21/10/2012 Sunday Politics South West


21/10/2012

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In the South West: Delays in the benefits system.

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New figures show our region has the highest proportion of people

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2293 seconds

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Welcome to the Sunday Politics in the south-west. Coming up: Plans

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for them at the Walker -- notorious didn't work -- plans for the

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notorious... It is a tale of two cities with

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today's guests. Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton

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and Devonport and Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter. Welcome, both

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of you, to the programme. There were momentous scenes at County

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Hall in Truro this week as Cornwall Council sacked its Tory leader Alec

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Robertson with a vote of no confidence. He lost his job over

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large-scale plans to privatise council services. And for

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apparently wanting to push them through in defiance of the

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council's majority view. Here is the man who has replaced him in the

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There has been a lot of concern about the lack of member

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involvement, and the members had their day to day. They have come at

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it from various angles, and for the first time they felt empowered. One

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councillor said, as she left, in 41 years at County Hall, I have never

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seen so much drama in a single day, and that is true.

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Oliver, are we seeing a miss, even Conservatives, reacting against the

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Government's message and austerity -- message of austerity? They have

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to make sure they are bringing value for money as far as the

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taxpayer is concerned. It is important delicate of the way of

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doing that and making sure it is delivered. But there is a broader

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issue here, under way in which the previous Labour government tried to

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introduce lots of members in the decision-making process. You're a

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great campaigner for democracy and the constitution. Do you approve

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Thatcher government introduced a system that allowed this kind of

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thing to happen? A leader pursue something through, completely at

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odds with the majority of the council? Well, it didn't go through.

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Most local authorities manages -- managed to exist perfectly well.

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This is a classic example of the poor Corniche being let down again

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by their county council. If you go back many years, Kent -- Cornwall

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County Council has been a shambles. People in Cornwall have an

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opportunity next May to put some Labour councillors in their to

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bring commonsense. But under the rules, Alida could theoretically

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bring something through. Only if they are scrutiny chairs. -- a

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leader could bring something through. If the Conservative group

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of Cornwall County Council were functional and not totally

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dysfunctional, this would never have got through. I just have to

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say that what should have happened is they should have been an amount

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of discussion with the Conservative group in order to do it. We need to

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make sure that actually local authorities are managed in a much

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better way, making sure that the group's come to a collective

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decision. It sounds like that did not happen, and a few people made

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up the decision which did not work. We must move on.

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A growing number of people in the south-west are relying on food

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handouts from charities, and according from one group the region

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has the highest proportion of people using them. It is happening

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in some surprising places the -- some surprising places.

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This has been opening three minutes, but they have already dealt -- Six

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cases. This man says he would have starved if it was not for this.

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There are so many people applying for the same vacancy, and only so

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many people get through the see the process before calling anyone.

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people through the JobCentre can use the service. This week, it

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emerged that in the last six months, the South West branches of this

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charity had been busier than any other region. Across the south-west,

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some 13,500 people have used for banks operated by the trust since

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April. In Plymouth, the number of people using the service has

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quadrupled over the past four years. But there are also signs that

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people are struggling in areas that are traditionally seen as a fluent.

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This week, the Conservative lead South Hams District Council tweeted

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it would help start a food bank for families in crisis. There are great

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pockets of this area where there is a need, and all the little villages

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around the district. With things like a paper mill closing, there

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could be a lot more hardship, so it is good to have things in place for

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people to get help if they need it. Unemployment and the rising cost in

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food and fuel bills are all factors, but there are calls for the

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Government to do more. Relying on young people debating, that is

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great that young people do that, and we do volunteering very well,

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but not being able to feed itself, I think that is an embarrassment to

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the government. Batten Plymouth, one of the

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problems is linked to the delays in benefit payments. Dan did not get

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any payments for weeks after he signed on. It is in a fortnight

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currently without money, and there was a problem at the start, too.

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And the people providing the services that he is not alone.

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wish I could say this was an odd example, but it is not. It takes a

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long time to get these things set up and running, and you think

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everything is going along fine when suddenly something happens and

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there is no payment. It is not until you go and ask what has

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happened that they say you have missed an appointment or at the

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loss you sit 0 or something similar. There is no notification that there

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is not going to be any money. -- lost a sick note.

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They say that they never claimed times have remained consistent,

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with most claims being turned around and 16 days. It says it is

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reforming labour's broken welfare system to make work pay, and lift

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thousands out of pores of -- poverty.

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He is she right to say this is an embarrassment to the Government?

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do not think it is. We need to make sure that what we have got is the

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economy settles for people can get But it is the fact that this is

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happening on the scale it is the problem. We need more jobs in to

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Plymouth and more investment, we need to make sure that we have

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better skills as well, and that is the argument I have been saying for

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a while. I know you are a Plymouth MP, this is happening and what many

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people would see as the highly affluent Conservative-run South

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Hams. There is an issue to see that we get more jobs into the area.

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What about the help in the meantime? Anyone who has an issue

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or a problem can come and talk to me about it, and there has

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obviously been some delay in people getting the benefits. A lot of

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people, the trusts is 43% of people they deal with. I am willing for

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them to come and talk to me, and we will clear up the mess to do with

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benefits. You have left them in a mess. We did not have food banks

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under the Labour government! We have had one in Exeter over there

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last year, and it has trebled. Fuel prices are going up, benefits and

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wages are going down, and people are facing this hardship. There has

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been the abolition of emergency grants, so people who are in hard

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Japan do not have their benefits through a do not get anything, so

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they are desperate. -- people who are in hardship to not have the

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benefits through. People who deserve benefits are being messed

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around for weeks. It is about making sure we have more

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investments will be can get people back into jobs. But people should

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be getting the benefits that they deserve first. If anyone has an

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issue in my constituency, they can come and speak to me about it, and

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I will take up their case. We have got a benefits problem that we

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inherited of the previous Labour government, and it became much more

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dependent upon the state, and we need to make sure we sort this out.

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In the south-west we have the biggest gap between earnings and

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house prices, that is the problem. I think it is a case that we have

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got to make sure we sort out the benefit matter and we make sure

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that people get back into work and there are no jobs. In terms of

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sorting this in the shorter term, people having to wait six weeks or

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two months to get their money, can something not be done to get some

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of -- some organisation into that? People can come and speak to me

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about that. You will have a lot of people knocking on your door.

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is fine. I am happy for this. Changes to constituency boundaries

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probably leave most people accept characters like us distinctly

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underwhelmed. Unless it involves giving a big chunk of Cornwall to a

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Devon MP. Two days ago the Boundary Commission came up with his latest

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thoughts on the new map, but where to draw the lines now looks like a

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sideshow to a huge row at the heart Uproar over the notorious Devonwell

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constituency struggling the D-Mark has dominated the boundary review

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in the south-west. -- straddling The big question is, whether all

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the clever people at the Boundary Commission are simply wasting an

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awful lot of time and effort. I think these are the zombie

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boundary changes. These are the walking dead proposals which will

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never see the light of day. In the summer or a lot of Conservative MPs

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scuppered the Lib Dems plan of reforming the House of Lords. Nick

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Clegg said his party would no longer support boundary changes,

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and there has been speculation that the Tories might try to tempt them

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back with a deal on party funding. But Nick Clegg said this week, this

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is an issue on which he will not budge. Because of a failure to

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deliver a wider package of reforms we had agreed within the coalition

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government, including the House of Lords reform, when it comes to a

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vote, the Liberal Democrats will not support the changes ahead of

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the election in 2015. Even without those presumably crucial Lib Dem

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votes, the Prime Minister told me just a couple of weeks ago that it

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still is full steam ahead. Do you have any hope of pushing

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through the constituency boundary changes? They are coming forward

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for a vote and a House of Commons, and my message to the MPs of all

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parties is that I think it is right that we cost -- cut the cost of

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politics and reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650-600. We

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say that every constituency has the same number of voters and it.

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attempt to achieve this through a deal on party funding might get the

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Prime Minister into trouble with his own troops. What I hope is not

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going on is that behind the scenes there is not some rather sordid

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trading on an unprincipled basis to buy the Liberal Democrats ascent.

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Would you be voting against it if it comes back to the Commons?

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I would. It would be completely wrong for us to attempt to secure a

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principled arrangement, a new electoral settlement, with an

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unprincipled the tea trade behind the stairs. -- dirty trade. This

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month would see his constituency changed completely -- disappear

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completely of the saw the light of day.

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I know your reputation for loyalty is legendary. But would you

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consider voting against this if it is bought by the shabby, dirty

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deal? The key thing is we need to reduce the number of members.

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you vote against? We would need to see what the proposals are going to

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be. Ultimately, I want to reduce the costs. I know why the

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Government wants to do this, but would you consider voting against?

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I am not going to answer a hypothetical question. He says we

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know what fuss was caused by plans to reform the House of Lords. He

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says any changes to party funding would be much more or unpalatable.

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I do not think we will go down that route, and Grant Shapps, chairman

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of the party, made that quite clear. That is not what is going to happen.

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We need to reduce the number of the Members of Parliament by 50. We

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need to save some money as far as the taxpayer is concerned and we

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need to make sure that is what we deliver. That is what we have voted

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for in Parliament in order to achieve. We come to the principal

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issue. All around the Prime Minister say that this makes things

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fairer and cheaper. But Oliver cannot vote against the changes

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because he banned -- benefits massively. I have made it quite

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clear that I would relish to fight the constituency on the current

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boundaries, I have always made that happened. It does not look as if

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the changes will go through, if Nick Clegg is going to vote against

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him, David Cameron has to cobble together a massive majority. So why

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on earth are we spending millions of pounds still doing it? And we

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have this uncertainty for the next few years. You make a point of

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being a constitutional reformer. David Cameron says this makes

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things fairer and more democratic. We have the boundary reviews every

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few years to make things fairer. The Boundary Commission make sure

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that constituencies are a similar size. But what we have got here is

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a clear gerrymandering, a reduction of 50 seats, a number that does not

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hurt the Conservatives but had several other party, when we

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already have 3 million people, mainly in inner-city areas, not

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even on the electrical -- electoral roll. He would make sure he got

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these on the electoral roll of he was concerned. The constituencies

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do not have even number of voters. Some people say that 20 more seats

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would not make any difference because you have so many rebels.

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Now, the regular round-up of the Former defence minister Nick Harvey

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prices the nuclear button at Prime Minister's Questions the stock will

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the Prime Minister keep an open mind on how to replace the nuclear

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deterrent? If you will have a nuclear deterrent, it makes sense

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that the you have something that is credible and believable, or there

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is no. And having won at all. -- there is no point in having won a

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Day centres are all under threat, there is nothing sacrosanct, so we

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have to make sure that we protect the Serb was his. Meanwhile, the

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tree is dwarfed by the 20 metres pregnant women. Anything that

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provides business into the town will be good for us. When her water

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bricks, I do not know what will happen.

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Handing out food to people in food Bangs, should the Tory council in

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the poorest part of the south-west be spending �20,000 on a garden

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decoration? We are trying to get people to come and visit the place

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because that would mean more money in the economy, and in Plymouth

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money to make sure we make more use of her -- our naval heritage.

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has a strong counter-argument. not think this will make a

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difference to the tourism trade. The Angel of the North was

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controversial to start with and has been a huge success. Ed Miliband

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suggested that the conference that there would be a consideration of

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reviewing the results. Of course we will consider the results. But

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Nuclear Disarmament position was at reviewed recently, Fang the this.

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And we will retain the nuclear deterrent, I am afraid Labour has

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got form in this regard. They talk about how they gave up in the past

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on the nuclear deterrent, and I wonder if that is a point of

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Andrew Neil and Martyn Oates with the latest political news, interviews and debate including Home Secretary Theresa May on the Government's plans for new Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales.


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