17/06/2012 Sunday Politics West


17/06/2012

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1615 seconds

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

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

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

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Hundreds of non-emergency operations will be cancelled.

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

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

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

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

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Conservative MPs. One of the biggest issues that came

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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big priority for the country, which is the economy.

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

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

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

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

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relationships between Conservatives and Lib Dems round here have rarely

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

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

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Conservatives and Lib Dems in Westminster and the West. Downing

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

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were wanted to put aside party differences and work together in

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

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with anybody who wants to work with this Conservative administration.

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But someone has caused a rift between the partners - Business

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Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whom Lib Dems would not support in

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

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Minister? Nick Clegg was not consulted by the

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

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independent adviser, and therefore he cannot condone that decision.

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That is why we will be abstaining in the vault.

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That sort of political discord is fairly standard in places like

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

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

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always has the two parties attacking each other.

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

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with an all-white election next spring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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administration are doing at the moment.

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

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responsible for Somerset's financial blows - their colleagues

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

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

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

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we can lobby together to ensure that the Government gives Somerset

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

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

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both saying that we need more money from central Government.

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

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

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

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like education, the allocation across the country has not been

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

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

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at the allocation of something like education funding across the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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inflated by a large amount of borrowing that is no longer

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

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

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Coalition nationally and locally because we share that common belief

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in local communities rather than the big state at Westminster.

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

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

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

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

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

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of the choices that the Conservatives in Somerset have been

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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in order to make sure that growth comes through.

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Hospitals across the West are preparing to cancel routine

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operations and outpatients appointments ahead of its planned

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

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

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to their pensions. By the last time doctors took

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Government say doctors cannot be exempt from pension changes.

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

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

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

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hospitals have started to contact patients about rescheduling

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procedures. The BMA say the Government have been unwilling to

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

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

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student just starting out on her career.

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

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

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

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

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similar deduction from each profession. We are not asking that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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frightening, particularly for those entering into the profession, is

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to increase the pension contributions by the public sector

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

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reformed across the board for every single group of public sector

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workers. Including members of parliament whose pension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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unhappy with your pensions, but because you want other public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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average contribution from the employees and the employer, the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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coming in today. Time now for a spin through the

:46:22.:46:32.
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political week. A villagers of Stanton Wick are

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

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

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

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A High Court battle will decide if North Somerset council acted

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

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

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

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

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restraining order. Campaigners against a new stadium

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in Bristol have agreed to drop a High Court challenge against

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

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

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football ground can build their new stadium here.

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

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

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

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

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Government interference, but we have the Leveson Inquiry going on

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

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

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unwarranted attacks on people seriously if we only applied them

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

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people can be attacked Totley unfairly.

:48:22.:48:28.

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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