Felicity Evans looks at what is next for the steel industry in Wales and speaks to the first minister. Ahead of the EU referendum, there is a look at the debate over immigration.
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As Welsh steelworkers wait for news from both Tata
and the UK government, we ask, where next
With less than a month to go until the referendum on the the UK's
How much of a factor is immigration playing in the debate?
When it comes to using numbers in political campaigning,
Good evening and welcome to The Wales Report.
Remember, you can join tonight's conversation on social media.
We start tonight with the latest on the steel industry in Wales.
After a meeting last week in Mumbai, Tata's continuing the process
of selling its UK operations, including Port Talbot.
The UK government's put forward proposals to change the pension
system in order to allow the company to fill the deficit in its scheme.
Here's our business correspondent, Brian Meechan.
The uncertainty continues over what is next for the loss-making Port
Talbot site and others around the country. The future of Tata's plans
including here at Port Talbot is being decided that is as ours away
behind closed doors in Greybull Capital. Negotiations are ongoing
between the company, UK and Welsh men's and the bidders trying to
overtake these operations. The outcome will have a huge operation
on the workers here and their families and the entire community
surrounding it. This local bar is backing Tata workers with especially
broad ale. As part of the UK's government efforts to protect the
industry, it is proposing changes to the pension system to allow the
company to reduce its deficit which is currently ?500 million. The UK
government's plans would see the huge Tata pension scheme from ?15
billion, the ?12.5 billion. Either way, no company that buys it will be
likely to take over that liability. That means it is essentially a
negotiation between the government and Tata about how to resolve the
pension deficit and at the moment, it is the workers and pensioners in
that scheme who have to pick up the bill. We knew they were always going
to come back for pensioners, either Tata or any potential new owners,
they would always attack pensions again. Pensions experts have
estimated with limited information available, the people who have
already retired will lose an average around 25% of their pension whether
they go into the new government scheme or the pension protection
fund. It is bullying tactics. It is a question of, if you do not play by
my rules, I am taking it away. I think it is absolutely disgraceful
that they should look at the pensions and penalised retired
steelworkers. The UK government has said that this plan they are putting
forward for pensions will only be felt Tata and will not have a wide
impact the pension schemes and other people paying into pension schemes.
Do you believe that? I do not believe that for one instance. That
is the first stage of the government meddling in other private pension
schemes. How can they justify letting Tata get away get away with
taking money out of our pension pots when at the current time they are
telling everybody to take pensions out? It just does not make any sense
to me. Rumours have been going around about Tata and whether it is
going to rethink and reconsider its decision to sell. What do people
think about that, about Tata staying? I feel bitter about it, to
be honest. I am lucky, I still have a job. But I know a lot of men and
women that have not got jobs any more, they have been cast out of the
business, surplus to requirements. And I feel bitter for them. And
also, for those left behind. We have gone through the mill as well. With
all this, things that have been happening. Politicians have been
supportive of the proposed changes to the pension scheme. I trust the
view of the trustees on this, but it looks like they have got quite an
innovative solution. They will reindex from the Retail Price Index
to the Consumer Price Index, which helps to pay down the liabilities.
And it secures a sustainable future for the fund. It seems Tata and
politicians have some convincing to do if these workers are anything to
go by. Pension rights have been hard gained and many will want to ensure
they are not easily lost. I'm joined now by the First
Minister, Carwyn Jones, who was That was for the Tata board meeting.
Welcome. What is your reaction to the suggestion about reindexing the
Tata pension scheme? Do you support that idea? I would not be supportive
of scene cuts the benefits to those retired or paying in at the moment.
That needs to be examined carefully and you can see from the reaction of
the three men in the film that it is a natural reaction, people saying,
why should we have our benefits cut? I would not be supportive of it
going into the government's tech show and fund which was designed to
deal with those companies going bust. That is not the case for Tata.
It is for the trustees to work through a solution to this to make
sure we do not see a cut in benefits. We do know that no buyer
will come forward if the pension scheme is there and they have to
take it over so it does need government intervention that we have
to make sure it does not penalised pensioners and those already in the
scheme. Is there a third option is available or have you been waiting
for other proposals to be made by the trustees? When British Coal was
privatised, the deal was done with the British Coal pension scheme so
it would be more attractive for privatisation. The government made a
deal and that scheme is doing well and the UK government is doing
better at that scheme that it should be. So that our presidents and it
just needs to have innovative thinking. Concern about the current
proposal is it, the slippery slope and could apply to firms other than
Tata if they get into pension deficit. And the other is a
financial analyses we had analysing the figures suggests there is not
much to Prince in terms of how workers come out of it between the
reindexing and the pension funds -- much difference. If the fund went
into the pension protection fund, a queue of businesses would say, we
will have the same, thank you very much, you have done it for Tata.
They have to look at Tata separately but there are different ways of
analysing what is proposed but it is for the trustees to decide how best
to take the pension scheme forward to protect those who are part of the
scheme. How urgent is it they come up with a third plan on the
pensions? Tata has talked about wanting to complete a sales process
by the end the month. It is crucial, nobody is going to with steel
breaking unless the pension fund changes. I understand the gap in the
funding which is not unusual in funds like this, it has reduced over
the years anyway and this is not a scheme that is about to collapse.
But that does need to be dealt with in order for there to be a
successful change. You are saying no to the pension protection fund, at
Eurosceptical desk article on the real index in and you would like to
see a third plan? I would like a situation where people do not see a
huge loss benefits I think pension protection is wrong and there are a
number of hazards for the UK government on that. I look for a
solution to protect the integrity of the scheme that does not see
enormous cuts on those involved. Trustees have said there will be
cuts involved but they think the reindexing is the most likely option
and if they stick with that, can they convince you? Let's see it, we
have not seen the figures and the detail and until we see that, it is
difficult to give an opinion. In principle, you have heard what I
have said about what should be done with the pension scheme. What about
the report that Tata might be reconsidering the sale process given
the improving market conditions, what the jewel reaction to that be?
It is not a question of who runs the steel industry but the commitment
they showed -- what would your reaction to that be? Some workers
will say that how can we be sure that Tata will have that commitment
when they have already said they want to sell and Tata will have the
response to that. We would not want Tata to continue and the pension
issue to be dealt with and three years down the line the threat
remains. I heard that the loss in Port Talbot in steel was down by two
thirds and there is talk of steel making breaking even in the very
near future which is very helpful. Funny, it is about having somebody
to put in the investment and who is committed to the future of steel in
Wales. You think Tata is not given what has happened? They would have
to convince people. Tata is a company with a good reputation and
that means something to them. They are not a here today and gone
tomorrow company, to be fair. Having said they want to sell, if they then
want to stay, obviously they will have to convince the workers at the
Welsh plans that that is a long-term commitment and they will have two
give guarantees in my view to make sure that is the case. We do not
want them to stay for now and then look at it in three years' time,
that does not give the certainty that workers need. You in Greybull
Capital last week for the board meeting that for the board meeting,
who did you talk to and what came out of that -- you were in Mumbai.
They said that the position at the moment is to sell. But in the
future, the position may change. That is what they said. But they
said that is the position at the moment and they have been given the
challenge of finding a seller and that is what they are working on.
Whether the upturn in steel prices has an influence on their thinking,
we will remain to see. What is important is if we were in a
situation where there were no bidders, nobody wanted to run the
industry, that would be difficult. The seven bidders have said they
want to look at the bidders in some detail and that is to be welcomed.
And they sticking to the deadline as you understand it of completing the
process by the end of June? As time ticks on and they do not publish a
short list or name a preferred bidder, it is a tight deadline
already. No timescale was indicated to me at the meetings. I think the
timescale hopefully has extended. Tata is not losing the money that
they were. Yes, they are losing money, but it is not as bad as it
was and that might mean the timescale is extended. In some ways,
that is good and it gives time for a proper solution to be found, but it
still creates that uncertainty for the workers at Port Talbot and the
other locations. And we need to say, there is a deal on the table, and
that is crucial to all workers. You have spoken to workers at Port
Talbot. And we heard some of the men saying the uncertainty is terrible
to difficult -- is terrible to live with for those working and for those
who have pensions. It is not recent. We have seen lay-offs in the past
and people had been concerned for a while. I would say to people in Port
Talbot and I live down the road, we are fighting hard to make sure the
industry has a future. Carwyn Jones, thank you very much.
Immigration is one of the big issues in the run-up to this month's
referendum on whether Britain should remain in or leave
The most recent official figures put net EU migration to the UK -
that's the difference between the numbers of people coming
This week, on The Wales Report, we're going look at
what the issue means for us here in Wales.
I've been to Merthyr to see if the town's past
It might be hard to believe now, but this site was once home to the
world's biggest ironworks. 250 years ago, the ironworks were at the
cutting edge of technology. If village that consisted of sheep
tracks and a couple of thousand residents became a magnet for
immigrants. At first, they came from other parts of Wales and England and
then from Ireland. When the first census was done in 1801, suddenly
people discovered that Merthyr, the parish, was the largest in Wales.
7700 people. They were astonished. But it kept on growing. By the
1880s, Cole was King and the burgeoning economy attracted a
second wave of migration to Merthyr. The Jewish refugees came here,
Italians came here, they are not refugees but economic migrants.
Spanish people came here because the works is importing iron or so
Spaniards came over with the iron will. So Merthyr is the most
cosmopolitan town in Wales apart from Cardiff and Swansea, the
seaports. The boom years of Merthyr have long gone and the unemployment
rate is consistently above the wealth -- the Welsh average, but
people from other EU country still come here to work. Freedom of
movement is a key principle of the EU, the freedom of movement of
people, goods and services and capital. Creating a single market
with no barriers to travel, trade or investment. But it is the free
movement of people principle that concerns a lot of people worried
about levels of EU immigration into Wales and the rest of the UK because
all you need to work here is an EU passport.
Home country of Holland, he worked in IT but the pay was not good. --
in Max's home country of Paul and. He says educating and training good
workers is expensive to the taxpayer in the country they drawn up. But
Britain is getting the benefit of his training without having to pay
for it. From my perspective, I strongly believe that the British
economy is gaining a lot because they don't... It is people who are
paying taxes straightaway and expanding the economy. Today, local
factories like that behind me continue to attract workers from
other EU member states. Around 2% of the population of Merthyr are EU
nationals, below the UK national average of 5%. Some research
suggests there is a small impact on jobs and wages and it is most likely
to affect lower skilled workers, the sort of people who might be
competing for jobs in Merthyr's meat factory. This woman has concerns
over the impact of EU immigration on the town. There is not enough jobs
and houses in Merthyr for the people who have lived here all their life.
There are very low income families. These people are coming, these
immigrants, and are prepared practically to work for nothing.
Leave campaigners say that leaving the EU is the only way for Britain
to get back control of its borders and tackle problems caused by
immigration. For Remain campaigners, it is not so simple. They say of
Britain wants continued access to the single market, freedom of
movement is something the country may have to accept.
Joining me now on behalf of VoteLeave is Ross England.
How important is the immigration issue to the EU debate? An important
part of the jigs and one which must be taken seriously. Those of us who
want to remain in the EU believe we should be discussing this topic and
stressing how important immigration is to Britain. 60% of the EU
immigrants into Britain come with a degree. That brings a great deal of
skills, particularly to our universities, to our NHS and it
enriches our economy as a whole. That does not detract from the fact
that of course there are difficulties in certain areas. Your
film shot Merthyr, which has a very low rate of immigration. But there
are higher rates in for example the London area. To what extent, bass
England, do you believe some of the problems caused by immigration in
areas where lots of people are moving in and possibly putting
strain on resources such as the NHS and schools, to what extent you
think that feeds into the fault Leave argument? I think it is clear
that leaving the European Union would address those issues. We don't
have control over our borders. The UK Government does not have control
over who comes into the UK from Europe. Virtually every country in
the world controls its own border. The issues you're talking about in
terms of the price of labour being pushed down is an inevitable factor
when you have a country that is open to a labour market in which there
are hundreds of millions of people willing to work for less than the
people in that country. It is an uncontroversial thing to say that
having free movement of people across the EU pushes deep cost of
labour down. Doesn't it depend on whether Britain wants to negotiate a
place in the single market? Norway and Iceland are not in the EU but
are in the single market so they have to accept freedom of movement.
The UK would have its own deal with the European Union. Norway has a
unique deal. The UK would be able to negotiate a deal with the EU over
which we had very low tariff trade and at the same time we can can --
we can control our own borders. Immigration is a complex issue.
You're talking about the price of labour being pushed down, so people
having less in their pay packets if the are low skilled. At the same
time, some immigrants coming in and contributing hugely through their
expertise and skills. That can be addressed by a British government
which has control over its immigration policy. It is up to the
British government to decide once it has the power to decide. What's not
to like about having control over Borders? This is a totally spurious
argument. Australia has control over its own borders. Today, the Leave
campaigners are advocating a points -based system. Australia has twice
the number of immigrants that we have. It chooses how many people to
let him. The point is you have to have immigration in the modern world
in order to invigorate your economy. We work in an international economy.
Companies do business abroad. They have headquarters in one country,
other plants in other countries. There is bound to be a great deal of
immigration. And it is a sign of a successful economy. Why do people
want to come to Britain? Because we are doing well. The danger is of
course that the people in favour of leaving the EU will get their wish,
which will of course cause such a big economic shock that we will have
a very per economy and you will get fewer people wanting to come because
we are not offering the jobs people come for. Now that is an extreme
scenario. At the point is, and Ross says we will do our own deal with
Europe, we would do our own deal with Europe, but Europe as a rule
for everyone which relates to free movement of people. Among other
things. As you said in the film. And therefore that is what is there a
choir of Norway and of Iceland. If you want access to that economy,
double cushion our economy as a whole, then you need to have free
movement of people. Your response to that, that it is spurious to argue
that Britain could somehow be the only country to negotiate single
market access and not have to negotiate free movement of people.
If it wanted to negotiate full single market access, Britain would
be in a good position to do that. Britain is the fifth biggest economy
in the world. One of the most powerful countries on earth. It is a
great shame that British politicians seem to want to talk us down and
talked only potential of an independent Britain to throw our
weight a bit on the world stage. Thank you for joining as.
With the Assembly election over and the EU referendum fast
approaching, we are all used to hearing politicians using numbers
and stats to back up their arguments.
Throughout the campaign, we've been bombarded with conflicting claims
about the costs and the benefits of membership from both sides.
But do you ever have the sneaking suspicion that politicians might not
Will Moy, of fact checkers Full Fact, is here to explain how
to demystify the numbers and give us some advice on how we can debunk
45. 70,000 jobs will be lost. A lot of people are treated by the feeling
you cannot trust what you hear from the people in power. That is not
always true. It is hard to know which bits you can trust on which
you cannot. As a voter, you can't take anyone's word for anything as
totally at face value. There are not many claims you couldn't look at and
say that is exactly what is going on. The question is, what do you do
next? Ask yourself three questions. Where does it come from? Is there
any reason to think this is independent, credible, impartial?
Secondly, what are the actually measuring? It has been simplified,
it is a head like no. What is underneath and is going on in the
real world. Finally, just because something is going on in the real
world, the economy is getting bigger or smaller, that doesn't mean that
is what it is going to do in your own life or for your family. Two
months after the referendum, we have well funded campaigns and people are
wary. It is a problem for the campaigns and the voters. People
understand there is often more to the story than what they're getting
from the campaigns which are trying to persuade them. People don't know
what to do next. This is a referendum about what the world will
be like in 30 years' time and it is up to you to make a best guess.
I'm joined now by Dr Matt Wall, from Swansea University.
Welcome to the programme. Politics is about persuasion. I guess we
shouldn't be surprised that the politicians want to pick the fact
and figures that best support their argument? Absolutely. You'd be
surprised if they did anything different. I think the art of the
campaign is to pick the best possible fact that cannot be
revealed as an outright lie. We have seen that on both sides. These are
favourable interpretations of the numbers. How much it costs us to be
in the EU and how much it might cost to leave. Both of them we should be
sceptical about, you suggest? How does one cultivate an air of
scepticism about these things without being cynical? Good
question. It is difficult. The video we just watched talks about the
source of information. You should be sceptical about things coming from a
campaign than something coming from an independent source like the ONS.
Immigration figures are based on observation. Economic observations
are based on projections. -- economic figures. The further we get
into the future, the more difficult the prediction becomes. While there
is a relative economic consensus about the short-term effects of a
British exit which would generally seem to be negative, 1520 years'
time, nobody can really see what effect would be. There has been
scepticism about statistics for a long time. On the other hand, we
know that statistics is an important way of us learning about the world
and improving the world. Florence Nightingale did it. And
mathematician and statistician who used these that sticks to marshal
the powers that be to implement the policies that saved hundreds of
flights. To be responsible with numbers, how much irresponsibility
is there on those making these arguments not to dissolution are, do
you think? That is an interesting question. I think people are
responsible for themselves, for the information they concern. I think
disillusioning the voters with stretching the truth, I don't know
that is necessarily something... Campaigns must persuade voters and
they will take the figures that suits them. In Britain we have a
range of independent bodies to give us relatively reliable statistics on
things like rove and immigration. I think it is important. The biggest
distinction I would make is between projections and distinctions. If you
look at independent versus campaign based sources, that will help your
sought the chaff from the wheat. Is there a figure you have come across
in your career that has stuck with you or has changed your 99% of all
statistics are made up on the spot. That is one of my favourites. --
your worldview? 99% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
That is one of my favourites. Thank you.
We will be holding a special debate the week before the EU referendum.
If you'd like to get in touch with us about that
or anything else, email us at [email protected]
On The Wales Report with Felicity Evans, she looks at what is next for the steel industry in Wales and speaks to the first minister.
And with less than a month to go until the EU referendum, there is a look at the debate over immigration.