With Evan Davis. The alleged conduit between Trump and the Kremlin, shared parental leave, plus is this a watershed moment for Facebook?
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Facebook faces the wrath
of regulators and customers
in multiple countries.
Its reputation has sunk,
along with its share price,
and a business plan based on liberal
sharing of data may be under threat.
Is the Cambridge Analytica
scandal a watershed moment
in our relation with Facebook,
and other Silicon Valley giants?
I don't know whether Cambridge
Analytica had a significant effect
on the Trump election.
I don't know whether they had
a significant effect on Brexit.
I do know that the systems that have
been developed by Facebook give this
capability and make this
something that is possible
to happen in the future.
We'll hear from Senator John
Kennedy, no relation,
who thinks data is the new oil.
Also tonight, John Sweeney dusts
down an old KGB handbook to find out
why the Russians might have used
a London based professor
as an alleged conduit
between Trump and the Kremlin.
International conferences and
seminars are great for recruiting.
Stuffed with clever academic
scientists and business people,
they're the perfect place to,
quote, "Get information"
and influence foreigners.
And shared parental leave...
Men are apparently,
generously still leaving
the bigger share to women.
But are fathers secretly just dying
to give up the office for the nappy?
For me, it's really a family time,
quality time, you know.
So, it's very good.
I love it, actually.
We'll ask if men really
think it's so great,
why aren't more doing it?
The controversial political data
intelligence firm Cambridge
Analytica has suspended its chief
More on that soon.
But Facebook is not having
a great week either.
It's the biggest corporate crisis
since Volkswagen's diesel deceit.
That inaugurated a significant
decline in diesel sales,
does this mark the same for Facebook
or even other tech giants?
In the US, the Federal Trade
Commission is reported
to be investigating.
Here, the Information Commissioner's
Office said it's applying
for a warrant get access
to Cambridge Analytica; and told
Facebook to drop its own audit
of the controversial political
data intelligence firm.
It was a sign that the authorities
here - as elsewhere -
are not going to let Facebook act
as though this is a little local
difficulty, that can be dealt
with via an in-house memo telling
people to wash the coffee cups.
Authorities across the West have
are shocked at the way Facebook let
app developers harvest data,
and then break all the rules
by passing it onto others.
And not tell anyone
when they discovered
rules had been broken.
How should we describe Facebook's
attitude to the date of its users at
the time Cambridge Analytica had
taken possession of so much of it?
Permissive, certainly. But in fact
is the goal. App developers could
make better apps could use on
Facebook if they could get the data.
Kellas? Well, yes. At that time apps
didn't just hoover up the user 's
data but could access the user 's
friends. That did stop in 2015. Is
the fact we might have given consent
defence for Facebook?
legally it is possible we might have
given Facebook permission to do
whatever they want with that data
but Facebook actually removed some
of these access points around 2014
and Mark Zuckerberg went on stage
and said people were surprised this
happened. I'm friends with you and
now you're upset because an app
surprises you. It is kind of clear
that the legal...
What's clear is
that the Cambridge Analytica affair
has hit a nerve, igniting an
international indignation at the
power of the company. One German
court found Facebook's default
consent settings breached European
law. The company faces potential
punishment and, crucially, a threat
to pieces of its business model.
what's been happening up until now
is the lax control from Facebook has
allowed the advertisers to really
focus their advertising, to really
make it specific to users by
accessing the data that perhaps
under a controlled environment they
wouldn't necessarily have access to.
I think with the increased
regulation, we're going to see an
ending or certainly a much stricter
control of that, which will impact
the amount that advertisers are
going to be able to access
information, and therefore the
amount they are going to be able to
centre their advertising. That is
certainly going to make Facebook a
little less attractive for
Let's be fair, there is
no direct evidence as yet that
Cambridge Analytica's use of
Facebook data actually had any very
big effect. Of course, Cambridge
Analytica would love you to believe
it has magical powers of persuasion,
as indeed most of its vocal critics
do, but does Chris Rogers yesterday
we learned the Conservative Party
has spent four times more on
Facebook than the Labour Party in
the run-up to last year's
collection. The Conservatives spend
millions on the best political
marketing research consultants but I
think it is fair to say, to put it
charitably, its campaign was not
regarded as among the best in
British election history. It was a
lesson in how the biggest brains
don't always get what they want.
Certainly, if they are indeed these
Svengali like super geniuses who can
make people believe things just by
targeted Facebook advertising, then
it kind of raises this question, why
haven't we seen that technique being
used by other people? Particularly
by people who sell stuff online
audio brand rather than trying to
market an election every four years.
How is the Amazon is not trying to
do custom advertising to you in
order to sell you a dishwasher?
the damage is done, a corner has
been turned, data is being taken
more seriously, the company is being
taken is less trustworthy.
I don't know whether Cambridge
Analytica had a significant affect
on the Trump election if they had a
significant effect on Brexit. I do
note that the systems that have been
developed by Facebook give this
capability make this something that
is possible to happen in the future,
and that is I think what is more
important. Not the specific event
but just happened but what the
implications are for our democracy
in the future, because the abilities
of these things will only get
better. Big data analysis is getting
more refined. The amount of
information there is getting
greater, so it means the likelihood
of being able to affect things is
Mark Zuckerberg has been strangely
quiet on the whole affair. It's as
though data was some obscure data
area of law even in 2015 and data
was Facebook's business after all.
But it feels like the company is
leaving its teen years now and being
expected to take responsibility like
That is the Facebook side of it.
Tonight, more revelations -
this time regarding the role
Cambridge Analytica claims to have
played in Donald Trump's
election as US President.
Chris Cook is with me.
Bring us up to date on developments.
We have to be clear, because of
Channel 4 News's excellent
reporting, we know they had an
undercover reporter talked to
various Cambridge Analytica
executives who claimed to have had a
critical effect on the election of
Donald Trump, to have the power to
spread anonymously. They also talked
about, talked in a way that made
some people draw the collusion that
-- conclusion that had been
collusion between the Trump campaign
and a supposedly independent
election group, which is not allowed
under US law. Cambridge Analytica
denies all these things that their
own executive have said and that is
why they suspended their chief
executive this evening.
about the British investigation,
maybe not the one Facebook is most
terrified of, because the American
side is probably a big deal for
them. The information Commissioner
is on the case, how effective will
The thing to know about the
information Commissioner is it is
not the world's most frightening
regulator at all. Fundamentally as
two functions. It does data
protection, which is why we are
talking about it tonight and Freedom
of information. These are two things
that are both real hassles the
government. So there is quite a
strong incentive for central
government not to give it too much
money because if they do they know
it will come straight for them.
Think of all the data that NHS and
schools and local authorities hold,
as well as the hassle and hatred in
Whitehall for Freedom of
information. There really is no game
for them in giving it a lot of
money. So even where it has
sufficient powers, and it has quite
good powers and data protection, it
doesn't have the bandwidth or
capacity to really take on big cases
and monthly it is a real scaredy-cat
when it comes to taking on big
things. We will seek what it does.
Earlier I spoke to
Senator John Kennedy.
He is the Republican Senator
for Louisiana and serves
on the Senate Judiciary committee -
a committee that Facebook officials
will give evidence to tomorrow.
I started by asking whether it was
Cambridge Analytica that delivered
President Trump the election.
Well, you can't quantify it.
I mean, you can't really
say the President of
the United States became President
of the United States or a senator
became a senator because of
one particular factor.
Campaigns are not like that.
There's a lot going on.
People have a multitude of reasons
for voting as they do.
And I just don't
think that you can...
I mean, I have had
consultants pitch me all
the time in campaigns saying
you know, we have won this
election for this candidate.
We have won it for that candidate.
And, you know, you smile politely,
but it doesn't work
There's no way to quantify
or evaluate what they are saying.
Your question is can
they have an impact?
Sure, they can have an impact.
How measurable it is
is another issue.
Hillary Clinton would say
it was such a fine election, so
narrow, and impact means that they
changed the course of history.
They got Donald Trump elected.
And that is a big thing.
I don't agree with that.
I'm not prepared to say that.
I don't think anybody can say that.
Do I personally believe that
Cambridge Analytica elected Donald
Trump through their activities?
Do I believe that Russia influenced
the outcome of the election?
That's a whole different story.
OK, let's talk about Facebook,
which is obviously a much
bigger company and a more
important global player than
A lot of people are just
saying, look uninstall
Facebook if you don't want your data
passed around like that, just get
rid of it.
The company has lost trust
and people should uninstall it.
Do you think that is a piece
of consumer advice you would give?
Well, certainly transparency
is something we need to talk about.
But before we look for remedies,
we have to understand the problem.
And here's the problem.
Facebook is an
But it is no longer a company.
It is a country.
It is huge.
It is breathtakingly powerful.
Data is the new oil.
And Facebook's behaviour leaves
something to be desired.
I mean, some of their
recent behaviour is
getting into the
foothills of creepy.
I don't want to see the
United States Congress just start
regulating, I would prefer to have
first a frank and candid discussion
with the social media CEOs
at the table with us,
in front of God and country
and the American public.
And anybody else wants to watch,
and let us talk frankly
about these issues.
We tried it once before.
In the Judiciary Committee.
Facebook and the other social media
companies sent their lawyers.
I don't know what they
paid their lawyers.
But they did their job because they
didn't say a damn thing.
They dodged, they weaved,
they stalled, they re-stalled,
but they would not confront
Sorry to interrupt you,
but tomorrow Facebook
officials say they're going to brief
the Senate and house judiciary
committees with the latest.
Again, I don't expect
it is going to be
Mark Zuckerberg who's
going to come talking to you.
How are you going to make something
different next time so it isn't just
again you listening to a bunch
of lawyers saying we can't
answer that question?
Well I don't have the authority to
make anybody come to the judiciary.
But our chairman does.
We have subpoena power.
I would refer not to see
us get to that point.
I don't even know if the chairman
is willing to have a hearing.
I certainly hope he does.
We have had one hearing,
we need to have another.
And I would very respectfully
and politely but
firmly, suggest to Mr Zuckerberg
that he needs to come to talk to us.
And subpoena him if he doesn't
accept the invitation?
We're not there yet.
We're not even to
the subpoena stage.
Let's give him the benefit
of the doubt and ask
him to come politely.
I mean, he is a smart
He invented Facebook.
My aim in all this is not
to trash Facebook.
I think Facebook has
done wonderful things.
It has brought a lot
of people together and
helped spread democracy.
It was critical in the Arab Spring
in terms of people being able to
communicate with each other.
In many ways it brings
us closer together.
But also in other ways it
brings us further apart.
Can I just ask one last one.
You are talking about this
as a Facebook problem.
Is that your view or do
you think this is a
bigger, tech giant problem?
I think it is bigger.
I'm talking about Facebook
because the Cambridge
Analytica issue had
to do with Facebook.
But you can make the same argument
for Twitter, Google, the
other social media companies.
I mean, let me say it again.
I'm proud of them,
they are American companies.
But they're not American
companies, they're not even
companies any more.
They are countries.
They are breathtakingly powerful.
They know more about me than me.
They know more about you than you.
And we need to talk about
the socio-, economic and cultural
problems that their size presents.
And the American people,
I don't know about
the folks in the UK, but
the American people
expect us to address
these issues and by God,
plan on doing that.
We can do it the hard
way or the easy way.
Senator John Kennedy,
thanks very much.
Thanks for talking to us.
Facebook has not succeeded
in knocking Russia off the news.
It is only 16 days since the nerve
gas attack on the Skripals,
but today saw the 23 Russian embassy
staff leave the country.
Spies, diplomats -
call them whatever you want.
Today, in front of the long lenses
of the gathered press,
the Russians and their families
climbed onto a bus, taken off
to Stansted Airport,
and were basically booted out
of the country and
taken back to Moscow.
If they were hoping to creep out
the back door of the country
without being noticed, they failed.
As the Russian state owned
Ilyushin aircraft headed home,
the British government said they had
no plans for further
sanctions - for now.
Mark Urban is with me.
The other development is the OPCW
have started the deliberations.
are the international watchdog. They
are now in the UK, more of them
coming and their director-general
said at least three weeks. They are
going to verify the Porton Down
scientists diagnosis that this was a
new generation Russian nerve agent.
Whether they are going to have the
exact forensic fix on it as having
come from a Russian factory is a
different matter. It may not resolve
the argument one way or the other.
These Russian diplomat left today.
Well the National Security
Council meeting today, we thought
there might be a task force on going
after Russian money and that kind of
thing but apparently not even that.
Maybe you get the sense that perhaps
we feel the diplomatic advantage is
with us. Today Donald Trump
congratulated President Putin on his
election victory. And you look at
these 23 and you see the British do
not want to get into any further
tit-for-tat. I understand the 23 is
not all of them. It was said in the
British statement that it was
undeclared. So we're not sure of the
numbers but some appear to have
stayed. You look at the expulsion of
the Brits from Moscow, I can tell
you 23 is more than that of
intelligence people the Brits had in
Russia. So they do not want to get
into any further tit-for-tat and
that also is a measure of how the
diplomatic advantage might not still
be with the UK in this.
Now, I hesitated to call
the Russians that were sent home
today "spies", despite the fact
others have, not just
because it is there is perhaps no
clear line that defines
a spy at all.
Intelligence gathering is done
by many who are not living
under diplomatic cover.
And crucially, the Russian state has
long been known to make use
of people who aren't even Russians.
In the twilight zone
of spying and networking,
John Sweeney has been
looking at how this works,
focusing on one mysterious
professor, said to be
a London-based conduit
between President Trump
and the Russians.
Highgate Cemetery has always been
a place of intrigue for Russians.
The Tomb of Karl Marx stands
sentinel over those of other
And this is also the resting place
of former KGB officer
believed to have been
poisoned by Russian spies.
A reminder, as if one
were needed this week,
that Cold War espionage
is alive and well.
There's an old KGB handbook
which details the tricks Russian
intelligence got up to in the bad
old days of the Cold War.
The gossip is these techniques
are still very much in use.
Lessson one; when targeting
the enemy, don't use a Russian
if you can find someone from a third
country who will do your
dirty work for you.
This is a strange tale
of the connections between three
men; the first Maltese,
the second Russian,
the third German.
We begin with the links
between the Russian state
and the election campaign
of a certain American
reality TV star.
During the American election,
Trump advisors were offered e-mails
from inside Hillary Clinton's
campaign - e-mails
hacked by Russian spies.
The FBI has launched
a major investigation.
This is Trump advisor
He pleaded guilty to making false
statements about contacts he'd had
with the Russian government.
And Papadopoulos admitted to the FBI
that a mystery Maltese Professor
was the go-between between him
and the Russians.
The Russians will use third
country nationals as really
mostly access agents,
to use the proper term,
meaning they're out there spotting
and assessing for targets
for Russian intelligence.
Particularly people who might not
want to talk to a Russian,
would be put off by talking
to a Russian for security
or personal reasons.
Someone who's a third country
national can be a lot better
person to be the face
of Russian intelligence.
Papadopoulos admitted to the FBI
the professor told him
that the Russians possessed dirt
on Hillary Clinton in the form
of thousands of e-mails.
That he wanted to introduce
Papadopoulos to a contact
and that his contacts
were in the Russian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs.
The Maltese Professor
was this man, Joseph Mifsud.
He was known as a diplomat
but Professor Mifsud's career had
began as an academic
here in Valletta, at
the University of Malta.
He resigned in 2007 under
something of a cloud.
He then moved through a series
of academic institutions,
touting his expertise in diplomacy,
presenting as an ambassador,
but this is not true.
Maltese journalist Jurgen Balzan has
checked out the facts.
There's no evidence of him,
of Mifsud being an ambassador
or deployed in some Maltese foreign
ministry office abroad.
The man who never was an ambassador
moved to the London Academy
of Diplomacy in 2013; an obscure
outfit whose degrees were awarded
by the University of East Anglia
and the University of Stirling.
Here he is with a Russian
Ambassador, a real one, that is.
So why would a minor academic
working in British universities be
of interest to the Russians?
He is a very typical kind
of character in this world,
on the fringes of academia,
think-tankery and governments.
He looks nonthreatening,
he's a hanger on, he's
at all the parties.
He's a wannabe, not a real player.
In a strange way, that can actually
help the Russians because again,
the threat perception
of the Maltese,
-- drops considerably.
He is Maltese which is not
associated a lot with threats
of any kind, frankly,
he can get along in a lot of places.
Mifsud had a fiance based in Ukraine
according to BuzzFeed.
The woman says she hasn't seen
or heard of the professor
for months, but she's left
holding the baby.
Weeks ago she gave birth
to their daughter.
He got about a bit for business too.
We've tracked some of the movements
of our humble professor.
In London, he met Boris Johnson
and junior minister Tobias Ellwood.
At the University in Rome,
he worked with two former
Italian foreign ministers.
In Riyadh, he was at the think
tank run by former head
of Saudi intelligence,
Prince Turki Al-Faisal.
A source said he'd
regularly visited Moscow.
None of this, of course, is evidence
of him being a Russian asset.
But there's no denying
the benefits of networking.
Here's another nugget
from that old KGB handbook.
International conferences and
seminars are great for recruiting.
Stuffed with clever academics,
scientists and business people,
they are the perfect place to,
quote, get information.
And influence foreigners.
In 2016, the professor was in Moscow
for a Kremlin-backed
To his left is Ivan Timofeev,
who works at a think tank linked
to the Russian ministry
of foreign affairs.
Democracy is such
a political regime.
Which is most vulnerable in
comparison with every other kind...
The Washington Post says it is aware
of e-mails suggesting
Mifsud put the Trump team
in contact with Timofeev.
Also at the Valdai conference
we meet German-born Swiss-based
multimillionaire Dr Stephan Roh.
Stephan Roh, on the left,
is the third man.
He's a lawyer with close links
to Professor Mifsud.
Stephan and his Russian born
wife Olga have homes
in Switzerland, Monaco,
London, and Hong Kong.
And then there's this castle
in Scotland, and buying it made
Stephan and Olga the Baron
and Baroness of Inchdrewer.
In 2014 Stephan Roh became
a visiting lecturer
at the London Academy of Diplomacy.
He buys the private university
in Rome where Mifsud
is part of the management.
And Mifsud becomes a consultant
at Roh's legal firm.
In a way we always were in my family
very achievements oriented.
Here is Olga Roh, on the left,
in Fox's reality TV show,
Meet the Russians.
She's extraordinarily well
connected, running an upmarket dress
company in London's Mayfair.
Among her customers,
Britain's Prime Minister.
Here's Theresa May meeting
the Queen, in an Olga Roh coat.
Most intriguing are Stephan's
which appear extensive.
Newsnight can reveal
the story of one.
In the autumn 2005 I received this
phone call from a Dr Stephan Roh
showing interest in the company
and explained very briefly
that he was involved or intended
to be involved with some technology
transfer from Russia to Europe.
And he would like to do
this through my company.
Dr John Harbottle is a British
nuclear scientist who ran
a nuclear consultancy,
Severnvale Nuclear Services Ltd.
He specialised in the effects
of radiation on fuel materials
in reactors in Britain,
France and the United States.
So what did Dr Roh want from him?
He explained that he would
like to acquire my company
but he wanted to retain my services
on the technical side
because he was a lawyer and had no
technical background at all.
Dr Roh bought the nuclear
consultancy, then invited
Dr Harbottle on an all expenses paid
trip to a conference, in Moscow.
But the nuclear scientist was alert
to the danger that visitors
to Moscow can be targeted,
or even honey-trapped, into
I smelt a rat, you know.
It didn't sound as if it rang true.
And I decided that I wasn't
going to go to this meeting.
So Dr Harbottle declined to go.
Shortly afterwards, he was fired.
Under Dr Harbottle, the company's
turnover had been £42,000 a year.
Within three years,
Severnvale Nuclear was turning over
more than $43 million a year under
Stephan Roh, with
just two employees.
On the face of it, it could be
a legitimate business,
highly successful in a short
space of time.
However, my concerns are that it's
only got two employees,
neither of which are experts
in the field of a consultancy.
So it could be money-laundering.
Up from that, it could be a way
of obtaining nuclear capability
for the Russian energy sector
within Russia, it needs improvement.
Dr Roh didn't respond to repeated
attempts to contact him.
The case of Stephan Roh
and Severnvale Nuclear
and of Joseph Mifsud
and Team Hillary's e-mails raises
big questions about these types
of international characters
and their links
to the Russian state.
The essential tradecraft used
by Russian intelligence today
is very similar to that used
in the Cold War, indeed it's
So you can draw lines from the late
KGB to the present day with a lot
of ease and accuracy.
Professor Mifsud too did not
respond to Newsnight's
attempts to contact him.
But has always denied
that he is a spy.
When approached by Italian
newspaper la Republica,
he said, "Secret agent?
I never got a penny
from the Russians.
My conscience is clean.
All I've done is to foster
relationships between official
and nonofficial sources."
Three years ago, the Government
introduced shared parental leave,
which gave couples the option
of splitting 50 weeks
of leave entitlement
between mother and father.
A charter for new dads to take more
responsibility for rearing baby.
But some old habits have persisted.
Take up of the shared leave
scheme is very low -
about 3% of eligible couples.
The vast majority of
couples are sticking
to the traditional leave system -
maternity, with a side of paternity.
The subject has been analysed
by the House of Commons Women
and Equalities Committee -
we'll discuss it shortly,
but we went to Luton to speak
to parents about how they feel
about their roles in parenting...
We are equal parents.
It shouldn't be the mother
being at home looking
after the homestead all the time.
Getting time off from work,
spending time with the kids
at Easter holidays etc,
etc, so any more time
with the kids is a better thing.
Two weeks - it's not enough.
A man has every right to spend
time with their child
as much as a woman does.
Two weeks, it's not enough.
You can't bond with
a baby in two weeks.
It means that we get a little bit
of a break, as well,
and for a dad to actually be able
to spend time with their child,
it's one of the most
amazing things there is.
It's a very precious
So, as you can see, I've
brought my two children
and my foster child as well,
so we are having really
quality time over here.
I do know of families
where the father's had
to go back so quickly.
But even a week, two
weeks after the birth,
it's such a process for the woman
to go through, that they need time,
that time to physically recover
and have that support.
So for the dad to be able
to take some of that load
would mean a lot for them,
and improve rates of things
like postnatal depression.
I've got three kids myself,
so I got two weeks off, you know,
it wasn't much time at all.
Clearly times have definitely
changed, you know, women are no
longer at home any more,
they're working full-time jobs,
looking after kids.
Dads do the same thing,
so times have definitely changed.
With me here is director of the
think tank Demos Polly Mackenzie,
stay at home dad and blogger
John Adams, and Kate Andrews from
the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Very good evening to you all. John,
you are a stay at home dad. You
weren't there for paternity as such,
is that right?
Not for shared
parental leave. When my first
daughter was born I took a month off
work to stay home with my wife and I
was needed at home. She had a very
hard birth, I had to be there to
keep the family running. When my
wife gave birth the second time, the
birth was straightforward but she
was re-hospitalised afterwards, very
high blood pressure and again I had
to take a month off so I could be at
home and keep the family running.
How old are your children now?
What is your day? CHUCKLES
My day these days involves getting
up, getting the children ready,
doing the school run and then when
they are actually at school I do a
little bit of freelance, and a bit
of money, then back to school,
picked this keeps up, sort out
after-school clubs. Today I had to
host a play date after school.
there any other stay at home dads?
When you go to the school gates are
they all mothers are some other
No other men in my position,
no. You do see a lot of men on the
school run these days but you do not
see them in the playground like me,
twice a day.
I wonder whether,
Polly, we put too much emphasis on
the very first year. The mother has
an important role denim
breast-feeding and maybe we should
put more weight and the later years
and dads would be more useful to be
One of the things you can do
with shared parental leave is that
six months of mum attempt then mum
can go back to work and dad can take
the second six months. I think it
would be great if more people did
that. But there is a huge amount of
work by John is talking about that
comes with parenting later on, which
is the child is sick and you have to
pick them up for the nursery has
closed and is the inset day or a
snow day. By default, it tends to be
the mum that picks that up, just as
it is the daughter who picks up care
for elderly parents, so all of that
kind of eats into the number of
hours that a woman tends to work and
that eats into the whole earnings
profile women having comparison with
men, which is how we have ended up
with the situation where women are
51% of the population but take the
third of wages.
You are getting
straight back to the gender pay gap
and all those issues. Is it a
problem, Kate? That men and women
are not splitting paternity in the
wake policymakers are nudging them
It is only a problem if they are
not able to do so, if the policies
and flexible enough and individuals,
choices and partners can't have that
conversation between themselves. It
is important to increase paternity
pay. It might be a cost to the
taxpayer but it might be something
we want to prioritise. It shouldn't
affect small businesses because they
can reclaim that money from the
state. I much more concerned with
the government tries to bringing in
some intrusive policy to hit its own
targets, despite what people might
be telling us. In that respect, the
policies proposed today by forced
dad leave, forcing them to take time
off, threaten their benefits and the
time they can take off if men don't
take a certain proportion is deeply
concerning to me. I don't think it's
a liberal, I don't think it is
flexible or represents what couples
You basically think it is
about choice and as long as they are
freely choosing it doesn't matter if
there is some inequality or some
difference in the way people choose?
We want to make sure there is
equality in terms of being able to
take it, but of outcome is
Of course, as a
point of principle that is really
compelling but then you have the
reality, which is when a mum says to
her own employer, I want to take
time off work it's now brilliantly
really normal and OK and lots of
employers have on ramps and off
ramps to help people back. But if
the dad says I want to take six
months or even three months or even
six weeks, it's kind of, people know
they have legal obligations and feel
a bit awkward but it is not normal
lives. And actually a really
compelling thing about a daddy month
is it helps to have that
conversation. I think lots of men, I
would love to know what John Biggs,
don't feel empowered to have that
conversation with their employer.
They would love to do it but they
feel it's not what dads do.
I think it is right. I
would disagree with Kate, I don't
think it's a case of taking benefits
away from people, they take it or
don't. This issue of stand-alone
leave, it would basically put us all
on a level playing field, I think.
The crucial point here is it would
enable men to get involved with
their children from day one and if
you bond with your child from day
one there is reams of evidence and
involved father from the start they
can evolve with their start and have
better educational outcomes, better
mental health and, I lost my train
Kate, there is a sort
of success breeds success if you get
dads to take time off because it is
probably easier for John, easy for
John if he wasn't the only man at
the play date?
Absolutely. As far as
I am concerned John is leading the
way on this. I said to him on and
off-screen how impressed I am by
that. I agree there is a cultural
problem but you don't change culture
organically and in a meaningful way
if you do it through false. I think
forcing couples, each individual to
take a certain amount of time off is
not the right way to go about it.
Nobody is proposing to force them,
it is use it or lose it.
Use it or
lose it, I think you're putting new
parents in a very difficult
situation where you are threatening
to take benefits away and time and
leave away when that could be
redistributed to the mother or the
father or to anybody who wants it.
Which is why shared parental leave
is a great thing. Why are we backing
away from there?
Draconian? The original plans we
wanted to put through were six weeks
for the mum, six weeks for the dad
that he couldn't give away and then
a big amount of shared parental
Why do you or anyone else in
no better for an individual couple?
It used to be 26 weeks for the mum
that she couldn't give away. We did
from 26 weeks the woman mum couldn't
give away, instead of taking it down
to two we give them am six weeks and
the dad to six weeks.
Who is getting
the raw deal? Bloom the
self-employed. You have framed it
very much as men are getting the
better deal because you looked at
this in the labour market rate. Is
there a privilege to looking after
the kids? Is it basically you are
getting a good deal now because you
have the kid time?
ultimately, if you look at how much
time the majority of men spent with
their kids, I feel blessed, I really
do. There was a guy doing some
building work to how some years ago
in his 60s, stereotypical builder. I
was always around the house when he
was there an idle one day I would
have to explain to him why I was
there with my kids. I told him it's
me that looks after the kids, my
wife goes out to work and I did not
expect a positive reaction. He
stopped what he was doing and looked
away that said, I wish I could have
done what you don't because I never
saw my kids up.
The measure of
happiness, levels of women are hired
men, maybe this is a rather nice
thing to do? We talk about as if it
is a burden, after children?
such an important point. When we
talk about the gender pay gap it's
how we can make women pursued the
same career trajectories of men and
there is never a conversation about
women having a healthy balance and
Mike are making choices that make
them happier. I think as long as
women can pursued the same career
trajectories we are in a good place.
We're not quite there yet. I think,
as has been pointed out my, it is
assumed women will take up the
household chores on childcare and I
think that is a bit of an unfair
assumption and there is more we
could do. Why is it that only going
to work and working 60, 70, 80 hours
a week is the right thing to do?
Kate is completely right and that.
The best thing from my perspective
is if we were to share both the joys
and burdens of family life. Changing
nappies is not massively fun but
playing with the baby is
extraordinary. Picking kids up and
going... There are wonderful things
but also sometimes I do feel like I
just want to stick to go to work
because I can sit down and have a
cup of coffee.
Sharing it more you
would enjoy it more.
It means we can
get away from the situation where
women don't have the money, they
don't have the pension savings
because they can share.
We are going
to leave it there. Thank you all
That is all we have time for this
evening. Emily will be here, but
until then, a very good night.