05/02/2012 Sunday Politics West


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


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


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


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1753 seconds


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


for them has been told he is no longer required.


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


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


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


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


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


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


On the coalition benches there were far fewer women despite other


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


opposition to banning men from standing. Every woman in Parliament


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


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


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


Bristol West have told their candidate do not reapply. Goldsmith


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


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


he supports. With us is Dr Peter Jepson who


successfully took the Labour Party to an employment tribunal back in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


proposal to merge constituents is for the purpose of selecting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


absolutely necessary because people in this country want to have trust


in their politicians and they want to see their politicians


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


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


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


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


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


is unacceptable. All-male shortlists would be totally


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


entering the Commons on the conservative side and it takes time


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


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


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


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


difference? When it comes to selection conferences they do seems


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


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


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


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


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


electricity? That is the argument between campaigners and the


National Grid over plans to build larger pylons from Hinckley Point


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


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


These pylons have towered over Webbington farm on the Mendips for


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


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


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


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


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


of Outstanding Natural Beauty. He is worried bigger pylons would


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


nation as a whole pay a small contribution on their electricity


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


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


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


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


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


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


bought the house and we felt comfortable that the


electromagnetic fields that were coming off those lines, because it


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


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


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


throughout the world into the link between electromagnetic fields and


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


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


does not lay the blame entirely with the National Grid.


government said the policies, those are the guidelines that companies


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


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


of summer. Campaigners are hoping their dream of undergrounding the


cables may still see the light of day.


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


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


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


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


between protecting the environment and local committees and the cost


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


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


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


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


are you different? Electricity is far cheaper to transport by


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


This Conservative-run council in Taunton is defying the Government


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


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


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


removed from College Green. Councillors say the bill for


cleaning up the park will cost many thousands.


Wessex Water warned customers that metal thefts could lead to water


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


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


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


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


refuse the development. And this Gloucestershire parish


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


difficult decision because they know people are having a difficult


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


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


rather hoping the Conservative controlled authority has calculated


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


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


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