19/01/2014 Sunday Politics South West


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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics. Nick Clegg says


Chris Rennard must apologise. "What for?", say his friends. We'll ask


senior Lib Dem minister Danny Alexander whose side he's on.


What about the voters? What do they make of the Lib Dems? We hear the


views of a Sunday Politics focus group.


In the South West, a warning that many councils in the region are on


the brink of bankruptcy and may soon be unable to provide the services


Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt's plunge from the highboard from who


else but the Minister for Portsmouth.


And with me, as always, the best and the brightest political panel in the


business: and in London, Boris Johnson has pledged to recruit more


volunteers. Nick Watt, Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh, who'll be tweeting


throughout the programme. First this morning, Nick Clegg is


considering a fresh investigation into the behaviour of the party s


former chief executive, Lord Rennard. Last week, a lawyer


appointed by the party decided that no action could be taken against


him, but that women who had accused the Lib Dem peer of inappropriate


behaviour "were broadly credible". More than 100 party activists are


demanding an apology. Chris Rennard say he's nothing to apologise for


and the party whip must be returned to him. Helen, this is not going


away. It is turning into a crisis for the Lib Dems? They have only got


seven female MPs. There is no female Cabinet Minister. There is a


reasonable chance that after the next election there might in no


female Liberal Democrat MPs at all. A scandal like this will not


encourage women into the party. Have they made a complete mess of it You


feel for Nick Clegg, because he launched an utterly rigorous


process. He called in a QC. The QC looked at it and decided that the


evidence did not meet the burden of proof in a criminal trial. But


clearly he felt that the evidence from these women was very credible


and serious. He said it was broadly credible. Clearly it was serious.


Rennard is being advised by Lord Carlisle, fellow Liberal Democrat


peer, who is giving purely legal advice. He is saying it has not


reached that edge-mac, so do not apologise. This is a political


issue, so the agony continues. Nick Clegg was hoping to keep the party


whip withdrawn. But they did not launch an enquiry, the Webster


enquired it was not an enquiry, it was a legal opinion. You're right,


it was an internal opinion. The Lib Dems distinguished themselves from


the other two parties not with policy, but with ethics. They


presented themselves as being cleaner, and in possession of more


Robert Jay than Labour and the Conservatives. That will be harder


to do now. -- more probity. There are a Lib Dem peers that are more


relaxed about taking him back and letting him pick up the party whip.


That is the problem. There is a generational issue. The older Lib


Dems in the House of Lords, the kind of thing, he did not do anything


that wrong. The younger activists and those outside the House of


Lords, they think it is a pollen. Yes, there is definitely a sort of


what you are complaining about sort of thing. That is symptomatic of a


cultural difference. The report last year found that they tried to manage


the allegations. They did not do what any company would do if there


was an allegation of sexual harassment. If there had not in the


by-election in Eastleigh, this story may not have got the attention it


did. Channel four news are the one that really drove this. Without


their reporting, this might not have come out. It is not going to go


away, because the issue of whether he gets the party whip back will


come week. -- will come up this week.


So it's not been a great week for the Liberal Democrats and none of


this will help public perceptions of a party already struggling in the


polls. In a moment, I'll be talking to the second most senior Liberal


Democrat in the land, Danny Alexander. First, Adam Fleming went


to Glasgow to find out what voters there made of the party.


Let's put the Lib Dems under the microscope in Glasgow. We have


recruited some Glaswegians who have voted for them, and some who have


not. Hello, John. Let's get started. I will be watching them through the


one-way mirror, along with the former Liberal Democrat MP John


Barrett. Let's get to the heart of the matter straightaway. If the Lib


Dems were a biscuit, what would they be? Tunnock's Teacake. Hard on the


outside but soft in the middle. They give in. There is no strength of


character there. They just give in to whoever. Ouch. Rich Tea. A bit


bland and boring. Melts and crumbles under any sort of heat and pressure.


Morrison's own brand of biscuit not top of the range like Marks


Spencer or Sainsbury's or Waitrose. A custard cream, sandwiched between


David Cameron and the Tories. I think they were concerned that they


had one exterior, but something else was really inside. They did not find


it too definitive, too clear, too concise, too tasty, too appealing.


Which means? It is a worry. If that is their gut reaction, literally,


let's find out what is behind it. The context of them being stuck


between a rock and a hard place for them as a party, I feel slightly


sorry for them. I think people who voted for them will think they are


victims as well, being sold down the river by going to the coalition I


think the ones, particularly student fees, that was an important one to a


lot of people. People felt cheated. I agree. Just going back on that, so


publicly and openly, it makes you think, well, what do they stand for?


It is trust. Harsh. But our group is feeling quite upbeat about the state


of the economy. What have the Lib Dems contributed to that? I am not


quite sure. It is George Osborne, a Conservative, who is the Chancellor,


so it is mostly down to him. The Liberal Democrats are mostly on


their coat tails, if you know what I mean. Have the Lib Dems done


anything, anyone? I think the Liberal Democrats were responsible


for increasing the tax allowance, ?10,000 for next year. I think they


have played a major role in that. Yes. I am glad somebody noticed


that. We will have helped everyone who is receiving a salary, and it is


interesting that nobody has mentioned that. Now, let's talk


about personalities. Everyone knows him, but what about say, this guy?


Alexander. Danny, they got it straightaway. I actually quite like


him. I think he talks very clearly and it is easy to understand what he


says. Fellow redhead Charles Kennedy is popular as well. He is very


charismatic and it is through him that I voted Liberal the last few


times. But who is this? I recognise him but I cannot tell you his name.


That is the party's leader in Scotland, Willie Rennie, and the


party's role in the upcoming referendum on independence draws a


blank as well. It does not feel like they have featured, it is SNP and


Labour and Conservative. They are last in a four horse race. We have


been talking about the biggest issue in Scottish politics, independence


and the referendum and the Lib Dems are nowhere. They are not mentioned


and they seem to think it is all about Labour and the SNP. The Lib


Dems are part of the Better Together campaign and we are being drowned


out among that. Looking to the future, what messages do voters have


for the Lib Dems? Get a backbone. Do not go back on your policies or your


word. Be strong and decisive. If you will pardon the expression, man up.


DIY, do it yourself. Do not award bankers and other people for


failure. Stand up. Be your own person, party. If that focus group


represented the whole country, what would the result for the Lib Dems be


at 2015 in the election? If they get the message across between now and


then, the result could be OK. If they do not get the message across,


the result could be disaster. Maybe they would do a lot better on their


own. I do not think you are seeing the true Lib Dems because they are


in the coalition. They maybe deserve another chance. Crucially for the


Lib Dems, that means there is some hope, but there is also plenty of


anger, some disappoint, and a bit of bafflement as well.


And watching that with me, senior Liberal Democrat and Chief Secretary


to the Treasury Danny Alexander Welcome to the programme. One of the


things that comes through from the focus group is that if there is any


credit around for the economic recovery, it is the Tories that are


getting it, and you are not? What can you do about that? The first


thing to say is that the economy would not be recovering if it was


not for the Liberal Democrats. If it was not for our decision right


beginning in 2010 to form a strong, stable coalition government that to


deal with the problems, we would still be in the mess that Labour


left us with. Why are you not getting the credit? That was one


focus group. It was interesting to hear opinions. We have to work very


hard to get across the message that the economy would not be recovering


without the Liberal Democrats. People would not be seeing the


largest income tax cuts for a generation without the Liberal


Democrats. The ?10,000 threshold that one of the people referred to


is coming into peoples pay packets this year. Lots of people recognise


that. There was the one person in the focus groups. This is your


measure of success, raising the people at which people pay income


tax. But most of the voters do not even give you credit for that. The


role that we haven't British politics as a party, is that we are


the only party that can be trusted to deliver a fair society and a


strong economy. People know they cannot trust the Labour Party. We


saw it again from Ed Miliband this morning. You cannot trust the Labour


Party with the nation's finances. It may well be your policy, the income


tax threshold, but it is the Tories that are getting the credit? I do


not think that is true. I have spent lots of time meeting photos and lots


of people recognise that if it was not for the Liberal Democrats,


people would not be seeing those tax cuts. We are helping disadvantaged


children in schools. It is right that we have to work very hard


between now and polling day to do several things, to make sure that we


secure the recovery, there can be no complacency. The economic recovery


is in its early stages and we need to make sure it is sustainable. We


need to make sure the benefits of the recovery are shared out people


who have made sacrifices, people on low pay, people who have seen their


savings are eroded. The Tories have now hijacked another Lib Dem


policy, another big hike in the minimum wage. You spoke about the


need to make sure that people on low pay benefit from the recovery, a big


hike in the minimum wage. Did the Chancellor consulting on this? We


have been talking about it for some time. Vince Cable asked the low pay


commission for advice on this. Why did Vince Cable not make this


announcement, why was it the Chancellor? Let me say a few other


things about this. If we are going to secure the recovery, this year we


have to make sure that businesses start investing. We have got to get


Roddick typically rising. An increase in the minimum wage is


something that needs to follow that. We will not do it unless the low pay


commission adviser as it is important for the economy at this


stage. Did you know the Chancellor was coming out with that statement?


I did not know he was going to say something on that particular day. We


have worked together on it in the tragedy to see what the economic


impact would be, and to emphasise that it is the commission, which has


credibility with business, trade unions and government. It must not


be a politically motivated increase. So you did not know, and Vince


Cable, and it is properly a matter for him as the Business Secretary,


he did not make the announcement? I don't think that's right. I don t


clear every word I say with him I don't expect him to do the same to


me. The Lib Dems have told us before it was the Treasury that was


blocking this from happening. We were going to ask the low pay


commission to advise us on bringing the minimum wage back up. During the


financial crisis, wages have been lower-than-expected but it's also


right, we shouldn't act in a hasty way, we should listen to what the


commission has to say, and if they don't recommend an increase we have


to make sure economic conditions are there to get it right. Not only are


the Tories getting credit for that, our Scottish voters group showed


that people have still not forgiven you for ratting on tuition fees and


that was a broken promise that didn't even apply to the people in


Scotland, where there are no tuition fees! Nick Clegg has been very clear


about the issues that that brought up. If you look at our manifesto,


the University of London said we delivered about 70% of our policies


in the manifesto. They haven't forgiven you for the big one. The


big promise we made was to cut income tax the millions of people.


That is a policy which is putting money back into the pockets of


working people. It is only possible because we are delivering our


economic plan in government with the Conservatives. Now we have to make


sure, through tax cuts, through looking at issues like the minimum


wage and other groups who have made sacrifices, make sure that benefit


is shared. I am not going to agree to anything which undermines the


confidence of businesses to invest in this country over the next 1


months. Speaking of Scotland, the Lib Dems, why do they now look


largely irrelevant in the battle for the union? Not one of our focus


group even knew who your Scottish leader is. I don't accept that. I


have spent a lot of time with Alistair Carmichael and others, we


are all making the case every day. If Scotland votes to be independent,


it will be in a much worse financial position within the European Union.


Scotland will be contributing to the rebate for the UK, rather than


benefiting from it. It has been a disaster for your Scottish based to


have joined a coalition with the Tories. It may have been the right


thing to do, you say it is in the national interest, but Scottish Lib


Dems did not expect to be in a coalition with the Tories. By the


way I think it is also in the national interests and the interests


of the people for Scotland, cutting the income tax of Scottish people,


stabilising the economy. We are now seeing good growth. But you are in


meltdown. I don't accept that. We will see what happens in the 20 5


election. I think we have a record to be proud of, we have played a


very important role in clearing up the mess Labour made in the


economy, of making sure the Coalition government tackles the


problems in this country, but does so in a fair way. I think the


biggest risks to the economic recovery over the next few years is


either a majority Labour government or a majority Conservative


government. Labour you cannot trust with the finances, the Tories want


us to play chicken with the European Union which would truly be a


disaster to investment in this country. You announced this week


that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, it would be the British Treasury


that would guarantee all British government debt. There wouldn't be a


negotiation, but the backstop would be that even if they didn't take


anything, we would still guarantee the debt. What was happening in the


markets that you needed to calm them down? We were getting quite a few


questions from the people we rely on to lend us money. We are still


borrowing billions of pounds every month as a country. Those people


were asking us to clarify this point. It was becoming a serious


concern? It wasn't reflected in the guilty yields. I follow the bond


market quite carefully and there was no sign this was having an impact.


That's why the right thing to do was to clarify this point now, rather


than the concerns being reflected in what you imply, and I think it is a


bad idea for Scotland to vote for separation but it would be wrong to


allow for the fact that question is on the table to cost taxpayers in


the UK more money and higher interest payments simply because


Alex Salmond has put that question on the table. That's why I think it


was the right thing to do. There were a lot of calls from the focus


group that you need to be different. Nick Clegg has embarked on this


aggressive differentiation. Where you can be different is the


bankers' bonuses. What conceivable reason could there be for anybody at


RBS getting a bonus twice in their salary? We have not been approached


by RBS in terms of those votes. I would be sceptical about an approach


from RBS if it can. It shows what we have presided over as a party in


government, massive reductions. . I'm not asking you about that, I'm


asking what conceivable case there can be for a bank that has failed to


sell its branches even though ordered by the Government, still has


38 billion of toxic debt on its balance sheet, I ask again what


possible reason should they get twice salary as a bonus? Your right


to say RBS is in a very different position to other banks, it is


mostly owned by the state. RBS hasn't put a case to us but they


might do so I would like to look at what they would say, but I would be


sceptical as to whether a case could be made given some of the things you


said, but also the fact that it is a bank that has benefited from the


taxpayer standing behind it. Now RBS has to focus more on domestic


retail. Let me turn to Chris Rennard, ten women have accused him


of sexual harassment. He denies every case. Who do you believe? We


have been through a process on this as a party. A report has been issued


on this. I agree with Alistair Webster on this, he has made clear


that while he cannot prove what happened to a criminal standard


that there is clear there has been considerable distress and harm


caused. I agree with him about that and that's why it is necessary for


Chris Rennard to apologise as he has been asked to do. If he refuses to


apologise, should he be denied the Lib Dem whip in the Lords? I don't


think he should be readmitted to the Liberal Democrat group in the House


of Lords until such time as the disciplinary process, including the


apology, has been done properly We are very democratic party, it is a


matter for our group in the House of Lords in due course to make that


judgement. Party HQ has had a lot of complaints from party members about


the fact no apology has been made. The appropriate committee would need


to look at that and decide what action needs to be taken because


these are very serious matters. We as a party have learned a lot, taken


a long, hard look at ourselves, to change the way we work. The apology


does need to be made. We are told that Lord Newby, the Chief Whip of


the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, we are told he has shaken


hands with Chris Rennard and welcomed him back. That decision has


not been taken yet. I think Lord Newby would share my view on this.


Have you shaken his hand and welcomed him back? No, I haven't.


Does Nick Clegg have the power to deny Chris Rennard as the whip? I am


making it clear that a lack of apology is totally unacceptable and


therefore we have to take steps if that is not forthcoming. His view


and my view is that Lord Rennard should not be readmitted to the


House of Lords if that is not forthcoming. In our party, our group


in the House of Lords has two in the end take a view for itself. And they


can override Nick Clegg's view? I hope that when they look at this...


Do they have the power to override Nick Clegg? They have the power to


decide who should be the whip. The failure to follow up the simple


human demand for an apology for the stress that has been caused is


totally unacceptable. Your party is totally down lighted on this --


divided on this. Here is what Lord Carlile had to say. A total


nonsense, hyperbole. It is a ridiculous statement to make and we


have seen Alistair Webster, the QC who did this investigation, comment


on that himself this morning. He has followed the process the party laid


down in its rules, which sets the standard for the investigation which


asked him to report on the evidence he has found, but he also has a duty


of confidentiality and responsibility under the data


protection legislation as well. Here is what your activists have said in


a letter to the Guardian. This shows there are strong opinions, but why


should Chris Rennard apologise for something he denies, unproven


allegations, on an unpublished report that Chris Rennard has not


been allowed to read? He should apologise because he wants to


continue to be a member of the Liberal Democrats and this is the


recommendation that has been made by the internal disciplinary process.


Webster himself said this was not an inquiry, it is an opinion. If Chris


Rennard apologises on this basis, he opens himself to civil lawsuits He


says he is not going to do it. As a Liberal Democrat you join the party


because you believe in its values, you abide by its rules. One of those


rules is that we have a process if there are disciplinary allegations.


The committee of the party supported Webster's recommendations, one of


which was that an apology should be made because he clearly found


distress had been caused. Will there now be a proper inquiry? I don't


think any of these legalistic things, I don't think he can have it


both ways. Will there be a proper inquiry? Alistair Webster did do a


proper inquiry. There was a proper report into what happened at the


time and we have learned a lot from this is a party, and the most


important thing now is that Chris Rennard apologises. You have made


that clear. What kind of biscuits are you? Are you a Tunnocks? Soft on


the inside? It is good of you to be advertising a Scottish product. We


just wondered if you weren't tough enough to take on Ed Balls. Thank


you. More than tough enough is the answer to that.


Generally governments are a bit rubbish at IT projects. They tend to


run way over budget and never quite achieve what they promised. So the


revelations of a former spy that the US and British security agencies


were in fact astonishingly efficient at eavesdropping on the digital


communications of their citizens came as a bit shock. But just how


worried should we be about their clandestine activity?


In his latest revelation, former US by Edward Snowden has claimed that


America's National Security Agency operates a secret database called


Dishfire. It collect 200 million mobile phone messages every day from


around the world, accessed, he says, why British and American spies. This


week, the president has outlined a series of surveillance reforms,


including Ning to the storage of the phone call information of millions


of Americans, and no Morse -- and no more spying on allies like Angela


Merkel. Critics say that the British intelligence agencies have refused


to acknowledge even the need for a debate on the issue. The Foreign


Secretary William six says that we have a very strong system of checks


and balances. -- William Hague. ?? new line Nick Pickles is director of


the pressure group Big Brother Watch. The Labour MP Hazel Blears in


on Parliament's Intelligence And Security Committee. They're here to


go head to head. Welcome to both of you. Hazel


Blears, let me come to you first. President Obama has made some major


changes as a result of what we have learned that the NSA in America was


up to. But British politicians seem to, they are not up for this kind of


thing, they are hoping it will go away? It is not going away and that


is why my committee, the Intelligence And Security Committee,


has decided to launch an enquiry into whether the legal framework is


up-to-date. We have had massive technological change. We have had a


call for evidence. Some of the sessions will be open so that people


can see what the evidence is. Obviously some of the information


will have to be classified, but on the committee, there is a real


commitment to say, there is a big debate going on, let's see if the


system is as Rob asked as we can make it. The big question is


oversight and the call for evidence that the committee has issued is not


mention oversight. It is ten years since the Foreign Affairs Committee


said that the committee should be a fully elected committee chosen by


Parliament and not the Prime Minister. It has changed, actually.


The Prime Minister nominates people and the house gets to him -- gets to


approve. In America, they have a separation of power, the president


does not nominate Kennedy. Basically, Hazel Blears, you're an


establishment lackey? I do not think so. Most of the people on the


committee have some experience of intelligence and these issues. In


this country, we have robust scrutiny, compared to some of her


European neighbours. We have Parliamentary scrutiny, the


interception commissioners, and ministers have to sign the warrants.


But there may be room for improvement, which is why we are


having the enquiry. Do not forget, President Obama said that the agency


should not have the ability to collect data, he wanted to put more


safeguards in. That is essential for the work of the agencies. If you


cannot see the data, you cannot take the connections and see the


patterns. Some people never talk about the threat from terrorism it


is all about travesty. There are several thousand people in this


country, as we are talking, who are actively planning to do a country


harm. When this debate started in the US, the NSA head stood up and


said there are 54 plots that have been detected by this capability


that has detected and that in bulk. Now the head of the NSA has admitted


that the number is actually zero. It is not the intelligence committee in


the US that did the work to reduce that number, it was a Judiciary


Committee. The fact that we have two different bodies doing this in this


country, it means that you do not get the correct view. How can people


have confidence in a body when if you go around Europe, for example,


or the world, we are not at the end not requiring judges to not sign


warrants? I do not accept that the committee failed on that range of


issues. You look at the reports on 7/7. Two reports by the committee


get to the heart of it. If you look at that terrorist attack on our


country, people will say, why did you not have them on the radar? The


agencies are between a rock and a hard race. They have got to be


subject to oversight, but beanie capability. Did you know about


Dishfire? We go to GCHQ on a regular basis and I know about the


capabilities that we have got. Some of the names of these programmes, we


would not necessarily know. But did you know that GCHQ had the


capability to use Dishfire, or to get Dishfire material from the NSA?


I knew and my committee knew that we had the capability to collect data,


and these days, people do not write letters, they do not use landline


telephones, they use the Internet and text in, so it is important that


the agencies are able to keep up with that take the logical change.


What should happen? The proper legal framework should include, if a


company is cooperating, as Google and Facebook do, it should be


illegal for GCHQ to hack into them. In the US, Lundberg estimate that


this has driven a 35mm and hole in the US economy because people do not


trust but there are systems are secure. We need to know that GCHQ


are not trying to use a different door into the system, whether by


hacking or foreign intelligence We need judicial oversight with judges


and not politicians signing off The final 30 seconds to you. As a result


of the changes in the Justice and Security act, the committee is


accountable to Parliament and not the Prime Minister. Those changes


are taking place, and I am up for the debate if we need more change or


not. But I want British agencies to have more power to protect the


people in this country. Thank you to both of you. It's coming up to


11:40. You're watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just over 20


minutes, we'll get the verdict of the Minister for Portsmouth on that


dive from the Portsmouth MP. Ouch! Coming up on the Sunday Politics in


the South West ` a warning that many councils in the region face


financial crisis and may be unable to deliver the services they're


required to by law. And for the next 20 minutes, I'm


joined by former Cornish MP and now Labour Councillor Candy Atherton and


Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem MP for St Austell and Newquay. Yet another


Cornish MP, Dan Rogerson, the Minister for Flooding found himself


at the sharp end again this week. Edging, yes or no? Dredging. I just


want you to answer the question, will you pay for dredging. The


government will put money into schemes which we think will work. If


we can make a contribution to that, we will be keen to do that. Maybe


some as a people should hold their breath for the dredging money. That


is obviously a specific is you for them. But a lot of people are


concerned that the government does not have enough financial resources


going into flooding. `` fighting flooding. Absolutely. I heard the


government say they were putting in more money, and they are not. They


have put in some. Yes, but not knowing `` nothing like enough. You


have to keep dredging otherwise the water will end up flooding all


across Somerset. If you keep salami slicing the Environment Agency, you


will end up with more and more flooding. Stephen, Labour keep


saying that the flooding budget has overall been cut. Over the spending


review period, the budget has been cut? The government is spending


millions to protect... But overall, there is a cut? The Coalition


Government has also tackled the issue of flood insurance for those


businesses and homes which are hit by flooding. People don't want


insurance, they want protection. From the experience of my


constituency, which had bad flooding in November 2010, 2011 and 2012, is


that dredging does work. We need water companies to clear drainage


systems more often. We need flood warnings to be kept in place and we


need more support for domestic resilience measures. Those measures


have been put into place in my constituency since the flooding in


2010. They, alongside the funding from the government, really do make


a difference. It is about a collective, coordinated approach and


not cheap point`scoring. It is not cheap point`scoring to say that you


need to put the money in. You have come to this party far too late.


That is why those people would put Dan Rogerson in a ducking stool. It


was tough for them and the government needs to wake up.


Cornwall Council this week voted to build nearly 50,000 new homes in the


county over the next 20 years. The Conservative opposition group on the


council says far fewer are needed and that government planning


guidelines are forcing unsustainable levels of development. But the Royal


Town Planning Institute has now weighed in to the debate claiming


the government itself is underestimating the true number of


new houses needed. Tamsin Melville reports.


Even on a grey January day, it is easy why to see why St Ives is a


desirable place to live. Councillors want 1000 new houses by 2030. But


there is fierce debate over the number and what sort of houses they


should be. During the debate this week, one councillor said he is now


embarrassed to walk through the streets St Ives because there are so


many holiday lets. Looking through the estate agent windows, properties


can sell for over ?1 million. Not all the homes being built in the


town will be within the reach of local people. But 50% here would


have to be affordable, according to the plan. There are too many holiday


homes and people with second homes. It would be good to have more


housing. We have enough properties in St Ives as it is. This week,


Councillors gripped `` voted for a countywide target of 47,500 new


houses. Many felt that a lower figure would be respect `` would be


rejected by the government, leaving the county without a plan and at the


mercy of builders. Based on the experience of other local


authorities, this was the best way to get a plan adopted and the best


way to stop delay. Delay is something that I really fear.


Getting a rejection could delay this by 18 months to two years. That does


nothing to protect communities. Our community should decide where they


want the developments to be. The decision is based on national


projections of population, which opponents say are too high. Some


conservatives wanted a lower homes target based on the latest census ``


latest census which points to fewer people living in the area. We feel


under pressure here. Those figures should be looked at and some reality


injected into it. They are losing credibility. Not just in Cornwall,


but across the UK. The whole process is wrong. We as councillors must say


that it is wrong. Meanwhile, town planners say that the risk of local


authorities is to build too few homes. The census showed that the


population has gone up but the number of households has gone down.


That is not the trend. The trend has been, over quite a long period, that


the number of households has gone up because households have got smaller.


The 2011 figures were slightly odd. The number of 25 to 35`year`olds


living with their parents all together in groups was much higher


than we would expect. Probably because of the state of the economy.


Cornwall's draft plan will probably out `` go out for public


consultation before it is adopted, probably in one year's time. Whether


this is localism or not remains contentious.


The leader of the Conservative group on Cornwall Council, Fiona Ferguson


joins us. Can you just pick up on that final point there from the


Royal Town Planning Institute. You claim you are basing your


presumptions on the latest census, they are making the point that it


was an odd sensors, taken during a time of recession. I think the


important thing about what they said is that they are supporting our view


that the census numbers, or the Office of National Statistics


numbers, are not the last word on the subject. They appear `` they


agree with us on the principle. But they are going the opposite way on


the numbers. What they are saying is that it can vary from area to area


and at the 2011 census numbers may not be correct for individual areas.


But I think, in relation to Cornwall, they need close


examination. We still think that the number that the council gave are too


high. But they are acknowledging that they have to be looked at area


by area. I agree. If we took what the planning Istituto said, they


have said that some areas of May have under provision of 30%. If we


were talking about that in Cornwall, we would be talking about additional


housing, up to 92,000 houses. Those would be ridiculous numbers.


Stephen, can `` census is dodgy, but Conservatives are right? No. There


are people staying at home and there is less social mobility because


there are fewer jobs. What is interesting about the voting in


Cornwall Council is that the local candidate did not support the


numbers that Fiona is suggesting and I suggest that the number is more


about the election than helping people in Cornwall who are stuck at


home with mum and dad to get a foot on the housing ladder. That is


something that we should all want to see. I get the strong sense that


both you and the Conservatives are pretty cross with your own


government for not following through this localism pledge and letting you


decide. You are saying as Lib Dems that this is a realistically high


figure. The Conservatives are making a point of principle, they are


making the point of the government that they want to make their


decision. The decision was for Cornwall Council is to take. There


is a danger of being overturned. All of those of us who are proud of


Cornwall and the landscape and history and want to protect that,


would want a plan because having a plan is better than not having one.


We need a number that is both realistic and defensible and I feel


Cornwall Council achieve that. Is that a good plan per se, or is it


just to get it past the planning inspector? I think it will get past


the Inspectorate, but I think there's a debate be had. We have a


higher number. If you meet families who have three or four generations


living in one household, that gives you pause for thought because they


will not be able to get any foot on any housing ladder. We are not


building any social homes or council houses. Unless we can afford to


build the number of people that we need for people in the county to


live in, we need to keep revising these figures. I voted for 47,500.


We are talking about 2300 a year across the county. Many of them have


been already been built. It seemed a reasonable sum and we cannot leave


ourselves open to developers riding roughshod over us. That is a very


good plan, if you do not arrive by a plan, this free for all could


continue? There is a big risk with this plan, going forward in its


current format, backed by the evidence that the council are


putting forward. They are saying that there is a range of housing


needed in Cornwall and it is between 47000 and 72,000. If the council put


forward a plan which is backed by that evidence bases, then I think


what will happen is that the inspector will say, yes, it is


72,000. So we have got to challenge this. I think people would be


surprised if we did not do so. Councillor Atherton in Falmouth...


What would they think if you ended up with no plan for the next 18


months? I think the protection of a plan is ill use array is `` is ill


use array, is by putting forward the plan we are going to end up by


having to 72,000 houses. `` the protection of the plan is an


illusion. People would say that the plan was no protection at all. And


in addition to that, the terrible thing which was alluded to by


Stephen Gilbert, is that there isn't really affordable housing for local


people in there. So there is a double problem. An awful lot of


houses, possibly up to 72,000, and not affordable by local people. We


cannot accept that. Stephen Gilbert, it is fair to say that to go to the


public, to say that you just need a plan and that is better than


nothing, is not acceptable? No, we're not saying that. Nobody wants


to see Cornwall concreted over. But we want a realistic plan to look


after those people who are stuck in the private rented sector all


inappropriate `` in inappropriate social housing. There is a desperate


housing need for local people. What we need is leadership in Cornwall


Council. It is invidious for people with homes to say don't build any


more. Thank you very much. Figures obtained by the Sunday


Politics suggest that nearly a third of councils in the region are at


real risk of bankruptcy or finding they are unable to deliver statutory


services before the next financial year. The figures from the local


authority auditors Grant Thornton also show the South West has the


largest number of at`risk authorities in the country. John


Danks reports. It is the doomsday scenario that all councils fear. But


how likely is it that key services could be in jeopardy? A study of


local authorities in England has identified that 30% of councils in


the South West could be at risk of reaching a tipping point before the


next financial year. Tipping point could mean several different things.


It could mean that a local authority could not set a balanced budget, it


could mean failures in several services which mount up to be


critical. It could mean the inability to deliver certain


services. The auditors did not name the council is most at risk but the


report is another indication of the pressures facing local authorities


as their funding is cut. These small district and borough councils are


facing a serious threat. And I urge the Minister is to take it as


seriously as it deserves. One year on from that speech and Philip


Collins knows all too well about the challenges of running a small


council. We are a very small area, lowest wage in the UK. We do not get


the same funding as urban areas, it is 50% less and we have more


distance to travel for the services that we do. Thankfully, these scenes


are a rare occurrence in Exeter. But some local authorities are warning


that less frequent bin collections could be unavoidable. At the


moment, we collect garden waste on a fortnightly basis. Maybe come 2015,


something will have to change there. One way councils could raise money


is by increasing council tax but this goes against government efforts


to get them to freeze it. Last year, Governor `` councils were told they


would have to have a referendum if they wanted to put up council tax by


more than 2%. They are still waiting to hear what the threshold will be


this year. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. We come up


with ways of setting a budget and we don't know what the rules are yet.


West Somerset council would have had to raise its council tax by 39% to


make ends meet when it faced bankruptcy in 2012. It had to


radically restructure and now shared services with neighbouring councils.


The report from the auditors suggests that other South West


councils might have to follow suit. Joining us in the studio is the


self`declared leader of the peasants' revolt on council funding,


Conservative MP Neil Parish. This bears out a lot of the fear is that


you have? Yes, we need a fairer share for our schools across


Cornwall but it also shows that the local authorities themselves have to


restructure. West Somerset does not need a lot of Chief officers, it


needs good services. Torbay is too small. With all those things


together, we can make the money go further. My demands for more money


for oral authorities but also we need to spend it wisely. I know


Stephen Gilbert would like more money. I had this discussion with


both of you last year. We are at this time of year again, you both


thought the local government settlement was terrible last year,


it is before us again. Will you wrote it down? Let's be clear, it


was terrible and the government has taken no efforts to address the


disparity between the amount going to rob areas and urban areas. If


there is no progress in reducing that, I will think very carefully


about whether to support the government on this. We need help.


Rural services are suffering and there are high costs involved. As


far as I'm concerned, we are meeting with Eric pickles. We are getting


somewhere and whether we have enough, I do know. That is why won't


be ready to rebel if we need to. The government needs to take it


seriously. They both say the problem is that this government is sticking


with Labour's bad old formula. And they all talked about how wonderful


it was going to be with them. They have a point, which was partially


addressed, but not enough. They have not turned up with the goods


either. I await with interest, because I do not believe that you


will vote against, not on a critical issue. We were left with a deficit


of ?1 billion and that is what we have to clear up. Clearly, this


report found that role areas were not an issue, but size matters. ``


rural areas. We have a lot of tiny councils in the South West. Some


people said that we need big unitary councils. I will not say what Devon


should do and I would not say that Cornwall is in a good position as a


unitary. ?197 million of arrears is a nightmare. What is a nightmare is


the previous government which crashed the economy and fails to


take any responsibility for the consequences. It is good here you


finally apologising for the funding settlement that Cornwall has had for


decades. If you look at the resilience to some of the budget


changes because of certain measures because of unitary measures `` only


`` becoming unitary, it vindicates that decision. Evolution, not


revolution. It costs money and does not deliver better services.


Neil, you feature in our regular round`up of the political week in 60


seconds. The cost of policing last year's


pilot badger culls was ?2.4 million. ?1,300 for every badger killed. This


is the price of democracy. We allow people to demonstrate against the


cull. They have got in the way of the cull and caused extra police


cost. MPs say the government should


provide more nurses and give people at the end of their life the choice


not to be in hospital at all. We know the vast majority of people


would prefer to die at home and less than one third get the opportunity


to do so. As Devon faces a ?750,000 bill to


mend its weatherworn roads, the Prime Minister is asked to help.


Unless there is a massive investment from outside, the safety factor on


our roads will just get worse. The danger factor will increase.


And the region celebrates EU protected status for its beef and


lamb. A double bill of Neil Parish on tape


and in the studio. Stephen Gilbert, Ye has got a point, you have illegal


activity and if you have it breaking the law, it should not cost? It is a


contentious issue. But on the policing cost, it is the defence of


democracy? It might be the defence of democracy, but I question the


whole coal of badgers that the whole cult of badgers. If they put the


money into vaccination, we would be in a better place now. You defend


the badger cull. It has gone pretty badly, though hasn't it? Vaccination


will not work because it will not kill infected badgers. The last


government had barricaded. `` prevaricated. If we want healthy


food in this country, we have to have a cull. Thank you to you all.


That's the Sunday have a cull. Thank you to you all.


houses being built by the mayor Andrew, back to you. Welcome back.


Now she made quite a splash last night. I am talking, of course, of


the Portsmouth North MP, Penny Mordaunt. If you missed her first


appearance in ITV's celebrity diving competition show, here she is in


action. APPLAUSE


Here is a lady who is more used to campaigning for votes than diving


for them. She created far too much rotation. Hard work has gone into


the start of this dive to try and control it. That looked painful Now


the Portsmouth North MP got voted off the show last night but what


about the verdict that really matters? The newly appointed


Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, is here. Welcome to the


programme. I would give her ten out of ten for bravery. I was cheering


her on. She was doing this for a local charity, raising money for the


local swimming pool. She was a good sport. As Minister for Portsmouth,


can we expect to see you in your swimming trunks for the next


series? I do not think I have the spare time at the moment. But there


is a big challenge in Portsmouth. Penny Mordaunt and the other local


MPs there have been remorseless in asking ministers to help the city.


They are losing jobs. There is a goblin Trinity -- there is a big


opportunity to create jobs. Should she have been on a celebrity


television show of their role these problems in Portsmouth? This was in


her spare time and it is raising money for a good cause. I do not


think we should eat two sniffy about it. Did I not see you dressed up on


Thursday night, doing your programme? This is my job. This is


not her job. It was in her spare time, she was raising money for a


local charity. Your Minister for Portsmouth. Are we going to have a


minister for every town? Are we going to have a minister for


Chipping Sodbury? Chipping Sodbury does not have the issues that


Portsmouth have -- that Portsmouth has. There are jobs at risk in


shipbuilding. The government puts in a lot of money through the regional


growth fund, some ?20 million. There are range of government funding


streams going into Portsmouth. My job is to make sure that is properly


coordinated. I need to make sure that Portsmouth seizes this


opportunity to develop a more broadly -based marine and maritime


economy. To make sure a marginal seat stays Tory at the next


election? There are marginal seats everywhere. There is a Liberal


Democrat marginal the -- seat. Vince Cable and I have been working


together for the issues that Portsmouth is facing. We work on


these things together. But I have the very specific job of making sure


that the effort on the ground is coordinated. So Vince Cable is not


the Minister for Portsmouth? I have been there recently, so has Vince


Cable. So there are two ministers for Portsmouth? Just a minute. I am


making sure that the effort is properly coordinated on the ground.


I am determined to turn this challenging time into a proper


opportunity. Should we be to Paul faced about this? No, good honour.


How much money would be have to pay you to get into a swimming costume?


Bid is not enough money in the BBC covers. Good on her. It took seven


years to get a leg there's an MP. She should be a minister. It is a


pity she has the spare time to do this. She is very talented. It is


interesting about the Minister for Portsmouth, up in the north-east


they must be sad that they do not have any marginal seats. Nick Brown


as David Cameron last July, can we have a minister for the north-east,


and the Prime Minister is said no? Does this mean that Portsmouth is


more deprived economic late than the north-east? No, it means it is a


marginal seat. The Labour Leader Ed Miliband was on


the Andrew Marr programme this morning and he outlined plans under


a Labour government for an annual competition audit. Here is what he


had to say. The next Labour government will have an annual


competition at it, not just done by the regulatory body. Alongside them


will be the citizens advice bureau, setting the agenda for the future,


setting the agenda for how we can ensure that competition will benefit


consumers and businesses. I want to see Labour going into the next


election as the party of competition, the party of the


consumer, the party of hard-pressed working families who are struggling.


They need somebody to deal with those issues and that is what the


next Labour government will do. I thought you were meant to be the


party of competition? We are the party of competition. This is the


party that has given us some of these problems. We have an annual


competition review in the energy sector. We have already tackling


banking. What is interesting about his proposal is it is the smaller


ones who are less sure about this, the smaller banks who think that


this could inhibit the growth. It is the smaller energy companies who


think that through interfering with the market, through his price


freeze, that he will hinder competition. We spoke about this


before. It is a clever pitch that Ed Miliband is making. Under the guise


of token markets and claiming to be the party of competition, he is


creating the reason for state intervention? -- broken markets


Exactly, and it is state intervention that does not work


There is a proud tradition in government of smashing open cartels.


Teddy Roosevelt did it nearly a century ago. The problem is, in


those situations it was clear and obvious that the consumers were


suffering. I am not sure it is entirely obvious in this country. In


the banking sector we have free current accounts in the high street.


That is not true in all Western countries. In the energy sector our


bills are not outlandish they high. It is when we take taxes into


account the become unaffordable He has to make the case that consumers


are suffering as a result of these monopolies. Ed Miliband would say it


is not about state intervention but about making markets work. The piece


that was written by his intellectual Duryea about the significance and


the importance of Teddy Roosevelt. He was the Republican president in


the yearly -- in the early years of the last century. He wanted markets


to work. There is an interesting debate on Twitter this morning. Tim


Montgomerie is saying, why are we, the Conservative Party, not seen as


the party of Teddy Roosevelt? We are seen as the party of business.


There are smaller energy companies competing against the big six. In


banking, we have seen smaller companies coming. It was the Labour


government that created the big six energy companies. I think Teddy


Roosevelt also invaded Cuba and the Philippines. That could give us a


clue as to Ed Miliband's foreign policy. Nigel Farage has promised to


purge the party of its more extreme candidates ahead of the European


Council elections in May. But that may not be going so well. Listen to


this. The latest in this process is these homosexual laws. And Thomas I


shall manage. I believe that the Prime Minister, who was warned that


disasters would follow a three went in this direction, he has persisted,


and I believe that this is largely a repercussion from this godlessness


that he has persisted in. The instructions I have got from now on,


or is just not to answer in, and not to give interviews such as this one.


So you are ignoring them? I am not ignoring them. But you are talking


to me? You are the last one I shall be speaking to. I think it is too


late. Who would have thought it It is not global warming that is


causing the floods, it is gay marriage? That explains it. Last


year David Cameron offered a coded retraction of his statement that


UKIP is full of fruit cakes. I think he will be tempted to retract the


retraction. It is a warning to lots of Tories who think that their best


interests are served by flirting with lace -- with UKIP. Nigel Farage


is a very plausible guy, but several layers down, there are people who


are very different. Nigel Farage is saying that he's going to clear the


party out of what Mr Cameron called the fruitcakes. If he is true to his


word, Mr Sylvester's days in the party should they numbered. If Nigel


Farage falls under the bus, what is left of place -- what is left of


UKIP? People say that they like UKIP because unlike other politicians,


they speak their mind. But as it turns into more of a proper


organisation, people speaking their mind will be less acceptable. The


European elections are always a protest vote. People are not happy


with the elite. You will get people saying utterly ridiculous things


like that man in Henley-on-Thames. But this is a chance to vote against


the entire political establishment. I am not sure that comments like


that will make much of a difference. There are lots of arguments about


climate change. That was certainly a new one! They are the only big


protest party at the moment. Protest party is obviously hoovered up lots


of votes. We have got to be clear in European message that we are the


only party that can reform Europe and give people a proper choice the


first referendum in over 40 years. Mr Sylvester used to be a


conservative. You're probably glad to see the back of him? David


Cameron is right, there are probably a few fruitcakes around there. I


think that mainstream conservatives will understand that this is the


only party that can secure European reform and give people the choice


they have been arguing for. Whatever happens in the European elections,


it is a protest vote. We have almost run out of time. We will see this


week of Chris Rennard gets the party whip act. There is a battle brewing


between Danny Alexander and the common side of the Liberal Democrats


and the House of Lords. If he turns up on Monday and asks to be let in,


I they going to make a big scene at the gate of Parliament? And the


issue will stay in the papers? Yes, they are clearly nervous that Lord


Rennard might be tempted to mount a legal bid. That is all for today.


Thanks to all my guests. The Daily Politics is back on Monday at midday


on BBC Two. And I will be here again next week. Remember if it is Sunday,


it is the Sunday Politics.


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