27/11/2011 The Politics Show South East


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With the UK economy possibly moving towards a recession, I will report


how the Chancellor can repair growth. In the South East:


Important for democracy or a total waste of time? The parliamentary


rituals which many MPs love, but which leave voters baffled.


And will higher drink prices be enough to solve the problem of


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2020 seconds


Aachen to -- welcome to The Politics Show. The parliamentary


procedures which may benefit MPs more than voters. There's actually


it's an Early Day Motion St the Early Day Motion should be


abolished which seems silly. higher prices and fewer pubs sold


alcohol-related problems in the region? Were there is discord, may


we bring harmony. And how Maggie Ever wondered what MPs do with


their time? If you do, you're not alone. Caroline Lucas, the Green


member for Brighton Pavilion, thinks a lot of time is wasted at


Parliament and that reform is overdue. We will talk to her


shortly but first, Helen Drew reports on doubts on whether our


The German debates, Private Member's Bills, the list goes on.


All of parliamentary debates that he might have heard about --


adjournment debate. But what do MPs get up to on a daily basis? And how


much of his it in the best in tune -- best interests of constituents?


A PP Jews are all part to parliamentary groups, set up by MPs


and splat up by the House of Lords -- set up. They cover a wide range


of subject and while some of them are worthy like fuel poverty and


homeland security, others include things like bingo and jazz


appreciation. If it is something that the House is likely to beat


legislate or debate, but if it is not the purpose is less obvious.


There are groups that exist to celebrate particular beverages or


sports. They can have some great parties. I remember in my youth


when I worked at the House of Commons attending a reception held


by the group which supported the Scotch whisky industry. That group


would suggest it does some useful work lobbying MPs on excise duties


but it also means that various members of Parliament consume vast


quantities of whisky. I am not sure that is serving the best interests


of the constituents although it is not against the law. While it is


not compulsory to attend meetings, when an MP is on a lot of groups it


all adds up. One of our MPs Caroline Lucas, while campaigning


for the responsible use of time, is on the largest number of groups.


They range from the environment Then there are early day motions,


and the subject as submitted to the MPs for debate in the Commons


although very few of them ever see the light of day. Some politicians


refuse to sign them because they say they are a waste of time and


money. One of them is Henry Smith, MP for Crawley. He lets people know


his position. I think early-day motions are a parliamentary device


that have had their a day. Several are submitted every day by members


of Parliament and I did some research and so far in this


Parliament, not one early-day motion has resulted in a debate in


the House of Commons floor or a vote in the Commons so I think they


are a parliamentary device that needs to be abolished or heavily


updated. And the worst thing is they cost the taxpayer �1 million


per year so I think there is a good reason to reform them. Like the


all-party groups, early-day motions cover subjects that arguably do not


need to be discussed in Parliament. The recent example is a


commendation of the Staffordshire born terrier group from promoting


the breed. So some of them are for very minor things. I think it is


important that lot of MPs are clear with voters what early-day motions


do and how much power led to have to change something which is not


very much. As well as not having a lot of power, some people say there


is a risk they give false hope. think in my own experience of MPs,


there are some will say to constituents who are passionately


interested in a subject, that they will raise it with the


parliamentary group and put down an early-day motion. It to somebody


who does not understand exactly how Parliament works, that can sound


like dramatic action. It can sound as if their concern is being raised


in the cockpit of national affairs. The reality is they are being


fobbed off with a committee which has no power and a motion which


will not be debated for. Is being a member of lot of groups and signing


lots of Early Day Motions an indication that an MP cares about


issues and is working incredibly hard? Or are these things a waste


of MPs' time and taxpayers' time and money?


Caroline Lucas joins me now from Brighton. We will talk about the


reforms to what in a moment but fast, let's talk about the early


day motions. You have signed 660, almost as many as all the other new


MPs in Parliament. Why? Because I think they are used for. I think we


can reform them and make them clearer -- they are used for. They


can be useful tools in terms of raising issues among fellow MPs and


once you put down an early-day motion, it gives you an opportunity


to speak to lot of MPs to ask them to sign it and it gives you a


chance to debate it with them. But crucially enables people outside


Parliament to be able to contact their MPs with something concrete


to do. Not just agreeing with something... Out of those 660 that


you have signed over 18 months, what proportion roughly have


resulted in some change? I think it takes time for things to get onto


the agenda. I could not claim that any one single Early Day Motion has


resulted in a change of legislation but it is about building a momentum.


I have seen that. For example around energy efficiency. If you


start agitating fire early day motions and want to get one that


has perhaps been signed by 100-200 MPs, that has wait. What I would


say is that I agree we can change them but I am always honest about


the likelihood of them on their and changing things, I think they are a


very useful way of demonstrating support on an issue. You say they


take time. You want to reform Parliament on the time spent voting.


Others have said they will not spend any time signing them. I get


many people writing to me saying how disappointed those are who have


MPs who will not signed early-day motions. They feel that if they


cannot be bothered just to write your name down and demonstrate your


level of support, that is actually doing a disservice. But it is also


misleading your constituents. It looks impressive to say you have


raised the issue in Parliament but if it is not achieving something,


that is also misleading as well. I say, you have to be honest about


it and recognise it will not change things overnight. But I disagree,


there and many issues that take a while to get onto the political


agenda. Look how long it has taken for people to take climate change


seriously. One way of doing that is by this particular process. If I


can make a comparison, yesterday we were debating in Parliament one of


the issues that came via the e- petitions. It is the same idea,


putting your name to something. 140,000 people signed one


particular one. That is now debated in Parliament. And you could say


that a debate in Parliament may not change anything that it will mean


we will have a vote next year and that could change things. I know


you want to reform parliamentary processes, we spoke about all-party


parliamentary groups. Do you think some of them are a bit indulgent to


net work and socialise? I think a lot of them are. But I challenge


you to say that any of the 36 that I am in our indulgent. I could not


possibly go to all of the meetings but for the group on tribal peoples,


there is a real issue that the interests of British companies and


those activities across the world have on tribal peoples. I think


that their activity is legitimate. I am the President of the all-party


group on fuel poverty and energy efficiency and we have ministers


come to our Group, we can hold them to account, we get a range of views.


It is a way of educating MPs and making sure we build political will


to make changes. We will be talking to you again in a few minutes.


Brighton may be the party couple of the region but now it has got


another less glamourous title to contend with. According to a report


published by the North West Public Observatory, Brighton also leads


the South East in terms of alcohol- related problems with Hastings and


Eastbourne following closely behind. The coalition government has


announced a nationwide ban on selling alcohol at prices lower


than the tax to be paid to the Exchequer and some local


authorities are starting to take action as well. Brighton and Hove's


Green Council is setting limits on the bars are opening in the City


but will these be enough to tackle alcohol abuse or is it just


cosmetic? Caroline Lucas remains our studio and Richard Dodd joins


us from the British Retail Consortium. Letters addressed the


two issues of pricing and access. The higher prices, will they help


solve the problem in your constituency, Caroline Lucas?


the Government has suggested will not help at all. They have said it


should not be sold below its cost price and the Guardian did an


investigation into what difference that has made, and 4,000 different


promotional offers, it would have affected just one of those. We


clearly do need to look at alcohol pricing but we need to make a


distinction between what we do on the retail side and by that I mean


the prices that supermarkets offer cheap alcohol as a special offer,


and what we do in restaurants and bars. We need to make a big


distinction between a lowering what is available in terms of the


hospitality trade and making higher the rate that are in the retail


trade because that is where the problems are. A Richard Dodd,


people have been asking about this for a lot of time because they are


worried about the number of people admitted to hospital with alcohol-


related problems? I would like to make a distinction between those


two part of the trade and supermarkets are the most


responsible sellers of alcohol but there are in terms of things like


preventing under-age sales were they have the best record out there.


The key point here is that irresponsible drinking is not about


price, it is a cultural issue. And even though it seems like a really


easy solution that can easily be legislated on, putting up prices


will not change that culture. What it will do is penalise the vast


majority of people who drink perfectly responsibly to no could


end. Caroline Lucas, a lot of people come to your constituency


and spend a lot of money drinking freely and cheaply. There are areas


that we are very concerned about, because the NHS in our constituency


has written to the parliamentary bodies about this. Extra-strong


cheap white cider, that can often be sold at cheaper than a price of


a bottle of water. You can walk around cities in the country and


find people who are drinking it because it is simply the cheapest


way to get intoxicated. Richard Dodd, those sort of prices, would


you not agree that is ridiculous? That is only a tiny part. We


already have the highest alcohol tax rate in Europe in this country.


And yet you may say that there are some people who drink to excess and


behave irresponsibly as a result but legislating on price will not


change that. What retailers are doing is working to change that


culture and doing it through education and information. Unit


labelling on bottles, things like that and the Drink Aware campaign


which is promoting a healthy attitude to drinking. Not just


pricing, education, but surely will help as well? There are issues


around culture, absolutely but there are certainly issues around


the accessibility made so because of price. Many health care


professionals will say there is a direct link between the level of


the price and the level of damage done and nothing we must address


that as well. Patterson the Hell's happening in your city, the green


run council wants more powers to control licences. Do you think they


are going far enough? I think it is correct they should have more


leverage to be able to set were cumulative impact should be, in


other words looking at where the areas are where we should be able


to reduce the number of licences. I think we need to look at that on a


case-by-case basis but having said that, we have a number of people


who come to my constituency surgeries who are really fed up of


people vomiting in gardens, the noise that can happen in the early


hours of the morning... There will also be a lot of bar owners making


a lot of money he will be extremely worried. Bringing Richard in.


is why I am talking about a case- by-case basis. The council should


have more powers which the council should then exercise on a case-by-


case basis. Where there is the man, businesses should be allowed to


meet that and that should be the general principle -- where there is


demand. But people drink responsibly and behave


irresponsibly but what we should not do is demonise alcohol in our


society. Whether that is what happens in Scotland, where alcohol


should be in a particular place in a store and should not be displayed


widely, or it is cutting down on the places you can actually sell it,


that is the wrong way to go. We need to live with it in a sense of


sensibility and responsibility. That is what the British Retail


Consortium wants to achieve. will leave it there. Thank you,


both of you for joining us. As you may have heard, a new film


about the life of Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep is going to


be released in the new year. I want conviction. Dennis! When Thatcher


came to power in 1979, she turned the political map of the south is


blued by talking to the aspirations of the lower middle classes. More


than three decades later, the region remains a Tory stronghold.


Let's examine The Iron Lady's political legacy. Joining me is


Professor Tim Bale, author of The Conservatives: From Thatcher To


Cameron. How did Maggie turn the region such a deep shade of blue?


She concentrated very much as you put it on the lower middle classes.


She made sure their wages were rising. She spoke to their worries


and aspirations and give the country a sense of direction. With


a leader at knew what she was doing. His Cameron copying her? He is


putting taxes up to some extent and he is toughing it out. There is


another argument that say he is not emulating her enough, for many


backbenchers. No, many people believe he should approach things


on the right wing, particularly law and order and immigration. They


feel it would attract more voters to the Conservative Party. I don't


think there is much evidence for that. They have got those votes


sewn up so they have to concentrate on the floating voters in the


middle and they are more interested in honesty in the economy. Tony


Blair won those voters over in 1997 and kept them with new Labour for a


long time. Is the economy a way forward? Yes, Cameron needs the


economy to improve over the years for that to happen. But Tony Blair


lost the voters in 2005 and it was a disaster in the South East of the


Labour Party in 2010. We are in a recession so you would have thought


that there were parallels with other years. Margaret Thatcher had


advantages that David Cameron does not have. An at right majority,


four 1. She had the revenues of North Sea oil and selling off


council houses as well and other privatisations and he does not have


that. She sold it all off before he next back you can say that and that


How much is the legacy of Margaret Thatcher fought David Cameron? How


much is it a problem? The recipe for success is following Maggie's


example, for many Conservatives. That might not be enough this time


round. We also must remember that most governments around the world


lose votes between elections, he probably will not pick up that many


next time round. There are other Conservative leaders he could


mention but it does seem that 1979 is where Conservative momentum


begins. I think Margaret Thatcher is the icon for the Conservatives


and they tend just to look at her. They could look at other leaders,


there is Macmillan, Disraeli, a whole pantheon but they always look


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