25/04/2013 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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The United States has decided that chemical weapons have been used in


the Civil War in Syria. What now? Remember this? If you make the


tragic mistake of using these weapons there will be consequences


and you will be held accountable. Today's accusation is incendiary,


can they prove it? We will speak to the former


presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, who believes the


United States has to act. Also tonight, official figures show the


economy isn't in recession, but does that add up to a growth


strategy. As rescuers continue the frantic


search for survivors of the Bangladesh garment factory fire. We


explore the appetite for cheap clothes has created there. With our


guests we ask who is gaining most from this trade?


Chemical weapons have been used in the Civil War in Syria. Both


Washington and London say they believe the evidence is persuasive.


Now Barack Obama has already said that if President Assad were to


start using chemical weapons he would be crossing a red line which


would change everything. Yet the White House hasn't threatened


American military action in Syria. The approach is in great contrast


to the controversial assertions about Saddam Hussein's supposed


weapons of mass destruction. Senior Republican figures though say the


evidence is compelling enough for America now to start giving guns to


the opposition. Here is what the US Secretary of State of defence,


Chuck Hagel, said earlier. The US intelligence community assesss with


some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used


chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria. Specifically the chemical


agent sarin. As I have said, the intelligence community has been


assessing information for some time on this issue. The decision to


reach this conclusion was made within the past 24 hours.


diplomatic editor is here. What sort of attacks are we talking


about by the Syrians? There have been incidents we have known about,


if we plot them on the map one was late last year near Homs in central


Syria, another last month near Aleppo in the north. That at the


time many explained as a shell shitting a chemical depot and


releasing some chlorine, not nerve gas, not sarin. After that a couple


of villages near Damascus were said to be the site of the attacks.


Today's accusations about sarin. That is a nerve agent, a pin-head


drop sized bit of that could kill many people. These incidents only


involved a few people. So it is still a mystery whether the persons


have got something new. They have talked about an intelligence


assessment formed in the last few hours. The American line is very


uncertain? It is clearly uncertain. Today's news, sparked by the


release of a letter to Senator McCain and others from a White


House legal council. They say they assess with varying degrees of


confidence. That is an alluding to that there are agency differences


that what it means that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons,


on a small scale, specifically sarin, that nerve agent. Then it


says this a sment is based, in part, on -- assessment is based, in part,


on physiological samples. There are suggestions there that the


Americans may have looked at people who might have been affected, maybe


blood or hair or other tissue. It is known that they have got people


on the ground, these different countries, looking for evidence.


With the opposition forces, and they have given them equipment like


this. This is a French chemical agent monitor, a French army one. A


more sophisticated version of the same. You can sample the air or put


a sample in here for analysis. Also looking for biological weapons this


device could help you detect the presence of those live agents like


antthrax and plague -- an thrak and plague. Even if you make the claim


as Britain and France did last week it is hard to butress it. According


to one export here. I wouldn't believe they would say that unless


they had seen credible evidence to that degree. The challenge and the


reason we haven't seen activity from the crossing of the red line


is because that evidence is not, it doesn't follow all the rules of


chain of forensic evidence. It is not absolutely conclusive. We don't


know who used the chemical weapons. It could be the regime, it could be


the Syrian opposition. That is the factor missing at the moment.


do you think the Americans will do about it? The political position


would seem to be quite clear, wouldn't it. Based on that


statement from President Obama late last year. Let's remind ourselves


of that have again. The world is watching. The use of chemical


weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. If you make the


tragic mistake of using these weapons there will be consequences


and you will be held accountable. Now, that puts the President in a


very, very tricky situation. He can't suppress evidence that's


coming to light and hence you have today's disclosure. On the other


hand if you announce it, it creates an imperative for action. Could it


be military action? Well we know there are contingency teams of


specialists, Special Forces, chemical weapons experts in place


in Turkey and Jordan. But in the short-term he may be thinking of


something not quite as escaltory as that, perhaps a new diplomatic


offensive to try to get UN inspectors into the country.


Senator John McCain was the man who brought about today's revelations


after writing to President Obama asking him to reveal what evidence


is known about the use of chemical weapons. He received the White


House's reply today. He joins us now. The samples referred to,


physiological samples, do you know anything more about what they were?


No, our chairperson of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has


more information than I do said that it is without a doubt that he


has crossed the red line. The Israeli intelligence alleged the


same. Your British intelligence spokesman said we have limited but


persuasive information from various sources. But I would like to make


two points, one, why are we worried about that? We should have


intervened a long, long time ago. We have watched 70,000 people being


massacred, destablising the neighbouring countries, Jihadists


pouring into the country. Why should the litmus taste be a red


line of use of these weapons when the President has given these


people, Bashar al-Assad, the green light to massacre his own people


and destablise the entire region. And second of all, should anybody


be surprised if Bashar al-Assad used a chemical weapon. He has said


and shown he will do anything necessary to stay in power. In your


judgment, whatever the rights and wrongs of what President Obama has


or has not done, the tipping point has now been reached where he has


to act? I believe that he had to act two years ago. So I can't, I


wouldn't be surprised at all if the White House said well as your


people are discussing this saying we need more he have evidence --


evidence and we need more evidence. They are very clear that this White


House, watching Iraq deteriorate, equiffcating on a force leaving


behind in Afghanistan and a statement that the "tide of war is


receding", doesn't want to be involved. I'm sorry if I'm cynical


but I have watched the withdrawal of the US and the consequences for


which we will pay a heavy price for in the future. Do you think his


credibility is at stake? I don't know. He has an adoring media, so I


don't know. His credibility evaporated when he said he wouldn't


do anything to these people unless there was chemical weapons, giving


a green light for Bashar al-Assad to massacre his people. I wish the


BBC would go to these refugee camps and see the people who have been


raped, tortured skilled and driven out of their home. Destablising


Lebanon and Jordan where they have had to flee to. And Jihadists


fleeing in from all over the world. All the consequences that would


happen if we intervened have taken place if we didn't intervene.


would be equally unacceptable, would it not, if the chemical


weapons were to fall into the hands of the anti-Government forces?


depends on whose hands it falls into. If two years ago we had


established the safe zone, which we still need to do, helped organise,


train, equip and govern, as we did as in Benghazi in Libya we wouldn't


face the problem. Yet we need to be ready to go in or have, let me be


careful with my choice of words here, make sure these chemical


cachets of chemical weapons are secured and do not fall into the


wrong hands. The more Jihadists that go in, the greater their


influence and more likely they get hold of these weapons. You are


conceding that if the chemical weapons, which everyone is so


alarmed about, if they are such a risk, the only thing the United


States and her allies can do is to secure them herself? Well it


depends again. If we gave the resistance and the people that


should, the good people that are fighting for the freedom of the


Syrian people if we gave them the wherewithal to fight and defend


themselves we wouldn't have had to worry about them if it happened a


year ago. A year on there may be a superiority of them. The trend is


in the wrong direction. Its our fault, not their's. I wonder if you


look at the experience of Afghanistan and indeed elsewhere in


the world, early days of Iraq for example, whether we actually know


for sure who the good guys are? sure I can tell you, I have met


with them. I have met with the good guy, I know who they are, and so


does everybody else. But they feel betrayed. They are bitter and angry.


I was in a refugee camp in Jordan and this woman said see all these


children they will take revenge on the people who refused to help them.


I know who she was talking about. These are the sort of people you


think you can trust with chemical weapons? I'm not saying I could


trust them with chemical weapons, but I could trust the people I know


that are the leaders of the National Council and the national


army that I could trust them, yes, I could trust them. They would need


our assistance, but I would be very reluctant to put American boots on


the ground. What about the position of Russia? We keep beating that


drum. How many times are we going to see that movie, it will be the


Russians, they will take Bashar al- Assad, that was two years ago. New


York Times still keeps saying it. It is becoming, if it wasn't so sad


it would be amusing. That we are relying on Russia to make Bashar


al-Assad behave. The Iranians are now training Syrians and bringing


them back. Hezbollah is there on the ground, the Iranians are on the


ground. Russian arms supplies have ined, that is doing a lot of good -


- increased, that is doing a lot of good isn't it. Hang out the bunting


and three cheers for George Osborne we are not in recession, we are not


in yet another recession right now, on the basis of figures which may


yet be modified. The fact that a growth rate in the first quarter of


this year of 0.3% can be treated like the second coming tells you a


lot about the state of the British economy. But we shouldn't be too


dismissive of small mercies for there aren't any bigger ones on


offer. One for Comrade Mason, I think.


If you are the kind of person that gets annoyed when economic stories


start nought point something. Today's nought 0.3% growth is small


but it is something we can expect. It means the UK economy has grown


by �5 billion more in the last three months than it did three


months before Christmas. It is not much, but politically it is enough.


It saved goorn a lot of trouble. -- George Osborne a lot of trouble.


This is a modern depression, the graph shows the size of the economy


which fell dramatically during the financial crisis of 2008 and has


not recovered. Despite today's positive figure. If you look at how


the economy expanded since 2000 you can see what's lost. This dotted


line shows the long-term trend. The gap between that and where we are


is growth that can never come back. I think it is more politically


important than economically important. Anything in the region


of minus two to plus two would have shown we were stagnant. Being


positive is fractionally better. It is only half the growth rate which


in the past we would have considered normal trend growth. It


is very slow indeed. If you look at the detail, nearly all the growth


from January to March came from the service sector, that added 0.5% to


GDP, but that was offset by stagnant manufacture and a


shrinking construction sector, together with agriculture, also


shrinking, subtracted 0.2%, leaving the final figure 0.3%. If you could


speed construction up, or even stop it shrinking you could have a


recovery. That is not what the plan is. When they designed the


austerity plan in 2010, the Government said really clearly it


wouldn't work unless the UK economy rebalanced, away from high finance


and house prices and towards exports and manufacturing. Today's


figure show really clearly that's not happening. That is why the


political size of relief -- sighs of relief were not that big. These


are encouraging signs the economy is healing. Despite a tough


economic situation we are making progress. Of course we have still


got difficult decisions to take, there aren't easy answers. People


understand that. But that's what we have to do. We have to go on taking


those difficult decisions and fronting those problems if we are


going to build an economy fit for the future. What can the Government


do? The UK's top civil servant recently let slip there are too


many answers. Vince Cable wants to fix the banks, George Osborne to


fix the construction industry, David Cameron to boost exports and


Nick Clegg to boost the regions. think the Government recognises


that probably should have spoken more about growth at an earlier


stage, perhaps it should have pitched the whole strategy,


spending cuts and so on in terms of boosting growth. Now we are


flailing around trying a multistrand approach, four


different people pursuing four different basis for pursuing growth,


I don't think that is the best idea. One economist from a think-tank has


drawn handy map of all the options being presented to George Osborne.


What is your best guess at when we finally recover as an economy?


know I think it is just so hard to say. It really actually depends on


what George Osborne decides to do next, I think. What if he does


nothing? There is a danger we end up in the low-growth state bouncing


along the bottom. On a zero point something day, all


the data was sobering for manufacturing, it grew by a zer we


are becoming used to 0.0. David Gauke is here for his routine


appointment. When the Chancellor says the economy is healing, by


when will it be healed? It is an encouraging sign that the economy


is growing. That is what we have seen today. We have got a long way


to go, we have some fundamental problems that we have to address,


that built up over many years. We are making progress. We have seen a


1.25 million private sector jobs created, the deficit is down by a


third. We have low interest rates, there is encouraging signs but we


have a long way to go. Let's have a look at the chart this is the state


of the economy. You call that good do you? It is a difficult economic


climate and I don't look. That looks like a coma not a healing?


growth in the first quarter of the year. We are forecast to grow more


than France and Germany this year and next year. We want to be very


straight forward, these are difficult economic circumstances.


We see the eurozone in recession, we are recovering from a major


banking crisis. We have to deal with the big deficit. There is a


tiny bit of growth, a tiny bit of growth, negative growth, negative


growth, a bit more growth, negative growth, and a bit more growth. That


is not healing? We are forecast by the independent Office of Budget


Responsibility to grow this year. We have actually grown more than


people had predicted for this first quarter. And, as I say, we are


creating a lot of jobs in this country, private sector growth is


strong. We are also getting the deficit down by a third. If your


argument is these are difficult economic circumstances and growth


is not as strong as we would like it to be, I can't disagree with you.


I'm a taking you up on your leader's view that it is a healing.


I was wondering when we might be back to pre-crash levels? I'm not


here to make predictions. The forecast of the Office of Budget


Responsibility ...The Graph shows us what happens at least, you have


no idea what is going on. You have no idea what the next set of


figures are going to be like do you? I'm not making any predictions.


The Office of Budget Responsibility predicts we will grow as the year


goes on. It is an encouraging sign. We shouldn't deny that. But it is


in a climate that is difficult for the economy. Your bosses may made


predictions, I would like to remind you of his prediction of how we are


going to get out of the mess we are in. Let's hear what he had to say


about growth strategies? We want the words "made in Britain, created


in Britain, designed in Britain, invented in Britain" to drive our


nation forward. A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers.


That is absolute rubbish, isn't it? What is striking about the


manufacturing numbers. I think the rubbish you are looking for is


"yes"! What is striking about the manufacturing numbers is if you


look at the domestic-facing parts of the economy, in the first


quarter of the year we did well, that is where the serves are. If


you look at manufacturing which relies on exports, it is a really


difficult time. There is another graph there, contribution of


manufacturing to growth of GDP, 0.0%, a negative quantity, a little


bit of positiveness, negative, neglective, 0.0, does that look to


you like growth? The position on manufacturing is clear.


Manufacturing depends to a very large extent upon our export


markets. That has been very, very difficult when the eurozone has


been in recession. It is also just worth pointing out that if you look


at the manufacturing numbers, we had a very, very bad January and a


bit of a recovery in February and March. Would you say we are being


carried aloft by the march of the makers, we are not? No. It was a


pretty Silvio thing to say? manufacturing has got to play an


important part in our recovery. It is very difficult when the eurozone


is in the state that it is in. When our manufacturing is quite so


dependant on that. That is why, for example, we need to do more to


export to the like of China and India and we have seen some drat


makes increases -- dramatic increases in exports to those


markets. We need to do more of that and that is a folks cuss of the


Government. But the strategy hasn't worked, clearly. You have just said


it hasn't worked because things are a bit difficult? The environment we


are in is difficult, nobody can deny that. Whoever was in


Government would have to wrestle with some of those prob epbl. I


come back to the point that we have create -- problems. I come back to


the point we have created 1.25 million private sector jobs. We


have low interest rates and maintained the credibility of the


markets, and we have reduced the deficit by a third. It would be


lovely if everything was rosy and the world economy was growing great


guns, that isn't the wags we are in, and it is difficult for the British


people. But the evidence we saw -- position we are n it is difficult


but there is evidence that the position we are in there is growth.


How about Chorley wood, are people happy there? They are, it is a


happy place. People think the economy is getting better and


better, because your experience is doubtless the same as most people's


experience in that they are very unhappy out there. There is a


microclimate in Chorleywood is it? It is a very nice place to live.


There are different experiences in different parts of the country, I


don't deny that. We face some significant challenges. The economy


is growing, it is forecast to continue to grow. It is forecast to


grow faster than in France or Germany. If we have huge steps to


take like the help to buy process, Funding For Lending, it is why we


are switching expenditure to current capital to improve our


infrastructure. It is why we have got ourselves the most competitive


tax system in the G20. That is the direction we are going in. That is


why we are looking at the rules and regulations that inhibit businesses


from growing. Those are steps a sensible Government has to take.


What isn't the answer and we haven't turned to this is to go on


some spending a borrowing splurge, that would be a huge mistake.


tiring being so optimistic all the time? We have some real challenges.


We have been realistic. It is healing? On the evidence of today's


numbers it is. On the evidence of the 1.25 new jobs created in the


private sector and the deficit has come down. You have no idea what


the figures will be next time round? Those are the figures we


have at the moment in difficult circumstances. This is a difficult


time for the economy. And we accept that, whether it is in Chorleywood


or elsewhere. But we are making difficult decision at a time when


there are big challenges. Thank you very much. The precise


figures are elusive, but it seems that about 250 people may have been


killed in the collapse of a building, where Bangladeshi workers


made western clothing. Household name companies are now suddenly


publicity shy for the tragedy raises nasty Questions. Whose fault


is it? The factory boss who is kept one of the people in one of the


poorest countries on earth at their machines despite warnings. The poor


construction that seems endemic in Bangladesh. The western retailers


whose appetite for profits keeps the orders rolling. You and my


guiltless pleasure in consuming. We have this report. The full scale of


this catastrophe is still emerging. The UK's Primark just one of many


western retailers buying clothes from factories inside the collapsed


building. The company says it is shocked and saddened by what


happened. But critics say the Bangladeshi


garment industry was already cracking at the seams. This woman


has paid the price too. Thanks to the west's appetite for cheap


clothes she had a steady job in the industry. But then her daughter


started work in a factory too. Just a week later the plant caught fire,


killing her and more than 100 other workers. From the charred ruins


emerged evidence of rampant cost cutting and safety abuses. Nearly


six months later no-one has been prosecuted or even arrested. Still


living near the abandoned factory her life is in ruins too.


TRANSLATION: I couldn't work after she died. Now I have to because we


are in debt. If I ever see the owner I will burn him alive. Just


like he burnt my child to ash and emptyed a mother's chest.


industry has grown fast, to fast say some. With new factories


opening all the time. Attacked by its cheap labour British retailers


have flocked here. Turning Bangladesh into its bargain tamor


of choice. At this factory they make nearly 20 million garments a


year for major British brands. This plant is known for the high


standards. When the clothes leave here. They are ready to be put


straight on the shelves. You could say this is Bangladesh's Industrial


Revolution. Making cheap clothes for the UK and other western


markets, now employs millions of people. It is also helping to


empower Bangladeshi women. But the industry is under constant pressure


to keep costs down. While this is one of the better factories, in


others the practices that led to the fire still continue. The


capital, Dhaka, is full of smaller factories where safety standards


and working conditions are much worse. To keep costs down it is an


open secret that many companies often sub contract to these


sweatshop operations. The checking up is almost impossible. We have


learned that there are many back street operations in this part of


Dhaka doing sub-contracting work for other factories, including one


that has business with the UK. The only way to see for ourselves is to


use concealed cameras, some of our team are going to go inside, posing


as local businessmen. The way in is the only exit, if there is a fire.


Buckets of sand the only equipment for fighting a blaze. On the shop


floor we see children working, flouting the official ban. The


owner says almost all his work is sub-contracted from other factories


that use him secretly to fulfil their orders. Some of the clothes


made here have been destined for the UK. Even for factories with the


best reputations, the pressure is growing. Here they insist


everything is done in-house, with no sub-contractors. Our existing


customer, they are more vigilent now. They are frequently visiting


with notice and no notice. Wur also ourselves motivating people. We are


on high -- we are also ourselves motivating people, we are on high


alert and taking initiative. Definitely this is a wake-up call


for us. Do you think there needs to be more Government regulation?


have a regulation but the implementation is not about. From


the offices of her small labour union Nasma campaigns for better


conditions and workers' rights. It is risky work, last year one


organiser was found murdered. The case is still unsolved. She says


western buyers are complicit too for turning a blind eye to the


industry's cut-price practice. buyer is showing they are sleeping,


but really they are not sleeping. They know all the thing behind what


is going on and their showing they don't know anything. Their double


face is there. They are always cutting and asking for better


compliance. But some factories still have


questions to answer. We follow one of the Government's new fire


This plant also make clothes for the UK. Then they test a smoke


alarm. It doesn't work. It is an embarrassing and potentially deadly


lapse. The plastic seals are still on the battery. With so many


Bangladeshis on the wrong side of the track, in this densely


populated country, it desperately needs the jobs the clothes business


provides. The Government says it is determined to improve conditions


and to close down the worst franc tros. But the message to --


factories, but the message to western countries is "don't push us


too hard". If they really want this human rights to be maintained, that


is the biggest human right, the right for survival, the right for a


better life. That is very important. Number two is there must be also


ready to pay us the real wages. is not clear if any extra money


would actually reach the people who need it most. Six months since her


daughter's death Rumana finally build up the courage to visit her


grave. Now hundreds of other Bangladeshis are mourning. And the


price of feeding the west's hunger for cheap clothes keeps rising. To


talk about this we are joined by Jeff Banks, a fashion designer and


who launched the fashion chain Warehouse, he also launched the


Clothes Show. Katharine Hammnett, who has campaigned since the 1980s


for better ethics in the fashion industry and a designer. And


Rushanara Ali, was born in Bangladesh and looks into the


industry in India. Who benefits most from the trade?


think it is 50/50. There is a desire in the west to keep on


buying economical clothes. I think we are all guilty of it. I would


like to say I think that the clothing industry generally tonight


is grossly ashamed of what's gone on in the last week in Bangladesh.


I think it's actually having a riveting effect on a lot of chief


executives as the way they handle their business going forward.


Regretably it has had an effect. On the other side, I do believe that


nations that are actually endeavouring to pull themselves up


by the bootstraps do look forward to this kind of manufacturing and


I'm afraid these indiscretions, even though the majority of


companies retain companies to look after the efficiency with which


things are dealt with, some slip through the net. Katharine Hammnett


who do you think benefits from this trade? From this, the people at the


top of the big brands, the people that are floating around in their


�100 million yachts. You would accept that clearly in terms of the


employment and national income it has benefits for a country like


Bangladesh this trade? It is one of their biggest exports. Wait the


workers are paid and treated, it is hard to say whether they are better


off. I suppose they just manage to eat. But a lot of this


manufacturing goes on in export processing zones which are actually


exempt from even local labour laws. Any dissent or demands for higher


wage or attempts at collective bargaining are assessed by the


military. It has a he will had of a long way to go. Rushanara Ali,


would you accept it is a lot to do with corruption in Bangladesh and


people not implementing regulation that should be, it is not entirely


the fault of western retailers? think that the fault lies with both


the companies of those countries, like Bangladesh, as well as the


businesses, western businesses that are involved in there. I do believe


they have a much greater responsibility to work toward


having basic minimum standard. These are multibillion pound


operations. Around the world. In garments factories. If they


exercised their influence and power to ensure the conditions were met


you would have better results. Countries like Bangladesh need the


inLuiz Eduardo investment. The Governments would take action if


business applied its pressure appropriately. That is not


happening. It is very peace meal what they do. -- piecemeal had a


they. Do I have seen some of the work they do, it is good work but


insignificant compared to the scale of the problem. In the case of this


particular tragedy, we know there was a crack in the building,


warnings were given about it, the warnings were ignored, people felt


compelled to go to work. What responsibility is that of a British


or European retailer or importer? There should be, I believe there


should be international agreements on basic minimum labour standards


and conditions, within which businesses can operate effectively.


It is true businesses can't enforce those changes on their own, they


have a very important role to play. Reputationally there is huge damage


to businesses and their brands. It is not really in the interests of


the business or the country concerned, if there is a case of


irresponsible capitalism, this is a clear example of it and business


need to step up. You said some businesses are beginning to


recognise it? Many of the companies named there Next, Tesco, they


employ a group called Suvaro, based in Hong Kong, they would have


170,000 employees that are retained to go and ensure that standards of


minimum wages, hospital arrangements, number of toilets per


head, all of those things are abided by. And they what advise


companies to withdraw should shows not be complied with. The question


mark over this build something would that organisation have had a


structural engineer look at the safety of the building. I think not.


We don't know that? Having said that, the chairman of Matalan


issued a directive to awful his procurement people that in future


that has to be added to the list. The what are son is, you think


about the old sweat -- comparisons is this, you think about the old


factories here and weaving factories and the like, conditions


were pretty terrible. Can we expect to have similar conditions in the


developing world to the sort of conditions we expect to take for


granted here? We should have similar standards. I think we


should have a decent living minimum wage, we should have freedom of


association, access to healthcare, building regulation check. I think


that actually you could have legislation in those countries, but


it doesn't seem to work, we actually need to have legislation


in our countries that goods coming into our countries are certificated


to these standards and inspected properly to force the change. The


problem is, the big brands are really happy. The Chinese


Government official told me once that the reason they haven't


improved their labour standards, their human rights, is because the


big brands were pressuring them not to. The key thing will be, let me


play you a bit of tape, this afternoon we went out to talk to


the people just outside Primark. Their views are quite interesting.


It is very short, just listen to it. Have you heard about the factory


collapseded in Bangladesh? No. people have been killed. One of the


shops they supply to is Primark. didn't know that. Will that affect


whether or not you go to Primark? Yes. Why? That is outrageous. If I


had known that before I went in I wouldn't have gone in. Why do you


shop in Primark? Because it is cheap. For the price. Do you worry


about where and how it is made? Not at all. What a pity, but not at


all. Do you ever think about where they are made? I know they are made


in Bangladesh and I have heard the news about it collapsing. I'm a


lecturer and we were talking about it today. Why did you still go in?


These don't say Bangladesh I don't know where they were made. What did


you buy? A T-shirt and basic things. What did you make of the story when


you saw the pictures of the factory collapse, more than 200 people


died? I felt bad for them, then I thought a person alone not buying a


T-shirt in one shop wouldn't make a difference. What if everyone


stopped buying T-shirts? I hope they do, but I don't think that


time will come soon. We have got a different attitude to clothe,


haven't we. To the fact that you should be able some how to buy


cheap clothes. They are not intrinsically cheap? I think they


are cheap. When you look at prices back in the 1980s that if you look


at the price of a Lewin shirt at �20 these days, it was probably �79


back in the 80s. The cost of clothing, relative to the rest of


the economy has remained permanently cheap. That is the


desire of the consumer. It is interesting what those people are


saying. I think if you don't comply, socially, I think the consumer will


vote with their wallet. I think a lot of people will be turned off


Primark as a result. The one thing I would like to say is that only 35


years ago in streets not too far from here was the centre of the rag


trade. With sweat shops on every flour. In 1976 the minimum leaving


school age of a schoolgirl was raised to 16. Prior to that there


would be rows of 15-year-olds sitting on sewing machines. What we


expect in the west is the rest of the planet will catch up with the


situation today. When Katherine talks about Chinese situations, in


fact the Chinese textile development council employ over


2,500 people that look after the way human rights are actually


activated in China. A lot of the manufacturing that you go to now,


theity and standard of manufacturing and factories there


is higher than you would certainly get in a lot of western European


factories. Let's leave the Chinese, because we are at a bit of a loss


and specific references to China. When you look at the question of


consumer pressure and this industry, do you believe that such a thing as


an ethical rag trade is feasible? think consumers are driving it. The


rag trade by itself would probably have done nothing. But increased


consumer awareness of these issues is making people not buy things


because they are concerned about where they come from and how they


are made. Marks & Spencers have got figures on this which are


surprisingly high H something like 60% of consumers have not bought


something because of these kinds of concerns. I disagree. These are the


ones that are driving the industry to remove. Clothes have come down


and are incredibly cheap. They are not cheap when you consider the


true cost is paid in human suffering and environmental


degradation in the bottom of the ply chain. When you look at the


role of Government, the British Government or the EU, what can they


do? They have a very important responsibility to set the standards.


We have seen that with child labour. Years ago there was much concern


about child labour. Governments came together and companies worked


with the Governments to effect change. You need people to campaign


and Governments to act. I think it does concern me the comments that


Jeff has made. If we don't have high expectations, we are never


going to change anything. The idea that people's lives should be at


risk in those countries is just unacceptable. I represent the


constituency that had the rag trade. That doesn't make it OK that you


have the kinds of deaths and destruction in factories in those


countries. The pay is less than �1 a week in some of these places. The


majority of garments workers are women. It is clear those countries


need the investment and the economic development. But you


cannot have the kind of damage to people's lives that we have seen,


not just in Bangladesh, but Pakistan, numerous accidents. We


need business to work responsibly with Governments and we need


international agreements that are properly honoured. Businesses will


need to be required to act if they don't show results. We haven't seen


the kind of results we need to protect people. You have an


organisation that employs 170,000 people, acting own behalf of


companies like Tesco and Next, that are actually ensuring that the


requirement? They are the exemption peculiars. They are standard, it is


the odd few not necessarily doing T again the restriction in law, it


happened in India that the law was changed about people and


responsibilities in employment and pensions and immediately hundreds


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