Jon Sopel and Patrick Burns are here with the top political stories of the week.
Browse content similar to 13/11/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
In the Midlands, we will remember them. Bob Ainsworth reveals their
heavy responsibilities and frustrations of high office. And
Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1884 seconds
Hello again. Later we will be asking why MPs are giving their
backing to high-speed rail. First, �6.7 million was raised in this
region alone last year by the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal, to
help and support the armed forces. That was nearly one-fifth of the UK
total. What sort of shape are the defence forces in? Peter Luff
should know, he is responsible for equipment and technology. Steve
McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak. That constituency
borders the internationally renowned Centre for Defence
Medicine in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. We also have a Dawn
Turner from Rubery in Worcestershire. She is a very proud
mother, who has two sons that you are serving in the military. Tell
us about them. One is in the Royal Artillery, the other is in the
Royal Horse Artillery. They both joined at 16. The eldest has done a
tour in Iraq, the younger one has done a tour in Afghanistan. We are
no rating -- we're waiting for my eldest son to go back to
Afghanistan. You must be extremely proud of them. As a family, you are
just perfectly committed to the cause they are engaged in?
course. I am very proud. Pride always comes with a price, and that
is the worry of the knock on the door. The ringing phone. I am
extremely proud. All of us can identify with that. Plenty to talk
about today. I have been talking to Bob Ainsworth, the former Secretary
of State for Defence. He joined me in the Westminster studio to
reflect on his period at the men and -- his period at the Ministry
of Defence. There was a lot of debate about equipment. When you
have people in harm's way, Afghanistan is about the most
difficult operation the British forces have done since Korea, there
can never be enough. Just the other night, I spent some time with the
brigade that have just come back, and they are getting the benefit of
decisions that were taken a very long time ago. To talk about the
delay like that, that is difficult if you think about the love one's
of soldiers who are right there. One reason problem was getting
ballistic protection for small vehicles. -- one reason problem. We
now have it. It has been built in the Midlands but it was designed
from scratch in order to get that dynamic. The military covenant is
something that you and other ministers have spoken of in strong
support. It enshrines the obligation from the state to be
able to put their way -- from the State for people who put their
lives on the line. You have put it in a document. I did, it put
obligations on every department of government to deliver for around
forces. We had it in our manifesto. -- are our own forces. But we
should have read in a legal document. David Cameron said he
would. The Colonial Service gives us good value for money. --
coronial service. But there is no good standard that runs throughout
it. They teach the other departments lesson, but at worst
they are dreadful. Does it surprise you there might be to -- and
jealousy that creeps in. There is a resentment that other people feel
the service community are getting preferential treatment? Nobody else
is asked to put their lives on the line and take orders to walk into
extreme danger. When people are injured in those circumstances, it
is absolutely appropriate. The overwhelming majority of civilians
if they think about it, support that. It is not special treatment.
Is his return for sacrifice and for services given to the nation. -- it
is a return. Bob Ainsworth giving us a sense of the extreme pressure
on any Secretary of State. Peter Luff, can you identify with that
frustrations he felt. There is the delay, night time goggles, body
armour, getting them out to the front. I can, and there is to
sources of that delay. Political will and technical issues. -- two
sources. There is no point having new equipment taken out to
Afghanistan if they cannot use it. Training is important. It does take
a long time. The troops have never been better equipped than they are
now. So would you say to Dawn Turner, whose sons are out there,
that the situation is now resolved. I can. Like all, I met three
Commando last week. They are delighted with the equipment. They
say it is performing better than expected. I can say that our boys
and girls have exactly what they need. You are benefiting from a
hard work that Bob Ainsworth put in? He did. He did a lot of good
work. But we inherited a financial mess and we kept the process going.
I am very happy that the people in Afghanistan have that equipment now.
Steve, you will be keeping watch on this issue. I think where they are
taking measures to protect the troops, we will give them our total
support. People do not want to see political parties squabbling about
the treatment of the armed services. Obviously some areas we have
reservations, we want to know what has happened to the dedicated wards
but the Prime Minister promised. We do not think the decision on
pensions is correct. We think a number of people who stand to lose
out quite heavily. -- will lose out. So we will push them in those areas.
Those issues resonate very strongly in this part of the country. We are
told that one in eight of all new recruits are from the West Midlands.
There is a real affinity in this part of the country, is there not?
There is. It is important these guys keep contact with your family.
I must agree with Peter, my sons have commented on what an
improvement has been made on the equipment. The helmets bit better,
the lights do not fall down. These things make the difference. -- fit
better. Are you satisfied that the armed forces covenant is been taken
seriously? To a certain degree. There is
obviously areas that need to be looked at. For example? A few weeks
ago there was a young soldier who lost his life, and his family were
absolutely devastated when his wages came through, and he was
docked 10 days because he died 10 days before the pay-day. We know
all politicians do not discuss individual cases, but the Ministry
of Defence does need to look into this to make sure that that is
prevented in the future. Peter Luff, that does seem particularly bad.
was wrong and should not have happened. The overall picture is
encouraging. The principles are now in lot. We can be held to account
for anything. -- now in law. It is very good. Given the proximity for
the centre of defence medicine deer -- the Centre for Defence Medicine
to your constituency, what you say to the people who say armed forces
are getting special treatment? have not encountered that myself.
When I have spoken to civilians, they have been quite proud of what
goes on there on behalf of our troops. There will always be one or
two people, it is always possible to find someone like that, but the
general feeling is everyone is benefiting because some of these
young people were very badly injured but it tests the doctors to
the limits in terms of the work they are doing. The civilian
population benefit as a result of these medical advances. Your son
received some treatment there himself, did he not? He did, when
it was based in Selly Oak. He broke his ankle. Where did he get his
injury? Afghanistan. We found out it was his cousin that flew them
home. Obviously, Dawn Turner is reassured, but the difficulty as
Bob Ainsworth said is that this defence cover and we have been
talking about evolves all the time, so that next service and the next
service will continue. You cannot keep up with that. -- defence
covenant. I happen to disagree with Bob Ainsworth about the top --
about the chief coroner. It is about a whole service. We believe
the reforms we need to make to make it better for military families can
be made more rapidly. It has been very good to talk to you Dawn
Turner, and for the moment, thank you very much indeed.
There is a good case to build a high-speed rail line, so says the
Transport Select Committee. They have been examining plans for a new
generation of bigger, faster trains, starting with a link between
Birmingham and London. As Andrew Adonis once said, everybody wants a
station, nobody wants the line. Our transport correspondent found the
project is not yet a done deal. Believe the spin and you would
think the committee had given HS2 a ringing endorsement. Go through the
report and you find a different story. Although the concept gets a
thumbs-up, there is doubt. The Transport Select Committee are
asking very deep questions. They have been misgivings about HS2.
information they are asking for work will completely devastate the
case for a chest do. The committee is concerned about not only the
strength of the business case but also investment levels on the
existing network. MPs want to know how a test to fit into the
transport strategy. This will go through a long parliamentary
process, and we suggest the key questions that need to be asked.
For those affected by a Test do, last week's report says they are
not the only ones with misgivings. It will become more heated next
month when the public consultation results are printed. Ministers
certainly seem to have their work cut out if they are going to have a
considered response ready in time for the big announcement, following
public consultation. Steve McCabe, in common with most Labour MPs, all
the big centres, you are a supporter. But these are not just
idle criticisms. The environmental impact, financial, damage to rural
economies, this is substantial staff. There -- substantial stuff.
That is why we have select committees. My view is this country
does not have a great history in dealing with these major
infrastructure transport projects. This one has tremendous potential.
The benefits to the Birmingham economy are enormous. It is quite
right that before you embark on a project like this, some of the
questions and criticisms are addressed. Peter Luff, a final word,
you are very knowledgeable on the railway industry, should we not
take on these criticisms? We will listen to the criticisms, that is
what the select committee does. It is the right idea to build this
line. We must get the detail right. Will this be on the statute book
What links Crawshawbooth in Lancashire, Congelton in Cheshire
and Knowsley Safari Park on -- the statute book?
There are many beneficiaries of Children In Need. Each year, the
fund-raising campaign swings into action. We have been to see how one
minibus has been delivering a healthier way of living for some
Staffordshire children. It is lifestyle and lack of exercise that
is the major cause of obesity. Youngsters play computer sport
rather than doing it. I was the class clown. Just silly comments.
They would all add up. Now at 15, he is a boxing champion and is
totally dedicated. His father cannot believe the turnaround.
transformation has been unbelievable. He is not interested
in going out with his friends any more. He wants to be at the
gymnasium. His attitude is completely different. He is a
different person. Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club, established 1969. Part
of the big society before it started. It punches well above its
weight in a poor community. Although it has had lottery funding,
people feel it has had one hand tied behind its back. I do not know
when the big society will happen. It has not changed anything for us.
We are struggling for space. If it was to work, we would have that
space. Without BBC children In Need funding this minibus, pupils would
struggle to get here. Some of these teenagers could have been expelled.
They are now tot by boxing coaches, and have landed 150 GCSEs. It is a
lot more fun. They make the lessons more fun. I am not in school so I
come here and it makes me feel better. It is better than school.
The budget has have for alternative courses. -- halved. Some doctors
are worried about health inequality. I would agree nationally we have
got to make certain we do not lose healthily quality -- health
inequality. The best way out of poverty is education, and people
who are educated quite simply live longer. In parts of the West
Midlands, a quarter of children are obese. More than a third live in