tv British House of Commons CSPAN November 25, 2013 12:00am-1:01am EST
together. we have exactly the same aspiration for the new prison in north wales. >> or do. questions to the prime minister. >> number one, mr. speaker. >> the prime minister. >> thank you, mr. speaker comes to the whole house will wish to join me in paying tribute to warrant officer ian fisher of the first the type who was killed on operations in afghanistan on tuesday the fifth of november. it is clear from the tributes paid he was a professional and well respected soldier who made a huge contribution to the army over many years on a number of operational tours. our thoughts and condolences should be with his family and his friends. this morning i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in this house, i shall have further such meetings later today. >> i'm sure everyone of us will
want to -- in this season of her members we will always remember their service to our country. >> hear your. >> mr. speaker, in piece across the house will have memories of the nightmare unfolding across the bank. does the prime minister share my sense of his belief that a person such as -- responsible as he was for large sums of our constituents money was ever appointed to position of chairman? working out to to find out how on earth that happen? >> my honorable friend makes an important point. constituents across the house will have people who hold co-op bonds are very weird about what will happen to their investment but let me be clear, the first priority is to safeguard this bank and to make sure it's safeguard without using taxpayers money. that must be the priority. my right honorable friend the
chancellor will be discussing with the regulators what is the appropriate form of inquiry to get to the bottom of what went wrong. but there are clearly a lot of questions that have to be answered. why was he suitable to be chairman of a bank? why we're not alarm bells rung earlier? i think will be important that if one does have information they stand up and provided to the authorities. >> girl ed miliband. [shouting] -- ed miliband. [shouting] >> thank you i joined the prime minister in paying tribute to warrant officer ian fisher. he died serving his country, and all of our thoughts are with his family and friends. >> here, here. >> can the prime minister tell us how this campaign is going to save the children's center? >> i support children's centers
across the whole of the country. the fact is inspite a very difficult decisions that have to be made right across the country, the number of children centers has reduced by around 1%. like all members of parliament i fight very hard for services in my constituency. >> ed miliband. >> but, mr. speaker, they are going around saying that children centers are safe and there are no threats to them. and there is no threat to them. but things are so bad he's even sign the petition in his own area to -- [inaudible] now, can he clarify, is the petition addressed to his local tory council or is he taking it right to the top? >> there are more people using children centers than ever before in our country. the figures are, because he doesn't want to give the figures, there are 3000 children centers.
the point i will make is this. this government can hold its head up high because rather than increasing the number that's going to local councils, more children centers. that's what's happening under this government. >> ed miliband. >> well, mr. speaker, we all wish him luck in his fight as a local member of parliament. imagine what he could achieve if you were prime minister of the country. [laughter] i think would establish his double standards. let's take another example. in tory ethics their proposal -- i know they don't care about children centers so they should hush down so they can listen. let's take another example. they are proposal is to close at 11 centers, and downgraded and 37. with the hours they stay open from 50 hours a week to as little as five. fewer centers, fewer staff, fewer hours. how is that doing what he promised before the election which is to protect and improve
the center? >> let me tell them what is happening under this government in terms of child care. for the first time ever, 15 hours of childcare for every three and four year old in the country. that never happened under labour. for the first time under this government, free childcare hours for every disadvantaged two year old in the country. that never happened under labour. and also to come, tax free childcare under this government. that never happened under labour. and we've upgraded the child tax credit by 420 pounds under this government. that is what is happening. let me be clear. one policy we won't adopt, and that is labour's policy funding more hours through the bank lady. fail poverty spent the bank levied 10 times over. yes, there it is. the jobs guarantee, vat cuts, more capital spending. mr. speaker, this isn't a
policy. it's a night out with reverend flowers. [shouting] >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, mr. speaker. [shouting] let's talk, let's talk about the people he associates with. [shouting] >> let the house calm down. i'm concerned is always about back benches, and back benches who want to speak should be a accommodative. so calm down and let's move on. ed miliband. >> he wants to talk like he associates with -- he's taken nearly 59 pounds from michael spent his country was about to be -- he has a party chairman who operated a company under a false name and was investigated for fraud. he taken millions from tax exiles and tax all borders. his party has never paid back the money, and they are just the
people i can talk about in this house, mr. speaker. now, didn't do the planning minister have it right yesterday when he said this, the single biggest problem facing the conservative party is being seen as a party of the rich? >> today of all days who wants to talk about the people he associates with and he takes money from. because what we can now see is that this bank driven into the wall by this chairman has been given soft loans to the labour party, facilities to the labour party, donations to the labour party. truth in and out of downing street under labour. still advising the leader of the labour party, and yet, and yet now we know all along they knew about his past. why did they do nothing to bring to the attention of the authorities this man who has broken a bank? [shouting] >> ed miliband. >> i think we can take it from
that answer -- i think we can take from that answer does want to talk about his planning minister. where is the planning minister? where is he today? only last january he was praising him to the rafters saying he was leading the debate. i think the house should hear more from him. this is what he says about the tory party. people to work for private equity and make a ton of money. he's right, is in the? >> thank you we finally found a public inquiry he doesn't want. [shouting] he asked for inquiry after inquiry into the culture and practices of this and that but when it comes to the a lot of bank, he is frightened of it. now, also an interesting week to talk about people on the front bench. this week he has referred to his own shadow chancellor as a nightmare. [shouting] i'm sorry. i hate to say i told you so but
i've been saying this for three years. [laughter] but actually that's not the most interesting thing in this fascinating exchange of e-mails. labour's had a strategy, yes, they do actually have one, replied back to the shadow chancellor, when did it become part of our thing? i agree. their policies are not built to last. they are build to self-destruct in about five seconds. [shouting] >> thank you what is so -- what he is chose come principally today, he's shown coverage we did is he is has no answers on the cost of living crisis. that is the truth, and his close friend of the planning minister is right. he said -- >> order. the house must calm down. the questions will be heard. it's very simple. ed miliband. >> and his close friend the planning minister is right. he said this. there are many people who don't like the tory party and don't trust their motives. and he says the prime minister
is not the man to reach them. what he is really saying is this prime minister is a loser. [shouting] >> what we want to -- what this proves, mr. speaker, he can't ask about the economy because it's growing. he can't ask about the deficit because it's falling. he can't ask about the number of people in work because it's rising. he can't even ask about banking because he is mired in his own banking scandal. what we've learned, mr. speaker, in the last four nights, -- >> order. >> thank you what we've learned in the last fortnight, too weak to stand up to paymasters in the region, too weak to stand up to his bankers and too weak to stand up to the shadow chancellor. we all know the nightmare and that's why we're dedicated to making sure the british people don't have to live through it. [shouting] >> thank you, mr. speaker.
my right honorable friend will recall -- [inaudible] which is now open for business but is he as appalled as i am -- [inaudible] isn't this more evidence unite cost of jobs, not states in the? >> i think the honorable lady is absolute right. visiting the london gateway port is one of the most compelling things i've seen in recent years about britain's industrial renaissance. it's an extraordinary investment. it would be huge benefit bringing around 12,000 direct and indirect jobs. she's right about the dangers of union intimidation and bullying tactics. that's important why we have a review and it's important both unite and the labour party take part in that review. >> i'm sure the prime minister will agree that the victims of
terrorism deserve not just words of sympathy are true support and help, and must be at the core of any process dealing with the past in northern island. given the statement the very worrying statement by the attorney general for northern ireland overnight -- [inaudible] and withou without consultations he agree there can no question of an amnesty for any terrorist atrocities and crimes and that all victims of terrorism deserve truth and justice the? >> first of all let me agree with what the honorable member said, which is the words of the northern island attorney general of that much his own words and not anybody else. i can reassure the government has no plans to legislate for an amnesty for crimes that were committed during the troubles.
>> the general is meeting today. hopefully we'll find a way to enable women as soon as possible to be consecrated as officials in the church of england. and if this is successful, will my right honorable friend and the government supports amendments to the bishops act to ensure that women bishops can be admitted to the house of lords as soon as possible, rather than having, women bishops having to queue up behind every existing diocesan bishop before we can sesay women bishops in parliame? >> prime minister? >> my friend policies matters closely and the question he asked is an important one. i strongly support women bishops and i hope the church of england takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern church in touch with our society. in terms of the problem that he raises because of course there's a seniority rule for bishops going into the house of lords, the government is ready to work
with the church to see how getting women bishops into the house of lords can be achieved as soon as possible. >> does the prime minister believe that the proposal from the conservative enterprise group which is supported by 42 -- [inaudible] the truth is. >> i don't support that policy. >> will thank you, mr. speaker. i recently joined the plowing shares credit union in my constituency, which will help a number of people ensure a lot of people will not have to go to payday lenders. what more can the government do to encourage credit unions and to encourage anybody who has a few pounds to spare to put away to take the trade away from awful payday lenders? >> i'm grateful to my friend for raising this issue.
the government strongly supports credit unions. i think they are very big part of the answer to the problems of payday lenders we've invested 38 million pounds in two credit unions. we want to see them expand. we are also regulating properly for the first time payday lending through the new regulator and where prepared to look at all the steps that can be taken to sort this problem out. >> thanks, just bigger. today is universal's children's day. the prime minister be aware -- [inaudible] does the prime minister except. [inaudible] >> i would challenge the honorable members figures because the fact is whereas the pot of money for children's centers was to .3 billion in 2012-2013 them it's going up to 2.5 billion in 2014-15. there are 3000 children centers open. as i sick of only around 1% have
close i think the government has an excellent record on this front. >> now with our changes have been given a greenlight, not by politicians and bureaucrats as happened at the previous government by by those gps. in the prime minister confirm that they're getting increased primary care funding and the hospital is getting 24/7 access to urgent care? >> first of all let me pay tribute to my friend who i know has worked very hard on this for a difficult issue for his constituents. i understand the strategy has been approved, approved. and once implemented the hospital will provide a service which provides access to gps 24 hours a day seven days a week. there are increases in primary care funding and, of course, that is part of our plan not a have cutting the nhs but expanding our nhs spin will be prime minister join me in
congratulating the good people of winning the city of culture 2017? >> i'm absolutely decided to join with the honorable gentleman, and everyone around the country in celebrating this great award for the city of culture. i think it's a very exciting opportunity. i think you will be able to celebrate the first place. the fact that andrew lectured at their, was the librarian, slightly more, peter is the high sheriff, not every city has its burden to bear last night and, of course, in terms of popular music, they have a fantastic record. i remember some years ago that great house album which was -- because they said they were the fourth best band so i'm sure it will be a huge success.
>> registered 600 new business startups last year. the top 10 placement in uk for new business rules. in preparation for small business, with my right honorable friend meet with me to discuss a review of business rates to encourage future rules for special in london? >> i'm very happy to discuss this issue with my honorable friend who always stands up for business and for enterprise. she refers to the number of startups. i think it's a success story for our country, an extra 400,000 businesses now operating. my friend the enterprise edition will be telling the house about the 10,000 startup loans, a government scheme that's gone off the ground extended quickly. of course, there are concerns about business rates and i'm happy to discuss those with a. can i encourage all college to take part in our business saturday? is a brilliant initiative that work very well in the united states where it went into a state how much they care about small businesses.
>> does the prime minister to agree that this planning minister that when modern britain looks at certain parts they see an old-fashioned monolith? >> i have to say with some we he interesting interventions from front bench is passing president i hope my great records -- remember him, the formerly the security minister singh this, the public is desperate for -- speaks to them, not a leader of the opposition intelligent in partisan references knockabout. no. i would stay up with a tweets if you want to get on the right side of this one. [shouting] >> thank you, mr. speaker. [inaudible] who. spent i want to the words. at the moment i can't do them.
>> i will repeat my declaration. i refer the house to the interest as a reason return for the delegation to israel. on both the israeli streets and in the corridor of this done, iran remains that one issue of concern. the vice president visited earlier this week to discuss this matter with the israeli counterpart. and appears to understand israel's legitimate concern. when will our prime minister visit israel, our closest democratic ally in the region to discuss the iranian nuclear issue and other regional concerns? >> first of all can i thank the honorable gentleman for his questioner i know that many people in his constituency to get people about this issue and think about the future visual. i will never forget the visit i made to the lead of the opposition i look forward to visiting i hope next year but i completely understand -- when i went to israel i also visited
not only occupied eastern jerusalem but other place in palestine as well as is proper. i do understand the very real concern that israelis have about the iranian nuclear weapon. that is what i spoke to president rouhani of iran last night to make clear that we want a good outcome to the -- that's got to be an outcome that takes iran further away from a nuclear weapon rather than one that retains the status quo. >> whilst agreeing with the members from belfast north that they should be no question of amnesty, surely there is some malice in the proposal from the northern ireland attorney general, but rather that entering enormous expenditure and effort pursuing crimes committed during the troubles, decades ago, where the evidence is difficult if not impossible to establish, to justify grievances of victims including widows of police officers and prison officers should be addressed in other ways so that northern ireland can move on from its hideous past.
>> i have great respect for the gentleman's views on this issue to he served in northern ireland. he knows how important these issues are. first of all, i do think it's important to allow -- about parades, flags and the giddy with the path. clearly the duty with the past part is most difficult of the three and the most difficult to unlock. the second point i would make is we are all democrats to believe in the rule of law, believe in the it dependence of the police and prosecuting authorities, and they should if they're able to the able to bring cases and i think it's a dangerous to think you can put some sort of block on that but, of course, we are interesting ways in which people can reconcile and come to terms with the bloody past so they can build a viable future and should future for northern ireland. >> is the people and the businesses of suffolk are driving economic growth in the east of england. but they are increasingly fearful that the proposed a 14
road will put suffolk as -- at jesus competitive disadvantage compared to other counties. could ask my right honorable friend if he was usually reconsider the current road proposal? >> i welcome and another chancellor will, i'll listen carefully to the representatives made by suffolk m.p. and i think we've all received representation. i think the important point is we want new roads to be built and we all know that our shortages in terms of the capital expenditure that we can bring forward. and that's why think the idea of having holding -- holding is an idea that is probably worth looking at. [inaudible] forcing many of them back to the
death of a child. will the prime minister commit to them in the unemployment rate act of 1996 to give british parents the legal right? >> i think the honorable gentleman raises a very important issue and a very happy to look at that. having suffered this experience myself, as a member of parliament actually it's possible to take a little bit of time and stand back and come to terms with what's happened because colleagues and people that help you are ready to step in and do what they can so i think he raises a very important point. i will get back to him spent close question. spent number 10, mr. speaker, spend as i told my friend when last asked about this issue, if we want a proper function deterrent when it have the best and that means a permanent at the sobering based posture and that is what a conservative only government after the next election will deliver. >> dr. julian lewis. >> may i reassure my right on the front that that excellent
accidents -- and will remain on my website for as long as it takes for the pledge to be fulfilled. i notice he used the word conservative only people he reassured the house that never again will liberal democrats be allowed to obstruct or delay the signing of the main gate contract? and will he undertake to sign those products at the first possible opportunity? >> what i would say to them, a couple of things. first of all, investment in our nuclear deterrent has not ceased. we are taking all the necessary steps to make that decision possible. also we've had the alternative of study which i don't think came up with a convincing answer but i have to say, mr. speaker, i feel i wouldn't satisfy and how my honorable friend even if i gave him a nuclear submarine to park off the coast of his constituency. [laughter] >> i rather fear that's true.
[laughter] having known the honorable friend for 30 years. >> is the prime minister aware that according to the economist, britain is now 150 night the lowest in the world in terms of business investment, just behind molly, paraguay and guatemala? >> candy therefore please tell us -- candy therefore please tell the house when, under his esteemed leadership, and that of the chancellor, now is expected to catch up with mali? >> i can only conclude that the right honorable gentleman has spent a night out on down with reference laws. and mind altering x-out taken effect. [shouting] the fact is in the first six-month of this year, britain has received more investment, more investment than any other country anywhere in the world. [shouting]
>> mr. stephen o'brien. >> thank you, mr. speaker. has my right honorable friend taking the advice of the party opposite? will be the effects on the cost of fuel and the consequences this would've had on families? >> might right honorable friend makes an important void. it is done if you look at the cuts and freezes in fuel duties that we have made, fuel duty would be 13p higher under labour's plan to our plans but it would. to use a simple word it would be a night -- a nightmare. >> thank you, mr. speaker. his own education department says it has close 578 children's centers. how is this protecting sure start? >> i'm afraid i gave them the figures but he wants to alter his question and think on his secret the fact is there are 3000 such centers open and around 1% have closed.
>> thank you very much, mr. speaker. [inaudible] in my constituent has invested 10 million pounds, grading lots of jobs. the oecd has upgraded -- while downgrading global forecast. [inaudible] reducing debt is the way to actually get the economy moving, not acting -- adding more debt from the party opposite? >> i'm grateful or my honorable friend and what he says. if you look at the oecd forecast out of this week on you see a massive increase in the forecast for uk, uk growth over the next couple of years. and, of course, the party opposite don't want to talk about the economy. because they told us we were going to lose a million jobs. regained the million jobs. they told us growth would be choked off. growth is growing in britain. that's what's happening. the nightmare of the shadow
chancellor -- [shouting] and when it comes to debt, let me remind them of this important point. this important point. this is directly relevant to the issue of debt. gordon brown was borrowing 20 oh 10 pounds a year, the height of the boom in the first negative caching or to avoid having to increase taxes because he wanted to increase public spending. it was an act of cowardice. that is if you like -- we're also hearing ranting from the nightmare. [shouting] >> thank you, mr. speaker. [shouting] >> the house -- [shouting] [laughter] >> order, order.
>> the honorable lady -- has a right to put a question and to be heard when she does so. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the housing association recently voted its chief executive a noncontractual redundancy pay off of 397,000 pounds. will the prime minister join me in condemning the board's action and asking for it to be retained and invested in much-needed tenant services? happy to lookery at the case. some of these payouts really are completely unacceptable. we need to make sure that local authorities properly take responsibility for stopping such high payoffs. in terms of other parts of the economy, where making sure that
if people are reemployed, having taken these payouts, then they have to pay back the money. i think it is vitally important. arbuthnot.s my -- the success of the , would myhe reserves friend join with the leader of the opposition to inspires that success of plan b is in the national interest? >> i clearly agree. i think this is an important program for the future of the country. of course i understand the honorable members concerns about this. if we pass the amendment in the simply the -- that would stop us investing in our reserves and improving our reserves rather than changing the overall staff. i have noticed that labor are saying they put out a statement today saying we are not calling
for the reforms to be reversed. we're not saying the reforms should be shelved. in that case, if they vote against the government, one can only assume it is naked opportunism. >> and the prime minister explain to this house while he from the party website? >> we promised we would not cut haven't cut the nhs. we made absolutely clear before the last election that we would have to take ethical decisions. it is because of those difficult decisions that employment is growing and there are a million more people at work. our economy is doing better and if we followed the advice of the party opposite we would have more spending, more borrowing and more debt. all those things that got this country into the mess in the first place.
>> point of order, mr. michael mecham. >> mr. speaker, as you will have in the houseryone has heard, i asked a perfectly reasonable question which was based on clear documentary evidence as i indicated. it is parliamentary for the prime minister to respond by accusing another right honorable member of standing as if he has been taking mind altering substances. >> order, order. to the right honorable gentleman will complete his point of order. the prime minister has indicated a readiness to respond and that is how we will proceed. a bit of patience is all that is required. to ask, mr. speaker,
whether it is parliamentary to use such an unjustifiable, rude and offensive phrase about another honorable member? i completely respect the right honorable gentleman and the important question he asked which i try to answer with the point about inward investment into britain. i made a lighthearted remark. if it caused any offense, i will happily withdraw it. i think it is very important that we can have a little bit of lighthearted banter and a sense of humor on all sides. >> you have been watching prime minister's questions from the bruce house of commons -- from the british house of commons. you can also watch any time at c-span.org.
u.s. from 2007-2012. remarks --open name to have any opening remarks to put things in context. >> my starting point is that the u.k.-u.s. relationship remains the most important in the uk's international relationships. it starts with the sharing of values. to me it is remarkable that despite the many cultural and other differences between us we still today, by and large, have most an approach to of the problems that confront us. so far we have -- the heart of the relationship is a remarkably
close a set of defense, nuclear and intelligence connections and a habit of comprehensive and intimate foreign policy consultation. all that rests on foundations which are largely unseen and mainly nongovernmental. ,hat is the human links centuries-old, the vibrant cultural and educational connections and a remarkably --cessful, but often commercial and economic relationship. it is good that you delved into that just now. don't think the fundamentals have changed since the coalition government took power in 2010. the prime minister, foreign secretary and others have been generally committed to close operational relationships with the u.s., but there has been some change in the rhetoric, the objectives stated by the government of a solid but not slavish relationship with the u.s..
the language is designed primarily for british, not american audience and it perhaps wasn't completely convey the extent of the relationship tween us. the government has also stressed what the relationship delivers for the british national interest rate i think this is both understandable and necessary in reaction to public concerns in the u.k. after iraq, but of course it creates a bit see sense of this event from the u.s.. the obama administration has repeatedly made clear that it values the u.k.-u.s. relationship them as do people in congress and other parts of u.s. public life. essential the term relationship when president obama visited the u.k. in 2011, i think was intended to underscore the relevance and operational value of the contemporary relationship and to show that neither side was simply relying on history and sentiment. i think that is important.
obamafive years of the administration, i think it is a cardinal feature of the president's foreign policy that one of america's strengths is its ability to attract and maintain strong allies. i think the administration realized it hadn't got that message across adequately when they entered office in 2009. they put more emphasis on it now. to europe and other allies. europe is no longer the principal object of american foreign policy, that has seen a big change since the cold war heard instead, our value is as partners in dealing with the world's economic and political problems. special relationship has been world out of -- any relationship has to meet the test of contemporary utility. so the china-u.s. relationship is probably the most important for the two sides and the world in this century, but the u.s. needs allies in this world and the u.k., in my estimation, is
still the closest and most globally capable ally that the united states has. -- as different as those in israel, germany, japan and elsewhere. the u.s. government supported the pivot towards the asian pacific region. announced that president obama 20 asian pacific region two years ago. after all, we have our own british pivot to the east and the south reflecting the shift in economic power over the past two decades. that is right for america and it is right for the u.k. but some clarity is needed. america was not signaling a solo purpose on asia. the u.s. will remain a global power with enduring interest in the middle east, for example. that wasn't properly understood at the time. and led to the u.s. administration adopting this different term, rebalancing.
on the u.k. side, we need to work out whether our asia pivot is overwhelmingly commercial or whether there are political security and economic policy elements to it as well. i think the u.s. would welcome european working with them. where commercial competitors, what we have a shared interest in the strategic environment. or generally, i believe the u.k. will be a more attractive and influential partner around the world and with emerging powers, it is seen to have a strong relationship with the united states and an influential and active role in europe. an anchor liz united kingdom playing a buccaneer enroll in the 21st-century world will get much less traction. i believe, chairman, that the foundations of the u.k.-u.s. relationship remained extremely strong. i do wish to mention three headwinds. first of all, both the u.k. and the u.s. are suffering from an understandable sense of fatigue
and caution after iraq and afghanistan. it is obvious the ground intervention is out of question in the foreseeable future. but the libya experience shows us the limits of winning wars from the air and syria shows us that very often things get worse, not better when we fail to intervene at all. i am talking about overall policy, not just the military. we do need to construct a -- some new models of intervention and we should do this collaboratively with the u.s. and france. the u.s. administration worries about the debates on identity which we are having here in the u.k.. that made their position very clear on the issue of british membership in the european union. their interest is in an active internationalist economically liberal u.k. which is influencing the european union from the inside. our influences are the lessons years ago and that worries people in washington.
watching the be scottish referendum campaign closely, too. thirdly, defense cuts if they happen in the parliament can also weaken the u.k./u.s. relationship heard the u.s. budget is also under pressure, but the u.k. choices are of a different magnitude heard although there were some concerns. -- accepted our assurance that we would remain a full spectrum power. in the next parliament, the final decision on trident, our ability to maintain what for america are our key niche disability such as intelligence, special forces, cyber, maritime anti-mine warfare and the general readiness to be able to contribute to future operations will all come under scrutiny. whether we have a navy that can in some way contribute to the broader security efforts in the asia-pacific is also a major question.
thank u, chairman. i look forward to the committee's questions. thank you. >> that is particularly helpful. i appreciate your remarks about the headwinds we are facing. during your time as ambassador, we had a change of administration here. did you see any difference in a relationship between the approach in government from the last government in this country and the present one? didn't result in a change in policy in any way? >> i don't think there were any fundamental changes in policy. i think the fundamentals have remained as his government came to power. there is a broad continuity of objectives going from the blair administration to the brown administration under the labor government. as i said, there was a change perhaps in the public language used to some degree. that started from conservative spokesman in opposition before the election and that language has continued in government.
i don't think it has affected the fundamentals in any way. i think in the gordon brown. there was a greater emphasis because of world events on the financial crisis and i think that prime minister brown would have located that work together on national economic issues as central to the special -u.s.ionship of the uk's relationship. it is more difficult to see over a. of time. we come back to the core strategic foreign-policy and defense interests which i talked about. most associate with the u.k.- u.s. relationship. natoe responsibility for moved from the minister responsible for the u.s. relationship to the minister for europe. did that come across anyone's radar at all? or did it have an impact? >> i don't think it has any significant impact and i think that during this.
activity in afghanistan. i don't think it was a key issue for us. >> in the present government, has the deputy prime minister, which a previously one didn't, is that one scene as an interlocutory between the vice president or is that a minor point? >> i think it is useful because it does provide an extra area, and asked level and point of contact or there is no doubt that feiss president biden plays u.s. foreignn the policymaking process as a former chairman of the foreign relations committee and someone who had decades of committee international affairs, he plays a big role. he is useful for us to have various regular contract between the prime minister and him. and ik previous inquiries imagine that this one will always focus on the personal
element in u.k.-u.s. relations. it is important there are many other relationships as well. but the u.s., as you well know, is a presidential system. in this obama administration, you could argue that even more of the key decisions have been pulled into the white house than before. that applies to the president and the vice president, but particularly the president. of course we cover the waterfront as an embassy and the government as we cover the think tanks and everyone, as well as the administration in the white house. the white house remains absolutely key for any reddish foreign policy. that is always been in the practices of u.k.-u.s. relations. i would never dismiss that. i think it must be kept in perspective. the british media sometimes focus only on the relationships at the top. they are important, particularly in a presidential system.
if you are back in your post is our ambassador in washington, what would you be saying to the ?ritish government are the absolutely top priorities for our government in ensuring that the u.s.-u.s. relationship remains both strong and beneficial to both countries? >> i think that some of those -- this is not in a particular order, but i would say that there are four or five key points. not only is to remain in the european union but to remain active in the european for a range of economic, financial, but also foreign policy reasons. that is a decision which made is probably the most
significant in foreign-policy terms. secondly, as i mentioned, i think that maintaining our defense and diplomacy budget, i did mention diplomacy, but i did think they're both going to be important in the five to 10 years ahead. be significant and the americans will look at a range of decisions after our next election. and will judge whether we have the appetite, the political will to remain active security and political players in the world. there are a number of other decisions about her defense budget which are coming out and which will be debated in the united states, depending on which way we eventually go. certainly, i think our ability to influence united states depends on are having assets and
expertise available and on the table. retaining our expertise and our assets, particularly in areas of importance. , increasingly the pacific asia region. i think we need to resolve for ourselves whether we are going to play a broader political and security role in the asian pacific heard i'm not suggesting we do anything like united states can do and is already doing, but are we going to our broader foreign policy to areas other than commercial diplomacy and are we going to maintain our expertise in different parts of the middle east jigsaw, whether it is iran or the arab-israel issue. we canre the areas where exercise influence, where we have got something additional to put on the table and to cause united states administration of the day to rethink its policy. i think that requires
maintaining our diplomatic network which is particular interest in this committee. that is a range of things that i strategic more than day-to-day issues of our assets and our diplomatic assets around the world. changes that was brought in with the coalition government in the u.k. is a national security council and the national security advisor. persisted and influence the u.s. administration anyway that wasn't the case before? evolution,it was an not a completely new start, because of course we had many versions of the same thing in
the previous few years with a growing role -- >> including your own role. >> indeed, but there is a difference. single national security adviser who brings together the foreign, defense and development elements that i was responsible for the cabinet office with the national security both domestic and international roles does make a difference. it does more accurately reflect the sort of way in which the united states goes about this third i think it looks like a more coherent structure on our side and i think that to the extent it gives our national security advisor additional stakes in responsibility. it is helpful in his relationship with the united states. ambassador,are an how did you interact with the national security advisor compared to how you interacted with the foreign secretary?
well, of course any ambassador reports formally to the foreign secretary and that remains the case in my case. aboutr example, you are to have a visit by the prime minister, you might direct your tactical advice on handling a visit by the prime minister primarily to the national security advisor as a person who is on the spot during the visit. the foreign secretary is in a different league, in a different category from the national security adviser. he is the member of cabinet responsible overall for foreign affairs and that is different from the role of a senior official, however much support folder has been expanded. occasion where the two roles and two lines of communication cause a difficulties? >> not in my experience, no. i think it will -- i think our
system works differently from the u.s.. the policies which you do see regularly in the american system which are given vent in the media on a regular basis are less pronounced in the british system in my experience over number of years. i haven't detected that over the. of the last three years that a difference of view between the two being a big factor in u.k. foreign policymaking. a report was published in one of the points made was that there was a lack of a dedicated ministerial focus within the foreign office team of the united states relationship because the administrative -- responsibilities. does that lack of a dedicated minister who really has the time to deal with the u.s. relationship interest in any way? >> no. i think the key thing is that
prime minister, they devote a chunk of their time to thinking about the u.k. and u.s. and broader transatlantic relationships. i think it can be done. hardly because the ministers facing the foreign office responsible for north america does not have an obvious american counterpart. there is no one obvious to pick up the phone to. so you could say the assistant secretary of state for europe or you could say it is the assistant secretary of state for the americans but it wouldn't really work. andink the prime minister the foreign secretary are the relationshipinuing . they think they have to bear the burden of making sure that the relationship is in good shape. in the course of our
investigation, the united kingdom doesn't take a sufficiently strategic approach to its relations with the united states. that is often married to some criticism of the effectiveness joint report.s. what is your response to the question principle about if we take a strategic approach? secondly, how do you assess the performance of the strategy board, which i think was created on your watch? >> thank you. i think, first of all, this is a difficult issue, because of course in the u.k.-u.s. relationship as this committee knows is a huge relationship or it is very difficult to easily, briefly summarize it. elements of the foreign office. it covers significant chunks of activity in the rest of government.
it is sometimes quite difficult to capture it in a strategic item. i think successive governments, looking back over the last years or so, the three governments of that. have tried to think about the and havehip as a whole certainly tried, if you're looking at the middle east or the subcontinent or asian- pacific, have looked at the u.k.-u.s. role going forward as a. of years, not just the date today. i think it is fair to say that in the last couple of years the increased sense of volatility in pace ofd and of the events sometimes over matching our ability to think forward rationally has been a factor. i think most foreign ministers around the world would've found themselves doing more firefighting in the long-term and strategic landing under this extraordinary pressure in the middle east or elsewhere. you are right, the strategy
board was announced during president obama's present visit in the spring of 2000. it was anllection is american proposal from the security council, essentially to give expression to the fact that we were already doing a great deal of foreign policy at aination, discussion strategic level in any event. and it has been a couple of years since i have been in washington, so i do not think the government at the time was saying that. and this is something that was fundamentally