27/01/2013 Sunday Politics West


Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news and interviews with the Europe Minister David Lidington and the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves.

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The government department or where spending is booming. And the


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Thanks Andrew - welcome to Sunday Politics in the West with me, Steve


LeFevre, in the hot seat while David's somewhere hotter. Talking


of which - the climate and the economy may be wintry here, but the


hotspot for government spending is overseas. We travel to Gambia with


a Wiltshire MP and debate the big increase in the development money


we're putting towards poorer countries. With me are two


politicians, both with an international perspective. Jack


Lopresti comes from an Italian immigrant family - he's now the


Conservative MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke. And Marvin Rees has


studied at Yale and travelled extensively - most recently he was


Labour's candidate for mayor in his home city of Bristol. First to the


big political story not just of the past week, but probably of the next


five years. David Cameron's pledge to have an in-out referendum on


Europe. This is the hokey cookie referendum, where do you stand on


it? I think he gave a very good speech. If you look at the


political world in the last 20 years, the pressure has been


building to give the British people another save. -- another say. I


think a referendum at some stage was inevitable so I'm glad we now


have a timescale and the programme and a commitment that if you vote


Conservative in the next election you will get a chance to vote on


that. There will be a referendum if he is Prime Minister. Do people


know what they are voting for? think that is one of the challenges.


The concern is this creates more instability, uncertainty, which


isn't good for business, not good for our need to attract inward


investment. Without that certainty, it was perhaps an unwise time to


say it and an unwise declaration to make. Uncertainty and debate for


another five years. I am not sure it is something that is at high on


people's agenda. Business people seem to enjoy it. There was a


litter in the Times the other day, some business people wrote and said


it they were happy that the referendum was happening. One of


the signatories runs a local company, it is an issue that has


been gaining traction on the doorstep in recent years. There is


uncertainty about the European Union at the moment anyway, is the


euro going to survive, or what shape will it be in, more fiscal


control, tighter management of the European economies. I think it is a


good opportunity to try and get the best deal for Britain and put it to


the people. I also think we have promised that if you vote


Conservative, I will be surprised if Labour don't make a similar


promise. The question is how did you get that best deal for Britain,


because our interests are tied in with a strong Europe. The question


is, what is the best case Britain can take to negotiate that stronger


Europe? And negotiating an exit is not the best policy. Or we will


have five years to discuss this! We may live in an age of austerity,


but one area of government spending has gone on rising - international


development. Britain is pledged to increase aid to the world's poor,


though critics say now is not the right time. One MP who's committed


to the cause is Claire Perry of Devizes. She's just spent a week


living without electricity or running water in Africa. Laura


Lyons reports. From winter in Wiltshire to the


heat, sights and sounds of Africa. Devizes MP Claire Perry and her 13-


year old daughter Eliza spent a week in Gambia. They were amazed at


the reception they got. They stayed with locals, experiencing life as


they lived it. I haven't had a bath in hot water for a week, I washed


my hair in a bucket. When you have to go and get water from a well,


every drop a third of the Wash in has to be carried back on Sunday's


head. It does make you think a bit about your resources. She paid her


own way, keen to see the work of the Marlborough charity linked to


this community for 30 years. Back home and the contrast between the


two countries was clear - and not just in their climate. I just think


it brought home to me how incredibly lucky we are to live in


a democracy, with a rule of law, with the the judicial challenges


they have at the moment, in a country where you can turn on a tap


and good clean water. She also wanted to gauge the impact of aid.


She officially opened a new market hall, built with help from the


Wiltshire charity. As one of the world's poorest countries, Gambia


also gets development aid from Europe. In was overwhelming, it was


beautiful, it was saddening to see wonderful children with so little.


It was frustrating because the whole issue of how you deliver


international aid in a way that helps people rather than create


dependency was there, but overall it was the most friendly, beautiful


place I have ever visited. But it's not just one-way - the twinning


brings many Gambians to Wiltshire. So before she went there was plenty


of advice for the MP. One thing I will always you proud of is the


religious tolerance of people in Gambia. Our community spirit is


very strong. That is why when you are poor in the Gambia, you still


have a roof over your head and you still have something to eat and you


still have something to do and somewhere to go, because a brother


somewhere, ACAS in somewhere, will always be willing to share the


little he has with you -- our cars in it somewhere. For Claire Perry


and her daughter, Gambia left a lasting impression. A think it was


a sense of community and structure and values that some might say we


have lost and we are worse off for it. How life is very different, but


some of those messages are very good ones of the people to see.


She's confident the help given here has made a real difference.


Ensuring Britain's growing aid budget is well-spent everywhere


will be much harder. Well, joining us is the Marlborough GP who set up


the link with the Gambia, Nick Maurice. You said last year it


nobody wants to see any reduction in armed forces, so why are we


protecting spending on international development, which


has seen a 30,000 service jobs lost. I think what we have done in


international development for the last decades in the UK, we can be


proud of the generosity of the British taxpayer and the good work


we have done, I think aid spending has gone up by over a billion. My


problem is that we are pledged to increase that by another 3 billion


the next couple of years whilst in the week where the promise says set


-- Prime Minister says we have to be deployed in Africa and continue


the fight against Al-Qaeda and extreme terrorist groups, we are


making 5000 troops redundant, while cutting the defence budget and it


disproportionately increasing the aid budget. The first


responsibility of any government his defence of the realm and the


security about people. What we have spent so far is fantastic, we can


continue to do their body disproportionate increase over the


next couple of years while we are cutting defence is something I am


uncomfortable with. It is a phenomenal amount of money. We can


talk about whether it is going up or not because we have present our


commitment to good to be 0.7%... But you have to understand, aid is


not just a moral case, it is a key part of our foreign policy to stop


political stability overseas, when you get too hot beds for terrorism,


for Migration, I used to work for an aid agency years ago, we were


looking at countries where people were turning to the production of


drugs because they didn't have viable alternatives to make a


living. It is not a question of what we delays and nice things...


This is also about British interests overseas, it is a key


part of that. But it is where the money goes. Aid can transfer cash,


all very well helping the people who really needed in the film, but


is the money actually going there? It is the increase, it has been


increased by over a billion. We are putting troops numbers, the Home


Office budget, is it sensible on a strategic basis to increase the aid


budgets are disproportionately while making soldiers redundant?


Having set up that link, when we see what has happened over there,


it is a two-way street. It is not just the money going into places


like Gambia, it is what we can get back from there. I think it is true


to say that we have learnt as much from the relationship we have had


with the Gambia as people there have learnt from us. We have


exchange 1600, particularly young people, between our two communities,


we have them coming to visit us, learning from our way of life just


as we have young people from Marlboro and a white districts


going out to the Gambia, working alongside Gambians on projects --


wide districts. I was delighted when Claire Perry agreed to come


and spend a week in that community, and experience first hand up what


development aid can be about. a big price to pay what we hear


about what people are living on, I'll be getting our money's worth?


Of course we are. It is and how are our own self-interest. The wide


disparity between the very rich and the very poor, the greater the


conflict is likely to break out. I don't think it is either or,


defence spending, the two things are absolutely related. My very


strong view is the more we can assist and work alongside, and I


stress alongside, people in so- called developing countries, the


better. When I was last in the US, one of the meetings I had took me


by surprise. It was meeting a couple from the US Army. They were


in Afghanistan, they were involved in forestry, this was aid work, it


was about helping farmers take care of the forests so they could take


care rather than be seduced by the Taliban. It is not just morals come


it is a self interest. Power to the people. It was once a battle-cry


for revolutionaries, but in recent years it's been a call to arms for


the Conservatives. From the "Big Society" to localism, David


Cameron's talked repeatedly about devolving decision-making down. One


important change has been encouraging neighbourhoods to set


out their own plans. But does it really work? Paul Barltrop reports.


It's easy to say in opposition - before becoming Prime Minister,


David Cameron talked a lot about empowering local people. That same


approach lies behind our plan to encourage people to come together


in neighbourhood groups so they can work together to make life better.


We are going to give communities the chance to take control What we


got was the Localism Act, allowing the creation of so-called


Neighbourhood Plans. It'll revitalise local democracy and put


power back where it belongs - in the hands of the people. But swap


the Westminster hothouse for the cold West country and things look


rather different, particularly to the people of Malmesbury. What


happens in these fields is a big test of government policy.


Developers want to build 180 houses here, Wiltshire council has said no,


but what's most significant is that locals have got together and become


among the first in the land to produce a Neighbourhood Plan. Under


new rules that should mean they have more control over development.


They're not saying no to any development in their own, beautiful


back yard. It's just they have a different view of where houses


should be built. It's all been set out in a 100-page Neighbourhood


Plan worked up over many months by local residents. Of workshops and


reduce, I think that makes it sound good. They had to look at


everything from national and local planning strategies to human


rights' rules. It's been a mammoth task. This is heavy duty volunteer


work, it is not floating about in meetings, it is heavy duty, at your


desk, in front of your word processor, writing document,


reading planning documents, studying, trying to understand to


stop it is one of the hardest things I have ever done to stop we


have done absolutely everything and we can. If we are not allowed to go


forward with our plan, it would make a mockery of the government's


policy. Because we can't possibly do any more, so it if it doesn't


work for us, it is not going to work for any body! They'll soon


find out. It is 26 that we originally started from. This week


they came face to face with the developers at a planning inquiry.


An inspector will decide whose plans come out on top - after the


evidence has been heard and tested by lawyers. It is daunting for the


people, the residents who have never been involved in this kind of


process before. They're coming to almost a judicial process, being


cross-examined, being pushed and pushed, which is the job of the


lawyers, and that is an experience for local residents who feel


passionately about what they want for their communities but aren't


used to that very bureaucratic legal system. Winning this appeal


isn't all. For their neighbourhood plan to take effect, these


residents must also get it approved by a local referendum. Only then


may there be a bit more power to the people.


We're joined by someone who knows all about this - Alison Bromilow


runs a Neighbourhood Planning Network here in Bristol. Thank you


for joining us. It looks incredibly hard work. The Eighties, both -- it


is, people have been putting hours and weeks, people went for the same


system in Bristol, for two years, they haven't been getting to the


stage yet, it is an enormous commitment. This is a group of


people who know what they're doing, they have applied themselves, you


have got to know about be you law, you have to know about strategies,


core strategies, 100 page documents, is this how localism it works?


is not just the planning, it is the whole business of running a project,


organising your time, programming it, organising volunteers, never


nut job. Working out how to communicate and to consult with the


public, it is not just you sitting in a room, you have to bring your


whole community along, otherwise it will get thrown out at referendum


staged to stop is this what the government means by localism?


about empowering people, making sure they are part of the process.


It can seem a lot of work. You can use local groups like your town


council and neighbourhood group as a conduit. I think it is great that


people come to surgery and say, we don't feel part of the process,


people don't listen to us, this would be a great way when it gets


going to actually empower people to get involved in local decision-


making. Can this work through communities right across our


region? De always a challenge if when institutions say they are


going to empower people but come across the threshold. It is not


empowered to people have to jump through hoops, we have seen it


repeatedly as well. What I'm hearing is that there is a real


danger would you could end up with the most advantaged communities,


with great resources, being able to navigate these bureaucratic


nightmares where is the most disadvantaged are left behind, not


having as much of a voice. So it is critical to say we are going to


give a voice to local communities but we have to be real about


looking at the processes they have to go to and the support will be


offering them up. You have the communities department to give you


a hand at Ayr. If there is a frail little guidance here, we make it up


as we go along. -- very little guidance. We have the planning


network, all the groups have got together, Bristol is tighter


different from the parish plans because we don't have parishes, so


we don't have a precept, none of the money comes to the community,


aid ghost of the local planning authority. So we have to work to


the local planning authority to get money raised at various stages in


order to continue our way through the process, and it is a lot of


stuff for people to get on board and have to learn. You have really


got to go for it, you have to want to have the skills we have seen, it


isn't going to happen. People do feel passionate about this,


Planning in their local areas, I agree broadly about it is a


question of people having the resources, I represent an area of


pounds and Paris is, so there is another layer which could help,


this is an early stage of this process. You said localism is an


allusion, do you think that? said it could be. It depends on


what we are talking about. Government institutions can speak


with forked tongues. If you are going to say it, you have to mean


it, back it up with the resources and we have to look at how the


processes at work, do they exclude people? Thank you. It's time now to


take a look at the political stories of the week in our 60


The Conservatives are losing members as MPs prepare to vote on


controversial plans for gay marriage. The chairman in Somerton


and bream quit, claiming them it would be more resignations. Almost


all the people you talk to feel the same way, not necessarily to the


point of resignation, but there is an enormous feeling of anger and


frustration. The Mayor of Bristol City was relieved after recruiting


three more councillors did cabinet. He found him so stretched after


trying to cover three portfolios. The new line-up is temporary. There


was one of Oktay Mahmuti, Lib Dem campaigning paid dividends as they


held on to the seat of... If this Bristol MP get his way voters will


in the future be younger. His backbench motor was supported in


the Commons but it may stop there. The Prime Minister is supposed to


bodes for 16 and 17-year-olds. -- votes. A busy week. His 16th too


young to vote? I have got a 16- year-old boy, and an 18-year-old


daughter. I am comfortable with my daughter voting, not my son at


probably. We talk about politics, she takes a genuine interest, I am


not sure that at 16, you cannot buy tobacco, alcohol, stand for office,


I am not so sure about 16. It is all about getting political


majority and education, knowing about politics, that is the idea?


I would be supported by a vet, I think it is an investment, I think


it is about engaging more people in politics. That is about the


responsibility of politicians and broadcasters as well, in the way


they tell stories but maybe we can talk about that off-air! Always


comes down to the media! How would it change the political landscape,


it you had 16 and 17-year-olds, do you think it would make politicians


think more about what they're doing? It is not obviously a


parallel. We try and engage with all levels, I'm sure. We have to. A


16-year-old today will be 18 in a short space of time. I'm sure you


can find 28-year-olds who sit on and play stations all day and are


politically unengaged. I think it would draw people into the process


and give people an opportunity in schools to start with some hard


issues. It is important to talk about children -- talk to children


of all ages about politics, it is whether you can make a judgment at


16, to cast of Brake. A lot of them are switched on. At all stages...


I'm sure my son isn't typical of all 16 year-old! I was being ironic.


I'm just beginning to think about that now. Thank you to you both.


Good to have your company here. That is just about it for this week.


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