is going to buy a batch of jump-jet for the new


aircraft carriers. This was joyride do in government, the government


did the defence review and said it was a stupid idea, and now they are


packed your plan. Absolutely, and a considerable cost to the taxpayer.


Philip Hammond struggled to explain why they had taken the original


decision and not seek advice on it. The argument seems to me that


something has changed, the facts have changed. Perhaps he would like


to risk derision advice on why they went for the fixed-wing aircraft.


This is acutely embarrassing U-turn, is it not just the fact he did not


look closely into this other government and have been forced to


go back to this plan? I don't think it's very good at all. Having said


that, what worries me is that we have an Anglo-French defence treaty


that is very difficult in terms of interoperability between the two


and Davies, the two aircraft carriers. How could it ever cost �1


billion to change catapults on an aircraft carrier? What sort of


original contract did the previous cont'd -- government signed which


means that he's changes cost so much money? I think there are


questions about the Ministry of Defence over many years.


The Queen's Speech revealed that the Government is finally


introducing a regulator to police the relationship between


supermarkets and farmers. It's supposed to stop big retailers


using their commercial muscle to take advantage of food producers.


Farmers have been demanding this for years. But the supermarkets say


it will push up prices at the checkout. In a further twist, some


supporters of the idea fear what the Government's produced is a


toothless beast which will struggle to expose exploitation or punish


the offenders. John Ayres reports. How much is a pint, or should I say


0.568 litres, of milk? There's a feeling that some people in the


corridors of power don't know. only are Cameron and was born two


posh boys who don't know the price of bill, but there two arrogant


posh boys who showed no remorse, and no passion to want to


understand the lives of others. not only does David Cameron say he


knows the price of milk but his Government's also trying to do


something about it. Ruth Kimber is a dairy farmer from Somerset. If


the price she receives for a litre of milk drops by just a penny, it


can cost her thousands. The problem is that the buyers are so strong.


We have to find a way of matching up the strengths. The only way we


can do that with so few of them and so many of us is to have an


adjudicator with a decent amount of powers to make his position or her


position tenable. An adjudicator is exactly what was announced in the


Queen's Speech last week. A policeman in effect, to ensure


deals are fair. And this isn't just about milk. Releationships involved


in producing all sorts of food will come under strutiny. Most of us,


when we had food, so long as it tastes nice and cost a fair price,


we don't think much about how it has got here. The farmers say that


the supermarkets have too much power and if it continues that way


then it could be damaging to the farming industry and other long-


term effect on security of food. Richard Haddock is a Devon farmer


who has set up his own farm shop because he would rather cut out the


middle man. He not only wants an adjudicator, but he wants the


powers to be extended further. whole thing has to be looked at. It


needs at least Monday, a genuine policemen with teeth. If things go


down in price, we have to move down, and if things go up in price, they


must have to move up. It could be another quango, depends if the


government did it teeth. Quangos. I thought the Government


said it was getting rid of those. And how much is this going to cost?


The cost will be pushed on to consumers so we will be paying for


a quango which will not be able to do anything and will not identify


the problem specifically identified in the competition report. So how


effective will it be? As it stands, the only sanction available will be


to name and shame businesses that don't play fair. The worry is that


people will not be prepared to come Ford and whistle blowers will not


have the protection that they need. Supermarkets will feel but one that


bit of censure from D adjudicator, unless it hits them in the pocket,


will not make them change their practices. The supermarkets believe


they are fair, saying they do invest in farming. It would take


away cos that we would be able to invest in stores and shops and


keeping prices down for consumers. Farmers say they want an


adjudicator, the supermarkets say it's not necessary. There is going


to be one, the test will be if it can actually make any difference.


This has been a big issue for the Lib Dems. I knew concern that now


it is actually happening, you might not at the Palace to do the job?


First, I am pleased that something has happened. Not everything has


got into the Queen's Speech and we do have this bill, and it had its


first reading on Friday. So it means that it is there and has to


be taught through. I think there are some issues about it and the


one that I would say is that if you have legislation and to bother to


do that, you change a code of practice into something that is


statutory. You need to do it properly. That organisation is to


have reasonable teeth, like the Financial Services Authority does


for the finance area. There is provision for finding within this


piece of legislation. It is a last resort but last with the minister.


That is right, it just be referred to the minister, and a dead thing


that is good enough. But continues to be the adjudicated themselves.


And it needs to be pretty big fines, presumably, dealing with retailers


on this scale. Yes, to be noticeable, they have to be


significant. I think just naming and shaming or having


investigations is important but it does not quite get there yet and


maybe more but the government to change its mind. Alison, did you


recruit labour's official position? There is clearly a debate that has


to be had. There are -- I spoke to farmers, about a year ago, about


whether the code was strong enough, and they felt it was not. I


actually do think having an ombudsman of some sort is the way


to go. But I heartily agree with Robin that it has to have teeth.


You will play with some very big players here. What about the


argument that farming incomes are doing quite well at the moment, but,


whatever happens, it this actually works it will put up prices for


consumers and those other people that are really hurting at the


moment? The balance must be found through the middle of this. Clearly,


the consumer will pay a price, I suspect. It is almost inevitable.


But we have seen farmers' fortunes ebb and flow and when they are at


the bottom, they really struggle. Robin do you agree that the


consumer is bound be hit in the pocket by this? In fact, price 16


is excluded out of this completely, and I think the most important


thing is that farmers need to have sensible returns so that they are


there for a long term. Some people were as intrigued by the bills


which didn't make it into the Queen's Speech as the ones that did.


Social care reform and gay marriage both missed the boat. And there was


no update on the Government's promise to give voters the power to


sack misbehaving MPs between general elections. So it's still


not clear when this particular coalition pledge will be honoured.


And the plans the Government's already sketched out have drawn


fierce criticism from people who say they're not worth the paper


they're written on anyway. Tamsin Melville reports.


I have done nothing criminal, that is the most awful thing. They were


the symbols of the MPs' expenses scandal in the South west. Anthony


Steen's flagpole - for which he tried to claim �28.50. And Julia


Goldsworthy's rocking chair - which had cost taxpayers �1,000. We have


too many MPs who once they are elected have a job for life.


image of the designer rocking chair dogged Julia Goldsworthy, until she


lost her re-drawn seat at the 2010 general election. And it was cases


like hers which contributed to a new enthusiasm for the option of


getting rid of MPs between elections. In the last


parliamentary session a draft Bill on the Recall of MPs appeared. But


there was no mention of it becoming law in this week's Queen's Speech.


Under the coalition's plans, a Commons Committee decides if a


recall should be triggered. Then, if 10% of constituents sign a


petition, a by-election goes ahead. Critics think there's a danger of


vested interests. What we want is for voters to be able to decide, at


not a group of MPs, but there they attempt to remove their MP, and not


just for serious wrongdoing, but for loss of confidence for any


reason. It needs to be opened up democratically and if the threshold


is enough, then we should be and trouble to the people and not just


the parliament, but we have to get that right. Neil Parish is joined


by more than 50 cross-party members who are supporting alternative


proposals which give more power to voters to sack their MP - rather


than a Parliamentary committee. But this approach has its critics too.


If you could below anybody to trigger an recall mechanism they


will be big money, for example the Murdoch press might have it in for


an MP he was having a bit of a nuisance for them. We have to be


careful that the trigger mechanism is with the public but is on the


best possible grounds. Across the pond, the power of recall is a


feature of politics in some American states, and was most


famously used in California in 2003 when Governor Gray Davis lost a


ballot to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator attracted global


attention to a little-known power that's only ever been used twice at


this level. It is supposed to be this instrument of direct democracy


and people power but in the end, what really triggers these recalls


his money, and large amounts of money, from private citizens or


from the unions. It does not tend to be a grassroots movement. It may


not be widely used in top level politics in the US, but as a symbol


of direct democracy the National Union of Students here is running


its own Right to Recall campaign - against Lib Dem MPs who did a U-


turn on tuition fees. I think everyone should be accountable for


their actions. So I think it is something the NUS have got right.


If people decide they should lose their seats, then they should lose


their seats. If they have gone so far against policy than the need to


be put under the spotlight. But, for now, the Government's Bill


remains a draft, and the supporters of the alternative proposals are


still waiting for a promised Commons debate.


Robin, Lib Dems like constitutional reform. Some people so they are


fixated with them! You could not get people to change the voting


system last year. Your big thing now is 0 reform. This thing, which


strikes me the one bit of constitutional reform that might


enthuse people, did not get a mention. Of course, as the peer,


cannot be fired under any circumstances. That is why does


need reform. In terms of right to recall, then it is part of the


coalition agreement so it needs to go in there. I think the draft bill


was pretty anaemic. You have to get a balance between the public being


able to recall someone who has really gone against what they


should be doing but at the same time not stopping them from really


saying what they think of being able to stand up to some of the


pressure groups and do what the majority of their constituents want


them to do. It needs to be left in the hands of the people and not


just Parliament. I agree. It is interesting that in a very thin


Queen's Speech that this Bill was not included. I'm not quite sure


what the logic was because it think it is something we should debate


and I think the public want us to have the discussion and they want


to be involved. But there are risks. We do have to make sure that it


cannot be used vexatiously, but the money cannot be used to house


somebody for whatever reason. You could see, either within individual


parties, factions getting together to try to unseat an MP who perhaps


is taking an individual few want something. They need to be checks


and balances in there but it is important that we discuss it.


do you achieve that? We heard that in America, on the few occasions


when this has happened, big money tends to be involved. Yes, and in


the draft Bill there are all sorts of provisions are but a new finance


how this works. I remember when I was a prospective candidate back in


the 1990s, around the poll tax, people said to me how did we get


redress snow on our MP if they voted the wrong way, and you cannot.


You need to leave it in the hands of people with a threshold that


means they after it signed a petition properly in a particular


place, they are proper constituent, that it has to be a bar of a


certain threshold. This debate about whether quite trivial issues


could sparks this. The government plans would apply to criminal


offences. It somebody is convicted of criminal offence while they are


in Parliament Commission may just be kicked out anyway? That is a


very good point and is clearly something we should discuss.


would expect lawmakers to keep the law themselves. At the moment, it


is over 12 months, they should be out anyway. Absolutely, lawmakers


should be law keepers. Now our regular round-up of the


political week in 60 seconds. The police hit the streets - not to


supervise a protest but to do the protesting. We are seeing a real


effect in Dorset, and losing officers and support staff which


will have a detrimental effect on the service we give. And tomorrow's


pensioners had the same idea. A multi-million pound uplift of


public money is needed to re-open Plymouth Airport, according to the


group campaigning to save it. costs a number of millions to free


the airport for the long term of the city then that is a superb deal


for the city. Pollock handliners say quota cuts could shipwreck


their businesses. I was at sea on the second and by the evening off


the third I had a phone call to tell me I had caught my quota for


the month. And the company in charge of emptying Cornwall's bins


is fined of tens of thousands of pounds for being a bit rubbish


itself. Should they be put your the kestrel


Plymouth airport? There are certainly came back and looking at


the airport and its relation to the city. But it is far too early. But


then it is an issue that is being taken very seriously. Robin, you're


not from Plymouth, but I know you have been a great business lobbyist


and business people say transport links are the top priority. They


are. I used to represent Plymouth in Europe. One might use his


letters get a decent train service in Plymouth. What about the


airport? I think the airport is something I would like to support


and want to be there, but the council tax payer cannot subsidise


him by millions. If we can make it work, that is good, but it us to


work financially in the long term. Could you not be repaid in the long


term by the Investment? It depends what kind of detail they come up


with. Was there there are commercial interests around there.


Plymouth City Council is still the freeholder so I would have thought


it could find some way of fixing this. What is your message to the


company canteen on not tempting pins in Cornwall? I got a lot of


aggro from my accountant institutes and the need to get their act


together. I think they have now run out of the bags to give people so I


Andrew Neil and Martyn Oates with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by the communities secretary Eric Pickles to discuss growth and regulation, plus he speaks to the Labour MP, Chris Bryant about the latest from the Leveson Inquiry and hears how two leading economists would get Britain's economy growing.

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