17/06/2012 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by Philip Hammond, the defence secretary to discuss troop numbers and Syria.

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By in the West, the doctor will not see you now - West Country doctors


are joining the national strike, but with GPs among the highest paid


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1615 seconds


in the world, will their patience In the West this week, would you be


happy to retire on �48,000 a year? We will be talking to West Country


doctors who say that is not enough, so they are going on strike.


Hundreds of non-emergency operations will be cancelled.


It has been a rocky week for the Coalition in Westminster, but we


are all friends here. Today we are joined by two cloddish and bodies,


the Lib Dem MP from Yeovil, David Laws, and the Conservative MP from


Kingswood, Chris Skidmore. He co- authored a group with fellow


Conservative MPs. One of the biggest issues that came


up this week was the church of England talking about gay marriage


and saying it could lead to a split from the state. Are you supporting


it, Chris? It is important to understand the church's concerns


and ensure that there is religious freedom, but personally I believe


in gay marriage. Is it a distraction? I think, when you look


at this argument, we had an act bringing in indication at the same


time it as the D-Day landings in 1944. -- education. The Government


can do two things at once. Other Coalition right to focus on this?


It is important to take this forward. It affects millions of


people's not -- millions of people, not just those in same-sex


relationships. I agree, this does not need to take up vast amounts of


time, and it is not something the Prime Minister is getting up and


spending hours on each day. It is being dealt with by his junior


minister. I suspect there will be a lot of support in parliament. It is


not de railing the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister from the


big priority for the country, which is the economy.


The honeymoon is long forgotten, and a couple of years on from the


political marriage, tensions are more evident. We are talking about


the Coalition allies, who had a bit of an argument in Westminster. But


for activists in the West Country, that is no surprise, because


relationships between Conservatives and Lib Dems round here have rarely


been easy. Politics is never be a bed of roses.


There are always thorny issues - blooms fade In Every Rose Garden.


Conservatives and Lib Dems in Westminster and the West. Downing


Street two years ago, Taunton this week, and top of corporation.


were wanted to put aside party differences and work together in


the national interest. In Somerset, I am happy to work


with anybody who wants to work with this Conservative administration.


But someone has caused a rift between the partners - Business


Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom Lib Dems would not support in


parliament. If you are let down -- do feel let down by a Deputy Prime


Minister? Nick Clegg was not consulted by the


Prime Minister on his decision not to refer Jeremy Hunt to the


independent adviser, and therefore he cannot condone that decision.


That is why we will be abstaining in the vault.


That sort of political discord is fairly standard in places like


Somerset. Why are they not convinced of their plans, or is it


that they are all wrong and you are right? The County Council chamber


always has the two parties attacking each other.


Cuts, such as to libraries and buses, are big issues. Especially


with an all-white election next spring.


A plan on going for the last three years I agree with, and obviously I


will be refreshing that plan. It is important that we get out into the


community and talk to residents and staff and engage with the more than


we have done in the past four stop if we had taken power three years


ago, we would have had to take -- we had would have had to do


something of his similar manner, but not as deep as the Conservative


administration are doing at the moment.


But at least the two parties can find common cause in who is


responsible for Somerset's financial blows - their colleagues


at Westminster. Our Government is cutting our grant substantially. We


have to find �22 million of saving in the next financial year. I walk


with -- our work with everyone who can come up with a solution. I hope


we can lobby together to ensure that the Government gives Somerset


be very fair deal. So, prickly issues for both parties.


Worried about what voters will do to them at the polls. Do they were


both saying that we need more money from central Government.


The Lib Dem leader and the Conservative leader. Don't they get


it? Have you not told them there is a recession on? They want Somerset


to have a fair deal, and they are right that in the past in areas


like education, the allocation across the country has not been


fair. Something that the commission is going to look at. Everybody's


pleads his special case, sometimes with good reason, and if you look


at the allocation of something like education funding across the


country, it is not national unfair. We want to sort that out, but to do


that without creating bigger losers across the country. We can work


together on things like that, but we are not in condition at a local


Government level, and where we disagree, there should be robust


opposition as well as party in Government. There are lots of


things -- a lot of things the Conservative -- the Conservatives


have done and we do not agree with. I agreed with David. I joined the


Lib Dems and Conservatives in calling for a fairer deal. We have


missed out in the south-west quite drastically. If you are in national


Government, you have budgets you have to sort out. As soon as it


comes locally, you say, we are not getting... There is a pot of money


that has shrunk, and for too long a time but pop was artificially


inflated by a large amount of borrowing that is no longer


sustainable. I think, just to add, in terms of what we do locally, the


Conservative Party and the Lib Dem party have been able to come into


Coalition nationally and locally because we share that common belief


in local communities rather than the big state at Westminster.


Lib Dem was saying there that we do pretty much what the Conservatives


do, we are just not so nasty about it. How do you feel about that?


do not feel I am nasty. I went into politics determined to ensure...


Sometimes he will do is in -- disagree, but you get more done


when you combine your efforts across party. If you look at some


of the choices that the Conservatives in Somerset have been


making, and compare them with other councils in the south-west and


across the country, most of those other councils have not been making


the same choices, to decimate the youth service, two at one stage


removed the support from young carers under the age of 18... Those


things are wrong, and it is quite right that we should sort them out.


When he was sorting out the Coalition agreement, and you were


behind some of the policy, had the country been growing again, we


would not have quite these problems. Is there any part of the financial


plan that is actually working? If you look at the deficit we


inherited from Labour. If you look at the gap between spending and


taxation, it was projected to be �163 billion under Labour two years


ago. It has come down by a quarter in just 2 macro years. But of


course, with the mess we have in the eurozone, there is a lot to do


in order to make sure that growth comes through.


Hospitals across the West are preparing to cancel routine


operations and outpatients appointments ahead of its planned


day of strike action next Thursday. Also patients needing urgent or


emergency treatment will be seen. It is only -- it is all the changes


to their pensions. By the last time doctors took


industrial action was almost 40 years ago. Much has changed since


then, but still the training to become a doctor takes many years,


and they say their pay and pensions reflect their unique and demanding


role. But now, like many other public sector employees, their


pensions are changing. They have to pay higher contributions - up to


14% of their salary. Those qualifying now will work until they


are 60 it and receive less when they stop working. More than half


of the doctors in the BMA voted in the strike ballot, and a clear


majority were in favour of action, but many local doctors we spoke to


fit it could backfire on them. unsightly ashamed to think that we


would strike. I did not vote for it. You can see why doctors are angry


and voted to strike, but I think at the end of the day in the current


environment, we are not going to gain any sort of public support.


The Government say doctors cannot be exempt from pension changes.


junior doctor starting out in the NHS could look forward when they


retired to be pension equivalent to �68,000 a year. There are people


all over the country will say that is an excellent pension. Local


hospitals have started to contact patients about rescheduling


procedures. The BMA say the Government have been unwilling to


negotiate, and unless that changes, strike action was go ahead.


Joining me now is Dr up -- a doctor from Bristol, and in medical


student just starting out on her career.


GPs in this country are the second best paid in the world. Twice as


much as the French, and is it because you are worth it? I think


we are, but what we are asking for is it level playing field with a


senior civil servants. If you have a pension system, but should be a


similar deduction from each profession. We are not asking that


doctors' pay less, we are arguing that senior civil servants should


be paying more. So you would not go on strike if other people employed


by the state had to pay the same contribution? Yes. We are looking


for a level playing field. It is this unfairness which is bringing


about our action. We are all going to be in our places of work, but


patients will be seen, and anyone urgent will be seen. I we do not


support a strike. Do you know any, you are in your


third year, have you got any friends who are not Medix, with a


pension deal like the one that you will get? -- who are not doctors.


Where are you supporting this action? I have realised just how


unfair this is in the pension scheme at the moment. We have a


deal that is fair and affordable and sustainable, and what is


frightening, particularly for those entering into the profession, is


that we are now faced with �70,000 of debt because tuition fees have


been tripled, and we are looking... If you are a consultant earning


�120,000 a year, so be �1,000 is not much. It is its huge debt, and


it might frighten students are we. We have politicians here. Canute


convince them not to go on strike? A find it extraordinary that the


idea put -- being put forward is that GPs are going on strike simply


to increase the pension contributions by the public sector


workers. I would point out that the public sector pensions are being


reformed across the board for every single group of public sector


workers. Including members of parliament whose pension


contributions are might be going up by a couple of %, and have doubled


over the period of time since I became an MP. All public sector


pensions have to be reformed so the art sustainable and affordable, and


when we talk about so far -- friend has, it is not just between public


sector workers, it is between the public sector and the private work


-- private sector. We have massively better pensions than the


vast majority. Has he got the diagnosis right? It will be those


people but that knee operations and hip operation so will find their


operations cancelled. Even though it is not a complete strike, it


will mean a lot of distress for those patients who ultimately pay


at all our wages and pay for the NHS. A lot of money has gone into


it, but if we are going to keep on increasing pensions, I want to make


sure... A lot has been talked about increasing pensions, but we are


looking for equality. But you are going on strike not because you are


unhappy with your pensions, but because you want other public


sector workers to pay more? But is not by an -- what I understand.


think it is fair in this climate that the others should be paying


more. It is not just doctors, it is the BMA. It is a union. Ken Clarke


said it was a union of the worst sort back in 1992, and a lot of


other doctors do not want to get involved with it. If you look at


the evidence, in mid- January we surveyed our members, and eight out


of ten rejected the Government's reforms. But why did so few


respond... They did not actually, it was in huge numbers. When you


are on the wards and you see the patients, most of them will be a


lot poorer than you. Canute look them in the eye and say, I am not


getting a good deal? But it is not fair... Life is not fair.


average contribution from the employees and the employer, the


taxpayer, to our pensions, is around 30% of pay. In the private


sector is this something between nothing and 10%. Are you worried


about alienating patients? When you say the word strike, it is not his


strike. You are talking of... your receptionist will not say, I


am sorry, the doctor is on strike? If the patient says it cannot wait


until tomorrow, it cannot wait. There are a lot of things which


will still be held up and Deniz put in place because he will on the be


seen people who are emergencies. But every week, we have the weekend.


It is held up then. We have to leave it there. Thank you for


coming in today. Time now for a spin through the


political week. A villagers of Stanton Wick are


preparing to do battle over proposals to turn this land into a


pan a travellers' site. The council say they need to provide permanent


sites for travellers, but villagers claim it would ruin their village.


A High Court battle will decide if North Somerset council acted


illegally by cutting its youth services by 70%. These campaigners


are awaiting the judge's ruling. A 60-year-old man from Gloucester


who sent threatening e-mails to the Conservative MP Louise Mensch was


given his six-month suspended sentence. He was also served with a


restraining order. Campaigners against a new stadium


in Bristol have agreed to drop a High Court challenge against


brittle City Council. Half of this land has been protected. -- Bristol


City Council. It is still to be decided whether Bristol City


football ground can build their new stadium here.


That Was the Week in just one minute. Let us pick up on the man


with the suspended prison sentence. It has opened up a can of worms.


The business of Government -- is in the business of Government to get


involved? Sadly, I think it is. I hate to say -- I hate to see what


Government interference, but we have the Leveson Inquiry going on


about standards in the press and the broadcast media, so we cannot


take the Pulborough tit attacks on people seriously if we only by --


unwarranted attacks on people seriously if we only applied them


to newspapers. We have a new board of communication were sometimes


people can be attacked Totley unfairly.


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate. Andrew is joined by Philip Hammond, the defence secretary to discuss troop numbers, changes to the armed forces and the crisis in Syria. There is also a look ahead to what happens after the Greek elections, how the markets might react and what it will mean for the UK economy.

And the regular panel of journalists look back over the week's politics and in particular the Leveson inquiry.

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