tv International Programming CSPAN February 2, 2011 7:00am-7:30am EST
>> and how to london for prime minister question time live from the british house of commons. every wednesday while parliament is in session, prime minister david cameron takes questions from members of the house of commons. prior to question time, the house is wrapping up other business. this is live coverage on c-span2. >> something that was mooted as long ago as 2001 by the former prime minister tony blair but nothing came of it. >> order. questions to the prime minister. bob russell. >> question 1, mr. speaker. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i'm sure the whole house will wish to join me in paying tribute to private martin bell from the second battalion who died in province. he died as he went to the aid of an injured colleague.
it's true from the tributes paid that he was a hugely respected and well liked shoulder. our thoughts and our deepest condolences should be with his, friends and his colleagues. >> mr. speaker i had meetings ministerial colleagues and unconstitutional my duties with the house i shall have further duties. >> i thank the prime minister for those generous words back to private bell because his battalion is based at the colchester garrison. does the prime minister share my concern that some local authorities and some health trusts are using their perceived cuts is an excuse to make cuts thus undermining organizations and charities with a big society concert? >> i-absolutely share the honorable gentleman's concern and i think he's right to air
it. in the case of the department of health, of course, there are cuts of the department of health budget, the budget is going up but it's very important that the department of health as i know my right honorable friend is doing so -- and she does everything to try and protect the very important voluntary organizations working in that department. in terms of local government, yes, there are reductions in spending as there would be, frankly, whoever was standing at this dispatch box but i would urge local authorities to look first at their own costs. it's only when they can show they are share chief executives, they're cutting out their own bureaucracies that they can show they can make reduction elsewhere and in some cases they're not yet be convincing. >> miliband? >> can i first join the prime minister for sergeant bell. he showed bravery and dedication and as the prime minister we send condolences to his family and friends. last weekend i saw myself the
bravery and the commitment of our troops in afghanistan and all of those involved in our wider effort there. i think everyone who visits i came away with an overwhelming sense of admiration and humility and i pay tribute to everyone who's based in afghanistan. can i stop by asking the prime minister of the unfolding situation in egypt? can i ask him to update the important issue of the security of british nationals? can he inform us of the arrangements being made for his who want to return to the u.k.? >> can i thank the right honorable gentleman to his visit to the troops to the troops and i think it's very important that we go on this difficult endeavor and i braise him for what he said. in terms of egypt, of course, he's right. the first concern should be for our own u.k. nationals and for the situation that they're in. of course, there are around 30,000 u.k. nationals in the red sea area which at the moment remains calm and stable and we've not yet changed travel
advice in terms of egypt. in terms of the rest of the egypt there are 3,000 citizens in cake and 300 -- in cairo. and there are still very good commercial flights and we have added a flight commissioned by the british government. in the last 48 hours thousands of u.k. citizens have returned. i think the u.k. government has acted swiftly. we had a rapidly deployment of 25 special concert staff to cairo. the military logistics team of 8 were sent out immediately and we were a first country to set out a team in cairo. i don't take any of this granted. but i think the ambassador and his team have done an excellent job and we should praise them. >> i'm grateful to him for that apply. let me ask him on the wider issues on egypt. i think mr. speaker everybody has been moved by the images we've seen on our screens in the
last few days of hundreds of thousands of people against overwhelming odds demanding a more democratic future. following president mubarak's statement last night can i ask the prime minister whether he agrees with president obama that the stable and orderly transition to democracy must be meaningful, peaceful, and begin now? >> we absolutely take that view. the transition needs to be rapid and credible and it needs to start now and i think as the honorable gentleman says we should be clear. we stand with those in this country who want freedom, who want democracy and rights the world over. that should always be our view. and you can't watch the scenes in kirowithout finding incredibly moving for people who want to have those aspirations in egypt as we have them in our country. now, the government takes the very strong view that political reform is what's required, not repression and we made that clear in all the calls i've made including to president mubarak and the egyptian minister. the key question is have they done enough?
now, president mubarak says he's going and we respect that. what matters is not just the orderly transition but also that it is urgent, it is credible and it starts now. and the more they can do with a timetable to convince people that it's true, the more i think the country can settle down to a stable and more democratic future. >> i think the whole house will be pleased by the prime minister's answer and share the view he has expressed. isn't it also clear that far from indicating support for extremism the people on the streets of egypt are actually demanding some very basic things, jobs, freedom of speech and their right to choose by whom they are governed. now, we have a clear interest in stability in all countries in the region but isn't it now apparent that the best route to egypt is precisely through democracy? >> i agree with that. i think that we should take the view that the long-term interests of britain from a stable middle east and a stable
arab world and we won't get that stability unless they make moves towards greater democracy. where i think we need to be clear is that when we talk about greater democracy we don't just mean the act of holding an election. with them able block of democracy. i want to encourage stronger democracy, strong rule of law, a proper place for the army in society. proper independent judiciary. it's these things, the building blocks, that i think can give us a stronger, more stable, more democratic future that will very much be in our interests and theirs as well. >> i'm sure there's a consensus in the house on the points he'll make and i know he'll he keep the house updated on the situation in egypt. i want to turn now to afghanistan, mr. speaker. can i say to the prime minister that we support the mission and we support the timetable he has set for the end of combat operations by british troops. now, during my visit, the commanders on the ground told me that we are bringing real pressure to bear on the insurgency.
can we provide the house with his latest assessment of the overall progress of our mission in the light of the timetable that has been set? >> i'm grateful for that. we are making progress in helmand you but i think it's important not to just focus on helmand we have to look at the rest of afghanistan too. if we look where we're responsible for, helmand itself, government authority has gone from six provinces in helmand to now 12. that's where the afghan government has control. that's out of a total of 14 of that. and that is progress. and the national afghan army is on target for the 171,000 soldiers this year and 13,000 police i think the key of this is the better balance of forces that we now have. there has been a surge in the number of troops and we got a better balance between the u.s. and the u.k. forces so we are more thickly concentrated in fewer areas and better able to do the job. we set this clear timetable of saying we do not want u.k. forces to be in combat or in
large numbers by 2015. i believe that is achievable but we're going to have to work hard on training up the afghan national army on pursuing a political track to reintegrate those that have been involved in insurgency and we also need to make sure that the government of afghanistan improves in the way that i know he believes, too, is important. >> mr. speaker, it's that point about the political track that i want to pursue with the prime minister. does he agree with me setting a timetable makes it even more important that we have a lasting political settlement? and one that is of drawn beyond the departure of british troop. does he agree with that inclusive political settlement must reach out to the insurgency while prepared to break holdings with al-qaeda, renounce violence and respect the afghan constitution? >> those are the absolutely key conditions and to those who worry about a timetable, i would say actually setting a timetable encourages people in afghanistan themselves to recognize that they have to take the steps necessary to take control of
their country again. so, yes, we do need this political track. we need to work much harder at it. the keys are separating the taliban from al-qaeda rejecting violence and accepting the basic tenets of the afghanistan constitution. those are the keys and we should to push this extremely hard so that we can do what we all want to do which is to bring our brave soldiers home at the end of this conflict. >> i sense mr. speaker people respondent's exhibit used to these sort of pmq's. [laughter] >> let me finally emphasize to him the urgency of supporting the afghan government in establishing that political settlement. and let me say to him that i will support him in all the efforts he makes with the united nations, the united states and all our nato partners on this. committee tell me then what concrete steps he believes we can take between now and the bond conference at the end of the year to make this happen? well, first of all i'm sure he's right from all the noises who
prefer a bond fight but sometimes it's sensible to have a serious conversation about the issues we face and i know and he knows when you visit our troops in afghanistan they want us to discuss what they're doing, to discuss it sensibly and try can get it right. in terms of encouraging the political track, i think it's very important that we engage not just with the afghanistan government but also with the pakistan government. we're not going to create a stable afghanistan that should be our name. an afghanistan that is stable enough to take our troops home without it becoming a hot bed of terrorism. we won't be able to do that unless we engage with the pakistanis i think that's the absolute key of solving this problem and having a political track so those who have been opposed to us recognize there is a democratic path, a peaceful path they can follow but they have to give up violence. they have to announce al-qaeda before that can happen. >> simon wright? >> the announcement -- the government had put aside the funding required to complete the
a11 and the support of the prime minister then was very much welcomed. will he now join with me and our coalition colleagues across the region in pressing for an early start date for this game so the economic benefits can be delivered as soon as possible? >> i think all of us who visit remember how important the a11 is to people. what i can tell him is that we have guaranteed the funding in the spending review. we're spending over 30 billion pounds on transport infrastructure over the next four years. work on the a 11 is an important project. the highway's agency is preparing a program for how it will be 11 and construction work will start in the current spending review period. >> dylan skullan is a 6-year-old austic boy in my constituency. at 6 years old he's had his speech and language therapy
school taken away because he's too old. what does the prime minister think i should say to his mother, rachel, who's absolutely outraged at the support of the austic education to get away. >> going to the county council and arguing the case as many of us have had to do not only with constituents but also with our own children as well. you have to make the fight. we are going to be producing a paper on special educational needs which will actually try and reform the way these things are done and make it less confrontational 'cause i know as a patient how incredibly tough it is to get what your family needs? >> thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank the prime minister and the ministers who have been so helpful over the last 24 hours with regard to the pfizer closure in my constituency in sandwich.
i want the prime minister to assure me and my honorable colleagues from east kent that the government will do everything it can to secure the site, secure the high skilled employees and the local economy in east kent? >> i think the honorable lady is absolutely right to speak about this. it is -- it is depressing news. it is bad news, pfizer's decision. my office has been in contact with them. i spoke to them again this morning. there's no doubt that the decision is being taken not because of some u.k.-based issue but because the company has decided to exit some whole areas of endeavor. the company is keeping all the options open in terms of what should happen to the site including getting partner organizations to continue work there and to get other companies to come in 'cause the fact is, it is a state-of-the-art site, it has brilliant employees doing great work there and the government will do everything it can coordinated by david willits to try and make sure we make the
best of what, yes, is a depressing piece of news. >> i'm very grateful, mr. speaker. can the prime minister confirm a reports in today's financial times that the debit prime minister has written to him suggesting the councils be given the power to raise their own fuel duty and does he agree with them? >> the deputy prime minister write to each other and speak to each other on a frequent basis. what we both -- what we both want to see is we want to see well resourced local councils that have greater powers and greater devolution and less top-down bureaucracy than what we had under the party opposite. >> thank you, mr. speaker. on friday, hundreds of residents, 24 parish councils, the action group and myself will provide a very warm welcome to the visiting members of the ipc who will be coming to make a
decision as to whether or not they will grant planning commission to the huge incinerator which they publish to put in my constituency. if we truly are the party of localism will the prime minister give us our assurance that the national policy statements which will guide the ipc in their decision will be amended in order that the weight is given to the wishes of local people if they don't want it it should not be imposed upon them? >> well, i think the honorable lady for her question. we can go further than. i can confirm in her own case yes the ipc will be taking representations from local people. s but, of course, as a government we have committed to abolish the ipc because actually we think it's too much of a top-down bureaucratic method and we should there should be ministerial decisions take account and be better run? >> thank you, mr. speaker. and the prime minister share my dismay that the fact that despite being 86% publicly own the rbs banker is still dishing
out huge bonuses. may i have a course of action that might be helpful, i don't know. would agree that these bankers who defy these bankers to get these bonuses should not be considered for any honors in the future. >> first of all, can i congratulate the right honorable gentleman for his new position -- [applause] >> that's probably ended his career, i'm sure for that. [laughter] >> look, we are in discussions with rbs. we are bound by a contract that was signed by the government but i'm absolutely clear. what we want to see from the banks is we want to see a lower bonus pool. we want to see more lending and we want to see them contributing more in tax to the exchequer. i'm quite convinced we will see all of those things from the discussions we're having.
>> thank you, mr. speaker. the local trust structure are currently proposing major reconfiguration changes in services including preddic and maternity and these are causing local concerns for gp's and patient groups can i ask for an assurance that these concerns will be taken on board and acted upon before any changes are made and can i say my honorable friend whose constituents use the hospital shares my views? >> i can certainly give him that assurance because the health secretary has put in place much stronger arrangements for making sure local people are listened to when there are these discussions taking place. so no changes will be allowed unless they focus on changing patient outcomes, unless they consider patient choice, unless they have the support of the gp commissioners and remember in the future health system it will be the decisions of gp's and people that drive the provision
of health services, not top-down decisions made by ministers in white halls. >> tens of thousands of public workers sacked, underemployed, how can -- how can the prime minister justify a buildup of 50 billion election war chest at the expense of these vulnerable hard-working people? >> all of the things that the honorable gentleman says about the tough decisions we've had to make about the pay, about pensions, about welfare they are all each and every one the consequence of the government that he spent 13 years supporting. >> thank you, mr. speaker. this week i'm at a college of gathering of students.
unfortunately, sadly too many students start school and don't speak english. does the prime minister agree with me it's an responsibility and an obligation upon patients to make sure their children speak english? >> i completely agree with my honorable friend and the fact is in too many cases this isn't happening. the last government did make some progress on making sure people learned english when they came to our country. i think we need to go further and if you look at the figures for the number of people who are brought over as husbands and wives, particularly from the indian subcontinent, we should be putting in place and we will be putting in place tougher rules to make sure that they do learn english, so when they come, if they come they can be more integrated into our country. >> there are disabled workers if the factory in my constituency. they've all been offered voluntary redundant si. they take great pride in the product they make. two years ago the deputy prime
minister pledged his support to the employed workers. >> we inherited a plan that was actually phasing out support for the workers. that is actually what we inherited. i will get back to the lady if that is not correct. but we will do everything we can to try to support and help people who are disabled into work. and that is exactly what the new benefit system and the new work program will be all about. >> would my right honorable friend describe the biggest structural deficit in the g7 as a golden economic inheritance? [laughter] >> i certainly wouldn't. and my right honorable friend makes an extremely good point. at the weekend the shadow chancellor stated boldly that there was no structural settlement when labour left office. he's nodding now. even though the institute for fiscal studies could not be
clearer that we had one of the biggest structural developments anywhere in the advanced world. i have to say if you start in opposition in a position of complete deficit denial you will never be taken seriously again. >> mr. speaker, with youth unemployment at the highest levels since records began, will the prime minister reconsider the decision to scrap the future jobs fund? >> first of all, can i say how good it is to see the honorable gentleman back and well and in his place. what i would say -- what i would say about youth unemployment what i said last week. this is a problem that got worse during the boom years under the last government and then got even worse during the recession and say still, yes, a very good problem today. i don't believe the future jobs fund is the answer because it was five times more expensive than other schemes. and in some places like birmingham, only 3% of the jobs were in the private sector. it wasn't a good scheme. it will be replaced with better
schemes but frankly everyone in this house needs to work together on how we tackle youth unemployment, a scourge that has got worse over the last 13 years. >> zach goldsmith. >> mr. speaker, will the prime minister commit to making continued support of the common fisheries policy absolutely conditional upon the poish -- of current regime of discarding fish that is not healthy has got to change. we've got an opportunity to try to work to that end. >> dr. william mccray. >> the prime minister before the election you came to the province and you entered into a contract with the people of the northern ireland, promised to bring change to our economy and in that speech you told the people to keep -- to read the contract, keep it. it on your ephedrine and use it
-- use it in your hand. can you get your eyes on any progress to radically reduce northern ireland's level of corporation tax bear in mind we're in competition with the other public that this company has built out recently. >> i remember one of the things we need we would sort out the presbyterian mutual society. and i'm proud to say we've actually done that and delivered that important pledge to people in northern ireland. we've got to rebalance the public sector. the private sector is too small. the secretary is looking at all the things at different tax rates to try to bring that out. >> i was told apprenticeships were their number one priority. with schemes and operating the area, will the prime minister back the skills to work campaign
to encourage more youngsters in the northeast to take up more apprenticeship there is. >> my right honorable friend is right to raise this. we have done is actually increased the funding for apprenticeships so that we will actually be funding 75,000 more apprenticeships than what was planned under the party leaders. it will help for the young people not only in the short term but to have good worthwhile careers in our balanced economy. >> thank you, mr. speaker. my constituency is a little world leader company that makes parachutes not for the u.k. but internationally. however, they are in danger of being stuffed in a competition that is currently going on which will cost 50 jobs that will go to a french company. they are cheaper, they are better and there is an opportunity for the prime minister to intervene and allow the company to at their own cost put this into trial for the u.k.
it will lead to exports as well. >> well, the honorable gentleman makes a passionate plea for a business in his constituency. he's absolutely right in that. i'm sure the ministry of justice will hear this. i want every opportunity for british defense manufacturers to compete and succeed. and we're doing everything we can to help them. we've just been talking about apprenticeships and we're also delivering the lowest rate of corporation tax in the g7. all of these things will help us compete, take on and beat our competitors. >> john glenn. >> thank you, mr. speaker. following the report in december of the right honorable member on how to prevent poor children from becoming poor adults. what actions does the prime minister intend to take to address the central recommendation of the report that greater prominence should be given to the earliest years in public policy? >> the honorable gentleman is quite right and i think it's good that the honorable member
has produced this report about how we try and help children out of poverty. the two most important steps we are taking is funding 2-year-olds in nursery education, a pledge never made, never delivered by the party opposite and the second thing is a pupil premium for all children who are on free school meals so that the money follows them into school. they shake their heads. they had 13 years to do it. they never did. >> thomas? >> thank you, mr. speaker. there were 4,000 stillbirths in the united kingdom last year. the pain for those families is utterly unimaginely. will there be no cut in funding in the stillbirths. >> we're putting $10.6 billion extra into the national health service during this parliament that is against the advice of many including his on front bench. i will get back to him on the specific research that he speaks about but i know and every
honorable member will have met constituents who had this situation and how heartbreaking it can be and where we can get to understand more, what the cause of stillbirth is, of course, we should be doing that work. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the school in my constituency last month celebrated becoming a academy. and they are delighted with the freedoms becoming an academy has given them could my right honorable friend in other constituencies who are considering doing the same step. >> i would encourage all schools looking at the academy status because of the extra freedom it gives you, the extra responsibility it gives you and i think the evidence is now clear that academy schools particularly in less well off has transformed those results in those places and what we've managed to do in a coalition government we have created as many academy schools in the last government did in the last seven
years. we're making good pressure with this but we should keep up the pressure. >> 48% of the british people feel the government has lost control of the economy and the chancellor himself has admitted that he has no plan b. given that this government has ax the future jobs fund, has trebled scrip fees the question people up and down the country has been asking has this country have a plan a for our people? >> what is clear is that there is only one side in this house that's got a plan at all. the prime minister has absolutely no plan to deny the deficit to say there wasn't a problem and to pretend that somehow they held onto a golden inheritance although we had the biggest deficit and a debt to deal with? >> given the commitment of the coalition government to reinvigorate