05/02/2012 Sunday Politics West


05/02/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. The Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, is the Sunday Interview.


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Nick Clegg has lost another Cabinet minister on Friday. His latest poll

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Our pile on to a blot on the landscape? Or the most cost

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effective way to carry electricity? We will ask whether it is worth

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1753 seconds

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paying pounds to protect become -- Time now for all our local

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political news, so turn the heating up and stick with us but what about

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the electricity bill? Would you pay more so the cables running through

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Somerset could be put under ground or reduce the ugly pylons marching

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across the countryside instead? We will have a debate. To help us we

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have two of the region's brightest political sparks. Meet John Penrose

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whose job as tourism minister is to convince us a week in Weston beats

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Florida. And all the way from the Forest of Dean Jan Royall who is

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the Labour leader in the House of Lords and unlike Fred the Shred

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there is their chance of her losing her title because she is a baroness.

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Is it fair that nights like Sir Fred can be stripped but it cannot?

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We have to look carefully at Piers. We have a bill coming from David

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Steel which would enable us to strip peers of their peerages if

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they have been to prison for more than a year. What if the sentence

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is more than a year but they have served less? It would not be

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retrospective in any case it would look at the future. But I am in

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favour of us doing something. While I am in favour of restorative

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justice and people we integrating into society, if you are a bit as

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they tear it is different. Did this decision to do this to Mr Goodwin

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show a vindictive side to the Prime Minister? It was an independent

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decision. He certainly backed it. I think an awful lot of people felt

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strongly about this not just in Westminster, but right the way

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across the country. I would agree that we have measures to introduce

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recall of MPs for the Commons. The way that we deal with people who

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have done something wrong and to have any kind of an honour needs to

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be tidied up and consistent. We are talking about women and

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Labour have decided that they should be an all-female list when

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they select the candidate for Bristol West. The bloke who fought

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for them has been told he is no longer required.

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Remember this? They were dubbed the Blair babes. Labour's record total

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of 101 women MPs elected in 1997 but this was not manage without

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special measures. Some were chosen as candidates from all women's

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short list. This device was controversial and ruled illegal. So

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as prime minister, Blair changed the law. That was why no men

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competed with Kerry McCarthy to become Labour's MP for Bristol East.

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On the coalition benches there were far fewer women despite other

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measures to boost their numbers. In both parties there is strong

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opposition to banning men from standing. Every woman in Parliament

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should be able to look every man in Parliament in the eye and to know

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that she got there on exactly the same basis as he got there. If she

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cannot do that, she is a second- class citizen. A now lay back in

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Bristol West have told their candidate do not reapply. Goldsmith

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did nothing wrong. He has been praised for his years of

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campaigning but it is women early next time. A party policy he says

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he supports. With us is Dr Peter Jepson who

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successfully took the Labour Party to an employment tribunal back in

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1996 for using all-women short lists. The Labour government then

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change the law to exempt elections from the sex discrimination Act.

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Welcome. Is it legal in your opinion even though the law has

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been changed? My opinion is it is perfectly legal, the question is is

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it going to be legal when tested in the European Court of Justice. I

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have had discussions with a friend of mine who is a barrister and we

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have contemplated the prospect of bringing a challenge. What is the

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problem with all-women short lists? If I was to tell you that I am

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advocating all-male shortlist, your telephone would be jammed with

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people protesting and saying how horrid. It is no more acceptable

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than women short list. Half the population is under-represented in

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the house of parliament. There are. I went to the Labour Party with a

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proposal to merge constituents is for the purpose of selecting

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candidates. I am a strong supporter of the process that has been used

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for ensuring we do have 50-50 representation. I think we should

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have 50-50 representation in Parliament what I am opposed to is

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excluding people simply because of their gender. All-women short lists

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work? You do that across the country you would have more women

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MPs. If it did work we would have more women MPs. The fact is there

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has not been use of them and the question is, is could they be used

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if there was a legal challenge? I believe the equal treatment

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director of would say it does not positive -- support positive

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discrimination. The point that Ann Widdecombe made says it is a hollow

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victory. I think that any of my women colleagues who are elected on

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the basis of an all-women short list can look the Prime Minister in

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the eye and say I am just a good at MP as you are. They were selected

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by their constituency, they were elected by the people of their

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constituency and that is fine. In 1997, 101 women Labour MPs were

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elected. In 2001 when Peter had taken his case, we had one women

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elected and 13 New men. This is a progressive measure and it is

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absolutely necessary because people in this country want to have trust

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in their politicians and they want to see their politicians

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represented. Are women MPs not as good as men? Women MPs I have seen

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are excellent and they certainly can look the Prime Este in the eye

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with pride. I do believe that women have proven that they make

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brilliant MPs. There is no argument about that but the process to

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choose where you exclude people simply because of their gender. It

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is unacceptable. All-male shortlists would be totally

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unacceptable. You and I would be opposed to it. We should be equally

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feist -- fight against all-female short best. There is a shortage of

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male primary school teachers, we do support male only shortlists for

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those vacancies? No, but I would want to encourage more men by doing

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anything I could. The numbers in parliament are very different.

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Between 1929 and the present day they have only been 33 women in the

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Cabinet. The women who have been to the Cabinet have to go up through

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the ranks, you have to start by having more women MPs. Let's bring

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in John Penrose. Have you had any Top Totty recently? I am talking

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about beer. It has been barred from the House of Commons bar. It is a

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pretty Blaikie place? It has been. If you talk to some of the female

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MPs who have been there for a while, they say that the culture when they

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arrived was very male and they say it has changed. Some feel the tears

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still a bit too man like. From the Tory point of view we have started

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to fix it. We have taken a different route. We have not used

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all-female short list partly because some of the concerns that

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Dr Jackson is describing but we are fixing it now. We have more women

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entering the Commons on the conservative side and it takes time

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for them to work through the ranks. Briefly, to be an MP you need to

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have a skin like a rhinoceros, fairly bullish, full of self-

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confidence and that tends to attract a certain sort of man. It

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will also attract a certain sort of woman. Is there that much

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difference? When it comes to selection conferences they do seems

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to be a difference. I do not know why people select men but they do

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and that is demonstrated by the fact we have 32 % of women benchers

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in the House of Commons. Thank you for coming in. Very important for

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Cabinet. 50 % men, 50 % women. Thank you.

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A blot on the landscape or the best cost-effective way of carrying

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electricity? That is the argument between campaigners and the

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National Grid over plans to build larger pylons from Hinckley Point

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nuclear power station to Avon now. Families living in the shadow of

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the pilot's won the cables to be laid on the ground but that would

:40:59.:41:08.
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These pylons have towered over Webbington farm on the Mendips for

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decades. At more than 20 metres high, they won for miles through

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the Somerset countryside close to many family homes. The farmers and

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Mark Amesbury. His family has been long there -- been here longer than

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the pilot's. All my life living here, they were put up in about the

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early 1940s I think. That was before this was designated an Area

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of Outstanding Natural Beauty. He is worried bigger pylons would

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affect business. The new ones would be doubled this hide. It is not

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just the farmland. Mark has also got holiday cottages and things

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tourists will be put off by higher pylons which could be moved closer

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to the buildings. National Grid say �850 million to run the whole lot

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Underground, that is a lot of money. It is coming back to how you split

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the cost, to the people who live along the line have to carry the

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cost in terms of learning -- losing money on businesses or does the

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nation as a whole pay a small contribution on their electricity

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bill? A few miles down the road, people are living even closer to

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pylons and they are set to get a lot bigger. Debra's family home is

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just metres from the current pylons. She is scared about the effects

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higher voltage lines would have won her children's health. When we

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moved to this property, yes the pun ons and lines were there. The

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current line is only 132 kilovolts and we did our research before we

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bought the house and we felt comfortable that the

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electromagnetic fields that were coming off those lines, because it

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was low, we were comfortable it did not impose health risks. It is a

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question of health and the health risks to my children. There have

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been many studies over many years and lots of research going on

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throughout the world into the link between electromagnetic fields and

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diseases such as childhood leukaemia. Debra's part of a group

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that has been fighting National Grid's plans for years. But she

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does not lay the blame entirely with the National Grid.

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government said the policies, those are the guidelines that companies

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like National Grid operate under so the government should be doing more

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to protect us. National Grid will draw up its final plans by the end

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of summer. Campaigners are hoping their dream of undergrounding the

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cables may still see the light of day.

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Joining me now is David Mercer from National Grid. Thank you for coming

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in. Surprise, surprise, you went for the cheapest option. We have a

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very important job to connect up new low carbon generators and the

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way we connect them up is a difficult balance. It is a balance

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between protecting the environment and local committees and the cost

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which pass through to all of us. It is not an easy balance which is why

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we have to follow a policy and the government will decide whether this

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is right. That is right because the government is representing all of

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us. The gas company would not put its pipelines on the surface, why

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are you different? Electricity is far cheaper to transport by

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overhead lines and the costs do pass through to all of us in our

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bills and that is why traditionally, worldwide overhead lines have been

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the way to move. People living near the pylons pay a disproportionate

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cost. That is not fair that they live near the route to.

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understand that argument and all of us have things which affect us in

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our life and things which are important for us all in society, so

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sometimes we have roads imposed in our areas, sometimes we have new

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buildings. Let's bring in John Penrose. A Somerset MP, what do you

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think? When you showed the fields in the background there, they are

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in my constituency. I am very concerned and a lot of people are

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very, very concerned particularly we include a large chunk of the

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Mendip Hills. I wanted on the ground and many people are

:46:04.:46:14.
:46:14.:46:19.

concerned about other areas. -- on What I have said is we will look

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along the entire length of this line at where the high cost of

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undergrounding is appropriate. One of the areas we will look at is the

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Mendip hills. Area of outstanding beauty. Is it worth people paying

:46:38.:46:43.

more on their electricity bills? People are struggling at the moment.

:46:43.:46:47.

It is. It is such a difficult question. Electricity bills are

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higher than they ever have been before and for elderly people it is

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a ghastly dilemma. Four areas such as area of natural beauty, they

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rely on tourism. It is very difficult because I live in an area

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that does not have an area of natural beauty status and I would

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not want pylons coming through my Forest of Dean. If you spread the

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cost out over decades, is it really that much? The key point is it

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would cost in the order of �900 million more to put this line

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underground. That is about �1 won every domestic consumer's bill for

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the next 40 years. This is just one project, there are others around,

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that is why a government that has to decide where this balance lies.

:47:45.:47:55.
:47:55.:47:59.

Thank you. Time now for our weekly round-up in just 60 seconds.

:47:59.:48:02.

This Conservative-run council in Taunton is defying the Government

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with plans to raise the council tax by 3.5 %. All councils were told

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they had a moral duty to keep down the cost of living. The Occupy

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Bristol can came to an end this week as the final tents were

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removed from College Green. Councillors say the bill for

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cleaning up the park will cost many thousands.

:48:21.:48:25.

Wessex Water warned customers that metal thefts could lead to water

:48:25.:48:30.

supplies being cut off. They said they have had more than a million

:48:30.:48:33.

pounds of lead stolen since 2010. Victory for campaigners who are

:48:33.:48:37.

against plans for new wind turbines at it on the plant in Swindon. The

:48:37.:48:40.

company decided not to appeal against the council's decision to

:48:40.:48:44.

refuse the development. And this Gloucestershire parish

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councillor says he is still convinced there is a big puma like

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cat living near Stroud. He thought it had killed a deer, but this week

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scientists found the only DNA on the carcass was that of a fox.

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Our - through the week. One of those stories, a decision by

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Taunton council to increase its council tax by 3.5 %. It is a

:49:15.:49:18.

Conservative controlled authority, what do you say to them? It is a

:49:18.:49:23.

local decision. They have to make up their minds based on what local

:49:23.:49:27.

people want. Most other councils are choosing not to raise council

:49:27.:49:32.

tax but if that is right for their electors... Is it not immoral to

:49:32.:49:41.

put up council tax? But we also respect localism. At the end of the

:49:41.:49:46.

day, they are the people that have to face the voters in Taunton Dean.

:49:46.:49:52.

The government has imposed a 32 % induction going to the counter this

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year. The council is trying to protect local services and it is a

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difficult decision because they know people are having a difficult

:50:00.:50:07.

time. By defying the government they lose the grant, of �100,000.

:50:07.:50:16.

It is a difficult calculation to make. What is your advice? I am

:50:16.:50:20.

rather hoping the Conservative controlled authority has calculated

:50:20.:50:28.

and represented local people proper -- properly. On that big cat story,

:50:28.:50:33.

have you seen a prisoner I have not. That is it from the West. Hour

:50:33.:50:38.

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