09/12/2012 Sunday Politics West


09/12/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news and debate. With shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, Conservative Matthew Hancock and Nadine Dorries.


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Transcript


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Morning folks. Welcome to the Sunday politics at the end of a

:00:39.:00:49.
:00:49.:00:49.

Apology for the loss of subtitles for 43 seconds

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week when we had an Autumn Here in the West, the housing plan

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that's back fired. House building targets were handed to local

:01:37.:01:47.
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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 43 seconds

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councils, but we can reveal most of Thank you Andrew. This is the

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Sunday Politics here in the West. Now it's almost Christmas and there

:37:17.:37:21.

are a lot of people without a decent home. Everyone agrees the

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answer is to build more houses. The trouble is - where? We can reveal

:37:26.:37:33.

today that a Government used to make thing easier has back fired.

:37:33.:37:37.

First let's meet our guests this morning. They are the Swindon

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Conservative MP Robert Buckland and for Labour, Amanda Ramsay who is

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hoping to become the new MP for Bristol south, a seat which is as

:37:45.:37:49.

safe as houses for Labour. You see how I worked in the house being

:37:49.:37:56.

theme there? If you fancied a MoCA choca or a tall skinny flat white

:37:56.:38:00.

Americano, where would you go? Are you boycotting Starbucks after

:38:00.:38:04.

their tax affair? As a tea drinker it's not one of my first ports of

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call. I was out with my family last night and we went to another

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company doing a similar service. And paying their tax? Yes. What do

:38:13.:38:17.

you think about Starbucks? I think where tax is due on profit that is

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made in this country, tax should be paid upon it. Don't forget tax do

:38:24.:38:27.

pay payroll taxes for those they employ. Where they're making

:38:27.:38:31.

profits and not declaring them, that needs to change. It has put me

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off, yes, very much so. I was a bit of a Starbucks person until this

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all started coming out in the news. It's put me off shopping at Amazon.

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I was quite an Amazon shopper. It puts you off because you think

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you're being taken for a ride and at a time when the country is being

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absolutely crucified because of the cuts, cuts, cuts, and yet these

:38:52.:38:58.

people are getting away with. It it makes us feel angry as consumers.

:38:58.:39:02.

Get ago way it, perfectly legally, of course, we should say. There

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were protests planned against Starbucks and several other high

:39:05.:39:09.

profile companies in the West this weekend. People's anger has been

:39:09.:39:12.

fuelled bit Chancellor's statement on Thursday, which promised more

:39:12.:39:19.

and more austerity. Paul Barltrop has been gauging the reaction.

:39:19.:39:22.

There were Christmas decorations on Downing Street but few presents.

:39:22.:39:26.

The Chancellor instead went to Parliament bearing gloomy facts

:39:26.:39:29.

about the economy. Instead of taking three years to get our debt

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falling, it's going to take four. It is a hard road, but we're

:39:35.:39:39.

getting there. The public know there are no miracle cures.

:39:39.:39:43.

promises made in 2010 by the new coalition Government must now be

:39:43.:39:48.

explained away by its MPs. course is still right. But the

:39:48.:39:53.

length of the jurn ji going to take longer. -- journey is going to take

:39:53.:39:58.

longer. It is disappointing. All politicians want their well

:39:58.:40:02.

intentioned, best-laid plans to come to fruition. We are not

:40:02.:40:07.

entirely masters of our destiny. We have a global globalised economy.

:40:07.:40:11.

Things blow us off course. That's the way it is. Yes it is tough,

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very tough. I've looked at the Autumn Statement. Yes, there are

:40:14.:40:18.

things I'd like to see a bit more of. Ultimately, that was a tiegtd

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wire. We're walking along a tiny piece of wire to make sure we don't

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go in recession, keep interest rates low, keep regulation back. We

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stand up for Britain plc. If in Westminster it was a hard message

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to sell, it's even harder back in the West Country. They could have

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done something more at the higher end, increasing the higher

:40:41.:40:45.

percentage tax threshold I think. My husband's been made redundant,

:40:45.:40:49.

that obviously has an impact. We dopbtd know how long he will be out

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of work. The Government needs to look at corporation's that avoid

:40:54.:40:57.

paying tax. They seem more than capable to chase people that

:40:57.:41:00.

defraud benefits, which I get, that's fair enough. I think they

:41:00.:41:08.

ought to look to big businesss to try and reclaim the tax. There's

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clear anger that lots of big businesses pay little tax to the

:41:12.:41:17.

Treasury. Vodaphone and this weekend's -- weekend Starbucks have

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faced protests. Critics say the rich are easily able to avoid

:41:21.:41:26.

paying while the poor get clobbered. I'm seeing many more people coming

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to me who can't get by on their income. You only have to look for

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the figures in the rise of the number of food banks in Bristol, to

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realise this is the working poor who have to feed themselves.

:41:38.:41:42.

There's something drastically wrong that that's happening. It's a time

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for giving, though this isn't the traditional image. Charities like

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this one in Swindon, reckon this Christmas they'll hand out more

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food than ever. Let's discuss a few of those issues.

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Rob, food banks, increasing popularity. The Government's got

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its economic policy completely wrong, hasn't it? No, it hasn't.

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When you look at figures relating to the annual deficit, they're

:42:06.:42:09.

coming down. They've come down by over a quarter. That's important

:42:09.:42:13.

for the long-term because we need to have annual budgets that are

:42:13.:42:17.

sustainable. Now, I know that overall debt is going to increase

:42:17.:42:21.

until a later period that we hoped. But that's because as a Government

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we continue to spend on important public services. We are maintaining

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a balance here. That argument -- does that argument wash with the

:42:31.:42:35.

people in quur constituency who need to go to food banks?

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understand and fully appreciate the problems they're in. Indeed as a

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constituency MP if people are in need I'll direct them to that help.

:42:42.:42:46.

We've increased - It would be better if we didn't need food banks.

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We've increased prot file of the banks so more people know about it.

:42:49.:42:53.

To use that was a single example to say somehow that the economy is

:42:53.:42:57.

going off course and the economic policy going off course is wrong. I

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think that the Government set out its stall clearly in 2010. We are

:43:01.:43:05.

trying to do something for our children and grandchildren. This is

:43:05.:43:10.

for the long-term, not a quick fix. I can't see that any part of the

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Government policy is succeeding. I never believed in the amount of

:43:14.:43:19.

cuts, so fast and so far. None of the Labour Party did. At the same

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time, the actual stance that the Chancellor took to cut the deficit

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and the debt that hasn't worked either. The triple-A rating which

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is such an important thing for our country as a nation economically,

:43:30.:43:34.

around the globe, even that's under threat. Why are we putding up with

:43:34.:43:38.

all this pain for no gain. There's no growth in the economy. In my

:43:38.:43:43.

constituency, where I live, there's over 3,000 unemployed. I think

:43:43.:43:47.

there's nearly 2,500 in Robert's. Without people working, earning,

:43:47.:43:52.

paying tax, being able to buy things in shops, there's no growth.

:43:52.:43:56.

Gordon Brown spent money like a stkrunken sailor or shore leave.

:43:56.:44:02.

couldn't possible lay gree with that. This situation has caused the

:44:02.:44:07.

crash of 2007/2008. The Tory and Lib Dem mantra that we sometimes

:44:07.:44:11.

hear that it's a Labour mess isn't accurate. How will you fight the

:44:11.:44:15.

next election with austerity still it in place? We will fight the next

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election on a record of increasing employment and a growing economy.

:44:19.:44:22.

What's happening out there - said that last time, didn't you?

:44:22.:44:26.

The idea was that by the next election the economy was supposed

:44:26.:44:29.

to be back on track and everything would be fine. I think when you

:44:29.:44:32.

look at the reality of what's going on out there, I'm seeing growth.

:44:32.:44:37.

I'm seeing change. I'm seeing increased employment. I'm seeing a

:44:37.:44:41.

-- more opportunities. Talking the economy down all the time, which is

:44:41.:44:45.

what the media seem to be obsessed by, isn't the right approach. We

:44:45.:44:48.

have to take a long-term view. The Government is doing that by

:44:48.:44:53.

extending its plans. I think that bearing in mind the mess that we

:44:53.:44:56.

were left with, baring in mind -- bearing in miebd the current

:44:56.:45:00.

problems in the eurozone and elsz wherein the world, Britain is

:45:00.:45:05.

holding its own, doing its best. The alternative then to what he's

:45:05.:45:12.

say sning We started off talk uing about Starbucks. There's an

:45:12.:45:18.

estimated �95 billion in the sceinger... Where does that figure

:45:18.:45:22.

come from? I Labour put that figure out this week. I presume it's an

:45:23.:45:26.

official figure. They're estimates. It's a handy estimate for you?

:45:26.:45:31.

it makes sense. We know that Starbucks are avoiding tax, Amazon,

:45:31.:45:37.

Google, I think Boots came out today under 38 degrees avoiding tax.

:45:37.:45:40.

There's a swathe of companies. I'm not saying it's the only answer. We

:45:40.:45:44.

have to do all sorts of things to get the economy back on track. We

:45:44.:45:49.

can build more houses. That would be a great stimulus. Cutting,

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cutting just stagnates the economy and starves of it oxygen to grow.

:45:53.:45:58.

The reality is we're pegging back spnding, not having absolute cuts.

:45:58.:46:01.

This austerity word is wrong. We are trying to peg back the rate at

:46:02.:46:06.

which we're spending. Labour let the brakes off and caused chaos

:46:06.:46:10.

with the economy. Now, an investigation by the Sunday

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Politics shows three quarters of local councils do not have plans in

:46:13.:46:18.

place for building more houses. It's two years since the Government

:46:18.:46:23.

scrapped centrally impolesed targets. The idea was to decide

:46:23.:46:26.

where houses should be built after listening to local people. They

:46:26.:46:29.

listened and people told them to get lost with the result that

:46:29.:46:32.

there's a chronic shortage of house building. We asked our political

:46:32.:46:36.

reporters to give us the latest situation in their areas. We start

:46:36.:46:43.

in Somerset. Planning has always been a tricky subject for

:46:43.:46:46.

councillors. After all it's not the most popular thing in a world to

:46:46.:46:51.

agree to the building of a new housing estate, specially on green

:46:51.:46:55.

spaces like this. Under the last Government local politicians could

:46:55.:46:58.

blame Westminster as it was them telling us in the West how many

:46:58.:47:05.

homes were needed. Now we lack any sort of strategic, wide-area

:47:05.:47:11.

framework for housing, for housing numbers, objectives and so on. Each

:47:11.:47:16.

Council has to determine its own figures. And the problem with that

:47:16.:47:23.

is that it's very difficult to find a way through the political process

:47:23.:47:30.

of sometimes accepting things which people locally might find

:47:30.:47:37.

unpleasant and undesirable. Over the last two years, I've spent many

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hours sitting in council chambers like this one, where the debate has

:47:42.:47:45.

been by councillors, just how many homes are needed. But agreement has

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been hard to reach. Obviously the councillors work in a political

:47:50.:47:53.

environment as well. Therefore they've got different filters. They

:47:53.:47:56.

see things differently to us. That's all part of the system.

:47:56.:48:00.

We'll give them the baseline information and the best advice we

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can. In the end it's over to them to try and fit those housing

:48:05.:48:09.

numbers into the society in which they live. Out of the 17 local

:48:09.:48:13.

authorities across the West, four have housing plans officially

:48:13.:48:16.

agreed by the Government. But at least five tell me they don't

:48:16.:48:21.

expect to have their plans signed off for at least another two years.

:48:21.:48:27.

But the problem is, without plans in place, developments across the

:48:27.:48:31.

West is not being decided by local communities and councillors, but

:48:31.:48:35.

left up to the planning expector and even -- inspector and even the

:48:35.:48:38.

courts to decide. In Bristol, the politicians agreed

:48:38.:48:42.

their housing numbers last year. The challenge for the new mayor of

:48:42.:48:46.

this city is to find sites for these homes and fast. But that's

:48:46.:48:49.

not going to be easy when you're faced with local people fighting

:48:49.:48:53.

against new developments in their backyard. The National Housing

:48:54.:48:58.

Federation say councillors need to get a move on. There's a

:48:58.:49:01.

significant shortage. We know we're only building around 60% of the

:49:01.:49:04.

home that's we need and we've been doing that year on year on year,

:49:04.:49:07.

which means house prices are incredibly high. People are

:49:07.:49:11.

struggling to find an affordable place to live. We need to start

:49:11.:49:16.

tackling this problem. There's surely nothing better than a nice

:49:16.:49:21.

country walk on a crisp winter's day. Many people choose to move to

:49:21.:49:24.

the countryside, to the green lungs away from the urban sprawl, like

:49:24.:49:29.

here on the outskirts of war minster in Wiltshire. What people

:49:29.:49:33.

don't realise is much of that green space is privately owned, there

:49:33.:49:38.

foremaking it rich pickings for developers. And that creates

:49:38.:49:42.

tensions. These campaigners don't want their views over green fields

:49:42.:49:50.

swapped for a housing estate with 3200 -- 320 new homes. The they the

:49:50.:49:53.

Government must not side with developers but listen to local

:49:53.:49:58.

people. I believe the council now needs to look strategically at

:49:58.:50:03.

development round this market town in order to ensure that it's

:50:03.:50:08.

balanced and sustainable. This particular speculative proposal is

:50:08.:50:12.

not sustainable and is unbalancened and will have a major impact on the

:50:12.:50:16.

infrastructure of this town. dilemma for our local politician sz

:50:16.:50:21.

for every person who says you must build more homes, there's a local

:50:21.:50:25.

community fighting against overdevelopment.

:50:25.:50:30.

Joining the debate is Chris Winter, a property developer from Taunton.

:50:30.:50:34.

Welcome to our front room. How difficult is it for you to get a

:50:34.:50:37.

housing development under way in the West Country? It's becoming

:50:37.:50:45.

more challenging. I think the core strategy process that is being gone

:50:45.:50:50.

through a -- by a lot of local authorities is slow and pro --

:50:50.:50:56.

protracted. The planning process itself has become more onerous.

:50:56.:50:59.

of our 17 local authorities haven't got housing plans to the. Does that

:50:59.:51:05.

cause you a lot of problems? does because housing numbers

:51:05.:51:11.

haven't been allocated, therefore there is no due process. There's a

:51:11.:51:14.

shortage of allocated sites and land supplies, therefore, not there

:51:14.:51:18.

for housing. Why can't they get their act together? That's a very

:51:18.:51:23.

good question. Why do you think? think the process is very

:51:23.:51:28.

protracted. Resources within local authorities are perhaps not there.

:51:28.:51:36.

I'm sure the system is becoming more politically driven, therefore

:51:36.:51:41.

councillors have having difficult decisions to make with their ward

:51:41.:51:51.
:51:51.:51:51.

members Anderlecht rat. The problem is -- Members and electorate.

:51:51.:51:54.

problem is people don't want more houses. Is the demand exaggerated

:51:55.:51:59.

do you think? It's definitely not exaggerated. There's demand for

:51:59.:52:03.

open market and affordable housing. Where we operate in Taunton, the

:52:03.:52:09.

housing waiting list of 4,000 people. There is demand. We as

:52:09.:52:12.

developers wouldn't build if there wasn't a market. We wouldn't build

:52:12.:52:16.

for fun. If people can afford them, of course. Let's bring in our

:52:16.:52:20.

politicians. This is a failure of localism. The Government said it

:52:20.:52:25.

would be a good idea, let the councils decide. We won't impose

:52:25.:52:30.

central targets but it hasn't happened. We are in a transitional

:52:30.:52:35.

phase between the old policy, the regional spatial strategy about

:52:35.:52:39.

top-down housing targets and a newer policy of localism. You've

:52:39.:52:44.

seen appeals and decisions made in this hangover period. I believe

:52:44.:52:47.

that with localism and with the eemergencying local plans that

:52:47.:52:51.

we've been talking about that there will be far more local

:52:52.:52:55.

understanding and far more sense of ownership about what's going to

:52:55.:52:58.

happen locally. We have to make planning popular again. I think

:52:58.:53:02.

members of the public feel that these applications are sprung up on

:53:02.:53:08.

them and developers themselves have to learn betder ways in which to

:53:08.:53:11.

engage public and talk through with them the benefits of planning.

:53:11.:53:15.

Swindon, for example, has been a growing town for generations. We

:53:15.:53:19.

have benefited in terms of infrastructure and leisure

:53:19.:53:23.

facilities as a result of planning. That needs to be explained again.

:53:23.:53:27.

Amanda, this isn't a new problem, it's been going on for years in

:53:27.:53:32.

Britain. How do we build more houses and make them acceptable to

:53:32.:53:38.

people in low kalts. I have to agree with what Rob was saying.

:53:38.:53:42.

It's a political hot potato. The councillors are thinking about

:53:42.:53:46.

their electorate as much as about the good of the whole. It's a

:53:46.:53:50.

balancing act all the time. Maybe the planners need to get more savvy

:53:50.:53:57.

how they do more community engagement, at the early stages,

:53:57.:54:01.

rather than thrust it on them at latter stages. You need people with

:54:01.:54:06.

you at the early stages. Is that possible, can you crawl up to local

:54:06.:54:10.

people and persuade them before the plans are in? You have to do it.

:54:10.:54:14.

That's part of the process now. It's required as part of a planning

:54:14.:54:18.

preparation of a planning application. The problem is with

:54:18.:54:24.

the term localism is what does it mean? When localism was first

:54:24.:54:31.

mooted certainly it appeared to us that it became the nimbies - not in

:54:31.:54:37.

my backyard - so we can reject everything, as po posed to local

:54:37.:54:40.

authorities naiking -- opposed to local authorities making decisions.

:54:40.:54:45.

Not just those directly affected, but the whole town. You can

:54:45.:54:48.

certainly engage and you aren't going to win everybody over, but

:54:48.:54:51.

you can allow them to influence perhaps how the development goes.

:54:51.:54:57.

The planning minister is suggesting that we build on another 2% to 3%

:54:57.:55:01.

of England to try and free up more land pour more homes. That, he says,

:55:01.:55:05.

would sort out the problem, do you agree? I think Nick is right to say

:55:06.:55:11.

there is a housing problem. There is a shortage of supply. This is

:55:11.:55:16.

Nick Bowles. Yes, but it's where you do it. There is demand in the

:55:16.:55:20.

south of England. We tend to be, we are becoming more and more

:55:20.:55:24.

overcrowded in the south of England. It's a little too easy to just say

:55:24.:55:28.

let's find an extra 3%. The question is where. The Swindons of

:55:28.:55:33.

this world have been and continue to build. I think it's incumbent

:55:33.:55:36.

upon other areas to say we will take our fair share too to spread

:55:36.:55:41.

out and balance this demand. want to represent an area, Bristol

:55:41.:55:46.

south, home to the vast council housing estates there. Should there

:55:46.:55:54.

be more building in that area? Should we stretch out? Well, I have

:55:54.:55:58.

to express a personal investment. I have a beautiful view from my

:55:58.:56:03.

bedroom window, we go back to that. I think we've got such density of

:56:03.:56:07.

housing in south Bristol, if anything we need to get more

:56:07.:56:11.

infrastructure there of different things. We need more shops. We need

:56:11.:56:16.

more cinemas. It's just huge swathes of housing which can be

:56:16.:56:21.

depressing for people if there's nothing to do there.

:56:21.:56:24.

Excuse me. Before I choke. We have to leave it there. Thank you for

:56:24.:56:29.

coming in. Time now for our race through this

:56:29.:56:36.

week's political stories in 60 seconds.

:56:36.:56:39.

Liam Fox, the former Defence Secretary, says the dropping of

:56:39.:56:45.

plans for a new community hospital for Clevedon are extraordinary and

:56:45.:56:50.

completely unacceptable. He's angry at the Primary Care Trust. It is

:56:50.:56:53.

scandalous that perfectly reasonable questions by the

:56:53.:56:57.

community and by their member of Parliament were almost completely

:56:57.:57:01.

ignored and left unanswered. Cider makers and drinkers are angry at

:57:01.:57:05.

Government plans toint deuce a minimum price for alcohol. The

:57:05.:57:08.

Government minister and Somerset MP David Heath got a grilling over

:57:08.:57:13.

plans in Parliament this week. Government's ill-conceived plan to

:57:13.:57:17.

regulate for a minimum price will have a devastating impact on West

:57:17.:57:22.

Country cider farmers. Well, Mr Speaker, the right honourable

:57:22.:57:26.

gentleman is very well aware that because of my constituency

:57:26.:57:30.

interests I cannot answer that question in a ministerial capacity.

:57:30.:57:40.
:57:40.:57:44.

Well that was the week, lots been happening. Let's talk about cheap

:57:44.:57:48.

alcohol. Is the Government right to try to put up the price? Put up the

:57:48.:57:52.

price, the minimum unit? Yes. I think it's got to be done because

:57:52.:57:57.

we have such a problem especially with binge drinking. What worries

:57:57.:58:00.

me is we might see the windfall going to the supermarkets rather

:58:00.:58:05.

than back into the community. I know it's to stop problem drinking,

:58:05.:58:10.

but the type of people that my charity looks after, I am the chair

:58:10.:58:14.

of Hawks, we look after people with drink and drug dependencey in the

:58:14.:58:17.

poorest areas of Bristol south. They will want those drinks,

:58:17.:58:22.

whatever price they are. That could lead to more crime. They would just

:58:22.:58:25.

pay whatever? Because they're addicts. Until they're clean and

:58:25.:58:29.

through a proper detox programme, which there are fantastic

:58:29.:58:32.

programmes going on now through GPs in the area, these people are going

:58:32.:58:36.

to need that substance because they're addicts. David Heath got

:58:36.:58:41.

himself in a bit of a mess, he can't talk about cider because they

:58:41.:58:45.

make sider in his constituency, that would mean the Health Minister

:58:46.:58:52.

can't talk about hospital. presume he took advice or looked at

:58:52.:58:55.

the Ministerial Code of Conduct. I'm not clear why that should be

:58:55.:58:58.

the case. If he declared an interest, surely he could answer

:58:58.:59:02.

the question. It seems a little confusing to me. On the central

:59:02.:59:07.

issue about whether there should be a higher minimum price for alcohol?

:59:07.:59:10.

I think a very interesting point made about addiction. We have to

:59:10.:59:13.

think about people coming into alcohol for the first time. The

:59:13.:59:17.

there -- there is a problem in piling it high and selling it cheap.

:59:17.:59:20.

I'm not convinced actually that the minimum pricing system would work

:59:20.:59:25.

that well. I think it's all about the type of drink, particularly

:59:25.:59:29.

alcopops and the like that entice younger people into drinking.

:59:29.:59:35.

a shame that you can't buy a cheap bottle of wieb. -- wine. This is

:59:35.:59:38.

the thing. It's penalising the vast majority who don't have a problem

:59:38.:59:42.

with alcohol. Though it's a dangerous substance and has, leads

:59:42.:59:46.

to terrible problems in society, most people can enjoy a glass of

:59:46.:59:49.

wine with a meal or bottle of wine if they're having a party. That's

:59:49.:59:53.

all we have time for this week. Thank you to our guests, Robert

:59:53.:59:58.

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