12/06/2011 The Politics Show London


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Hello and welcome to the Politics Show.


Last time he was here he threatened to resign over the Government's


plans for the NHS. Today Norman Lamb returns to the Politics Show.


Is he ready to declare victory? We'll also hear from Labour's


health spokesman in a tricky week for Ed Miliband and his party.


And, will we in 2015 be voting for peers as well as MPs? The leader of


the Lords joins us to talk reform of the Upper House. The Government


wants to limit the amount of benefits a family can get to


�26,000 a year. But find a why some Lib Dems want that scrapped.


He London, plans for a new private university have been causing a


storm. And there is a crisis in higher education. We ask whether


other higher education universities in the capital may have to go


Up And joining me throughout today's programme, Sarah Sands,


from the Evening Standard and the political commentator, John


Kampfner, but first the news. Good Morning.


The United States says Syria has created a humanitarian crisis


following weeks of repression of anti-government protestors. More


than 4,000 people have fled across the border to refugee camps in


Turkey, and witnesses say more towns have been attacked in the


last 24 hours. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, says he's


extremely concerned. He says President Assad must respond to the


will of the Syrian people. Refugees along the border between


Syria and Turkey. They have fled with what they can carry, the


barest essentials. With them, they are bewildered children. This is


apparently what they fled. These pictures, impossible to verify


appear to show what activist say is the first use of Syrian helicopters


in the tax. There are reports of troops and tanks bombarding the


town of Jisr al-Shughour. The Syrian Government says it is being


confronted by armed gangs. Official estimates are of more than 4,000


refugees having crossed the border into Turkey. The US Government has


accused the Syrian Government of creating a humanitarian crisis, as


international concerns about events in Syria continued to mount. I am


deeply concerned and saddened by so many people have been killed in the


course of peaceful demonstrations. I again urge President a sad, his


Government authorities to take maximum care, to protect human


lives. I am urging again to allow the humanitarian assessment team to


enter Syria. For now, charities and the authorities are on the Turkish


side of the border continue to make preparations to help what could be


a further influx of refugees. At least 34 people have been killed


in two bomb attacks in Pakistan. The explosions happened minutes


apart in a supermarket in the north western city of Peshawar. Officials


say nearly 100 other people have been injured. The blasts happened


just after midnight in an area of the city that is home to army


housing. Police say the first explosion had


been small. But as bystanders gathered and emergency personnel


were arriving, there was a second, much larger blast.


I was passing through when the blast occurred. As we were near the


square there was a big blast. When we came back there was no rescue


team or officials. I saw a dead bodies lying under the transformer


and some four to five bodies were lying under the hotel building.


is the latest in a series of militant attacks across the country,


that have targeted both Pakistan security forces and civilians. Many


believe is Lammas groups are taking revenge for the death of Osama Bin


Laden, but there are other factors, include -- including a recent


upsurge in drone attacks and Pakistan are preparing to carry out


an offences against and North stronghold.


The chairman of the BBC Trust plans to Labiche -- lobbied the Foreign


Secretary over Government plans to end funding for the BBC World


Service. In an interview he said he considered the World Service to be


at the core of what the BBC does and is vital to project Britain


around the world. The Royal Family is marking the


Duke of Edinburgh's 90th birthday at a special service of


thanksgiving this morning. The Queen and more than 750 guests,


including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, are attending the


service at Windsor Castle's St George's Chapel.


That's it for now, there's more news here on BBC One a little


earlier than usual at 4:35pm. Jon. So you have problems piling up for


the coalition with U-turns here and climb-downs there. And what do you


read in the papers this weekend? Labour in disarray. How did that


happen? It has been pretty torrid for Ed Miliband. He comes back of


his honeymoon, but the honeymoon is over? It has been Torridge, and he


has struggled before these headlines to make headway. They


could not be a more propitious time for Labour to show people they have


alternative. Ed Miliband is struggling to project himself and


is struggling to show it is different from the old, Tony Blair,


Gordon Brown days when you have these two clans fighting each other.


I liken it to bulls locking horns. It was an unattractive proposition.


Do you believe the brothers are fighting each other? A David


Miliband remains upset, I wouldn't put it any more stronger than that.


He intimates it from time to time. Labour's own focus groups suggest


that when they are asked to his Ed Miliband, they say he is the one


who did over his brother. He has got to move away from that.


serious is it? He comes down to Original Sin issues that if Tony


Blair was rejected in a way to what Margaret Thatcher was by


illegitimate means, it does leave a legacy. Again, you have David


Miliband done over by his brother. You think, this is ancient history,


personalities and let's talk about the issues. But it is in issue.


is also a reprisal of the Tony Blair, Gordon Brown rivalry. Most


of the detail was known to people in the political inner circle, and


have been written about in books. But it showed a party not at ease


with itself. If there is someone co-ordinating all of these events,


it is like an at sales operation. To get from a position where Labour


say, we want to change the leader. From getting from A to B will be


difficult and bloody? It is, and it is ripe to have this long-term


policy review. But at the same time there has got to be a sense what


Labour is advocating is qualitatively different from the


Conservatives and also the joint coalition message. As long as he


struggles to get that across and struggles to show that actually


they have moved on hugely from the New Labour era, then he is not


going to succeed. Thanks for the moment.


Now, the last time Norman Lamb appeared on the Politics Show all


hell broke loose. Eight weeks ago, Nick Clegg's political adviser told


me he might have to resign if there weren't big changes to Andrew


Lansley's plans for the NHS. Since then Nick Clegg and David Cameron


have been signalling furiously that there will be. And when the


Government's review on the subject is published tomorrow we'll have a


better idea exactly how the revised proposals will look. So will they


go far enough for Mr Lamb and his colleagues? We'll ask him that


question in a moment, but first a reminder of the controversial


proposals and the likely changes. The Government's original plan


would have transferred control over most of the NHS budget to a


consortia of GPs. Private companies would have a bigger role under the


idea any willing provider could offer NHS treatment. And the


regulator monitor would have been responsible for promoting


competition. But after our objections from Liberal Democrats


and NHS professionals, the reforms will paused to allow a chance to


listen to concerns. Nick Clegg's senior adviser, Norman Lamb told


The Politics Show he would resign unless there were changes. I have


said if it is impossible for me to carry on in my position, I will


step down. I don't want to cause embarrassment but I feel very


strongly about this issue. This week, David Cameron confirmed the


plans will be altered. The interest of patients will override


competition in the NHS and there will be no American-style


privatisation of health care. recognise many people have had


concerns. Tomorrow the Government will receive the report from a


panel of experts to have been reviewing the reforms. Then we will


find out whether the Lib Dem partners are satisfied, but also


whether his own backbenchers are happy about the change of direction.


And Norman Lamb joins me now from Norwich.


You said last time a few weeks ago through controversy, he would


resign if there were not substantial changes. Have you won


those substantial changes? It is not a question of people winning


things. Raise the number of concerns. Concern shared by many


people within the health service and I am satisfied the concerns


raised have been met. It has been a constructive process. Nick Clegg


has been effective in the way he has engaged both with clinicians


but then argued the case for the Government. The first really


significant shift, which I raised on The Politics Show was this sense


of a top-down, imposed reorganisation. That will no longer


happen, it will be a voluntary process moving away from top-down


restructuring. The patient, the patient's voice will be heard more


effectively with the changes coming through. There will be no special


favours for the private sector. I was really pleased to hear the


Prime Minister earlier this week or last week, talking about the


central importance of integrating care. All of the leading countries


in health policy terms are moving towards a system of integrated care,


particularly for patients with long-term, chronic conditions. We


will be able to pursue that route and it is quite exciting. Sorry to


interrupt, do you believe your party, your fellow MPs will now


accept this? They have been discussions all the way through


this with the party, both in Parliament and outside Parliament.


We had a discussion last week, I think the changes were very well


received, the changes that looked like happening. This isn't a case


of triumph and Phyllis and, it is improving the policy. We heard


about the storm clouds that gathered over the reforms and it


was right that we stopped. This is a good demonstration of why the Lib


Dems are in Government. We can be effective in Government, achieving


changes and acting as a safety valve. Norman Lamb, you say it is


not a moment of triumphalism, or are moments of declaring victory


and you are not responsible for briefing the Sunday papers, but


every paper is full of "Nick Clegg declares victory". Where did they


get that from? I have no idea. My concern is protecting the health


service and making sure it is sustainable in the future.


Improving it where it needs to be improved. I think the changes we


have secured, in the decisions with the Conservatives will improve


reforms. We have said all along, reform is necessary because rising


health costs with an ageing population, it is essential we make


the money go further. Otherwise we will end up with a crisis in the


health service with services being lost. We have to avoid that. Was it


you, the BMA, the King's Fund or the RCN that change the


Government's mind? It has been an effective collaboration. I have


attended meetings with Nick Clegg and other Lib Dems meeting with


connections, the King's Fund, the Nuffield Trust and the Royal


College of Nursing, talking through the changes people felt it


necessary. -- clinicians. What I have been impressed by is the


people I respect in the NHS have said they feel the changes meet


their concerns. By collaboration and negotiation with the


Conservatives in Government, we will have ended up securing a much


more effective set of reforms. you explain one thing? How come on


a devoted against it when these proposals originally came before


the Commons? Every Liberal-Democrat MP seemed happy. The heart of


reforms, they are good principles, devolving power from the centre.


Labour had created this highly bureaucratic, centralised NHS,


25,000 people working... You all went along with it? What I'm saying


is good principles behind the reforms. It became very clear.


bill wasn't just principles, it was details. What I'm saying is, people


in the NHS came forward and said, we don't think the way the


principles are being implemented in legislation as our right. We think


changes are necessary. Surely the Government should be applauded for


stopping, listening and getting them right. The old traditional way,


governments plough on regardless. In this coalition the Lib Dems have


acted as a safety valve and we have secured changes that will improve


Do you think Andrew Lansley can carry on? I think you should be


applauded for taking on the concerns that many people were


racing, and being prepared to go along with that. Politicians are


often accused of being stubborn. He has listened, taking it on board


It looks like the government, the Conservatives, have won over the


Liberal Democrats now. Very skilfully handled. If you let the


Lib Dems say it's a victory, you can achieve what you like as long


as you don't want to take credit for it. I would hope that reforms


now go ahead as planned. He hasn't mentioned the 20 billion a year


that they are trying to save. The only thing that worries me is that


we all talk about co-operation rather than competition. I hope it


makes the same thing and competition goes on. If the private


sector of providing services more cheaply and effectively, I don't


think they should be penalised. you think there was an element of


political confection about this? When Norman Lamb said he might


resign, that actually he knew change was coming and therefore the


Liberal Democrats, you look at the Sunday papers, they are all saying


Nick Clegg claims victory over the NHS. And how come all this appeared


in the newspapers. The spin-doctors of all parties in government and


opposition, they briefed the Sunday papers on Friday afternoon and then


they have another go on Saturday morning. But there was a lot of


politics in what Norman Lamb said. Your point about how come he didn't


see this coming when the Bill went through in the second reading is a


valid one. I would put that down to the fact that there was collision


practice before May and the elections and the AV referendum was


lost, and there was practice after. Before, the Lib Dems didn't want to


cause trouble. They saw it almost as a badge of pride, being seen to


be very close to the Conservatives. Now they make a point has been seen


to make a difference. Norman is happy and so it seems on many of


the professional bodies formally against the Lansley proposal. What


about Labour? John Healey, Shadow Health Secretary, joins us from


Leeds now. Are you happy? I'm going to say, and I think doctors and


nurses and patients will wait and Judge David Cameron on what he does


and not what he says. We need to see what changes the government


suggests after this unprecedented pause in which they were forced to


hold on to the changes they were making. My fear is that we will


hear the Prime Minister claimed these are substantial and Signet


have been changes, but the long term, ideological plan to turn the


NHS into a market, to open up all parts of the images to private


companies, will remain. The test will be not whether the Lib Dems


back Cameron but whether his own Tory backbenchers back him on the


bill in the future. If they don't, won't that convince you that these


are very substantial changes? Rather than appeasing the


Conservative right, David Cameron has been very centrist about this


and consensual. Let's see. People have seen David Cameron make and


break promises on the NHS before. He promised the NHS a real rise in


funding, he promised to protect the NHS and stop top-down


reorganisations. In the end, if he is going to force this


reorganisation through the NHS, whatever pace he does it, whatever


the details of the Health Bill, then he will be forcing hospitals


to make deeper cost cutbacks this year and next, and he will be


wasting nearly �2 billion on the cost of reorganisation, when that


was promised for patient care. Could you envisage Labour


supporting these proposals now? less David Cameron is prepared to


change the fundamentals of what underlies his plans, breaking of


the NHS as a national service with national standards for patients


wherever they live, turning the NHS into a full-scale market so private


companies can move in on any part, and making the NHS, as it should be,


in all parts properly and publicly accountable. He has answered that,


hasn't he? And no, he's made a series of I Love the NHS speeches.


We will judge David Cameron on what he does and not what he says, and


by how far he's ready to listen to the very serious concerns from


doctors, nurses, patient groups, argument I was making and Labour


was making almost alone back in the autumn, it's been made in the


spring by these other groups. That's what David Cameron needs to


respond to. You say you need to see the detail before you can comment


further. In a sense you've kind of exhausted where we can go with this.


No, with respect, underlining the whole of this legislation is that


basic Tory belief - private sector, good, public sector, bad. Unless


you remove that... I was going to move on to another... On to another


subject. You mentioned private involvement. It more or less


doubled under Labour in 2007, when it was �2.4 billion from the


private sector involved in the NHS rising to �4.1 billion. Let's get


this into perspective. Fewer than one in 20 operations were carried


out by non NHS providers this time last year. We were prepared to use


the private sector and competition where it could clear waiting lists


and bring benefits for the patience. But it was always properly planned,


properly managed, publicly accountable and the very different


system and the want the Conservatives want to set up in


David Cameron's Health Bill. It's been a tough week for the


government over the NHS, promote - this -- criminal-justice - you name


it. Why is all the focus on Labour's woes? I don't think it is.


This was David Cameron's new Conservative policy. They are


seriously on the back foot on that, like they are on crime and police


cuts. What about Labour? We are forcing the government on the areas


where people are most concerned. We are not just the official


opposition but the only opposition at the moment. So why is there some


of whispering about the ineffectiveness of Ed Miliband's


leadership? There's no whispering or plots against Ed Miliband.


There's a lot of speculation in the Sunday papers... Coming from where?


You talk to these people and I don't. Many of the figures quoted


today have denied absolutely what is attributed to them in the papers.


What Labour has at the moment is a unity and determination that we've


never had before at this stage, soon after losing our period in


government. It's a determined to try and stop the worst of what the


government is planning. And it is determined also to develop an


alternative, a vision for the future that is different to the


Tories and the Liberals. That is what Ed Miliband is concentrating


on. What is your message to those people who may think they're being


helpful in Labour circles, who may be special advisers or whatever,


who are denigrating Ed Miliband's leadership? I get around the


country a lot. There is this determination to confront the


Conservatives. Ed Miliband has this long-term vision, a very clear view


that we, Labour, and only we, will be talking about the things for the


future that matter to people. The millions of people in Britain who


are working hard put under more pressure because of this


Government's plans. The promise that Britain has always made to the


new generation that things will be better and with more opportunities


than for their parents. Finally, you will hear this tomorrow from Ed


Miliband, a determination that we don't lose sight of what is most


important in our communities and pulls us together. All of those


things are at risk under this government. Ed Miliband is starting


to talk about those big things that matter for the country for the


You'd think after the crushing defeat in the fault macro


referendum, Nick Clegg would want to steer clear of any more


constitutional wheezes. But House of Lords reform is very much on his


mind, perhaps to convince his party that the coalition can deliver on


cherished Lib Dem goals. But peers of all parties have been lining up


to tell anyone who will listen what a terrible idea it would be to


elect the second chamber. The coalition draft bill suggests


replacing the existing Lords with 300 new members. 80 % of there


would be elected by proportional representation, with the rest


appointed. Critics say this would damage the Lords, whose membership


currently includes independent- minded peers with a wide range of


political and life experiences. Worse still, wouldn't it inevitably


lead to tensions between the Lords and the Commons because of the


enhanced democratic legitimacy of the second chamber? It's a hard


sell, not least for Mr Clegg's How well is the House of Lords


working at the moment? Rather well. And has done consistently over the


course of the last few years. One of the difficulties the Government


has in explaining the reason why we want to make this more democratic


change. There's a lot of resistance in both houses it Parliament. In


part, it's because the House of Lords does the job it is asked to


do and does it well. So if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It's been


running for over 100 years. But that doesn't mean that a


responsible government, which we are, should not look very carefully


at our political institutions. At the last general election, all


three main parties stood on a platform, there should be a


democratic reform of the second chamber, either wholly or


substantially elected. That's the promise that we are putting through


on this draft bill. Lord Strathclyde, when did you change


your mind? Shall I do the quote from 1993? They are answerable to


no one, members of the House of Lords speak for themselves entirely.


Not for lobbies, not for groups, not what interests, unions - they


are there on their own behalf. a good quote but it's nearly 20


years old. Since then, life has changed. We now have a house which


is almost entirely appointed. I think it's entirely right for the


government to ask the question - if political power is to be used in


the 20th century, 21st century, you should do it with the permission of


the people. So you would have elected peers. How independent-


minded would they be? One of the strength of the current House of


Lords is that people are generally more independent than the House of


Commons. In order to preserve that, we should get them elected but


elected for long term, say up to 15 years, and not re-elect them. That


preserves the element of independence but creates the


democratic legitimacy that is important. But will it change the


type of people they are? You will get people who appealed to the


Labour Party, Conservatives all Liberal Democrats. They won't be


the same people who had a lifetime in business, the lifetime in


whatever it happens to be, and bring that special and their


expertise to the Lords which makes their debates feel so different to


the Commons. There's an element of truth in that, but no one seriously


suggests that the House of Commons is devoid of people of expertise or


experience. It's full of people who've worked as The Searchers. --


researchers. But while I'm keen on 80 % is we should retain that for


the kind of people who would never normally choose to stand for


election. The Chief of Defence Staff, the people who run the army,


the Cabinet Secretary, our top civil servants, even the art trade


unionists who wasn't part of a political forum. I think that is an


important preservation within Parliament of those kinds of people.


What about the argument that is so often made - if you have an 80 %


elected House of Lords, it's not going to accept that the will of


the Commons should prevail. It's going to say, hang on, we've got


democratic legitimacy as well. do read that there's a problem in


Parliament as a whole, that many people regard the form of the House


of Lords is an issue of the House of Lords, winning some extent it's


about the House of Commons and the relationship between the two houses.


We've come forward with a plan that will preserve the House of Commons,


maintain the conventions that apply with the relationship between the


two houses. But I think the House of Commons needs to be convinced


that they are not creating a competitive body but a compliment


to one. I don't know whether you are a betting man. I am not. If you


were to have a tiny wager, when would you say we will see the first


elected peer or senator or whatever you want to call him or her?


have every intention of having the first elections to a Senedd, a


second chamber, in May 2015. -- Senate. If they are senators, it


will be a third elected. It will be a great moment and the end of a


story that's run for well over 100 years. Do you believe that will


happen? I think there's every possibility and livelihood. I think


we are all sensing wiggle room here. I'm trying very hard not to say, we


mean it this time. But we do need it. That's why the publication of


this Bill has been so important and is a real milestone in the debate.


For this has been going on for so long. If you could explain what you


want from the second chamber and whether you need it at all...


What's it for? To do the things that it currently does, which is to


revise legislation, to scrutinise the work of government, to provide


a forum for debate from serious- minded people, to give Parliament,


government, an opportunity to have another look at legislation. All of


those things it does well, it should continue. It's about the


methodology of how we will get that. So the people don't like the faces,


basically. We want the electorate to be more involved in that process,


and the best way of doing that is through an election. I've always


thought there was something a bit bizarre about the idea that because


the House of Lords is not elected, therefore it has no democratic


legitimacy, therefore it has very little power. Well, that's all a


good thing, it gives the House of Commons primacy. All modern


equivalent countries - Germany, the United States, France - they have a


perfectly flourishing elected system, different kinds of


elections exactly as you are envisaging. What's the problem with


having a fully elected House of Lords, albeit elected Evenley, but


In the House of Commons in particular, there is a genuine fear


if you create a substantial, or a wholly elected second chamber, it


would begin to take power away from the House of Commons. Why would


that be about thing? You don't have to be much of a historian, in 1968


there was a Lord Reform Bill shut down in the House of Commons by


Enoch Powell and Michael Foot. We don't want that to happen again.


could do though, couldn't it? All sorts of people opposed to this


very idea? The interesting thing is how the divisions exist within the


parties. So this manifesto, the last election, all three parties


sticking together on this substantial reform. But there is a


huge disagreement between the houses, within the parties and no


clear consensus, but we are working on it. The fact Nick Clegg has


published this bill for the first time laying out what a second


chamber would look like, is an important milestone.


Strathclyde, great to have you with There is no area of policy more


important to the Government and welfare reform. David Cameron


reiterated this week to impose a limit on the benefit a family can


receive. This cap is set at �26,000 and is a key part of the


Government's strategy to bring down the welfare bill. The strategy that


allows it will enter its final stages in the Commons tomorrow.


While this policy may chime with the public, the Liberal Demo Heart


-- Liberal Democrat part of the coalition is worried.


Can you live on �26,000 a year? Tax free? The Chancellor, George


Osborne things a family on out-of- work benefits should get each year


as explained at the Tory party conference last year. Unless they


have disabilities to cope with, no family should get more from living


on benefits than the average family get them going out to work.


Will it get such a rapturous reception in Chingford on the Essex


border, which happens to be the constituency of the work and


pensions secretary, Iain Duncan- Smith. Why should people get it for


nothing? If they want more than that, go out and work for it and do


what everybody has to do. Some people have up to 10 children and


they are getting thousands of pounds a year. And that is just


living on the state. I would love to be living on 26,000. I work hard,


running my own business and 26,000 is a very nice number indeed.


planned of the cap will come into force in 2013. It will affect


benefit claimants who are unemployed but there will be it


exemptions for war widows and disabled. Figures show 50,000


households will be effective and the majority of them with three or


more children. �93 a week is the average amount each family will


lose. Paul is from one of them. receive housing benefit which


covers a part of my rent and council tax. I receive child tax


credits on child benefit which is more than 26,000 a year. He gets


all of those benefits because his parents are not around and he gave


up work to become the guardians to his six half-brothers and sisters


and it means he will be caught up in the cap. The effect would be


enormous from where the children go to college, to how they are brought


up. It wouldn't alter the way I love them, but we live in a world


where money does speak and school trips do cost large sums of money.


It would hinder myself and the children on a social level, I am


thankful they are helping us, the Government. It would be unfortunate


if they do not look at individual cases. Cases like this are causing


tension in the coalition because they concern many Liberal Democrats


at Westminster. Jennie Willett it is a spokeswoman for work and


pensions. We need to make sure those larger families, were there


are exceptional circumstances, they get the benefits they need rather


than it being capped the too low so they don't have enough to pay for


the daily cost of living or even to pay enough for their housing.


legislation paving the way will go into its final stages in the


Commons in the next few days. Then, it is heading for the Lords and we


have spoken to several Democrat -- Liberal Democrat and crossbench


Peers who are unhappy about it. is a process we have engaged with,


in talking to Government, making sure they understand it and we will


be raising it obviously in the chamber. But what we want to see is


the Government recognising this problem and coming back and


reflecting that when it makes its decision at the end of the bill.


There could be trouble for the Government when the cap comes


before the Lords. But, the Conservative peer who is one of the


architects of the welfare reforms hinted to us that there may be some


changes. We have quite a lot of protections in this. If you are in


work, you are not affected. If you are a disabled person or there is a


disabled person in the household, you are not affected. If you are a


war widow or widower, you are not affected. We are looking at


exceptional circumstances which some people may find themselves in


and we will be putting out arrangements for that later in the


year. What form could they take? is where ever we think there is


something happening that is undesirable. We are looking very


carefully at how to draw up those protections. The problem with that,


is that watering down the policy will anger its many supporters and


will save less money. The coalition has discovered that cap doesn't


always fit. Will they change? I think they will


introduce some help, but this crackdown on benefit scroungers


makes for good populist politics. But what annoys me and others who


are critical of this policy, the Government and all governments seem


to focus on this end of things, the welfare end of things, they don't


deal with the super-rich, but bankers and others who are the ones


who have screwed the country financially. I was talking to a


Labour MP who said they don't get banker's salaries raised on the


doorstep, they get people who may be living up the road? Because it


they are living next door. If you are in an unpleasant job and the


person next to you has chosen not to, it is hard to take. As long as


there are exceptional circumstances taking into account, but I think it


is high time and I have no trouble with it.


We will be back later on, time for the Politics Show where you are.


Hello and welcome to the London part of the programme, were coming


up later - the Lib Dems needs a candidate for mayor fast. Can


anybody stopped OPM bit? Plans for a new private university


in London have been causing a storm. A smoke bomb thrown by a protester


halted one of the launch events in a bookshop. But it is clear quite a


few publicly-funded universities in the capital may have to consider


the private route. Feeling with cuts to teaching grants they can no


longer make the sums add up. This college in Sidcup has 1000


students and offers a range of students, acting, costume design,


lighting, sound and more. But they are under great financial strain.


At the moment they get a teaching grounds worth about a few million


pounds worth from the Government. But in 2012 it will stop and drop


by a third. After that, they simply do not know. Indeed, according to


the university, even if they charge �9,000 a year it wouldn't be enough


to cover costs of the course. It would lose money for every student


they taught. The result is the college is considering a radical


move. Abandoning the Government and going it out alone as a private


university. The Government would no longer be our paymaster. We would


go it alone, charge our own fees, set our own fees. A private


institution has tremendous flexibility. There are all the in


build quality control measures of any public institution, but a whole


lot of reckoning we no longer have to do. Other public universities in


London are looking at going the same way. The Central School of


The idea of public education as we know it is quickly disappearing.


Whether a future Government or a Labour Government puts it back into


place, it is hard to imagine. But once we move to 2012 and beyond we


are in a totally different world and finance world. Universities


have to become to some extent, like businesses. We have to look at


profit and loss, look at the customer and the student will be


the customer. Any private university in this country,


Buckinghamshire, all regions College in London to look at their


students in that way. Not in a negative way, the student


experience of those two institutions is always at the top


of the list. This week, an influential committee of MPs said


the new funding arrangements could force some universities to close


completely. Others wonder in the circumstances, the institutions may


go private bench shut their doors. The chair of the committee told us


her concerns about the growth of private institutions. There is a


concern about access. If you are charging over �9,000 and your


student body cannot get help with that, either in meeting a fee


upfront or in having help with living expenses and you off from a


poor background, you won't go to their university. She also fears if


there were too many private universities, society as a whole


may suffer. All universities are private institutions. The way in


which Government and the state has an interest is because the money we


put in. Government does have an interest in ensuring people have


the appropriate skills that are needed in the economy of today and


of tomorrow. So Government does have an interest in what is taught


in universities. If the university sector is entirely privatised, it


would inhibit Government's capability -- ability to influence


what was taught in our universities. In the last week, the philosopher's


A C Gryaling's plans for a private university had caused much debate.


The Government is turning education into a market... Combined with the


possibility of public institutions going the same way, it may be


private universities come to change the face of higher education in the


capital. Simon Hughes is here, Liberal-


Democrat MP for Bermondsey who is the Government's advocate for


access to education. What is your thoughts on that idea? Good


afternoon. He is a constituent of mine, I have known him for many


years. It is a maverick idea. He is entitled to do it, this country has


one private university, it is possible for people to set up. It


is not where we should be looking, we should be concentrating on what


will be the main places, delivering the main courses for most of the


students. That is where most readers will go. It is a bit


distracting, some are suggesting the fees could be �18,000 a year,


it is not going to be for end-of- body but other than a handful of


people. If the academic world feels there is a need for it and at


universities have got too complacent, isn't it a good liberal


idea? In a free society, of course. That is why we have an independent


school, we have an independent university. You cannot ban people


from setting up an independent institution. The real challenge is


what sort of student experience does it give? It was referred to by


one of the people from Rose Bruford. A lot of people I universities say


they are not getting a good enough product. When the new regime for


pain comes in it will be much more obvious whether they are being


overcharged for what they are getting. Do you realise and accept


we could be, and would you welcome if it had to happen, lots more


universities that become private? think it is unlikely. I think if


you might. I think a few universities who have struggled to


make their books balanced, may disappear. Or the universities may


realise putting on courses may not be good. The Government funds a


certain number of places and even if more people wanted to go to do


that course, there aren't places there. Sometimes there are places


unfilled. It is not driven by the demands of the students. You hear


the Rose Bruford, we have heard from the central dramatic Arts


institution as well, institutions will work intensive on staffing and


the number of hours taught. Many of them thinking they won't survive


because of the reduction in teaching hours, are you happy with


that? Of course not, we would like to be in a position where there was


central money going to universities. Universities have had to take a cut


just like local Government have had to take a cut because we have to


meet the deficit. You hear it on your programme every week. We are


paying �120 million a day just on the interest we owe. It will lead


to a number of those institutions, the Rose Bruford, even if they


charge 9,000 it does not cover their costs. They only have that


option. They can go private and then charge whatever they like?


is a whole set of procedures. If they want to charge over six


thousands they have to get an access agreement. Let's see if they


get that. But it 9,000 isn't enough? If it isn't enough, they


have that choice. A lot of them will cry foul at the moment.


Whereas, in fact what they need to do is give good value for money.


Lots of universities have highly paid vice-chancellors, highly paid


lectures, not lecturing for many hours a week. Universities need to


do more costing themselves and not spend money on things that are poor


products. If this is accepted by the Liberal Democrats in the


coalition that higher education has to pay more of its own weight which


is accepted by all parties, that will lead people to make very hard,


financial decisions. It will lead the way to more private


institutions or looking into private funding and coming out of


the public system. You must accept My old university now asks its


students to make a contribution. Many universities do that. There


will be a request for donations. Would you expect an expansion in


private endowments? Private companies involved? Universities


will have to go out, as they already do, you get that privately


funded. Philanthropists are very willing. If we are going to start


to go down this route, and you can see whether it succeeds or fails,


this New College can charge what it likes, does this give you any cause


for unease in terms of the kind of people that can go and access?


kid on the Old Kent Road in the estate opposite where I live or to


have the same chance of going to university as you or me or anybody


in the studio or anybody watching. The question is - what is the cost


to that person going to university? I'm not so bothered as to what is


charged for the course, I'm bothered as to what the cost is.


The really good point about the change, there are difficulties that


we all know, but the good point about it is in future you will paid


in this country according to your ability to pay. So if you earn 22


grand, just over the threshold, your pay �7.50 a month out of your


taxes to go to university. If you earn 100 grand, you will pay more.


The potential for private institutions, at the moment you


would not let students going to private institutions get the


maximum 9000 loan. There's only a �6,000 loan available. Surely you


need to accept and offer students the opportunity and give them the


same. You are confusing two things. The cost of fees is one thing. No


fees, you know what the new regime is, nobody will pay fees up front,


not whether you were doing a part- time course or full-time course.


You will only pay from your income if you have... The second issue is,


do you get a grant or loan to help you with your living costs? That is


based on the income of your family. The whole idea is it your family


has a bigger income you get more that you have to pay back. If your


family has a lower income, you get more that your family doesn't have


the payback. If there are lots of private players in the market in a


few years, the system will be looked at again. Other testers -


are we making sure we cover the cost of youngsters that of poor,


but universities go out and reach out to every school in London. I


want us to see that every school in London and England will have


scholarships on offer for universities, for pupils from that


school. I'm recommending that a government. If that happens, we are


going to make some progress. Simon Hughes once tilted for this ground,


but the 2012 London mayoral race is still short of a Liberal Democrat


contestant. The party's selection process has been somewhat delayed


but resumes this week. We know that the former M P Lembit Opik has


declared, and some say the Lib Dems are very keen to find someone


substantial to go against him. Have they at last found that person?


Liberal Democrats, 236,000. Many have accused previous Liberal


Democrat candidates for male of underperforming. I think I'm going


to win. The highest vote every chip was 50 % in 2004, when Simon Hughes


stood for the party. This time around they may be looking to


improve on that figure. The most high-profile candidate to throw


their hat into the ring is the former M P Lembit Opik. We've got


to differentiate, we have looked different to the Conservatives. I'm


left-leaning and libertarian. With a package of policies which really


is an alternative to Ken and Boris, we can do better than we've done


before. Last time we got 9%, that wasn't a good result. This time we


are even more under the pump in terms of the national polls. The


only way we will do better is by being colourful and really quite


challenging, and hopefully by having someone high profile. That's


why I want to do it. Lembit Opik is considered a maverick and party


outsider who the high command of the party are said to be less than


enthusiastic about. Another Lib Dem candidate to declare this week his


London Assembly Member Mike Tuffey, who has served in the assembly


since 2002 and is the former leader of Lib Dems at City Hall. He is


knowledgeable in London politics, but for critics he may lack the


presence and name recognition needed to make an impact on the


election. Mike Kufri joins us now. Have you been under a lot of


pressure to make a race of this, to stop Lembit Opik? I've been


thinking about what I should do. I'm happy to tell you that this


week I will be announcing that I'm throwing my hat in the ring to be


the Lib Dem candidate. A certain amount of pressure... And no


pressure at all, we are a democratic party. The thousands of


members across London will now decide who they want to be their


candidate, I'm hoping it will be me. Are you standing for the assembly


again? And I'm not. There are two different jobs. There's an assembly


election going, there's two elections happening in 12 months'


time. You were going to give of your political career, but this


isn't just a thank-you gesture to the party you've served so well?


don't call it giving up my political career. I was first


elected to the GLC more than 25 years ago. I've been battling Ken


Livingstone and now Boris Johnson to try and get the things that


Londoners want - whether it's the housing, jobs or health care that


they need. It's been difficult, we have a Simon Hughes who stared at


once. It's difficult to break through. This two horse race, big


personalities, big characters. not a two-horse race. It's entirely


up to Londoners. What I will be putting forward are very strong


policies cover serious solutions to the problems we face in London. We


have a massive housing problem, we have 300,000 on the waiting list


while prices and friend race ahead taking the prospect of a home out


of reach. We need some serious solutions. We got the land in


London, we got a mayor with the planning permission to make it


happen. The two things we don't have is an ambitious mayor who is


ambitious for London, and we don't have the private money. It's time


that the bankers, that we've all bailed out, to put the money into


London housing of a 30 year period. You've been watching him up close,


how is this mayor doing? He turns a good joke but when it comes to


serious solutions we don't see the housing. What about unemployment?


We now have 400,000 people unemployed in London. It was the


same under Ken Livingstone, London has had the highest unemployment in


the country. Isn't that a scandal! I'm talking about the issues.


part of a coalition, will you make it clear that voters understand it?


This election is about the big issues that face London, so that


this city can continue to grow, house people and continue to be a


great place to start a family and grow up in. The next 12 months, we


need a serious debate about these issues. On that point, because it's


one of the features of the electoral system in London that you


have two votes. So that has been an issue in the past. It may be more


relevant here because we now have a coalition. At what stage when you


make clear that he would be the second choice? We are 12 months of


the election. Intricacies of the system... Have you decided yet?


putting my policies out there for Londoners to decide. Do they want


something done about housing, unemployment and the transport


system? What we have 700,000 people coming into the city over the next


10 years, it will seize up unless we really move ahead, which the


present mayor is not of doing. The upgrade is a shambles at present.


We need serious action. I'm not going to ask you to choose between


candidates or whatever, but at least it looks like there's going


to be some kind of contest. Why has there been so delayed? There is


going to be a contest, that's good. The party wanted to concentrate and


other things first. We now need to get on with it. I've always taken


the view that you don't need to select years and years before. In


the old politics you have to because you didn't have the media.


Has there been some kind of legal challenge that has held his prop --


process up? Someone complains he's been taken procedure. There was a


small issue which barely crossed the radar. I wasn't involved. We


now have Mike... What was that? Honestly, it would be unfair for me


to comment because I don't know the details. Is that what held it up?


No. You start of this election process back in October and no one


came out that was appropriate. There were a selection of people,


but it was thought that the field ought to be widened. Then it was


thought to decide upon concentrating on the London mayoral


elections. Mike, who I've known for 30 years, has put his hat in the


ring, that's very welcome, he's a serious contender. You need a very


safe pair of hands, someone who will serve the London Assembly very


well and knows the ropes. You just need to get through this election


without Lembit Opik perhaps. want to win the London mayoral


election. I hope we will win it next year. Who knows what's going


to happen? It's quite possible that Ken will put his foot in his mouth


or self-destruct. It's quite possible that Boris will self-


destruct - they're both that sort of character. It should be judged


on policy. In terms of how you deal with, you try and match them for


all their gags and stands? I think London has always looked to the


policies first. -- Londoners. I live on the Old Kent Road. We have


desperate housing shortages, desperate shortages of people in


training and jobs. The government is doing a lot to go in the right


direction but the mayor ought to be concentrating on the sort of issues


that Mike has talked about. I'll give you about 30 seconds. Imagine


you are there, you will have the first hustings with these


characters. Everyone thinks it's Boris against Ken again. What are


you going to say to attract some attention? I will put out the


things that we need to do. Do you one more housing, because I have a


plan to get that. Do you want things done about unemployment, do


you want job security? Do you want to bring down the cost of living in


London, which is racing ahead, and the present mayor was pushing up


fares to pay for the investment. I don't think current communities


should pay for the investment, we And that is it for today. Jo Coburn


will be in the chair next week at the usual time of 12 noon. In the


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