03/02/2013 Sunday Politics West


03/02/2013

Andrew Neil and David Garmston with the latest political news, interviews and debate.


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$:/STARTFEED. In the West - are the poor about to

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get poorer still? This April will see sweeping changes to benefits

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linked to housing. We are looking at who is going to lose out.

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2431 seconds

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Bankia. Welcome to the Sunday Politics in the West. -- thank key.

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Coming up: Pay up or get out. What one of grieving widow has been told

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as big changes are made to housing and council tax benefits. Alastair

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do guests are two politicians who would not give each other house

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room. -- our two guests. We are talking about housing in a moment.

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First, the Gay Marriage Bill, which will be debated on Tuesday. Why are

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so many Conservatives Against It? All sorts of reasons. It is a very

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complicated and difficult issue. I was moving towards being in favour

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of it when add that it was going to be registry offices. I have

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received 2000 representations in Yorkshire of people opposed to it.

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Not one single recommendation in favour of it. I will vote against

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it because I think it is wrong and I do not want it to happen.

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Churches should not be required... Of if it were simply a question of

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changing the words to registry offices, that would be fine. It is

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only a matter of time before the European Court of Human Rights and

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others say, actually, you are now required to do this event if you do

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not want to. There is a good triple-lock on this. It is absolute

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leader. It enables churches that wish to undertake equal marriages

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to do so. It should be a celebration of two people who love

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each other. There is no discrimination whatsoever. People

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in the same sex who want to get married in the church and if the

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Church once and to get married, they are unable to do so. You are

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admitting it is about churches! If it is the case, I say leave it to

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them. They cannot do it at the moment. If you are a Quaker, you

:44:07.:44:17.
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cannot do that. My friend had a registry office civil partnership

:44:18.:44:28.
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and that was fine. Have you got a similar post bag to him? Are people

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opposing it? I know of people who said that because of religious

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reasons... Probably 90% wet if not more, are in favour of it. They

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understand that churches are not being forced to do it. They can

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marry people if they wish to. I think it is terrific. If people

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oppose it and wished to vote against it, that is their

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prerogative. I am glad there is a free vote in the House of Commons

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and the House of Lords. So am I. Why is the Archbishop of Canterbury

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and all the bishops, with the exception of the Quakers, they are

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totally opposed to it? Other churches want to do it. More of

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that in the week ahead. Some of the poorest people in society will soon

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get a bit poorer. The Government is making changes on housing benefit.

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They're changing council tax relief. If you live in a council house or a

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property owned by a housing association, you can also get

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clobbered. If you have the spare room, you can lose some housing

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benefit. Julie is still grieving. This is the bedroom she shared with

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her husband before his death from cancer. That is the artwork that he

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did before he died. Her children are grown up, so there is a spare

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bedroom at her council house. This July, a year since being widowed,

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she will be ordered to pay an extra �500 a year or moved. This is where

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I had been for 30 years. I have brought up of family. I have

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grandchildren to come. My husband lived and died here. It is not just

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a case of downsizing. Cases like hers have caused alarm. What has

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been dubbed the bedroom tax was raised at Prime Minister's

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Questions. There are many people in private rented accommodation

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without housing benefit he cannot afford extra bedrooms. We need to

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get control of this. They are spending as a country �23 billion

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on housing benefit and we have to get that budget under control.

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April could tenants with one extra bedroom will lose 14% of housing

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benefit. Those with two or more spare rooms face a cut of 25%.

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Pensioners are protected, as they are from the other big change.

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Working-age people who currently get their council tax paid by

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benefit may have to start paying hundreds of pounds, as the

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Government hands over administering the system. It is a tough call for

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councils will stock-take over the running of council tax benefits, so

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the Government. -- running of councils. At the specially convened

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full meeting, the Conservative run council debated on whether to cut

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spending elsewhere. Impossible, both parties agreed. People on

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benefit will have to pay. We do not have a lot of fat. I would like to

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think we are a very efficient council. It does not leave a lot of

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wiggle room when you get these Exocet it's locked in by government.

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They're just imposing a tax on people on very low incomes. They're

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trying to dodge the real impact of their decision-making at Parliament.

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For those on benefits, attending Bridgewater JobCentre, it is a

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worry. That is absolutely going to scupper Ming. I can hardly look, as

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it is. -- scupper any. It would be very difficult. A lot of families

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would be in more trouble than they are in now. It is hard for us to

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provide an live properly. They are basically rising and increasing the

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council tax and taking away money that you need. I would have to move

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back in with my mum. Back in Kingswood, Julie feels it is unfair

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that those with the least of being hit. Finding the money would be

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difficult. Doing anything else would be worse. The thought of

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packing up, closing my front door, handing the keys in and not living

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here any more is unthinkable. It is just unbearable. My political

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guests are still with me to discuss all of theirs. Under Labour,

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housing benefit has doubled. Now the chickens have come home to

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roost and they have got to make cuts. We all agree that there has

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to be some cuts. I think that the welfare cuts that are taking place

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at the moment are absolutely wrong. They are hitting people at the very

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time when rich people are actually having tax rebates. Enormous tax

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rebates. That is wrong. The bedroom tax will hit people who should not

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be hit. Why shouldn't that Lady hang on to her bedroom, just in

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case her grandchildren want to stay? What about the problems that

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are being caused poor housing associations? My own housing

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association understands the need for people to downsize but they do

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not have any smaller properties for these people to live in. This is

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affecting some of the poorest people in society. What have they

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done to deserve that? 250,000 people today are on homeless

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waiting lists. They want a house but they cannot get one. 1 million

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people in England today have too small a house. They need that extra

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room. There are lots of other people who the state is subsidising

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in the fact they have a bigger house than they need. Housing

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benefits are out of control. The state is subsidising people living

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in a bigger house than a need for other people have no has to living

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at will. We're trying to find a way to rebalance that. -- no house.

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brother and sister living together. One of them dies. The survivor has

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to pay, lose benefit or move out. There will be a 12 month waiting

:51:08.:51:12.

period. If a single person is living in a two-bedroom of three-

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bedroom house, they have to pay more through benefit all they have

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to move out. Next door, a five- person family is living in a one-

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bedroom house. It is their home! Where are these people going to

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move? Where will they move? matter how many spare bedrooms you

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have got, if you are on housing benefit, you must be allowed to

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stay in that house. If not, you are supporting what we are actually

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doing. Many people would wish to move to smaller accommodation.

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Where someone dies, and the lady he was interviewed in the piece just

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now, I think it is wrong for that woman to have to move out of her

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home. We should not use these emotional cases. We're talking

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about the generality of people, where a very large number of people

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are living in houses that are too big for them. The state is paying

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for it. The money is not going to these people themselves. The money

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is going to go to private landlords. I am a great believer in

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redistribution of wealth. Let's find another family that needs that

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house and is living on the street or in inadequate accommodation.

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Under Labour, there would be no housing benefit cuts. Is that

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right? There would be some cuts. We have to look at the way in which it

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is implemented. What we would not want is the bedroom tax. That is

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unfair and unjust for poorer people. It is also a pejorative term. All

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we're doing is equalising the use of scarce resources in housing.

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are taxing people four bedrooms. That is why it is called the

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bedroom tax. We will come back to party politics in just a minute.

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Before that, some independent thinking. We have an independent

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mayor in Bristol. A new group wants to field a handful of independent

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candidates at the local elections in May. The have been here before

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with the likes of Martin Bell, the former BBC correspondent.

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Independents are running things in Somerset. Is this the start of a

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new movement in local politics? Independents are in vogue. Bristol

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has an independent men and three of our police forces have independent

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commissioners. Is there more to come up? What we are not is a

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political party. But they are a new group. Independents for Bristol

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canvassed for candidates for the May elections. Bristol is very

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unusual. It is a minority of towns and cities where there are no

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independent candidates what so ever. -- it is in a minority. In north

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Somerset, seven and West Somerset, seven. They hope to contest a

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handful of the seats up for grabs. How did they attract any attention?

:54:22.:54:26.

How will anyone know they are standing? What we can do is provide

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the central focus for our activities - some training. Help

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them with leaflets and give them a common independence for Bristol

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look. They were inspired by what happened here in Froome.

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Independents took control of the town council two years ago. What

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was most ignorant for us was there was a 75% increase in turn out. --

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significant. The former council chief executive says independently

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Ore bring fresh thinking and their time has come. -- independents.

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Political parties cannot draw in a number of people. Here, most of

:55:07.:55:12.

them could not put up a candidate in most wards. People are beginning

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to think the old Star politics is over. If we are not careful, will

:55:16.:55:23.

be left with analogue politics in a digital age. -- we will be laughed.

:55:23.:55:26.

We have been here before at the start of the digital age when

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Bristol did have an independent councillor and a new independent

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group had its first meeting. I am the only independent councillor in

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Bristol and others like to have more with me. I would like to feel

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that people are talking about the needs of the ward and not the party.

:55:43.:55:47.

The party system in Bristol has had a pernicious effect on the

:55:47.:55:53.

efficiency of local government. It has been banned by parties was that

:55:53.:55:58.

they can only think of parties. Party's first, voter's second.

:55:58.:56:03.

is those voters who will ultimately decide. Seasoned politicians are

:56:03.:56:08.

not convinced they will be won over. As a voter, you like to know what

:56:08.:56:13.

you are voting for. With independents it does not tell you

:56:13.:56:18.

what is inside. With a party, at least you know their background,

:56:18.:56:21.

where they're coming from. Beano the record and here you are voting

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for. You do not know that with independents. The mayor and the

:56:27.:56:30.

police commissioner has managed it was tapas and they change the face

:56:30.:56:40.

of local politics here so good? -- managed it. Can a change? Chris is

:56:40.:56:45.

an independent blogger and consultant. You ran the campaign

:56:45.:56:49.

for the Bristol man. Thank you for coming in. What is so special about

:56:49.:56:55.

independent? I think, in terms of local politics, and particularly in

:56:55.:57:00.

terms of Bristol, there is a general consensus and perception

:57:00.:57:08.

that local party politics has failed. Bristol has not punched its

:57:08.:57:13.

rate for a long time. Part of that problem is the party political

:57:13.:57:17.

strictures that are put on members. You only have to look at the fall-

:57:17.:57:21.

out from the election. The Labour Party was going to join the Cabinet,

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then they were not. Then they were and the local council has decided

:57:25.:57:29.

that would be in the best interests of Bristol before the national

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executive committee said you cannot. They put the kibosh on it. I do not

:57:34.:57:37.

think anyone with the best interests of Bristol at heart

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things that is a good idea. thinks. They spring up another.

:57:45.:57:49.

There was mention. From the point of view of a voter, it you vote for

:57:49.:57:54.

a political party, you know what you're getting. If you vote for an

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independent, they might have a range of issues that are not

:57:59.:58:05.

consistent. That is a bit of a silly view. Really? I also think it

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is part of the problem. With party politicians at local level, you do

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know what you are getting. You getting a party doctrine. You are

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not getting a councillor who can vote for the best interests of a

:58:20.:58:25.

ward. If you go before a selection process for a party, chair we say

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that deluded and the eccentrics are weeded out in advance? -- shall we

:58:31.:58:36.

say? That is not necessarily true. All the parties are struggling with

:58:36.:58:41.

candidate selection and supply. I do not know how independents at

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Bristol will set themselves up but, from what I understand, they will

:58:45.:58:50.

have some selection process. So that they can Bill to the

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candidates that will subscribe. Then they become a party. Let's

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bring in some other guests. Do you accept your parties and others have

:59:01.:59:05.

ruined local government? I do not think they have ruined local

:59:05.:59:09.

government at all. There are some fantastic Labour councils up and

:59:09.:59:13.

down the country, doing a splendid job - tried to mitigate the effects

:59:13.:59:20.

of cuts. I'm not in need to be political. It is a very difficult

:59:20.:59:30.
:59:30.:59:32.

atmosphere. -- I'm not meaning to be political. Why I went -- why it

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will Labour do not work with the independent Met in Bristol?

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imagine that you would be that, come next May, we would be fighting

:59:43.:59:47.

against some independent councillors, and it could have been

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quite a difficult situation to have members in the Cabinet of the mayor

:59:52.:59:58.

who were fighting other people within the Cabinet? If local

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government is about making sure the pavements are even and the roads

:00:01.:00:07.

are swept, why do we need a politician to do that? Why not be

:00:07.:00:17.
:00:17.:00:18.

good and upstanding person? believe. -- I believe in that. Good

:00:18.:00:23.

men and women who have the local area at the forefront of their

:00:23.:00:27.

minds, particularly at town and parish level, it is great. The

:00:27.:00:32.

gentleman in the piece was correct in a way. Where there is a party

:00:32.:00:38.

system at all, you have to know what it stands to. Conservatives

:00:38.:00:47.

stand for lower council tax. Are we on the verge of a new independent

:00:47.:00:50.

revolution in local government? That remains to be seen. The

:00:50.:00:55.

situation in Bristol means that is very possible. The environment is

:00:55.:01:02.

right for a group of independents. It has been talked about for a long

:01:02.:01:06.

time. It is a very realistic possibility. We will have to leave

:01:06.:01:11.

it there. Thank you for coming in. Time to take a look at the

:01:11.:01:21.
:01:21.:01:23.

political stories of the week in our 62nd round-up. -- 60 second

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round-up. Airbus is taking on some engineers with the help of

:01:27.:01:30.

government investment. The Government is hugely profitable so

:01:31.:01:35.

the grant raised a question with the minister. The us Airbus really

:01:35.:01:41.

need 1.5 million from the tax payers? -- does Airbus? You would

:01:41.:01:46.

not expect us to put money into losers. A war of words involving

:01:46.:01:56.

Eric Pickles. He accused people -- the Government of treating

:01:56.:02:01.

residents with contempt. We all get tarred with the same brush was that

:02:01.:02:07.

it is not very helpful. region's biggest bus firm agreed to

:02:07.:02:13.

review offence. Publicly owned forests, including the Forest of

:02:13.:02:17.

Dean, will not be sold off. It has reversed its plans after a public

:02:17.:02:27.

outcry. That Was the Week in just one minute. How time flies! Let's

:02:27.:02:31.

pick up on a couple of those stories. The minister's visit to

:02:31.:02:34.

Airbus and the Government giving money for a successful company like

:02:34.:02:39.

Airbus to recruit. Why's that? Why did they deserve the money?

:02:39.:02:44.

would not want to give money to a failing company. In giving money to

:02:44.:02:48.

a good company - half-French - it is very important that we should

:02:48.:02:53.

keep them in Bristol. It is important we should employ these

:02:53.:02:59.

100 people. A bit of money, 1.5 million, it does precisely that. I

:02:59.:03:04.

welcome government investment in this area. I do agree but I would

:03:04.:03:08.

be very interested to know their view on the European Union as well.

:03:08.:03:14.

Whether or not we should be in the European Union. Airbus will be here,

:03:14.:03:19.

in or not. The good news is that this week, David Cameron will be

:03:19.:03:24.

having an in/out referendum. Would you have an in/out referendum?

:03:24.:03:28.

We're not in government at the moment. You are. It is wrong to

:03:28.:03:33.

have a referendum at the moment. What about in the next parliament?

:03:33.:03:40.

We have to see what happens. will you vote? You would vote for

:03:41.:03:50.

no? I want David Cameron to campaign very hard the terms

:03:50.:03:56.

changed. I want the reformed European Union as well. You also

:03:56.:03:59.

campaigned for the FA is not to be sold off. The Government has said

:03:59.:04:05.

it does less than. They have listened to not just to people like

:04:05.:04:13.

me but for a fantastic campaigners. Save our forests campaign. Real

:04:13.:04:18.

People Power. I have not read all the small print. I am delighted the

:04:18.:04:21.

Government has said it was some of the Forest was that that is good

:04:21.:04:29.

and I welcome it was was that a mistake? -- the forest. 95% of

:04:29.:04:37.

forests belong to private landowners. They belong to the

:04:37.:04:43.

people. We agree with that. That is it from the West this week. The

:04:43.:04:48.

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