26/01/2014 Sunday Politics South West


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Politics. Politics.


Ed Balls has gone socialist and fiscal Conservative in one speech.


He promises to balance the biggest bit of the budget. And to bring back


the 50p top tax rate. Political masterstroke, or a return to old


Labour? If you go to work by public


transport, chances are the price of your ticket has just gone up -


again. We'll speak to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. He's


our Sunday Interview. And it's been another wet week


across much of the UK, but what's the outlook according to this man?


This morning.This morning. Held in recent years by party veterans like


Vince Cable And in the South West, the bishop


who is concerned about council cuts. And the former MP calling for a


clamp`down on the region's cannabis farms.


And with me - as always - the political panel so fresh-faced,


entertaining and downright popular they make Justin Bieber look like a


boring old has-been just desperate to get your attention. Nick Watt,


Helen Lewis and Janan Ganesh, and they'll be tweeting quicker than a


yellow Lamborghini racing down Miami Beach. Being political nerds, they


have no idea what I'm talking about. Ed Balls sprung a surprise on us all


yesterday. We kinda thought Labour would head for the election with a


return to the 50p top rate of tax. But we didn't think he'd do it now.


He did! The polls say it's popular, Labour activists now have a spring


in their step. The Tories say it's a return to the bad old days of the


'70s, and bosses now think Labour is anti-business. Here's the Shadow


Chancellor speaking earlier this morning. I was part of a Government


which did very many things to open up markets, to make the Bank of


England independent, to work closely with business, but the reality is we


are in very difficult circumstances and because if I'm honest you,


George Osborne's failure in the last few years, those difficult


circumstances will last into the next Parliament. Business people


have said to me they want to get the deficit down, of course they do But


to cut the top rate... It is foolish and feeds resentment I want to do


the opposite and say look, pro-business, pro investment, pro


market, but pro fairness. Let's get this deficit down in a fairway and


make the reforms to make our economy work for the long term. What are the


political implications of Labour now in favour of a 50%, in practise 352%


top rate of tax? One of the political implications I don't think


exist is that they'll win new voters. I'm not sure many people out


there would think, I would love to vote for Ed Miliband but I'm not


sure if he wants to tax rich people enough. It will con Dale their


existing vote but I don't think it is the kind of, in the 1990s we


talked about triangulation, moving beyond your core vote, I don't think


it is a policy like that. If there has been a policy like that this


year, this month, it has been the Tories' move on minimum wage. I


thought Labour would come back with their own version, a centre-right


policy, and instead they have done this. I think we talk about the 35%


strategy that Labour supposed will have, I think it is a policy in that


direction rather than the thing Tony Blair or Gordon Brown would have


done. Where he was not clear is on how much it would raise. We know the


sum in the grand scheme of things isn't much, the bedroom tax was


about sending a message. What we are going to see is George Osborne and


Ed Balls lock as they try to push the other one into saying things


that are unpopular. The Tories, ?150,000 a year, that's exactly


where Ed Balls want them to be. All three main parties have roughly the


same plan, to run a current budget surplus by the end of the next


Parliament. George Osborne said ?12 billion of welfare cuts, hasn't said


how he is going to do it. Ed Balls is giving an idea that he is going


to restore this 50 persons rate The contribution of that will be


deminimus. It is not much, but what does it say about your values.


Because it is that package, it is cleverer than people think. Where


the challenge is is the question that Peter Mandelson posed at the


last election, which is can the Labour Party win a general election


if it doesn't have business on its side? That's the big challenge and


that's the question looking difficult for them this morning


Does it matter if Labour has business on its side. I thought the


most fascinating thing about this announcement is it came from the guy


mindful of business support, Ed Balls. When in opposition and when a


Minister and as a shadow as a result, he's been far more conscious


than Ed Miliband about the need not to alienate the CB Bill. In the


run-up of an election. This is a measure of Ed Miliband's strength in


the Labour Party, that his view of things can prevail so easily over a


guy who for the last 15 years has taken a different view. Eight out of


ten businesses according to the CBI don't want us to leave business


Business is in a bit of a cleft stick. Ed Miliband would like to see


businesses squealing, and Ed Balls is clearly not so comfortable on


that one. There's a difference on that. Mind you, they were squealing


this morning from Davos. They probably had hangovers as well. The


other thing they would say is this is not like Ed Balls thinks that 50p


is the optimal rate forever, it what go eventually. Isn't that what


politicians said when income tax was introduced? Yeah, in '97 Labour


regarded 40 persons as the rate where it would stay.


It's been a bad week for the Lib Dems. Again. Actually, it's been one


of the worst weeks yet for Nick Clegg and his party in recent


memory, as they've gone from talking confidently about their role in


Government to facing a storm of criticism over claims of


inappropriate sexual behaviour by a Lib Dem peer, Chris Rennard, and a


Lib Dem MP, Mike Hancock. Here's Giles with the story of the week. A


challenge to Nick Clegg's authority as he face as growing row over the


Liberal Democrat... I want everyone to be treated with respect by the


Liberal Democrats. We are expecting him to show moral leadership on our


behalf. A good man has been publicly destroyed by the media with the


apparent support of Nick Clegg. I would like Nick Clegg to show


leadership and say, this has got to stop. When Nick Clegg woke up on


Monday morning he knew he was in trouble, staring down the barrel of


a stand justify with Lord Rennard over allegations that the peer had


inappropriately touched a number of women. Chris Rennard thought he was


cleared. Nick Clegg wanted more I said if he doesn't apologise, he


should withdraw from the House of Lords. If he does that today, what


do you do then? I hope he doesn t. I think no apology, no whip. 2014 was


starting badly for the Liberal Democrats. Chris Rennard refused to


apologise, saying you can't say sorry for something you haven't


done. The and he was leaning towards legal action. Butch us friends


better defending Pym and publicly. This is a good, decent man, who has


been punished by the party, with the leadership of the party that seems


to be showing scant regard for due process. But his accusers felt very


differently. It is untenable for the Lib Dems to have a credible voice on


qualities and women's issues in the future if Lord Rennard was allowed


to be back on the Lib Dem benches in the House of Lords. Therein lay the


problem that exposed the weaknesses of the Lib Dem leaders. The party's


internal structures have all the simplicity of a circuit diagram for


a supercomputer, exposing the complexity of who runs the Liberal


Democrats? The simple question that arose of that was can the leader of


the Lib Dems remove a Lib Dem peer? The simple answer is no. The Lib Dem


whips in the Lords could do it but if enough Lib Dem peers disagreed,


they could overrule it. Some long-stand ng friends of roar


Rennard think he is either the innocent victim of a media


witch-hunt or at the least due process has been ridden over rough


shot by the leadership. Nobody ever did spot Lord Rennard as he didn't


turn up to the Lords, will citing ill health. But issued a statement


that ruled out an apology. He refused to do so and refused to


comply with the outcome of that report, so there was no alternative


but for the party to suspend his membership today. On Wednesday Nick


Clegg met Lib Dem peers, not for a crunch decision, but to discuss the


extraordinary prospect of legal action against the party by the man


long credited with building its success. The situation was making


the party look like a joke. One Tory MP said to one of my colleagues this


morning, the funny thing about the Liberal Democrats, you managed to


create a whole sex scandal without any sex. And we can laugh at


ourselves but actually it is rather serious. And it got more serious,


when an MP who had resigned the Lib Dem whip last year was expanded from


the party over a report into allegations of serious and unwelcome


sexual behaviour towards a constituent. All of this leaves the


Lib Dems desperately wishing these sagas had been dealt with long ago


and would now go away. Nick Clegg ended the week still party leader.


Lord Rennard, once one of their most powerful players, ended the week,


for now, no longer even in it. Giles on the Lib Dems' disastrous


week. Now, as you doubtless already know, on Tuesday Lib Dem MPs will


vote to choose a new deputy leader. You didn't know that? You do now.


The job of Nick Clegg's number two is to speak with a genuine Lib Dem


voice, untainted by the demands of coalition Government. At this point


in the show we had expected to speak to all three candidates for the


post, held in recent years by party veterans like Vince Cable and Simon


Hughes. We thought it being quite a significant week for the party, they


might have something to say. And here they are. Well that's their


pictures. For various reasons, all three are now unavailable. Malcolm


Bruce, he's reckoned to be the outsider. His office said he had a


"family commitment". Gordon Birtwistle, the Burnley MP, was


booked to appear but then told us, "I was at an event last night with


Lorely Burt" - she's one of the candidates - "and she told me it was


off". And Lorely Burt herself, seen by many as the red hot favourite,


told us: "Because of the Rennard thing we don't want to put ourselves


in a position where we have to answer difficult questions." How


refreshingly honest. Helen, how bad politically is all this for the Lib


Dems? What I think is the tragic irony of the Lib Dems is they've


been revealed as being too democratic. In the same way that


their party conference embarrassed Nick Clegg by voting sings that he


signed up to, and now everything has to be run past various


sub-committees first. Is it democratic or chaotic? It is


Byzantine. Mike Hancock was voluntarily suspended, and this week


he was properly suspended. It was new information into the public


domain that forced that. I'm already hearing Labour and Conservative


Party musing that if it is a long Parliament, we will form a minority


Government. It is a disaster for them. Voters like parties that


reflect and are interested this their concerns. Parties that are


self obsessed turn them off. The third party, if they carry on like


this, they'll be the fifth party in the European elections, so they have


got to draw a line under this. They do that, if they do, through


mediation. As I understand it, Chris Rennard,s who has go devoted his


entire life to the Liberal Democrats, and previously the


Liberal Party, is keen to draw a line under this. He is up for


mediation but he needs to know that the women that he has clearly


invaded their personal space, that there wouldn't be a possible legal a


action from them. The it is very difficult to see how you could


resolve that. Except he is threatening through his friends


these famous friends, to spill all the beans about all the party's sex


secrets. Isn't the danger for the Lib Dems, this haunts them through


to the European elections, where they'll get thumped in the European


elections? They'll get destroyed in the European elections, which keeps


it salient as a story over the summer. And it has implications for


Nick Clegg's leadership. He's done a good job until now, perhaps better


than David Cameron, of exercising authority over his party. He had a


good conference in September. Absolutely, and now the Lib Dems


have looked like a party without a leader or a leadership structure.


Part of that is down to the chaotic or Byzantine organisational


structure of the party. Part of it is Nick Clegg's failure to assert


himself and impose himself over events. Is it Byzantine or


Byzantine. It is labyrinthine. You don't get these words on the Today


programme. The cost of living has been back on the agenda this week as


Labour and the Tories argue over whether the value of money in your


pocket is going up or down. Well there's one cost which has been


racing ahead of inflation and that's the amount you have to pay to travel


by train, by bus and by air. Rail commuters have been hard hit over


the last four years, with the cost of the average season ticket going


up by 18% since January 2010, while wages have gone up by just 3.6% over


the same period. It means some rail users are paying high prices with


commuters from Kent shelling out more than ?5,000 per year from the


beginning of this month just to get to work in London. It doesn't


compare well with our European counterparts. In the UK the average


rail user spends 14% of their average income on trains. It is just


1.5% in Italy. Regulated fares like season tickets went up 3.1% at the


beginning of this month, and with ministers keen to make passengers


fought more of the bills, there are more fare rises coming down the


track. And Patrick McLoughlin joins me now for the Sunday Interview


Welcome. You claim to be in the party of hard-working people, so why


is it that since you came to power rail commuters have seen the cost of


their average season ticket going up in money terms by over 18% while


their pay has gone up in money terms by less than four? I would point out


that this is the first year in ten years that we have not had an above


inflation increase on fares. The Government accepts we have got to do


as much as we can to help the passengers. A big inflation increase


since 2010. This is the first year in ten years that it has not been


above RPI, but we are also investing huge amounts of money into the


railways, building new trains for the East Coast Main Line and the


great Western. We are spending 500 million at Birmingham station, this


is all increasing capacity, so we are seeing investments. Over the


next five years Network Rail will invest over ?38 billion in the


network structure. We also have an expensive railway and it is ordinary


people paying for it. A season ticket from Woking in Surrey,


commuter belt land in London, let's look at the figures. This is a


distance of over 25 miles, it cost over ?3000 per year. We have picked


similar distances to international cities.


The British commuter is being ripped off. The British commuter is seeing


record levels of investment in our railways. The investment has to be


paid for. We are investing huge amounts of money and I don't know


whether the figures you have got here... I'm sure they are likewise,


as you have managed to do... White -- ten times more than the Italian


equivalent. We have seen transformational changes in our


railway services and we need to carry on investing. We were paying


these prices even before you started investing. We have always paid a lot


more to commute in this country than our European equivalents. I'm not


quite sure I want to take on Italy is a great example. You would if you


were a commuter. You is a great example. You would if you


the other rates of taxation has to be paid as well. Isn't it the case


they are making profits out of these figures and using them to subsidise


cheaper fares back in their homeland? The overall profit margin


train companies make is 3%, a reasonable amount, and we have seen


a revolution as far as the railway industry is concerned.


a revolution as far as the railway 20 years we have seen passenger


journeys going from 750 million to 1.5 billion. That is a massive


revolution in rail. Let me look 1.5 billion. That is a massive


spokesperson for the German government, the Ministry of


transport. They are charging huge fares in


Britain to take that money back to subsidise fares in Germany. What do


you say to that? We are seeing British companies winning contracts


in Germany. The National Express are winning contracts to the railways.


What about the ordinary commuter? They are paying through the nose so


German commuters can travel more cheaply. We are still subsidising


the railways in this country, but overall we want to reduce the


subsidy we are giving. We are still seeing growth in our railways and I


want to see more people using them. Why do you increase rail fares at


the higher RPI measure than the lower CPI measurement? That is what


has always been done, and we have stopped. This is the first time in


ten years that we have not raised the rail figures above RPI. You


still link fares to RPI. You use the lower CPI figure when it suits you,


to keep pension payments down for example, but the higher one when it


comes to increasing rail fares. We are still putting a huge subsidy


into the rail industry, there is still a huge amount of money going


from the taxpayer to support the rail industry. I am not asking you


about that, I am asking you why you link the figures to the higher RPI


vesture Mark if we are going to pay for the levels of investment, so all


the new trains being built at Newton Aycliffe for the East Coast Main


Line and the great Western, ?3. billion of investment, new rolling


stock coming online, then yes, we have to pay for it, and it is a


question of the taxpayer paying for it all the -- or the passenger.


You have capped parking fines until the next election, rail commuters we


have seen the cost of their ticket has gone up by nearly 20%, you are


the party of the drivers, not the passengers, aren't you?


We are trying to help everybody who has been struggling. I think we are


setting out long-term plans for our railways, investing heavily in them


and it is getting that balance right. But you have done more for


the driver than you have for the user of public transport. I don t


accept that. They are paying the same petrol prices as 2011. This is


the first time in ten years that there has not been an RPI plus


rise. We are investing record amounts. Bus fares are also rising,


4.2% in real terms in 2010, at a time when real take-home pay has


been falling. This hits commuters particularly workers who use buses


on low incomes, another cost of living squeeze. I was with


Stagecoach in Manchester on Friday, and I saw a bus company investing in


new buses. Last week First ordered new buses. Part of your hard-working


families you are always on about, they are the ones going to work


early in the morning, and yet you are making them pay more for their


buses in real terms than they did before. They would be happier if


they could travel more cheaply. It is about getting investment in


services, it has to be paid for Why not run the old buses for five more


years? Because then there is more pollution in the atmosphere, modern


buses have lower emissions, and we are still giving huge support


overall to the bus industry and that is very important because I fully


accept that the number of people, yes, use the train but a lot of


people use buses as well. High-speed two, it has been delayed because 877


pages of key evidence from your department were left on a computer


memory stick, part of the submission to environmental consultation. Your


department's economic case is now widely regarded as a joke, now you


do this. Is your department fit for purpose? Yes, and as far as what


happened with the memory stick, it is an acceptable and shouldn't have


happened, and therefore we have extended the time. There has been an


extension in the time for people to make representation, the bill for


this goes through Parliament in a different way to a normal bill. It


is vital HS2 provides what we want. What I am very pleased about is when


the paving bill was passed by Parliament just a few months ago,


there was overwhelming support, and I kept reading there was going to be


70 people voting against it, in the end 30 people voted against it and


there was a good majority in the House of Commons. So can you give a


guarantee that this legislation will get onto the statute books? I will


do all I can. I cannot tell you the exact Parliamentary time scale. The


bill will have started its progress through the House of Commons by


2015, and it may well have concluded. The new chairman of HS2


said he can bring the cost of the line substantially under the budget,


do you agree with that? The figure is ?42 billion with a large


contingency, and David Higgins, as chairman of HS2, is looking at the


whole cast and seeing if there are ways in which it can be built


faster. At the moment across London we are building Crossrail, ?14.


billion investment. There was a report last week saying what an


excellent job has been done. Crossrail started under Labour.


Actually it was Cecil Parkinson in the 1990 party conference. You may


get HS2 cheaper if you didn't pay people so much, why is the


nonexecutive chairman of HS2 on ?600,000? And the new chief


executive on ?750,000. These are very big projects and we need to


attract the best people become so we are going for the best engineers in


the world to engineer this project. It is a large salary, there is no


question about it, but I'm rather pleased that engineers rather than


bankers can be seen to get big rewards for delivering what will be


very important pieces of national infrastructure. I didn't have time


to ask you about your passenger duty so perhaps another time. We are


about to speak to Nigel Mills and all of these MPs on your side who


are rebelling against the Government, how would you handle


them? We have got to listen to what our colleagues are talking about and


try to respond it. Would you take them for a long walk off a short


pier? I'm sure I would have many conversations with them. An


immigration bill to tack the immigration into the UK. When limits


on migration from Bulgaria and Romania were lifted this year there


were warnings of a large influx of migrant workerses from the two new


European countries. So far it's been more of a dribble than a flood. Who


can forget Labour MP Keith Vaz greeting a handful of arrivals at


Luton Airport. But it is early days and it is one of the reasons the


Government's introduced a new Immigration Bill. The Prime Minister


is facing rebellion from backbenchers who want tougher action


on immigration from abroad. Nigel Mills would reimpose restrictions on


how many Romanians and Bulgarians can come here. Joining me is Nigel


Mills, Conservative MP behind the amendment and Labour MP Diane


Abbott. Welcome. Nigel Mills, there hasn't been an influx of Romanians


and Bulgarians. Why do you want to restore these, kick these


transitional controls way forward to 2019? I don't think any of us were


expecting a rush on January 1st Andrew. I think we were talking


about a range of 250,000 to 350 000 people over five years. That's


obviously a large amount of people, especially when you think net


migration to the UK was well in excess of the Government's target of


tens of thousands last year. The real concern is that it would be


ever increasing our population, attracting lots of low-skilled,


low-wage people, which keeps our people out of work and wages down.


Did you accept that if you were to accept this, it would be in breach


of the Treaty of Rome, the founding principle of the European Union We


were trying to keep the restrictions that Bulgaria and Romania accepted


for their first seven years of EU membership, on the basis that when


we signed the treaty we weren't aware that we would have a huge and


catastrophic recession we are still recovering from. But you would be in


breach of the law, correct? The UK Parliament has a right to say we


signed this deal before the terrible recession, and we need a bit longer


in our national interest. It is worth noting that Bulgaria and


Romania haven't met all their accession requirements. The


Bulgarian requirement passed a law... So if they break the law it


is alright for us to break the law? Is we should be focusing on trying


to get 2. 4 million of our own in work, and 1 million people not in


work... Let me bring in Diane Abbott. Will you vote for this


amendment and why? It is in breach of the treaty. While I deplore MPs


that try to cause trouble, these MPs have been particularly mindless


because what they want to do wouldn't be legal. However, it is a


Tory internal brief, if I might say so. Maybe you can cause trouble by


voting for it. No, that would be going too far. Underlying it is a


real antagonism for David Cameron. They have had to hold off on this


bill until January. It was supposed to be debating before Christmas As


we speak they've not cut a deal so it could be pretty grus om. Nigel


Mills, what do you say to that I think there is a recognition that


there is a problem with the amount of migration from EU countries that


we need to tackle. We could try to achieve an annual cap perhaps,


longer limits on when countries get free movement. I think the debate is


moving in the right direction, but I think those people who are trapped


out of work and desperately looking for work want something to be done


now and not wait a few more years while we have more assessments


Andrews. People are worried about the level of immigration. They I it


is too high. That's the consensus in the country. We spoke to to


migration centre in Hackney and they said they are struggling to cope


with the number of people using their services. These are people


with problems with the law. In the past years EU migrants put in more


to the economy in taxation than they take out in benefits. When it comes


to free movement, which is agitating Nige em, that horse has bolted. We


signed a treaty. There is nothing people like Nigel Mills can do,


unless they want to rip their party apart, God forbid. Will you go as


far as to rip your party apart, Nigel Mills? Are you going to take


this all the way? Would you rather see this bill go down than your


amendment not be accepted? This is a very important bill. I think we all


want to see measures on the statute book, so the last thing we want to


see is this bill go down. We do need to set out clearly that we have real


concerns about the level of EU migration and something needs to be


done. Would you rather have the bill without your amendment or no bill at


all? I am hoping we can have the bill with the amendment. I know


that, but if you can't? Is that will depend on what the Labour Party


decide to do. They are talking tougher on immigration but will they


take action on it? Your party has been talking tough on immigration


but I will be surprised if an Ed Miliband Labour Party would vote for


egg in direct cameravention of the Treaty of Rome. It would make no


sense. Nigel Mills is wishing for the impossible. If I was a Tory I


would be wringing high hands. He hasn't ruled out crashing the bill.


That's incredible. Where will this end, Nigel Mills? We'll end with a


vote on Thursday. There's a lot of amendments people can use to show


their concern about migration. We want limited and proportionate


action, and that's what I am proposing. I want to see the bill on


the statute book, I want the restrictions on people who shouldn't


be here getting bank accounts and driving licences. I don't want to


crash this bill but there's more measures we need in it. Nigel Mills


thank you. You are going to be -- popping up I think on the Sunday


Politics East Midlands. Diane Abbott, thank you as well.


We're in for more heavy rain and high winds across the UK today. You


may remember that one UKIP councillor - he's since been


suspended - caused controversy last weekend by blaming the recent


flooding on the legalisation of gay marriage. Why didn't I think of


that? So who better than this man to bring you the unofficial forecast.


I'll be bringing you the late least UKIP weather from your area.


You're watching Sunday Politics. Also coming up in just over 20


minutes, I'll be looking at the week ahead with our political panel.


Hello. I'm Lucie Fisher. Coming up on the Sunday Politics in the South


West: The rise of the cannabis farm. One former Devon MP says there could


be one in a house near you. And for the next 20 minutes I am


joined by the Conservative MP Mel Stride and Labour Councillor Nicky


Williams. Welcome to the programme. This week the Bishop of Crediton


spoke out against council cuts which could force a shelter for homeless


people to close. The Leonard Stocks Centre in Torquay opened four years


ago. But half its funding comes from Torbay Council, which has to save


more than ?22 million. To force the closure of a homeless


centre or hit some of the welfare projects out there doesn't just


affect those who are immediately affected, the homeless and the


troubled people themselves. It has knock`on effects for others, and we


probably all need to speak up for those who are most vulnerable in our


society. It is quite unusual for a bishop to


feel moved to speak out on an issue. Does he have a point? In the


specific case of what is happening in Torbay, my understanding it is


out to consultation so a final decision has not been taken, and I


can't comment on that specifically because I know `` I don't know the


context of what is happening on the ground, but in terms of raising the


issue of the homeless in the form rubble, he is absolutely right. The


Conservative government is holding a lot of houses. But where is there to


go for these people if you close that shelter? In the case of Torbay,


I don't know what is happening on the ground. Places open and closing


all sorts of areas for differing reasons. So you don't feel


responsible that the government cuts mean policies work down to councils


and are working their way down to people we see on the street?


Councils have difficult choices to make and there is no doubt about


that. Money is extremely tight white across the country. They are having


to make ethical decisions. What we are seeing only today is a rapid


decrease in the level of unemployment and the economy is


picking up. We are looking at ourselves slowly come out of the


recession we have been through and we are putting things right, but it


will be tough in the meantime. If we keep at it and keep with the long


term economic plan, we'll make progress. What you make of that? We


shouldn't worry? The reality is that these cuts are hitting the most


vulnerable people. The cuts from the central government are being passed


on to local government and we as local councillors run the services


which protect the most vulnerable people. If you could put it in the


way they are at the moment, inevitably, there are tough


decisions being made. We are doing everything we can to protect the


most vulnerable, but if you remove all the resources and the money,


inevitably some people will be put in an awful position and we will


have to make some hard decisions. What do you say to that? You can go


back to the old Labour Party ways which got us into this mess in the


first race, `` first place, which is to keep borrowing and spending and


taxing, and you will end up in the position we were in in 2008. We are


working through a long`term economic plan, seeing and employment go down


and growth coming back. We are seeing some signs of real wage


increases, and in the longer term is, those things give it a healthy


and sustainable society. It is time move on.


The former Totnes MP Anthony Steen is stepping up his efforts to raise


the profile of cannabis farms and their links to child slavery. He has


given the Sunday Politics recent figures which show Devon and


Cornwall police found 150 of the farms in just one year. Mr Steen


says the cannabis plants are often being pruned and watered by children


who have been trafficked into Britain. We will speak to him in a


moment, but first this report from Jenny Kumah.


On the streets of Plymouth, it is easy to find links between the South


West and the slave trade that was abolished more than 200 years ago.


This spot marks the childhood home of Sir John Hawkyns, the first


English slave trader. What is not so easy to see is the human trafficking


and child slavery that is happening today. One South West charity which


supports victims of modern slavery says more needs to be done to


protect trafficked children, like this boy, whose words are voiced by


an actor. I was 15 when I came here from


Vietnam. My family was very poor. A friend of my father's offered me a


job in a restaurant, but when I arrived I was met by a different


man. The man said I had to do everything he told me to do or I


would be arrested and my family would be in trouble. I was locked in


a house and forced to look after cannabis plants. The doors and


windows were locked. It was dark. I had very little food. If I asked


questions, I was beaten. I wasn't allowed out at all. Government


figures show that more than 500 child slaves were found in the UK


last year. An official report says many were found working on cannabis


farms set up in houses which, from the outside, look like ordinary


family homes. A former Devon MP has long campaigned on this issue. I am


quite sure in the South West there are trafficked women and boys and


girls. In large towns, Plymouth, Torquay, Exeter, there is bound to


be trafficked people, and they won't be in the city. They are usually in


the suburbs looking perfectly normal, but they aren't.


Anthony Steen is now the Home Secretary's special envoy on


combating modern slavery. He has written to more than 240 MPs to


raise awareness of the problem, highlighting the growing number of


raids on cannabis factories. Recent figures show the police raided


around 150 cannabis farms in Devon and Cornwall in just one year, with


hotspots in Torbay, Plymouth and Exeter. Devon and Cornwall police


say there have not been any human trafficking prosecutions linked to


those raids, but in Avon and Somerset, there is more concern.


Certainly we are seeing more cases of people who have been trafficked,


examples of modern slavery, and people who are in need of


safeguarding care from the police and other agencies. The draft Modern


Slavery Bill is currently being scrutinised by Parliament. It will


mean life sentences for offenders. It is not just about legislation. It


is about an action plan as well. There are practical steps that the


police, our new National Crime Agency, working with other agencies,


such as local authorities, can take, and we will be publishing that


action plan in the spring. But anti`trafficking campaigners say


that many child slaves end up facing criminal charges and those that are


taken into care all too often go missing. They warned the new bill


does not do enough to address these problems.


Jenny Kumah reporting, and the Chair of the Human Trafficking Foundation


Anthony Steen joins us from London. Welcome to the programme. Many


viewers will be surprised to see you say that lies at my child slavery is


happening on ours `` our doorstep. The police have not prosecuted a


single case in Devon and Cornwall Police. Are you exaggerating?


Definitely not. The police in Devon and the ones who have provided me


with the figures. There is no exaggeration. No exaggeration that


we are finding cannabis farms, but not so much the child slavery?


Perhaps not slavery in Devon and, but in most cannabis farms, which


are terraced houses with electricity and water diverted so it doesn't


cost anything, toys are locked in and they are expected to attend to


the crops and then the police raid the farms. Devon and Cornwall Police


a particularly good police force with a capable chief comes to. They


are not charging young boys with this crime and the Lord Chief


Justice recently made it plain that he disapproves immensely of police


forces that charge boys who are actually victims of trafficking as


guilty of a criminal offence. So I think what Devon and Cornwall Police


shown is that they are following good practice and quite rightly


following what the Lord Chief Justice says. The government is in


`` bringing in a Modern Slavery Bill. Is that enough? As chairman of


the human trafficking foundation, I would like to see it go further. I


think the Home Secretary is to be applauded at taking this initiative.


The foundation itself which you are representing here is saying that the


government is seeing this as an immigration problem rather than a


child protection problem. No, that is atypical NGO response. No, you


are quoted in the Guardian as saying that it should be about being


hostile to traffickers, caring to victims, a human rights approach


rather than an immigration issue. That is absolutely correct! That is


a very good quote. I applauded. That is about six months ago, but things


have moved on. The bill has been published and it is a first`rate


bill. It has nothing to with immigration. I gave a warning before


and now they have needed it. Full marks to the government. Is this a


problem we should be taking more notice of? Should people be looking


on their streets to see if there is some kind of activity going on? We


have to get it in proportion. We should not be worried about what is


happening around every corner and every street across Devon, but I


think Anthony is raising an extremely important point. I commend


him on the years of campaigning that he has done. We take all cases like


this seriously, which is why this bill going through Parliament at the


moment, which may be amended, is going to bring in a potential life


sentence for those involved in this despicable crime. It will bring an


anti`slavery commissars which will overlook and coordinate a


multi`agency approach to the problem and it will bring in powers that


will restrict movement and activities of those who are involved


in this despicable practice. Those are real things. We have a bill. You


think this bill is going to go far enough? Should there be a separate


offence for child slavery, which I know some charities are saying there


should be? Should there be a specific part of the lease `` of the


bill for that? Definitely. We have been calling for legislation since


2010. It does not go far enough in that it does not talk specifically


about the child victims of trafficking. And what happens to


them. If they have been caught, what men often happens to those


children? Often they are treated as criminals, but also, if they are


taken into care, 60% of them are likely to disappear again and ended


being trafficked again and end up being at in this vicious circle. We


need to protect children as soon as they come to our attention, which is


why we need that focus in the bill. Can I just congratulate both of them


about being very well informed and up to speed, but I think it is quite


an indictment on society that Torquay, small Torquay, had 24


cannabis farms identified in 2011`2012, and 22 in Plymouth. This


is quite large numbers, probably three or four Mac people in each,


and some of them are bound to have children in them, because there are


children from Vietnam in most cannabis farms, and the police have


found several thousand cannabis farms in Britain, so we should be


alarmed. I do have to stop you there. You stop me there. Thank you


for joining us. Last May UKIP rocked the political


establishment when they took nearly a quarter of the votes in the local


elections. This May they are expected to better that, maybe even


come first, in the European elections. Last time round, UKIP got


two MEPs in the South West and, as Paul Barltrop reports, they have


approached the role in very different ways.


The Euro elections always give UKIP something to smile about. Last time


around, they won two seats in the South West, 13 overall. But those


who have been elected often don't fare too well. Two former MEPs have


ended up in jail for fraud. Among the 2009 cohort, one was expelled


from the party, two quit to join the Tories, while two others departed


acrimoniously. Among those who remain, things aren't ideal. There


is frustration, even anger, among senior party figures, about the


performance of Trevor Colman. In the European Parliament, you won't find


him on the UKIP benches. He sits apart since a disagreement in 2010.


He is often not there. Recent figures show he has only taken part


in just over half of the votes. In nearly five years in the chamber, he


has made speeches or asked questions 19 times. The total for his UKIP


colleague William Dartmouth is 673. The average for the South West's


four other MEPs is 260. Trevor Colman makes no apology. The


European Parliament has no power. It can't change or make legislation. It


has little or no power. We are, in fact, just a pantomime taking place


to give the illusion of democracy where none exists. Why make a speech


when you know it is totally ineffective? You are there talking


to a gallery of about six people. I don't quite see the point of me


doing that. Then why did you get elected if you were not going to do


anything? It is not that I am not doing anything. I am trying to get


us out of this mess and that can only be achieved over here. In fact,


one of the reasons he flies back and forth to Europe is to clock in to


get the money. You go to these plenary sessions, barely take part


in them, but is one of the main motivations to enable you to go on


getting those allowances? I wouldn't say it is one of the main


motivations. I am trying to be fair about it. It is a factor. Of course


it is a factor. And this is what most of it is spent on, a website.


Tonight, top EU stories... Five staff work on it, around ?200,000 of


EU money funds an anti`EU campaign tool, but it doesn't detail how he


spends taxpayers' money. He refuses to join fellow UKIP MEPs who detail


their expenses on the official party website. You could publish it, but


you don't. Why not? I don't believe there is a need to. We don't have to


publish any of this, and if people are interested in why I am spending


money or not spending money, they can come to this office any time


they like and they can examine the accounts. Anyone. He is adamant he


has not broken the rules. Other South West MEPs aren't impressed. At


a Euro election debate in Bristol on Thursday, they complained that he is


failing to serve his constituents. There is a massive amount that goes


on in the European Parliament, and that is why most of the members are


there full time doing their jobs. I am sorry if Trevor Colman finds it


so boring. I would have to ask the question, why did he stand in the


first place? Trevor Colman is standing down in May. UKIP will hope


his successor causes the party less trouble.


Paul Barltrop reporting, and UKIP's Chairman Steve Crowther joins us


from Bristol. Welcome to the programme. Hello.


Trevor Colman is not standing again. Why not? Has he been pushed


by party leadership? Absolutely not. He is retiring. He has been fighting


the EU to send mail for a decade and he's going to take a well earned


retirement. And these questionable things have nothing to do with it?


He had only spoken in Brussels 19 times and went publishing expenses.


It is embarrassed for the party. Not at all. It is interesting, the


figures that Paul came up with that, the average number of speeches


made by Lib Dems and other MEPs is 260, while the average for UKIP MEPs


was 346. But that is because William Dartmouth spoke nearly 700 times.


Surely that is the problem. UKIP does not have a coherent kind of


MEP. You have one person speaking 19 times and the other person 700


times. It leaves you wondering what you get is about? It is extremely


coherent. We do not get elected to help the European Parliament at ``


to do its job. We get elected to try to abolish it. We divide our


labours. We have to go over to the European Parliament and find out


what is going on and back here we have to let people know. If you take


the balance of what William is doing and list and its work focusing on


speeches in Parliament, and then what Trevor is doing over here


getting the word out by his website and hundreds of meetings... A


website that costs ?200,000 year. I'm just going to ask Nicky year,


the think there is a problem? Is this democracy at work? Is certainly


not. His constituents must be absolutely appalled, because they


are there to represent them to make their case for Europe, and if he is


not there, how can he do it? What would you say to that, Steve? That


is nonsense! He is making their case. Everybody who votes for UKIP


in the European election knows what they are voting for, a party who


wants to abolish it or get us out of it. Trevor is working hard to make


that happen. He is representing his constituents and getting the


information through his team from Brussels and Strasbourg as to what


the parliament is doing, and his broadcasting it and going round to


talk to his constituents about it. Is this the way you would expect an


MEP to act? Not at all. I agree with Mickey. He is their first and


foremost to support his constituents and stand up for his country. As the


Conservative Party, we have many issues with Europe and we believe in


fighting our corner, not turning our back and walking away, as Trevor


seems to have been doing. And what about the issue of spending so much


money every year on a website? There is nothing illegal about that. It is


down to the voters to see if they decide that he and his party in that


instance have behaved appropriately. Do you believe he has behaved


appropriately? Absolutely. When the value for money tables come out of


MEPs across`the`board, you will find that there are UKIP members near the


top, in the Middle and near the bottom. We have different jobs to


do, but they are all behind the same cause, which is getting the


information from the EU Parliament about what is going on there and


winning it back and disseminating it here. Many of the parties are quite


content to send their MEPs to Brussels to draw their daily


allowances and just sit there. I have to stop you there. Thank you


for joining us. Now our regular round`up of the


political week in 60 seconds. The Somerset floods were declared a


major incident, as one of the county's MPs attacked Environment


Agency bosses for refusing to dredge the rivers. Every year they silt up


a bit more, every year they need to be cleared. It is just beyond a


joke. Unemployment figures show dole


figures in most parts of the region hitting a five`year low, but one


debt charity said calls to its helpline had risen by nearly 40% in


the past 12 months. Payday loans are a massive problem in the South West.


We have seen a huge rise in the number of people who have this type


of loan. It is very dangerous. Teachers were accused of forcing


16`year`olds to stay on and take A`levels so their schools could get


more cash. Young people across Plymouth are telling me that they


feel as though they are little more than walking pots of money when it


comes to careers advice. And countryside campaigners in


Cornwall said the council had spoilt this lane by putting up 60 signs.


Let's look briefly at the cost of living debate. We touched upon this


briefly earlier. The government has revealed figures that shows that


wages are starting to go up. Have Labour made a mistake on focusing on


this issue? Not at all. I am not even going to approach the


statistics. What is important is how people feel. Do they know at the end


of the day that they have more money in their pocket a few years ago?


That is the basis on which we should go. We know that payday loans are a


huge problem in Plymouth, which is why we as a council have been


proactive in tackling that. What would you say in response to that?


Nicky says that statistics don't matter and in one sense she is


right, but that has not stopped the Labour Party constantly going on


about the fact that real wages have been diminishing, as they did under


the last Labour government. Now things appear to be turning around,


particularly when you take into account the tax cuts that the


government has brought in on paid. I have to stop you there because that


is the Sunday Politics in the South West. Thanks to my guests Mel Stride


and Nicky Williams. Now back to Andrew in London.


constituency, very pleased. Andrew, back to you.


UKIP leader Nigel Farage is never far away from controversy, but this


week he's been outdoing himself He was hit over the head with a placard


by a protester in Kent, provoked outrage by saying women with


children are worth less to city firms, and said the ban on owning


handguns was 'crackers'. He also seemed less than sure of his party's


own policies when I interviewed him on the Daily Politics. And the story


that got everyone talking was the suggestion by a UKIP councillor that


flooding is linked to gay marriage. We'll talk about all of that in a


moment, but first, over to Nigel with the weather. Weather for all


areas of the British Isles but definitely not "Bongo Bongo Land."


You may have heard about a storm in a tea cup developed when you kip


councillor in Oxfordshire blamed the floods on the gay marriage Bill The


old party is focusing on the view of UKIP members like him, even though


he had said a sell yuj of things before when a Tory councillor. How


quickly things change depending on when the blouse. There are


occasional barmy views by people of all persuasions. In Whitby a Labour


councillor claimed of fathered a child with an extra terrorist ral,


and said his real mother was a foot green alien. And in Wales a


councillor thinking about heading off for the


slopes, there were flurries of embarrassment for the Tories after


Aidan Burly organised a Nazi skiing party in a resort.


Anyone heading to Brussels, perhaps on the gravy train, watch out for


hot air. In Britain temperatures are rising


ahead of the European elections in May. It could get stormy, so advise


light aircraft. Watch out for outbreaks of common sense, and no


chance of cyclonic fruit cakes. Back to you, Andrew, with the rest of the


Sunday Politics. Nick, if it was any other party that


had bon through the past week it would be in meltdown. And maybe it


is harming UKIP and maybe it isn't. What do you think? That just shows,


that great weather forecast, Prince Charles now has a rival to be an


excellent weather forecaster, as does the Duchess of Cornwall. It


shows why Nigel Farage is the fefr candidate to the European elections.


Our invitation to the British people to kick the establishment. The


establishment have spent five years that the European Parliament is a


waste of time, so who are you going to vote for? A Nigel Farage type of


person. What was important about your eadviceration of Nigel Farage


on Daily Politics is that when it came to the substance, they


flounder. But the point about that party is they may have the thinnest


set of policies, but people know what they stand for more than any


other parties - get out of Europe, a grammar school in every town. If any


other leading politician called for an end to the ban on handguns, at a


time when we've seen these appalling gun deaths in the United States now


almost one every week in some terrible siege in a school. It would


be a crisis. It seems to wash off him. He's got congenital


foot-and-mouthitis. Straight into another wild nothing to do with why


people might vote UKIP. I don't think people are desperate to have


handgun licences back in this country. It is such an unusual


phenomenon, UKIP, that if this was a Tory or a Labour or a Lib Dem saying


it, we've seen the damage done to the Lib Dems on a much more serious


manner, we would say this is terminal. But maybe it adds to this


image that we are not like the other parties. I think that is it. We keep


waiting for these scandals and embarrassments to do damage to


UKIP's poll ratings, but it's not working. It is ultimately because if


you are an antiestablishment party, if you are an anti-system party the


rules of the game which apply to the establishment parties don't apply to


you. And the more ramshackle and embarrassing you are, the more


authentic you seem. It what be take something for them not to finish


second in May. Do they spend the following 12 months sinking in the


poll snoos And George Osborne's strategy is fame everything as


Labour versus the Conservatives The electorate will have their fun in


May. Maybe the Tories will be beat into third place but in thejection


is that -- but in the general election it is Labour versus the


Tories. The Conservative Party will run around, 46 letters to Graham


Brady, a leadership contest. That sort of scenario. UKIP, if it rules


well in the European elections, could cause big trouble for Mr


Cameron and Mr Clegg couldn't it? The big point about this, David


Cameron said this is not a political party but a pressure group. This is


the way to look at UKIP, and the way it is used by people in the right of


the party, who say we have to do this. I like the policy of painting


the trains in their old liveries. It would be like my old train set. I


like the bigger passports. Pre-GNER... And London and Midland.


I used to be a train spotter. Gordon Birtwhistle has been on the


phone. Good to know you are watching but pity you are not here. He wanted


to clarify he had constituency commitments to prevent him coming on


the show to talk about becoming leader of the party, but he didn't


dispute anything we said on the show.


Yesterday, Ed Balls said that housing investment will be a central


priority for the next Labour Government. It's a big issue, as the


lack of new homes pushes up the the price of owning or renting. Well,


tomorrow the Tories will announce what they say is the most ambitious


programme of affordable housebuilding for 20 years. The


Government sees housing as a really important part of the economy.


That's why we are announcing a 23 billion package for 165,000 new


affordable homes. So individual builders, councils, housing


associations can bid for that money. Phase one, which we are halfway


through at the moment, we've built 170,000 houses. 99,000 already


coming out of the ground, so we ve made real progress on that. So,


165,000 new, affordable homes. It is a lot. Let me add three more words.


Over three years. It is not such a lot. It is not, and Labour's


commitment is 200,000 homes a year and even that isn't enough. The


problem here is that the vest interest is with people who already


have homes. They have a vote in the system through the planning


regulations. In London there is a gap in the hedge through Richmond


Park through which you should be able to see St Paul's Cathedral


That's why you cannot build homes where you want them. I don't think


we want to build homes over Richmond Park. He wasn't saying that. That's


dies an Tyne -- that's Byzantine. You've got to deal with supply,


which is why Labour is talking about 200,000 a year, and what George


Osborne has done with supply is helping with demand. We know the


Help to Buy Scheme is pretty dangerous, and Mark Carney is keen


to put the break on that. If you are to deal with supply, you have to do


radical things. Chris Huhne talked about on brownfield sites you can


tax people who are holding the land as if the development has taken


place. Then if you are really going to deal with it you have to talk


about the greenfield sites, and you have to deal with the garden cities


argument, which is too much for the Tories. All the parties seem to


agree building new houses is a political winner. I hope that they


are right. I'm not sure they are. The housing market is the example of


what economists call the insider in-outsider problem. People who are


already homeowners have no rational incentive to vote for more housing


stock. Even if you leave aside the Conservative arable objections, if


you are a homeowner there is an interest to stick with the planning


promise that we have. So then we are stuck between a rock and a hard


place. Not only are we growing at the moment but our population is


growing. I've seen projects that in quite quickly we will overtake


Germany and become the largest populated country in Europe. If


that's the case we've got to build homes. We have. If you look at Tower


Hamlets in London, the population is r ging higher than the number of


dwelling. Classically the theory's been young people are most affected


by this and they don't vote much. But when their parents have young


Johnny stuck at home at 37, that's an electoral issue. That's why the


garden cities project is interesting, because they finance


themselves. You zone it for development, it is worth ?2 million


an acre and then you can build on it. But who is going to want the


greenfield sites gone. And how quickly can we build garden cities


today? Some were started before the Town and Country Planning Act. I've


read stats about the way Chinese and Japanese are building houses and


they were slower than that. Here's a thought, sticking on the housing


theme. Ed Miliband came up with the energy freeze, a populist


interventionist move. Then the use it or lose it to land developers.


Then breaking up the banks. Now the 50p tax rate. How much would you put


on Labour coming up for rent controls? That's already a big


split. They are split already on it. They have. In London it is a popular


policy. It might not play well in the rest of the country. I would say


50-50 on that. I think Labour supporting rent controls like the


Tories having a go at welfare. The policy may be individually popular


but it sends an impression about the party which might be less attract


active. It confirms underlying suspicions that vote these guys into


power and suddenly they are tampering with the private economy.


The memories of the '70s when Governments tried and failed to do


that. It is riskier than a superficial reading of the polls


would suggest. One to watch? I think they are looking at it. That was the


key message of the Ed Balls speech on housing, is looking at supply and


how you get to that 200,000 figure a year, which is substantially more


than what Kris Hopkins is talking about. What we didn't get to talk


about, remember we had Michael Wilshaw on, the Chief Inspector of


Schools. We all consumed was Mr Gove's man, the Education


Secretary's man. Now according to the Sunday Times he is spitting


blood about the way Mr Gove and his office are speaking about him behind


the scenes. We've checked the quotes and he stands by them, so I think


we'll have to have the head of Ofsted back on the programme. If you


are watching, we're here. All that to the Lib Dems who didn't come on


today. That's all for today. Thanks to all


my guests. The Daily Politics is back on Monday at midday on BBC Two,


and I'll be here again next week. Remember, if it's Sunday, it's the


Sunday Politics. Britain, with 120,000 soldiers


is now at war with Germany This would be the first


truly modern war.


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