Andrew Neil and David Garmston present the latest political stories, with Conservative chairman Grant Shapps and a look at Ed Miliband's choices for Desert Island Discs.
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Morning, folks. Welcome to the Sunday Politics.
Labour's been hit hard by scandals at the Co-op. Ed Miliband says the
Tories are mudslinging. We'll speak to Conservative Chairman Grant
Shapps. Five years on from the financial
crisis, and we're still talking about banks in trouble. Why haven't
the regulators got the message? We'll ask the man who runs the
City's new financial watchdog. And he used to have a windmill on
his roof and talked about giving hugs to hoodies and huskies. These
days, not so much. Has the plan to make the
Is immigration really out of control? We meet Romanians working
on farms in homelessness and population ships.
What is the evidence? And as always, the political panel
that reaches the parts other shows can only dream of. Janan Ganesh,
Helen Lewis and Nick Watt. They'll be tweeting faster than England
loses wickets to Australia. Yes, they're really that fast.
First, some big news overnight from Geneva, where Iran has agreed to
curb some of its nuclear activities in return for the partial easing of
sanctions. Iran will pause the enrichment of uranium to weapons
grade and America will free up some funds for Iran to spend. May be up
to $10 billion. A more comprehensive deal is supposed to be done in six
months. Here's what President Obama had to say about this interim
agreement. We have pursued intensive diplomacy, bilaterally with the
Iranians, and together with our partners, the United Kingdom,
France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the European Union.
Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path towards a world that is
more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iraq and's nuclear
programme is peaceful, and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.
President Obama spoke from the White House last night. Now the difficulty
begins. This is meant to lead to a full-scale agreement which will
effectively end all sanctions, and end Iran's ability to have a bomb.
The early signs are pretty good. The Iranian currency strengthened
overnight, which is exactly what the Iranians wanted. Inflation in Iraq
is 40%, so they need a stronger currency. -- information in Iran.
France has played a blinder. It was there intransigence that led to
this. Otherwise, I think the West would have led to a much softer
deal. The question now becomes implementation. Here, everything
hinges on two questions. First, who is Hassan Rouhani? Is he the
Iranians Gorbachev, a serious reformer, or he's here much more
tactical and cynical figure? Or, within Iran, how powerful is he?
There are military men and intelligence officials within Iran
who may stymie the process. The Western media concentrate on the
fact that Mr Netanyahu and the Israelis are not happy about this.
They don't often mention that the Arab Gulf states are also very
apprehensive about this deal. I read this morning that the enemies of
Qatar and Kuwait went to Saudi king. -- the MAs row. That is the key
thing to watch in the next couple of weeks. There was a response from
Saudi Arabia, but it came from the Prime Minister of Israel, who said
this was a historic mistake. The United States said there would be no
enrichment of uranium to weapons grade. In the last few minutes, the
Iranian Foreign Minister has tweeted to say that there is an inalienable
right -- right to enrich. The key thing is the most important thing
that President Obama said in his inaugural speech. He reached out to
Iran. It failed under President McKenna jab. Under President
Rouhani, there seems to be progress. There is potentially now what he
talked about in that first inaugural address potentially coming through.
In the end, the key issue - and we don't know the answer - is the
supreme leader, not the president. Will the supreme leader agreed to
Iran giving up its ability to create nuclear weapons? This is the huge
ambiguity. Ayatollah Khamenei authorise the position that
President Rouhani took to Geneva. That doesn't mean he will sign off
on every bit of implementation over the next six months. Even when
President Ahmadinejad was president, he wasn't really President. We in
the West have to resort to a kind of Iranians version of the study of the
Kremlin, to work out what is going on. And the problem the president
faces is that if there is any sign... He can unlock these funds by
executive order at the moment, but if he needs any more, he has to go
to Congress. Both the Democrat and the Republican side have huge
scepticism about this. And he has very low credibility now. There's
already been angry noises coming from quite a lot of senators. It was
quite strange to see that photo of John Kerry hugging Cathy Ashton as
if they had survived a ship great together. John Kerry is clearly
feeling very happy. We will keep an eye on this. It is a fascinating
development. More lurid details about the
personal life of the Co-op Bank's disgraced former chairman, the
Reverend Paul Flowers. The links between Labour, the bank and the
wider Co-op movement have caused big problems for Ed Miliband this week,
and the Conservatives have been revelling in it. But do the Tory
allegations - Ed Miliband calls them "smears" - stack up? Party Chairman
Grant Shapps joins us from Hatfield. Welcome to the programme. When it
comes to the Co-op, what are you accusing Labour of knowing and when?
I think the simple thing to say here is that the Co-op is an important
bank. They have obviously got into difficulty with Reverend flowers,
and our primary concern is making sure that that is properly
investigated, and that we understand what happened at the bank and how
somebody like Paul Flowers could have ended up thing appointed
chairman. You wrote to edge Miliband on Tuesday and asked him what he
knew and when. -- you wrote to Ed Miliband. But by Prime Minister's
Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron claims that you knew that
Labour knew about his past all along. What is the evidence for
that? We found out by Wednesday that he had been a Labour councillor,
Reverend Flowers, and had been made to stand down. Certainly, Labour
knew about that, but somehow didn't seem to think that that made him
less appropriate to be the chairman of the Co-op bank. There was no
evidence that Mr Miliband or Mr Balls knew about that. I ask you
again, what are you accusing the Labour leadership of knowing? We
know now that he stood down for very inappropriate images on his
computer, apparently. You are telling me that they didn't know. I
am not sure that is clear at all. I have heard conflicting reports.
There is a much bigger argument about what they knew and when. There
was a much bigger issue here. This morning, Ed Miliband has said that
they don't have to answer these questions and that these smears.
This is ludicrous. These are important questions about an
important bank, how it ended up getting into this position, and how
a disastrous Britannia -- Italia deal happen. -- Britannia deal
happened. And we need to know how the bank came off the rails. To be
accused of smears for asking the questions is ridiculous. I am just
trying to find out what you are accusing Labour of. You saying that
the Labour leadership knew about the drug-taking? Sorry, there was some
noise here. I don't know what was known and when. We do know that
Labour, the party, certainly knew about these very difficult
circumstances in which he resigned as a councillor. I think that the
Labour Party knew about it. We knew that Bradford did, but not London.
Are you saying that Ed Miliband knew about the inappropriate material on
the Reverend's laptop? It is certainly the case that Labour knew
about it. But did Mr Miliband know about it, and his predilection for
rent boys? He will need to answer those questions. It is quite proper
to ask those questions. Surely, asking a perfectly legitimate set of
questions, not just about that but about how we have ended up in a
situation where this bank has made loans to Labour for millions of
pounds, that bank and the Unite bank, who is connected to it. And
how they made a ?50,000 donation to Ed Balls' office. Ed Balls says that
was nothing to do with Reverend Flowers, and yet Reverend Flowers
said that he personally signed that off. Lots of questions to answer.
David Cameron has already answered them on Wednesday. He said that you
now know that Labour knew about his past all along. You have not been
able to present evidence that involve Mr Miliband or Mr Balls in
that. So until you get that, surely you should apologise? Hang on. He
said that Labour knew about this, and they did, because he stood down
as a councillor. If Ed Miliband didn't know about that, then why
not? This was quite a serious thing that happened. The wider point is
about why it is that when you ask perfectly legitimate questions about
this bank, about the Britannia deal, and about the background of Mr
flowers, why is the response, it is all smears? There are questions
about how Labour failed to deal with the deficit and how it hasn't done
anything to support the welfare changes, but there is nothing about
that. Let us -- lets: To the wider picture of the Co-operative Bank.
Labour wanted the Co-op to take over the Britannia Building Society, and
it was a disaster. Do you accept that? The government of the day has
to be a part of these discussions for regulatory reason. The
government in 2009 - Ed Balls was very pleased... But you supported
that decision. There was a later deal, potentially, for the Co-op to
buy those Lloyds branches. There was a proper process and it didn't go
through just recently. If there had been a proper process back in 2009,
would the Britannia deal have gone through? First, you accept that the
Tories were in favour of the Britannia take over. Then your
Chancellor Osborne went out of his way to facilitate the purchase of
the Lloyds branches, even though you had no idea that the Co-op had the
management expertise to become a super medium. Correct? The
difference is that that deal didn't go through. There was a proper
process that took place. Let's look at the process. There was long
indications as far back as January 2012 that the Co-op, as a direct
result of the Britannia take over which you will party supported, was
unfit to acquire the Lloyds branches. By January 2012, the
Chancellor and the Treasury ignored the warnings. Wide? In 2009, there
was political pressure for the Britannia to be brought together.
Based on the information available, this was supported, but that process
ended up with a very, very problematic takeover of the
Britannia. Wind forward to this year, and when the same types of
issues were being looked at for the purchase of the Lloyds deal, the
proper process was followed, this time with us in government, and that
purchase didn't go through. It is important that the proper process is
followed, and when it was, it transpired that the deal wasn't
going to be done. But it was the Treasury and the Chancellor who were
the cheerleaders for the acquisition of the Lloyds branches. But there
was a warning that the Co-op did not have enough capital on its balance
sheet to make those acquisitions, but instead of heeding those
warnings, your people went to Brussels to lobby for the
requirements to be relaxed - why on earth did you do that? Our
Chancellor went to argue for all of Rajesh banking, not specifically for
the Co-op. He was arguing for the mutuals to be given a special
ruling. The idea was to make sure that every bank in Britain could
have a better deal, particularly the mutuals, as you say. That is a
proper thing for the Chancellor to be doing. We could go round in
circles here, but in the end, there was not a takeover of the Lloyds
branches, that is because we followed a proper process. Had that
same rigorous process been followed in 2009, the legitimate question to
ask is whether the Co-op would have been -- would have taken over the
Britannia. That is a proper question to ask. It is no good to have the
leader of the opposition say, as soon as you ask any of these
questions about anything where there is a problem for them, they come
back with, oh, this is all smears. There are questions to ask about
what the Labour government did, the debt and the deficit they left the
country with, the way they stopped work from paying in this country.
The big question your government has two answer is, why, by July 2012,
when it was clear there was a black hole in the Co-op's balance sheet,
your government re-confirmed the Co-op as the preferred bidder for
Lloyds - why would you do that? Well, look, the good thing is, we
can discuss this until the cows come home, but there is going to be a
proper, full investigation, so we will find out what happened, all the
way back. So, we will be able to get to the bottom of all of this. Grant
Shapps, the only reason the Lloyds deal did not go ahead was, despite
the Treasury cheerleading, when Lloyds began its due diligence, it
found that there was indeed a huge black hole in the balance sheet and
that the Co-op was not fit to take over its branches. That wasn't you,
it wasn't the Government, it was not the Chancellor, it was Lloyds. You
were still cheerleading for the deal to go ahead... Well, as I say, a
proper process was followed, which did not result in the purchase of
the Lloyds branches. At that proper process been followed with the
purchase of the Britannia, under the previous government... Which you
supported. Yes, but it may well be that under that previous deal, there
was a excess political pressure perhaps put on in order to create
that merger, which proved so disastrous. The Tories facilitated
it, Grant Shapps, they allowed it to go ahead. I have said, we are going
to have a proper, independent review. What I cannot understand is,
when you announce a robber, independent review, the response you
get to these serious questions. The response is, oh, this is a smear. It
is crazy. We are trying to answer the big questions for this country.
We have done all of that, and we are out of time. The Reverend Flowers'
chairmanship of the Co-op bank was approved by the regulator at the
time, which no longer exists. It was swept away by the coalition
government in a supposed revolution in regulation. But will its
replacement, the Financial Conduct Authority, be different? Adam has
been to find out. Come with me for a spin around the Square mile to find
out how we regulate our financial sector, which is almost five times
bigger than the country's entire annual income. First, let's pick up
our guide, journalist Iain Martin, who has just written a book about
what went so wrong during the financial crisis. The FSA was an
agency which was established to supervise the banks on a day-to-day
basis. The Bank of England was supposed to have overall responsible
at for this to Bolivia the financial system and the Treasury was supposed
to take an interest in all of these things. The disaster was that it was
not anyone's call responsibility, or main day job, to stay alert as to
whether or not the banking system as a whole was being run in a safe
manner. And so this April, a new system was set up to police the
City. Most of the responsibly delays here, with the Bank of England, and
its new Prudential Regulation Authority. And the Financial
Services Authority has been replaced with the new Financial Conduct
Authority. Can we go to the financial conduct authority, please?
Canary Wharf, thank you. Here, it is all about whether the people in
financial services are playing by the rules, in particular, how they
treat their customers. This place has got new powers, like the ability
to ban products it does not like, a new mandate to promote competition
in the market, the concept being, more competition means a better
market, plus the idea that a new organisation rings a whole new
culture. Although these are the old offices of the FSA, so maybe not
quite so new after all. It has also inherited the case of the Co-op bank
and its disgraced former chairman the Reverend Paul Flowers. The SCA
will be part of the investigation into what happened, which will
probably involve looking at its own conduct. One member of the
Parliamentary commission into banking wonders whether the new
regulator, and its new boss, are up to it. I have always said, it is not
the architecture which is the issue, it is the powers that the regulator
has, and today, it does not seem to me as if there is any increase in
that. And with the unfolding scandal at the Co-op, it feels like the new
architecture for regulating the City is now facing its first big test.
And the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, the
SCA, Martin Wheatley, joins me now. Welcome to The Sunday Politics. The
failure of bank regulation was one of the clearest lessons of the crash
in 2008, and yet two years later, in 2010, Paul Flowers is allowed to
become chairman of the Co-op - why have we still not got the regulation
right? We have made a lot of changes since then. We have created a new
regulator, as you know. At the time, we still had a process which allowed
somebody to be appointed to a bank and they would go through a
challenge, but in the case of Paul Flowers, there was no need for an
additional challenge when he was appointed to chairman, because he
was already on the board. But going from being on the board to becoming
chairman, that is a big jump, and he only had one interview? That is why
today, it would be different. But the truth is, that was the system at
the time, the system which the FSA operated. He was challenged, we did
challenge him, and we said, you do not have the right experience, but
at the time, we would not have opposed the appointment. What we
needed was additional representation of the board of people who did have
banking experience. You can say that that was then and this is now, but
up until April of this year, it was still the plan for the Co-op, under
Mr Flowers, and despite being seriously wounded by the Britannia
takeover, to take on 632 Lloyds branches. That was the Co-op's
plan. They needed to pass our test as to whether we thought they were
fit to do that, and frankly, they never passed that test. It was not
the regulator that stopped them? It was. We were constantly pushing
back, saying, you have not got the capital, you have no got the
systems, and ultimately, they withdrew, when they could not answer
our questions. You were asking the right questions, I accept that, but
all of the time, the politicians on all sides, they were pushing for it
to happen, and I cannot find anywhere where the regulator said,
look, this is just not going to happen. I cannot comment on what the
politicians were doing, but I continue what we were doing, which
was constantly asking the Co-op, have you got the systems in place,
have you got the people, have you got the capital? And they didn't.
But it only came to a head when Lloyds started its own due diligence
on the bank, and they discovered that it was impossible for them to
take over the branches, it was not the regulator... In fairness, what
we do is ask the questions, can you do this deal? And we kept pushing
back, and we never frankly got delivered a business plan which we
were happy to approve. Is the SCA going to launch its own inquiry into
what happened? -- the FCA. The Chancellor has announced what will
be a very broad inquiry. There are a number of specifics which we will be
able to look at, relating to events over the last five years. Could
there be a police investigation? I think the police have already
announced an investigation. I am talking about into the handling of
the bank. It depends. There might be, if there is grim low activity,
which we do not know yet. You worked at the FS eight, didn't you? I did.
Some of those people who were signed off on the speedy promotion of Mr
Flowers, are they now working there? Yes, we have some. I came to
join the Financial Services Authority, to lead it into the
creation of the new body, the SCA. We had people who were challenging
and they did the job. There was not a requirement to approve the role as
chairman. There was not even a requirement to interview at that
stage. What we did do was to require that he was interviewed, and that
the Co-op should get additional experience. One of the people from
the old organisation, who signed up on the promotion of Mr Flowers to
become chairman is now a nonexecutive director of the Co-op,
so how does that work? Welcome he was a senior adviser to our
organisation, one of the people who made the challenges, and who said,
you need more experience on your board. Subsequently he then went and
joined the board. Surely that should not be allowed, the regulator and
the regulated should not be like that. Well clearly, you need
protection, but we have got to get good people in, and frankly, we want
the industry to have good people in the industry, so there will be some
movement between the regulator and industry. We all wonder whether you
have the power or even the confidence to stand up if you look
at all of the really bad bank decisions recently, politicians were
behind them. It was Gordon Brown who pushed the disastrous merger of
Lloyds and RBS. It was Alex Salmond who egged on RBS to buy the world.
All three main parties wanted the Co-op to buy Britannia, even though
they did not know the debt it would inherit, and all three wanted the
Co-op to buy the Lloyds branches - how do you as a regulator stand up
to that little concert party? Well, that political pressure exists, our
job at the end of the day is to do a relatively technical job and say,
does it stack up? And it didn't, and we made that point time and time
again to the Co-op board. They did not have a business case that we
could approve. The bodies on left and right -- the politicians on left
and right gave the Co-op special support. They may have done, but
that was not you have made a warning about these payday lenders, but I
think what most people would like to see is a limit put on the interest
they can charge over a period of time - will you do that? We have got
a whole set of powers for payday lenders. We will bring in some
changes from April next year, and we will bring in further changes as we
see necessary. Will you put a limit on the interest they can charge?
That is something we can study. You do not sound too keen on it? Well,
there are a lot of changes we need to make. One change is limiting
rollovers, limiting the use of continuous payment authorities.
Simply jumping to one trigger would be a mistake. Finally, an issue
which I think is becoming a growing concern, because the Government is
thinking of subsidising them, 95% mortgages are back - should we not
be worried about that? I think we should if the market has the same
experiences that we had back in 2007 - oh wait. We are bringing a
comprehensive package in under our mortgage market review, which will
change how people lend and will put affordability back at the heart of
lending decisions. -- 2007-08. You have not had your first big
challenge yet, have you? We have many challenges.
It was once called the battle of the mods and the rockers - the fight
between David Cameron-style modernisers and old-style
traditional Tories for the direction and soul of the Conservative Party.
But have the mods given up on changing the brand? When David
Cameron took over in 2005, he promoted himself as a new Tory
leader. He said that hoodies need more love. He was talking about
something called the big society. He told his party conference that it
was time to that sunshine win the day. There was new emphasis on the
environment, and an eye-catching trip to a Norwegian glacier to see
first-hand, supposedly, the effects of global warming. This week, party
modernise and Nick bone has said that the party is still seen as an
old-fashioned monolith and hasn't done enough to improve its appeal.
The Tories have put some reforms into practice, such as gay marriage,
but they have put more into welfare reform band compassionate
conservatism. David Cameron wants talked about leading the greenest
government ever. Downing Street says that the quote in the Son is not
recognised, get rid of the green crap. At this point in the programme
we were expecting to hear from the Energy and Climate Change Minister,
Greg Barker. Unfortunately, he has pulled out, with Downing Street
saying it's for ""family reasons"". Make of that what you will. However,
we won't be deterred. We're still doing the story, and we're joined by
our very own mod and rocker - David Skelton of the think-tank Renewal,
and Conservative MP Peter Bone. Welcome to you both. I'm glad your
family is allowed you to come? David Skelton, getting rid of all the
green crap, or words to that effect, that David Cameron has been saying.
It is just a sign that Tory modernisation has been quietly
buried. I do think that's right. Modernisation is about reaching out
to the voters, and the work to do that is now more relevant than ever.
We got the biggest swing since 1931, and the thing is we need to do more
to reach out to voters in the North. We need to reach out to non-white
voters, and show that the concerns of modern Britain and the concerns
of ordinary people is something that we share. And what way will racking
up electricity bills with green levies get you more votes in the
North of England? We have to look at ways to reduce energy bills. The
renewable energy directive doesn't do anything to help cut our
emissions, but does decrease energy bills by ?45 a year. We should
renegotiate that. That is a part of modernisation and doing what
ordinarily people want. And old dinosaurs like you are just holding
this modernisation process back? I am very appreciative of covering on
this programme. The Tory party has been reforming itself for more than
150 years. This idea of modern eyes a is just some invention. We are
changing all the time. I'm nice and cuddly! So you are happy that the
party made gay marriage almost a kind of symbol of its modernisation?
Fine Mac the gay marriage was a free vote. David Cameron was recorded as
a rebel there because more Tories voted against his position than ever
before. It was said that this was a split between the old and young, but
it actually was a split between those who were religious and
nonreligious. It is a misinterpretation of what happened.
Is a modernisation in retreat? I think modernisation is an
invention. Seven years ago, in my part of the world, we got three
councillors elected, two were 80 and one was 21. A few months ago, a
25-year-old was chosen to fight Corby for the Conservative Party. He
came from a comprehensive School. He was one of the youngest. The Tory
party is moving on. So you found three young people? Hang on a
minute. You can't get away with that. Three in one batch. Does
modernisation exist? Modernisation is about watering our appeal and
sharing our values are relevant to voters who haven't really thought
about voting for us for decades now. Modernisation is about more than
windmills and stuff, it is about boosting the life chances of the
poorest, it is about putting better schools in poorer areas. It is also
saying that modernisation and the Tory party... When has the Tory
party been against making poorer people better off? Or against better
schools? Do you think Mrs Thatcher was a moderniser when she won all
those elections? The problem we have at the moment is that UKIP has
grown-up. If we could get all of those people who vote UKIP to vote
for us, we would get 47% of the vote. We don't need to worry about
voters on the left. We need to worry about the voters in the north, those
people who haven't voted for us for decades. Having an EU Referendum
Bill is going to get people to vote. We have to reach out to
voters, but not by some sort of London based in need. You have to
broaden your base. I agree with you on that. We have to broaden our
appeal, but this back to the future concept is not going to work. We
need something that generally appeals to low and middle-income
voters, and something that shows we genuinely care about the life
chances of the poorest. Do you think that the people who vote UKIP don't
support those aspirations? We are not doing enough to cut immigration.
We don't have an EU Referendum Bill stop we have to get the centre right
to vote for us again. Do that, and we have it. Tom Pursglove, the 25
euros, will be returned in Corby because we cannot win an election
there. -- the 25-year-old. Whether you are moderniser or
traditionalist, people, particularly in the North, see you as a bunch of
rich men. And rich southerners. You are bunch of rich southerners. We
need to do more to show that we are building on lifting the poorest out
of the tax. We need to build more houses. There is a perception that
the leadership at the moment is rich, and public school educated.
What we have to do is get more people from state education into the
top. You are going the other way at the moment. That is a fair
criticism. Modernisers also say that. I went to a combo hedge of
school as well. -- do a comprehensive school. We need to
show that we are standing up for low income. Thank Q, both of you. You
are watching the Sunday Politics. Coming up in just
Welcome to the part of the programme that is just for us in the West.
Coming up this week, UKIP claims we cannot cope with more immigration.
We'll Romanians and Bulgarians really flocked to the West Country
as they claim? We hear from some of those who are already working here
and what has drawn them to live in market towns like Yeovil. Joining us
are two politicians whose parties are locked in a fierce battle over
the issue of immigration. They are the Conservative MP Ashley Fox and
for the UK Independence Party, Neil Hamilton. Before we talk about
immigration, let's take a look at the goings`on in the European
Parliament this week. Ashley Fox, you have upset the French by trying
to stop the parliament's monthly pilgrimage from Brussels to
Strasbourg. Once a month, 766 MEPs, 3000 staff
and 25 lorry loads of documents shuttle from here in Brussels to
this rather similar looking building in the French city of Strasbourg. It
is thought the round`trip costs over 100 million euros a year.
Environmental terms it is 19,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.
French members here should confess what they are doing, they are
defending selfish national interest. If the seat of the European
Parliament was in my home city of Bristol, I would do the same.
That has not gone down well with the French, who insist that sitting in a
city on the border with Germany is of huge symbolic significance.
We are turning our backs on our history and culture and on some of
the founding principles of the European Union.
In the end, the European Union voted in favour of trying to change the
treaty in favour of these two cities. But to do that they will
need your disapproval of the two EU Council of ministers, one of whom
happens to be French. Ashley, nice try, but you're wasting
your breath because the French will veto it?
Not at all. We want get it immediately, but the French and
Germans will be coming with their own treaty changes to improve
changes in the year was on. The only consent of Parliament to approve the
changes. Any deal will need to be done. There is huge momentum for us
to have one seat and save 150 million euros a year.
The French might have to get something like that up, they will
say to us, give up your budget rebate for something you get.
This is nothing to do with the budget rebate, it is of a treaty
change. They will want amendments to the treaties, and the European
Parliament wants one seat. We want the treaty amended for that, and I'm
confident within five years we can do a deal.
No, has he got a crack? I think it is unlikely the French
will ever agree to move the Parliament from Strasbourg because
it is a huge symbolic significance for them. But this isn't a matter of
a huge question of waste in the EU. If they say 150 million pounds a
year and this move, they will only wish that somewhere else. We're not
really convinced by this one way or another.
It is not a sideshow, it is very important. You might ask Mr Hamilton
by the UKIP MEPs did not support this. There are only four of them
and they abstain. The whole thing is a Charente. The
Parliament has no right to make this decision. It is so much hot air. If
the money is not wasted on this, it will be wasted on something else. It
makes sense for the Parliament at one Single Place to meet.
Why didn't you vote on it? Because you have got no power to do
anything. It seems extraordinary you did not
even bother to say that we should not have two seats of government.
It is of no interest to us at all. We want to be out of the EU.
You should be interested in getting the best value for taxpayers' money.
The best way to save taxpayers not about money is to get out of the EU.
Four out of 13, they cannot be bothered to vote to save money.
Would you have ordered a the debate had been held in Strasbourg?
We don't vote in Strasbourg on matters which are of no interest in
anybody. It is a waste of time. It is a story really out of the
news, with politicians claiming we're on the wave of the new mass of
immigration from Bulgaria mania. Today UKIP have warned that towns
like Yeovil weather is already significant Eastern European
community, cannot cope with more immigrants.
This is virtual. He is Romanian and works in Yeovil as a taxi driver.
We are 40 or 45 Romanians. The reason he has come is simple.
More money, more opportunities for me.
These Romanians and vulgarians are working on agricultural visas and
for advance. They say they are not taking jobs from locals because they
are the only ones who want to take the work will stop.
I found some jobs in the mania, but it is better here. Better money
here. They preferred the good jobs, they don't like working in
agriculture. The same happen in my country. I don't want to work in
agriculture in my country, I want to hear.
But according to the UKIP councillor for central Yeovil, people are fed
up with the drain immigration is putting on their committee.
The main concern is immigration. Every person I spoke to said
immigration. That, he claims, is putting a strain
on our public services. When you have got a relatively small
town, it can have a big impact on medical services, on education,
school places. On housing. There is no doubt things have
changed in our committees. Take a look at the number of Polish
immigrants in this part of the world. It has gone up significantly
since 2001, at least ten times. Here at this Catholic primary School in
Yeovil, you can see the impact immigration has had on the area.
Back in 2000, none of the pupils years book English as a second
language, now it is nearly 50% of the pupils. But according to the
headteacher that is not a bad thing. We are an inclusive Catholic school,
are priorities to get on with our neighbours. This is a very
harmonious place. Most of the parents of these peoples
work in the hospitals or for local businesses.
What we see is that most of those people coming in, most of whom are
economic migrants, become here to work, they do not come here to live
on benefits. We are 40 days away from the lifting
of working restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania.
There is a catastrophe looming ahead.
But nobody knows yet how many more people will choose places like
Yeovil for their home. Joining us is Jon Fox, an expert on
immigration. But first, Neil Hamilton, are you and your
colleagues in Yeovil using scare tactics here?
The scale of immigration has been truly astonishing. These are numbers
that are completely unheard`of in the whole of our history. When Enoch
Powell made his famous speech nearly 50 years ago, we were getting
immigration of 50,000 a year. In 2010 alone we have more people come
to this country, 210,000, that came between 1066 and 1950 to stop we are
dealing with a massive problem. If they are working hard and paid
taxes, what is the problem? It is not against the individuals
coming here, we can understand why they would want to. The average wage
in Romania is less than jobseeker's allowance year. I would be not want
to come here? Especially when they can qualify by simply turning up.
Jon Fox, would you take a guess about how many Romanians and
Bulgarians might come this way? No. It is they difficult to predict.
We don't even have a good sense of how many people are here at the
moment. Census figures will be different from National Insurance
registrations. Migrants move, become here, they turn around and got back,
then they come back again. It is hard to get a sense of this. This is
why the predictions we do see are all over the place.
People are worried. They say it is hard to get a doctors appointment at
the moment, is hard to get a house, public services are pushed, it is
hard to get the job. Can you understand why people are given
nervous about possibly more immigration?
Yes, sure. And in some places these will be felt more acutely than in
other places. But if you look at the overall scale of things, I think you
see that we are absorbing this migration fairly well, and we don't
have this terrible problem of a strain on local councils, local
services everywhere. This is an isolated places, and not in the
entire country. Ashley Fox, is there a case for the
government saying, we let the Polish in when the rest of Europe said now
there has to be transitional controls, therefore, in this case
should we have more strength now and let Europe take the strain as we did
when the Polish game? There is no doubt there during the
13 years of Liberal government far too many immigrants were allowed to
comment United Kingdom. It was uncontrolled immigration, and the
Labour Party have agreed that was a catastrophic mistake, they are
words. The coalition government is committed to reducing immigration
significantly, firm but fair controls.
What controls are you putting over Romanians and Bulgarians coming in?
Those controls expire on the 1st of January 2014. Those are EU laws, and
that is the deal that Tony Blair signed. There is nothing we can do
other than take the Neil Hamilton route which is to leave the EU.
That is correct. We have an open door immigration policy in this
country, and each of the three main parties believes in staying in the
EU, that means we cannot control our borders from immigration, anywhere
else in the whole of Europe. Would you urge the government not to
allow Romanians and vulgarians not to come here from the 1st of
January? We think there should be a points
system for immigration, as Australia does and many other countries.
If we had a UKIP government... That is not going to happen by the
1st of January. The government should take
unilateral decision to close the borders, and do that unlawfully. Why
not? Rather, you should have a
referendum, which my government wants to do.
Yes, possibly in 2017. We're not talking about 2017, we're talking
about 1st of January 2014. You want to bring in unlawful
measures. We do not accept the legitimacy of the EU.
If we had responsibility for taking this decision, we would control
immigration. You do not want to control immigration.
Let's go back to the expat here, Jon Fox. People are worried about people
taking benefits. What can they actually get?
The 2004 entrance to the EU have access to benefits after one year of
continuous climate. Most of those people can claim benefits just like
you and me. Or, like you. The Romanians and Bulgarians have
stricter restrictions placed on them for what they can claim, but that
will change from 1st of January 2014, when it will be the same as
the 2004 entrance into the EU. I will get what benefits are being
claimed, we see very clearly that eastern European migrations are
making a net contribution. The statistic is the paying 34% more
into the system than they are taking out.
If they are paying in more than they are getting, why do you object?
We're not the individuals coming here. The scale of the problem is
what matters here. The numbers that are coming, the speed with which
immigration is taking place is placing enormous strains on public
services. It is also requiring us because of the numbers to concrete
over vastly greater makers of England, because this is an English
problem first and foremost. The planning minister wants another 3
million acres of housing. And it is required because of the scale of
immigration that is coming in from outside the EU as well, but we don't
know what the scale of the problem will be from Romania and Bulgaria,
but we do know what the scale of the problem was for the last 15 years.
Nearly 1 million came from Poland in the end.
There is this image of the people showing up and claiming benefits and
being a strain on services, but they are paying a lot of money into the
system, more than you and I are paying into the system.
It is a question of how quickly you can have services that can respond
to the scale of the immigration. Thank you.
The protection of honourable children in the West Whatley is not
good enough to stop under a new Ofsted Rhegium, two thirds of our
councils would not meet the required standard. Somerset is taking
measures after being judged inadequate.
The shocking realities of front line social work.
This was a social worker from Bristol on a TV documentary last
year minutes after taking a baby into care. His mother was living
with a sex offender. This challenging work has increased
dramatically in the last five years. Child protection orders have, by
47%, while care proceedings have gone up 64%. The number of children
ending up in care has increased by 13%. Bristol was one of only three
authorities in the West officially judged to have good child
protection. Five were labelled as inadequate. `` adequate. That
standard is no longer acceptable. In the future that will require
improvement. One of them, Somerset, was told in August that its child
protection was completely inadequate. The council knew they
were in trouble. They brought in a new director of children's services,
experience in helping struggling authorities. This week he was asked
if things had improved for the county's children.
Yes. Certainly better protected. There is sometimes a bit of
mythology that says that all children can be protected of time,
that is not true, but we have to make sure that we do our very best
of the children be known about we protect very well, that we find out
about those children who are at risk and do something about their
circumstances. But Somerset is under huge financial
pressure. Proposed changes to children centres have caused
controversy. Campaigners packed a council meeting and forced a
rethink. The council insists it wants to spend more on front line
staff, not buildings, but saving money is a factor.
The cuts have gone really deep now. Eric Pickles has given local
government as almost a sacrificial lamb. I think this government is any
fairly serious situation. In key care services, social care and
learning disabilities, we're only one bad case away from being in the
newspapers. Meanwhile in the chamber, members
were reporting through another ?4 million of cuts, with more to come.
The leader said other areas are harder hit, so children services can
be protected. But winning approval from inspectors is a long way off.
Ofsted continue to change the goalposts. Every year they change
their inspection process. Yes, we hold our hands up and say this year
we did not need their standards. We are working very hard, we have got
the right people in place, we have made the right financial
commitments. We are doing our best for children in Somerset to ensure
they are safe. Nationally, one child a week dies
because of abuse. Social workers worried because of increased and
decreased resources, make that worse.
Joining us is Ray Jones a professor of social work had shared the
children safeguarding board for Bristol. Has reduced sauces got
anything to do with this problem? It is a combination of things. There
is a greater need in the community because of the welfare and benefit
changes. Secondly, welfare cuts is bringing less assistance for those
families, such as sure start centres closing. And more work is coming
through to social workers and there is no commensurate increase in
social worker numbers. They're not cutting social worker
numbers. Now, they're trying to maintain the
numbers of social workers they have, but doing well making cuts in other
areas, children's centres for example, so they're not cutting the
numbers of social workers, but they're not increasing them in line
with increasing demand. Tragically around one child a week
dies because of abuse in this country, which is absolutely
shocking, but that figure has been static for 20 years.
40 years. The first big scandal was a young girl who died in Brighton.
Over the years we have learned more and more about how to take children.
My concern at the moment is that we are seeing the amount of work coming
into social work increasing dramatically. Child protection
plans, plans for children, those have gone up dramatically. Someone
has got to be around to make sure we implementing those plans
appropriately. That requires an increase in resource. Overall we are
seeing resources seeing static, the needs of families increasing.
We have increased vastly over the last 40 years? The number of
resources? But what we have had since the death
of baby Peter in 2007 and the story breaking into those in need is an
increasing number of children reported to agencies, more work for
them to do, and now increasing the capacity for them to do that work.
Let's bring in Ashley Fox here. Local authority reductions. The
amount of pressure the coalition is putting on them. That has got to be
to blame, hasn't it? I don't think it's to blame. Council
services are under great pressure. It is very challenging. But just
remember why ` we are clearing up the huge budget deficit, 156 Ilium
pounds but Labour left us. We have cut that by one third. Taxes have
gone up and public expenditure is being cut. But we face a huge
challenge clearing up this mess will stop and councillors like those in
Somerset are doing their bit and very difficult circumstances.
We have to leave it there. Thank you. Now let's take a run through
the week in one minute. Brittle's public toilets could soon
be flushed away. Amir has proposed closing all but one as he trims his
budget I want quarter over the next three years.
If you are like me, with an elderly bladder, you need to have access to
the loo. And this is a tourist city. Tourists come to the city and expect
public toilets. Councillors have called for more
time to propose closing 18 children centres after protests from
children. We voted through ?4 million of cuts to the budget saying
it was the tip of the iceberg. Gloucestershire's controversial
incinerator project is being looked at ie government planning inspector.
Campaigners say it would be a blot on the landscape by the developer
says it is needed and will save millions of pounds.
But's cab`drivers save you risk getting lost after being told to
ditch their sap maps. Local authority says drivers should know
their way around and other devices obstruct the view.
That was a week. A word on public loos. Neil Hamilton, in UKIP land,
would you have public loos morbidly funded?
This is not an issue we are focused on particularly deeply, but on the
elections in May we hope to be flushed with success.
This is nothing to do with the EU. We have to leave it there. That is
all we have time for today. I did it are guests, Ashley Fox and Neil
Hamilton. You can watch the programme again on the BCI player,
but now we return to Andrew who was waiting for us in London. We'll see
those people who want to cycle. We will be returning to this one. Thank
you. A little bit of history was made at
Prime Minister's Questions this week. A teensy tiny bit. It wasn't
David Cameron accusing one MP of taking "mind-altering substances" -
they're always accusing each other of doing that. No, it was the first
time a Prime Minister used a live tweet sent from someone watching the
session as ammunition at the dispatch box. Let's have a look. We
have had some interesting interventions from front edges past
and present. I hope I can break records by explaining that a tweet
has just come in from Tony McNulty, the former Labour security
minister, saying that the public are desperate for a PM in waiting who
speaks for them, not a Leader of the Opposition in dodging in partisan
Westminster Village knock about. So I would stay up with the tweets if
you want to get on the right side of this one! We are working on how the
Prime Minister managed to get that wheat in the first place. What did
you think when you saw it being read out? I was certainly watching the
Daily Politics. I almost fell off my chair! It was quite astonishing. He
didn't answer the question - he didn't do that the whole time. But I
stand by what the tweets said. I have tweeted for a long time on
PMQs. Normally I am praising Ed Miliband to the hilt, but no one
announces that in Parliament! Because the Prime Minister picked up
on what you said, it unleashed some attacks on you from the Labour side.
It did, minor attacks from some very junior people. Most people were
supportive of what I said. They took issue with the notion of not doing
it until 12:30pm, when it wasn't available for the other side to use.
Instant history, and instantly forgettable, I would say. Do you
think you have started a bit of a trend? I hope not, because the
dumbing down of PMQs is already on its way. Most people tweet like mad
through PMQs! Is a measure of how post-modern we have become, we have
journalists tweeting about someone talking about a tweet. That is the
level of British politics. I am horrified by this development. The
whole of modern life has become about observing people -- people
observing themselves doing things. Do we know what happened? Somebody
is monitoring the tweets on behalf of the Prime Minister or the Tory
party. They see Tony's tweet. They then print it out and give it to
him? There was a suggestion that Michael Goves had spotted it, but
Craig Oliver from the BBC had this great sort of... Craig Oliver was
holding up his iPad to take pictures of the Prime Minister, which he then
tweeted, from the Prime Minister. People will now be tweeting in the
hope that they will be quoted by the Prime Minister, or the Leader of the
Opposition. I wasn't doing that. I'm just talking about the monster you
have unleashed! I hope it dies a miserable death. I think Tony is a
good analysis -- a good analyst of PMQs on Twitter. Moving onto the
Co-op. You were a Co-op-backed MP, white you? I was a Co-op party
member. There are two issues here about the Co-op and the Labour
Party. All the new music suggests that the Co-op will now have to
start pulling back from lending or donating to the Labour Party, which,
at a time when Mr Miliband is going through changes that are going to
cut of the union funds, it seems quite dangerous. There are three
things going on. There's the relationship that the party has
politically with the Co-op party, there is the commercial relationship
you referred to, and then there is this enquiry into the comings and
goings of Flowers and everybody else. The Tories, at their peril,
will mix the three up. There's a lot of things going on with a bang.
Labour has some issues around funding generally, and they are
potentially exacerbated by the Co-op issue. The Labour Party gets soft
loans from the Co-op bank, and it gets donations. ?800,000 last year.
Ed Balls got about ?50,000 for his private office. You get the feeling,
given the state of the Co-operative Bank now, that that money could dry
up. We will see. There's lots of speculation in the papers today. At
the core, the relationship between the Co-op party and the Labour Party
is a proud one, and a legitimate one. I don't think others always
understand that. Here is an even bigger issue. Is it not possible
that the Co-op bank will cease to exist in any meaningful way as a
Co-op bank? Is the bane out means it is 70% owned -- the bail out means
that it is 70% owned, or 35% going to a hedge fund, I think I read.
Yes, there is a move from the mutualism of the Co-op. But don't
confuse the Co-op bank with the Co-op Group. Others have done that.
I haven't. Here's the rub. The soft loans that Labour gets. They got
?1.2 million from this. And 2.4 million. They are secured against
future union membership fees of the party. What is Mr Miliband doing? He
is trying to end that? You have this very difficult confluence of events,
which is, could these wonderful soft loans that Labour has had from the
Co-op, could they be going? And these union reforms, where Ed
Miliband is trying to create a link between individuals and donations to
the Labour Party... Clearly, there could be real financial difficulties
here. The government needs to be careful, because George Osborne
launched one of his classic blunderbuss operations this week,
which is that the Labour Party is to blame for Paul Flowers' private
life. No, it's not. And that all the problems, essentially... Look at
what George Osborne was doing in Europe. He was trying to change the
capital requirement rules that would make it easier for the Co-op to take
over Lloyd's. If there is to be a big investigation, George Osborne
needs to be careful of what he wishes for. This is another example
of the Westminster consensus. All of the Westminster parties were in
favour of the Britannia takeover. This is how the Co-op ended up with
all this toxic rubbish on its balance sheet. All the major parties
were in favour of going to get the Lloyds branches. The Tories tried to
outdo Labour in being more pro-Co-op. There was nobody in
Westminster saying, hold on, this doesn't work. It is like the
financial bubble all over again. Everyone was in favour of that at
the time. I think there is no evidence so far that the storm is
cutting through to the average voter. If I were Ed Miliband, I
would let it die a natural death. I would not write to an editorial
column for a national newspaper on a Sunday. That keeps the issue alive,
and it makes him look oversensitive and much better at dishing it out
than taking it. I agree about that. The Labour press team tweeted this
week saying that it was a new low for the times. And this was
re-tweeted by Ed Miliband. It isn't a great press attitude. It is very
Moni. Bill Clinton went out there and fought and made the case. So did
Tony Blair. If you just say, they are being horrible to us, it looks
pathetic. And it will cut through on Osborne and the financial
dimensional is, not political. I shall tweet that later! While we
have been talking, Mr Miliband has been on Desert Island Discs. He
might still be on it. Let's have a listen to what he had to say.
# Take on me, take me on. # And threw it all, she offers me
protection. # A lot of love and affection.
# Whether I'm right or wrong #. # Je Ne Regrette Rien. #.
Obviously, that was the music that Ed Miliband chose. Who thought --
you would have thought he would choose Norman Lamont's theme tune!
He chose Jerusalem... He has no classical background at all. He had
no Beethoven, no Elgar. David Cameron had Mendelssohn. And Ernie,
the fastest Notman in the West. -- fastest milkman. Tony Blair chose
the theme tune to a movie. Tony Blair's list was chosen by young
staffers in his office. It absolutely was. Tony Blair's list
was chosen by staff. The Ed Miliband this was clearly chosen by himself,
because who would allow politician to go out there and say that they
like Aha. I am the same age as Ed Miliband, and of course he likes
Aha. That was the tumour was played in the 80s. Sweet Caroline. It is
Angels by Robbie Williams. I was 14-year-old girl when that came out.
I thought Angels was the staple of hen nights and chucking out time in
pubs. The really good thing about his list is that the Smiths to not
appear. The Smiths were all over David Cameron's list. The absolutely
miserable music of Morris he was not there. What was his luxury? And
Indian takeaway! Again, chosen for political reasons. I would agree
with the panel about Aha, but I would expect -- I would respect his
right to choose. Have you been on Desert Island Discs? I have. It took
me three weeks to choose the music. It was the most difficult decision
in my life. What was the most embarrassing thing you chose? I
didn't choose anything embarrassing. I chose Beethoven, Elgar, and some
proper modern jazz. Anything from the modern era? Pet Shop Boys.
That's all for today. The Daily Politics will be on BBC Two at
lunchtime every day next week, and we'll be back here on BBC One at
11am next week. My luxury, by the way, was a wind-up radio! Remember,
if it's Sunday, it's the Sunday Politics.
Andrew Neil and David Garmston present the latest political stories, with Conservative chairman Grant Shapps and a look at Ed Miliband's choices for Desert Island Discs on Radio 4.