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In the South West: Delays in the benefits system.
New figures show our region has the highest proportion of people
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2293 seconds
Welcome to the Sunday Politics in the south-west. Coming up: Plans
for them at the Walker -- notorious didn't work -- plans for the
notorious... It is a tale of two cities with
today's guests. Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton
and Devonport and Ben Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter. Welcome, both
of you, to the programme. There were momentous scenes at County
Hall in Truro this week as Cornwall Council sacked its Tory leader Alec
Robertson with a vote of no confidence. He lost his job over
large-scale plans to privatise council services. And for
apparently wanting to push them through in defiance of the
council's majority view. Here is the man who has replaced him in the
There has been a lot of concern about the lack of member
involvement, and the members had their day to day. They have come at
it from various angles, and for the first time they felt empowered. One
councillor said, as she left, in 41 years at County Hall, I have never
seen so much drama in a single day, and that is true.
Oliver, are we seeing a miss, even Conservatives, reacting against the
Government's message and austerity -- message of austerity? They have
to make sure they are bringing value for money as far as the
taxpayer is concerned. It is important delicate of the way of
doing that and making sure it is delivered. But there is a broader
issue here, under way in which the previous Labour government tried to
introduce lots of members in the decision-making process. You're a
great campaigner for democracy and the constitution. Do you approve
Thatcher government introduced a system that allowed this kind of
thing to happen? A leader pursue something through, completely at
odds with the majority of the council? Well, it didn't go through.
Most local authorities manages -- managed to exist perfectly well.
This is a classic example of the poor Corniche being let down again
by their county council. If you go back many years, Kent -- Cornwall
County Council has been a shambles. People in Cornwall have an
opportunity next May to put some Labour councillors in their to
bring commonsense. But under the rules, Alida could theoretically
bring something through. Only if they are scrutiny chairs. -- a
leader could bring something through. If the Conservative group
of Cornwall County Council were functional and not totally
dysfunctional, this would never have got through. I just have to
say that what should have happened is they should have been an amount
of discussion with the Conservative group in order to do it. We need to
make sure that actually local authorities are managed in a much
better way, making sure that the group's come to a collective
decision. It sounds like that did not happen, and a few people made
up the decision which did not work. We must move on.
A growing number of people in the south-west are relying on food
handouts from charities, and according from one group the region
has the highest proportion of people using them. It is happening
in some surprising places the -- some surprising places.
This has been opening three minutes, but they have already dealt -- Six
cases. This man says he would have starved if it was not for this.
There are so many people applying for the same vacancy, and only so
many people get through the see the process before calling anyone.
people through the JobCentre can use the service. This week, it
emerged that in the last six months, the South West branches of this
charity had been busier than any other region. Across the south-west,
some 13,500 people have used for banks operated by the trust since
April. In Plymouth, the number of people using the service has
quadrupled over the past four years. But there are also signs that
people are struggling in areas that are traditionally seen as a fluent.
This week, the Conservative lead South Hams District Council tweeted
it would help start a food bank for families in crisis. There are great
pockets of this area where there is a need, and all the little villages
around the district. With things like a paper mill closing, there
could be a lot more hardship, so it is good to have things in place for
people to get help if they need it. Unemployment and the rising cost in
food and fuel bills are all factors, but there are calls for the
Government to do more. Relying on young people debating, that is
great that young people do that, and we do volunteering very well,
but not being able to feed itself, I think that is an embarrassment to
the government. Batten Plymouth, one of the
problems is linked to the delays in benefit payments. Dan did not get
any payments for weeks after he signed on. It is in a fortnight
currently without money, and there was a problem at the start, too.
And the people providing the services that he is not alone.
wish I could say this was an odd example, but it is not. It takes a
long time to get these things set up and running, and you think
everything is going along fine when suddenly something happens and
there is no payment. It is not until you go and ask what has
happened that they say you have missed an appointment or at the
loss you sit 0 or something similar. There is no notification that there
is not going to be any money. -- lost a sick note.
They say that they never claimed times have remained consistent,
with most claims being turned around and 16 days. It says it is
reforming labour's broken welfare system to make work pay, and lift
thousands out of pores of -- poverty.
He is she right to say this is an embarrassment to the Government?
do not think it is. We need to make sure that what we have got is the
economy settles for people can get But it is the fact that this is
happening on the scale it is the problem. We need more jobs in to
Plymouth and more investment, we need to make sure that we have
better skills as well, and that is the argument I have been saying for
a while. I know you are a Plymouth MP, this is happening and what many
people would see as the highly affluent Conservative-run South
Hams. There is an issue to see that we get more jobs into the area.
What about the help in the meantime? Anyone who has an issue
or a problem can come and talk to me about it, and there has
obviously been some delay in people getting the benefits. A lot of
people, the trusts is 43% of people they deal with. I am willing for
them to come and talk to me, and we will clear up the mess to do with
benefits. You have left them in a mess. We did not have food banks
under the Labour government! We have had one in Exeter over there
last year, and it has trebled. Fuel prices are going up, benefits and
wages are going down, and people are facing this hardship. There has
been the abolition of emergency grants, so people who are in hard
Japan do not have their benefits through a do not get anything, so
they are desperate. -- people who are in hardship to not have the
benefits through. People who deserve benefits are being messed
around for weeks. It is about making sure we have more
investments will be can get people back into jobs. But people should
be getting the benefits that they deserve first. If anyone has an
issue in my constituency, they can come and speak to me about it, and
I will take up their case. We have got a benefits problem that we
inherited of the previous Labour government, and it became much more
dependent upon the state, and we need to make sure we sort this out.
In the south-west we have the biggest gap between earnings and
house prices, that is the problem. I think it is a case that we have
got to make sure we sort out the benefit matter and we make sure
that people get back into work and there are no jobs. In terms of
sorting this in the shorter term, people having to wait six weeks or
two months to get their money, can something not be done to get some
of -- some organisation into that? People can come and speak to me
about that. You will have a lot of people knocking on your door.
is fine. I am happy for this. Changes to constituency boundaries
probably leave most people accept characters like us distinctly
underwhelmed. Unless it involves giving a big chunk of Cornwall to a
Devon MP. Two days ago the Boundary Commission came up with his latest
thoughts on the new map, but where to draw the lines now looks like a
sideshow to a huge row at the heart Uproar over the notorious Devonwell
constituency struggling the D-Mark has dominated the boundary review
in the south-west. -- straddling The big question is, whether all
the clever people at the Boundary Commission are simply wasting an
awful lot of time and effort. I think these are the zombie
boundary changes. These are the walking dead proposals which will
never see the light of day. In the summer or a lot of Conservative MPs
scuppered the Lib Dems plan of reforming the House of Lords. Nick
Clegg said his party would no longer support boundary changes,
and there has been speculation that the Tories might try to tempt them
back with a deal on party funding. But Nick Clegg said this week, this
is an issue on which he will not budge. Because of a failure to
deliver a wider package of reforms we had agreed within the coalition
government, including the House of Lords reform, when it comes to a
vote, the Liberal Democrats will not support the changes ahead of
the election in 2015. Even without those presumably crucial Lib Dem
votes, the Prime Minister told me just a couple of weeks ago that it
still is full steam ahead. Do you have any hope of pushing
through the constituency boundary changes? They are coming forward
for a vote and a House of Commons, and my message to the MPs of all
parties is that I think it is right that we cost -- cut the cost of
politics and reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650-600. We
say that every constituency has the same number of voters and it.
attempt to achieve this through a deal on party funding might get the
Prime Minister into trouble with his own troops. What I hope is not
going on is that behind the scenes there is not some rather sordid
trading on an unprincipled basis to buy the Liberal Democrats ascent.
Would you be voting against it if it comes back to the Commons?
I would. It would be completely wrong for us to attempt to secure a
principled arrangement, a new electoral settlement, with an
unprincipled the tea trade behind the stairs. -- dirty trade. This
month would see his constituency changed completely -- disappear
completely of the saw the light of day.
I know your reputation for loyalty is legendary. But would you
consider voting against this if it is bought by the shabby, dirty
deal? The key thing is we need to reduce the number of members.
you vote against? We would need to see what the proposals are going to
be. Ultimately, I want to reduce the costs. I know why the
Government wants to do this, but would you consider voting against?
I am not going to answer a hypothetical question. He says we
know what fuss was caused by plans to reform the House of Lords. He
says any changes to party funding would be much more or unpalatable.
I do not think we will go down that route, and Grant Shapps, chairman
of the party, made that quite clear. That is not what is going to happen.
We need to reduce the number of the Members of Parliament by 50. We
need to save some money as far as the taxpayer is concerned and we
need to make sure that is what we deliver. That is what we have voted
for in Parliament in order to achieve. We come to the principal
issue. All around the Prime Minister say that this makes things
fairer and cheaper. But Oliver cannot vote against the changes
because he banned -- benefits massively. I have made it quite
clear that I would relish to fight the constituency on the current
boundaries, I have always made that happened. It does not look as if
the changes will go through, if Nick Clegg is going to vote against
him, David Cameron has to cobble together a massive majority. So why
on earth are we spending millions of pounds still doing it? And we
have this uncertainty for the next few years. You make a point of
being a constitutional reformer. David Cameron says this makes
things fairer and more democratic. We have the boundary reviews every
few years to make things fairer. The Boundary Commission make sure
that constituencies are a similar size. But what we have got here is
a clear gerrymandering, a reduction of 50 seats, a number that does not
hurt the Conservatives but had several other party, when we
already have 3 million people, mainly in inner-city areas, not
even on the electrical -- electoral roll. He would make sure he got
these on the electoral roll of he was concerned. The constituencies
do not have even number of voters. Some people say that 20 more seats
would not make any difference because you have so many rebels.
Now, the regular round-up of the Former defence minister Nick Harvey
prices the nuclear button at Prime Minister's Questions the stock will
the Prime Minister keep an open mind on how to replace the nuclear
deterrent? If you will have a nuclear deterrent, it makes sense
that the you have something that is credible and believable, or there
is no. And having won at all. -- there is no point in having won a
Day centres are all under threat, there is nothing sacrosanct, so we
have to make sure that we protect the Serb was his. Meanwhile, the
tree is dwarfed by the 20 metres pregnant women. Anything that
provides business into the town will be good for us. When her water
bricks, I do not know what will happen.
Handing out food to people in food Bangs, should the Tory council in
the poorest part of the south-west be spending �20,000 on a garden
decoration? We are trying to get people to come and visit the place
because that would mean more money in the economy, and in Plymouth
money to make sure we make more use of her -- our naval heritage.
has a strong counter-argument. not think this will make a
difference to the tourism trade. The Angel of the North was
controversial to start with and has been a huge success. Ed Miliband
suggested that the conference that there would be a consideration of
reviewing the results. Of course we will consider the results. But
Nuclear Disarmament position was at reviewed recently, Fang the this.
And we will retain the nuclear deterrent, I am afraid Labour has
got form in this regard. They talk about how they gave up in the past
on the nuclear deterrent, and I wonder if that is a point of