09/12/2012 Sunday Politics South West


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In the South West, nurses hope that the threat of regional papers over,


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but now teachers say they are about Hello, IM Martyn Oates. Coming up.


The teachers to fear the government is about to give them regional pay


by the back door. I have got a Plymothian panel of guests this


week. Alison Seabeck and Baroness Fookes who sits for the


Conservatives in the House of Lords but for a long time was the MP for


the now vanished seat of Plymouth Drake. Welcome to you both. The row


over the government's plans for minimum alcohol pricing continues


to rumble on. On Thursday Ben Bradshaw made a game at but


unsuccessful attempt to take the cider industry's concerns to the


Farming Minister. Does he accept that the government's plan to


regulate for a minimum alcohol prize will have a devastating


impact on a West Country cider farmers? Well, he is very well


aware that because of my constituency interests I cannot


answer that question in a ministerial capacity. I can say...


He appears not to know the procedure of the house. I cannot


sit down and ask my honourable friend to stand up in my place sex


macro --!. Could you advise him on the procedures of the House? What I


will say is that we take the matter seriously and my honourable friend


is that I'm sure taking the appropriate measures. He is a big


opponent of minimum alcohol pricing and you do not agree. Have you been


persuaded that there is a problem for cider producers? There is an


interesting issue around this and a micro-breweries in general. English


cider is very strong. If you have a minimum price, we will be


particularly hit. Whether or not there is another formulation that


would suit micro-breweries or cider makers, I do not have a quick


answer. I do believe we have to do something about the pricing levels.


It is far too easy to get poor- quality, but very high-volume


alcohol cheaply in supermarkets and we need to stop that and encourage


people to drink in pubs. Are you an advocate of this? Yes I am. I think


there is a very real problem with heavy drinking and I think we have


to use every means that we can to try and help this. Of course, it is


not the irrevocable. If we find it does not work and there are effects


that we do not like... Or an exemption? I suspect that the


people who are producing a decent side or or not the ones who are


selling it very cheaply to people who are drinking too much. It is


very strong, isn't it? You know a lot about parliamentary procedure,


Ben Bradshaw said is it not strange we have a Farming Minister who can


talk about every farming in the -- issue at length apart from cider?


If I could jump in. I would question the advice he got prior to


answering that question. It looks as if that was advice from a


parliamentary council and on that basis, I could not answer questions


on defence. It is a nonsense! Clegg when -- said when he


appointed David Heap he said it was a good thing he came from a farming


background. Anyone who has a vested interest is usually the person hint


knows a great deal about it. He is not making cider as far as we know!


Equally, if he had any sort of financial interest he would have


declared it and he would not be answering the question in the first


place. The government has abandoned the idea of introducing local pay


across the public sector, that was announced by the Chancellor of the


Exchequer in the Autumn Statement. Here, we still have a grip of


health trusts to say they might do it anyway. Meanwhile, a major


teaching union says teachers could now be saddled with something even


worse. Throughout this year, NHS unions in the South West have kept


up a protest campaign against plans to introduce regional pay. There is


a roundabout 68,000 people who will be affected by these proposals and


the need to think about the impact of reducing salaries of those


people and their spending power in the region. We will see a local


businesses are being affected because of this. The Autumn


Statement seemed to suggest things are going up their way. This means


continuing with national pay arrangements in the NHS and prison


service and we will not make changes to the civil service


arrangements either. The comments have delighted the region's MPs,


but while the pressure to abandon plans for regional pay is mounting,


but Chancellor has not removed the pressure on NHS budgets and if


Health bosses are about to abandon these plans they might be wondering


how they will find the money. the next few years we will have to


make approximately around 40-�45 million worth of efficiency


improvements and our staff costs alone, if we did nothing else, to


have the same staff working in the same way with the same issues that


we have got that will cost another �7 million more next year. I spoke


to the press officer after the statement and he told me that the


government's announcement on regional pay changes nothing for


them. He pointed me to their response and it says that they are


legally entitled to set local pay and conditions and they are still


exploring this as a way of meeting the unprecedented challenges that


they face. When the Deputy Prime Minister was asked to clear this


that he said the Government was sending a clear message to the


South West Health Trust, but he acknowledged that they are doing


something separate from the announcement. They are entitled to


explore options under the existing legislation as provided for by the


last Labour government. We have announced that we are not going to


go ahead with local regional pay in the public sector across the


country as a whole. Whether or not nurses can breathe a sigh of relief,


what the Chancellor said next is worrying for the South West


teachers. But the School Teachers' Review Body does recommend much


greater freedom to individual schools to set pay in line with


performance. In a region with some of them was poorly funded education


authorities and the country, teaching unions say this could mean


regional pay by the back to work. Of a group of Head Teachers get


together and say we are only going to pay the laws demand, which is a


possibility, he will have teachers being paid the lowest amount at the


lowest common denominator, so it is regional pay by the back door, only


worse. The government says the schools will give schools greater


flexibility to respond to specific conditions and reward their best


teachers. A consultation will have to be carried out but the changes


could come in in time for the start of the next school year. We're


joined by Adrian Saunders, the Liberal Democrat MP for Torbay. A


lot of MPs last week were rushing to declare the death of regional


pay in the NHS before it had even been born, but that seems a bit


premature when you listen to the consortium, still coming out of a


lot of fighting top? They would be unwise not to listen to what many


Conservative MPs as well as Liberal-Democrat MPs are saying.


this face-saving? I hope that is what it is. The reality is there


may be some good reasons for different trusts to come together


looking at procurement and ways they might be able to save money.


We're not saying it disband the consortium, we are saying it do not


touch pay and conditions, leave that to be a national negotiations.


I think you have reservations like most of the Conservative MPs in the


South West about the idea of regional pay. Was it a bit of a


waste of time at setting civil servants to look into this for a


year for it to come to nothing? All of the voices were saying it would


not work in a recession. I do not think so. If you start shutting the


door or on a particular approach, you are cutting of possibilities,


if at the end you decide it is not a good idea, that does not mean it


was a waste to look at it. We have had the Chancellor say he wants


civil servants to be more efficient and they might say if you are


sending us on an errand like this, it is not using her time efficiency.


That is over-egging the pudding. is Christmas! I do have


reservations. It is a very good idea in theory, but when you


actually come up to work it out in practice, you get so many


difficulties, it is probably not what that. Had you think a hospital


like Derriford Hospital will save the money it needs to save? There


are many other ways in which they can operate more efficiently. I can


give you an example of someone who turned up at a hospital in the


South West thinking that she was going to have some examination of


her spine, but the letter said it was at the shoulders. Instead of


checking with whoever had sent her the letter as to which one it was,


the insisted on doing the shoulders and she has to go back for a second


appointment to do the spine. That is a waste of money. It seems that


nurses are heaving a sigh of relief, teachers not though, what is your


take on this? I was at school this morning Torquay into their head


teacher about how she felt that this might work or not work. She is


in a desperate place because at the moment there is a system for


assessing staff and their performance within the school and


whether or not they get increments through the process. That works


reasonably well, it is well evidenced, she can make a judgment.


The way this will operate now, she really was genuinely worried about


how she would be able to properly assess performance and set that


against perhaps a teacher who has come to the area on a much higher


level, from another school or another region, and when you have


got that person been paid more work, how does that fit into the existing


structure? She may have been slightly more careful about the


level she was putting people on. It is going to be a bit of a dog's


breakfast, quite frankly, but the South West will see people leaving.


We have heard the union say this is regional pay by the back door or


something worse. I think there is a case for schools are being allowed


to offer extra money for where there are a teacher shortages in


importance objects. We have seen money made available for science,


for mathematics and perhaps there are other subjects at there were


schools ought to have that freedom. In terms of the practical


difficulties, the fact that staff move around, the fact that in this


area it is a high living area, high living cost area, high house cost


area, if you want the best quality of staff, does that mean you pay


more? Who pays for that at the end of the day? The bottom line is you


do the same thing as with the health service, stick to national


pay rates but to allow some flexibility for where there are


shortages. Do you agree with the Chancellor? I am not sure where he


is coming from on this one and I am not sure that he has made it clear


as to what will happen within the education system. We must move on.


Public sector pay was one thing in the mass of information announced


by the Chancellor on Wednesday. We will be digging into some of the


rest of that later. First here is one South West take on the


statement from Scott Bingham. Given that the gloom and doom predicted


ahead of the statement, many in the South West might be forgiven for


thinking Christmas had come early. The Chancellor announced a �30


million to remove one of the biggest bottlenecks on the main


route into Cornwall, a single-lane stretch of the a 30 will become a


dual carriageway. We are delighted to get this. It will help the


tourist industry, it will have the manufacturing in, and we cannot


wait to see that change. No next came the announcement that a rise


in fuel duty was not just postponed, but scrapped altogether. Good news


for motorists and a cautious welcome from this man. It will cut


the company's costs. It is not an increased, but it is not a


reduction. It is not a reduction, we're not having an increase that


we would have to pass on. There could be more good news on the way.


The government has also pledged to look at whether fuel duty rebate


scheme might be extended to some rural areas although winning EU


approval will be far from easy. What about kick-starting the


economy and creating jobs? The Chancellor referred directly to the


need for support for local enterprise partnerships set up to


fill the gap left by a regional development agencies. We will


provide new money to support the local enterprise partnerships and


from 20th April 15 we will place more of the funding are currently


goes to local transport has in skills and getting people back to


work into a single pot that they can bid for. It is a boost for the


confidence of them, smaller organise since with much smaller


budgets and big boots to fill. We're happy to bid into the process


and we are confident we would get an appropriate allocation of money


for the projects we need. One way of boosting the economy is to get


on with building that thousands of homes we are said to need here.


This week and Major's scheme up for an Eco town stalled due to a lack


of confidence in the system and concern of the economy. The


Chancellor announced �146 million to build 9,000 homes across the


region, the Chartered Institute of Housing said it was a small


contribution but there is still hope it might help. My job as the


local MP is to work with the government to see which parts of


the scheme we can still deliver using some of the money which has


been announced in the Autumn Statement. There were some


disappointments, no super-fast prop banned for Plymouth and an expected


confirmation for the share of flood defences in Exeter that never came.


Cornwall council will need to find �30 million to match the government


funding for the road scheme. In a region which is so often missing


out in investment, there was and out of Christmas cheer. Unlike some


budgets and Autumn Statement, I get the sense that Labour have not


scented blood after this one. Is it fair to say he has made the best of


a bad job? I would say no, with and I? -- with and I's he is carrying


on on the path he has set himself. He is not prepared to budge. We


heard about apparent money for housing, but it is not dealing


with... Builders will build houses, there is not the market, there is


not finance available, people cannot get mortgages. There is far


more to this than making sweeping statements about money. He has to


change direction. There are some Labour grumbling about the welfare


cuts, but you are not saying they're definitely right or wrong.


We need to move away from welfare. These are cuts that were hitting


working people, people in low-wage jobs, they are being affected and


particularly women. 80% of the changes to tax credits, they are


hitting women. Were you still happy to wait and see what will happen?


We will bring Adrian end. A number of Liberal Democrats have said


because of the welfare cuts and because the budget is falling


heavily on vulnerable people, this is toxic. The point she makes is a


good one. The way that this was dressed up, of hurting people who


are on welfare is wrong. Anyone on working tax credits, at a time when


we are trying to encourage people into work, that is going to unravel


and that is going to have to be looked at again. I do not think


that will have any beneficial impact whatsoever. The fundamental


problem that faces the Chancellor and would face the Labour Party is


that the 18 pence in every pound of the government is spending is going


on interest. So long as the markets accept the premise that we have a


stable government, that interest rate will stay low. If it goes up,


it will be 20p, 25p, over 50 pence in every pound they spend going in


interest. That means you have to cut public spending even more than


we are having to do so. That is the problem. He is right. On the


housing issue, a lot of this has been announced already. A I am not


sure that it has. There is an element of new money. A small one.


Can I love that something else and that is the encouragement to small


firms and let us remember that in the west Country there are many


more at small and very small firms and there is definitely an


indication that they want the banks to lend more and money to be set


aside for that and in addition, writing off the cost of machinery


for small firms can be pretty important and they are be much more


generous about that. And is keen to talk about business, because his


and this announcement that the local enterprise partnerships are


to get more money, an admission that it was wrong to set them up to


begin with's I am not sure I follow what you mean. They were set up


with no budgets. Michael Heseltine has said that is nonsense, they


need about it. They give him that job and he has done about job jolly


well! They listened to Michael Heseltine on this. They are working


very hard with the MPs. We were at Downing Street, a cross-party group,


to get the Prime Minister to think about transition status, you from


doing so that they can carry out some of the plans that they had no


associated. They are variable. Ours is very proactive. We will be


talking about funding in future. Thank you to Adrian. Time now for a


round-up of the political week in 60 seconds. This gets its life


extended yet again as we are kept waiting for news of its replacement.


We are certain that it is safe to operate for a further seven years,


if we were not certain, we would not go along with that. This energy


may be green, but could it mean in Dorset's coast losing its World


Heritage status. It is so much more than simply the rocks, it is about


people coming to see it and the views from the site. The fight to


save Portland search and rescue us but -- helicopter goes on. I am


sure once they have heard the evidence hopefully they will change


their mind. How are you feeling? In the week we year that there is


another heir to the throne on the way, Prince Charles reminds us he


is still pocketing the money of Cornish people who die without


errors. - and an extension of the nuclear reactor, and the Spencer


much time falling out with the Liberal Democrats you have taking


your eye of the ball's I hope I haven't! We have had a worrying


lack of policy, including during the Labour administration when we


really should have been making some pretty firm decisions about future


energy policy and unless we pull our fingers out, we are going to


have power cuts. It is true, you tried your feet on nuclear power


when you were in government? I sat on an energy bill that became an


active towards the end of our government which was starting to


put in place some of the processes that needed to happen in order to


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