30/06/2011 Question Time


30/06/2011

Topical debate from Birmingham with a panel of prominent public figures and an invited audience, chaired by David Dimbleby. The panel includes Philip Hammond and John Denham.


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Transcript


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Tonight, unions and Government face our audience here in Birmingham.

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Welcome to Question Time. And on the panel with me here, the

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leader of the biggest teachers' union Christine Blower, from the

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Cabinet, the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond. Labour's Shadow

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Business Secretary, John Denham. The former head of the employers'

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organisation the CBI, Richard Lambert and the Guardian columnist,

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APPLAUSE Our first question... Well maybe

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not such a big surprise. It comes from Hannah Priddey, please. What

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message are teachers sending to pupils by going on strike? Richard

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Lambert? The first question is why are they going on strike. That is

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not the first question, it is what message are teachers sending?

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tomorrow will be a tough day at school going back after a day out

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is hard. I think that a lot of kids will just not really understand

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what it's all about. The issues are complex. I don't think they'll have

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a clue about what it's all about. Do you think children will go back

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confused by what has happened? may be that some will. It may be

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that a lot don't. I think the point is that what we're saying by being

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on strike today is we have a genuine concern about public

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service. We know from our polling that if we don't do something about

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pensions, then quite a lot of young people considering coming into

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teaching may not come in. Quite a lot of young people currently in

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teaching may consider leaving a pension scheme, which would be very

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bad for the pension scheme. Quite a lot of people who are currently in

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teaching may simply leave teaching. I say that teaching is a fantastic

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job. Those people who are on strike today will have been teaching their

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children yesterday. They will be teaching them tomorrow and they

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work extremely hard. Will they answer questions put by their

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pupils like you have? I There's an issue about balance. You would not

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want teachers to be accused of indoctrinating. So it is a biased

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view? It is an issue about what it is that teachers may reasonable say

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in terms of the political context. I think it is perfectly reasonable,

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depending on the age of the children, in the context it is

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asked afrpbd the appropriateness of the curriculum in which it is being

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offered for teachers to answer questions. Have you given the NUT

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guidance? We have not. In terms of the citizenship curriculum, we

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could take about the role of trade unions and the right to strike.

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Philip Hammond? And of course everybody recognises the right to

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strike. I think this action today is premature and will be

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counterproductive. Diskuegs are still going on. The -- discussions

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are still going on. The trade unions have said they are

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productive. They said the Government is engaging with good

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faith. So long as they go on, we should not see strike action. The

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problem for teachers, frankly, is a good teacher is a tremendously

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infor mayive and influential person in a child's live. There is a bond

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of trust, which I think you recognise is put under strain when

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the teacher is not there for them. Many millions of families would

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have had their lives disrupted today, I would say needlessly.

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person in the black and white striped shirt? The message teachers

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are sending out to children and the country is as public sector workers

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they will not let the Government walk over all them and take them

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for granted by damaging their pensions and when something

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completely unacceptable like this proposed pension reform and like

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these proposed terms and conditions is threatening their jobs and

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livelihoods.... Are you a teacher? I'm not. Why do you think it is so

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unacceptable? Well, because MPs' pensions, they are looking at

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getting.... Private sector pensions, the reason they get less is because

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they are paid more for what they do. The private sector pension pay is

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better.... Simply not true. It's not true now. I think the message

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the teachers are sending out is when something like this threatens

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them and their children and their grandchildren and the children they

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teach and future generations they do something about it. They don't

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sit there and let themselves be walked over. They say, "No, we

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won't accept this." The man in yellow? Everybody is

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talking about teachers. Why are teachers so special? What about all

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the other public sector workers? I don't care about teachers. If you

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look at the public sector and split the private sector separate now,

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what has caused all this problem to happen? Why are all the public

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sector workers suffering? High, because of the Government. Why?

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What did the Government do? They made the banks crash. They didn't

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regulate the banks. He didn't do anything, the Bank of England

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governor skham what did he do? People are missing the global

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picture. All the politicians want to do is line their pockets. Polly

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Toynbee? I should point out he was not the Governor of the Bank of

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England. He was on the committee. It has been a successful day. It's

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a one day of action, one day of protest. It has focused attention

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on this issue. Suddenly, all over the news, every where else, people

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are analysing in detail, what is the truth about pensions? It's a

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hard truth. Two-thirds of people in the private sector get no pension

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at all. That's the real disgrace. It is not that we should race....

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APPLAUSE There is a big public, there is a

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big taxpayer subsidy for private pensions of over �37 billion a year.

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That goes almost entirely to the top 10% of people in the private

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sector. Most of the money goes upwards to subsidise people like

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the FTSE-100 boardrooms, who have enormous pensions. They do. They

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have an average of �3.4 million. You are reading figures there. You

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are saying it is subsidised by the taxpayer? Yes, because they get tax

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relief. I thought the Government tried to abolish it? They cut it

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down a bit. Dramatically. Dramatically. The biggest amount of

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public subsidy which goes into private pensions goes to the people

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in the top echelons. The idea it is only subsidising the

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public sector. They are subsidising in the private sector the very

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wealthy. Why this is an issue? It is because people are living longer.

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People retiring at 60 can expect to live 10 years longer than somebody

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who retired 30 years ago. There are four things you can do. You with

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work harder, work longer, pay a greater contribution, accept a

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smaller pension or rely on the taxpayer. You have to choose one of

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those four. The private sector.... I am not saying they have done a

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great job. They have taken three out of the four. What is the

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argument against the public sector, the workers paying a bit more and

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working a bit longer to reflect the fact their working lives have

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changed? As people get older you have to adjust the system. The

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system is not broke today. John hut hut's report showed the -- Hutton's

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report showed that the national wealth will fall...: There is an

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issue about how much the taxpayer has to pay. You have to sit down

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and negotiate with people how you deal with this. The problem, if you

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look over the last year, is when Phillip says they negotiate in good

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faith, they put 3% on to the contribution of every pension

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member without any negotiation. That is when people had got a pay

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freeze and inflation is at 3-4%. They cut the rate at which pensions

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will be updated dramatically, which in the long-term will make a

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difference to people's.... Without negotiation. The issue is this, I

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think, going back to the original question.... Sorry, can I interrupt

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you. The Government's line today seems to be, "We are talking."

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have done it without negotiation. What are the talks about? There are

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issues to negotiate, like the shift to what is called career-average

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pensions, all those issues. These are minor things. The question

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started off with the strike, David. I actually think the strike was a

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mistake, because I think children lost a day in school. It was not a

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day they should have lost. Many parents had to take time off work.

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I don't think it was justified. There are talks taking place.Vy to

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got to say, the Government has -- I have got to say, the Government has

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acted in a way over the past year, in imposing costs and changing

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systems and making speeches, saying "This is what the outcome will be."

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It has put a question mark over the credibility of those negotiations.

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The way to resolve this is to sit down and talk about the future,

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sensibly. It is not to have strike action that makes children stay at

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home and parents take days off work. The Government, Phillip, has got to

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take some responsibility for the way it has handled this over the

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past year, which is the reason high so many people voted in favour of

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strike action. Thank you. APPLAUSE

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Mary Bousted, the leader of the association of teachers and

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lecturers, said Ed Miliband's response to this was a disgrace. Do

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you think Ed Miliband was a disgrace today? It would have been

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nice if he felt he could have supported what we are doing....

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APPLAUSE The fact is that John Denham is right. Much of this has

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been imposed by teachers, without negotiation. When we say there is

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talks going on, it is true that the Government is talking, but it is

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not actually listening. APPLAUSE One of the issues we have, is as

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John Denham has just said, they have changed the rate, they have

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said, we want �2.8 billion, not in relation to, for example, the

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valuation of the teachers' pension scheme, because it has not been

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done. Any of you who listened to Adam Boulton, you would have heard

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this is about a different scheme. The fact is in 2007, we put in

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place arrangements for cap and share, so if.... You may lose

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people on this. I don't mean the argument, but I mean the

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technicalities of pensions. Because the arrangements were put in 2007,

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the teachers have to pay more, because the valuation has been done,

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they will pay it. We have not had that done. A lot of hands up. We

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have heard a lot of argument on the side of the teachers and on the

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side of the strike. I want to hear from somebody who takes the other

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view, that is to say about the private sector, a lot of hands go

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down now. The private sector by comparison. The man in the back.

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think the public sector workers today went on strike should take a

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few moments to think about the 15,000 people at Lloyds TSB today,

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who were made redundant and worry less about the perks of their job

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and take some time to worry about the people who'll have problems

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putting food on the table next month. Do you think that the public

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sector are cushions in terms of their pensions - with the taxpayer

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making up the balance? I think in times of austerity, it is important

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we take time to reflex and -- reflect and think about what we are

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doing to overcome these problems. If that means a large amount of

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society have got to make some sacrifices in their pensions, then

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what is a justifiable cost. You, Sir? It should be recognised that

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pensions in this country are not generous in comparison to Germany,

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pensions in this country are miserable. Typically in Germany, I

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know that, for instance, academics will retire on 80% of their salary.

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It is an entirely different ball game. We have to recognise this

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country has been far worse run for 20 years than Germany was.

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The problem, the real problem, as Polly Toynbee has said, is actually

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that the private sector has withdrawn these pension schemes.

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This is a disaster for the country, because these people when they

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retire, they have to have a reasonable standard of living. The

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fact that teachers and other people working in the public sector do

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have some reasonable pension to look forward to is a good thing.

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Two wrongs do not make a right. Should the private sector be doing

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more? It is not an excuse, it is a fact. If people are living much

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longer, defined benefit schemes - which I was fortunate enough to

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have - are not affordable and that is why in the private sector, where

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there are 23 million workers, there's one million with schemes

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that are as good as the public should be taken into consideration.

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sight of the porpbtd thing here. The Government is committed to high

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The Government is committed to high quality public sector pensions.

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They will still by some very considerable margin be among the

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best pensions available anywhere in this country. A teacher retiring on

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a salary of �32,000, to buy an equivalent pension to the pension

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that they will get in the teaching profession would need a �500,000

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pension pot if they worked in the private sector. There are very few

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people that have pension pots on that scale. So we are not talking

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about a race to the bottom. We are talking about necessary action now

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to be able to protect these very good quality pensions that we want

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to see remaining in the public sector because we understand that

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public sector workers regard their pensions as a very important part

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of... Hold on. You are right in terms of what we need to do to

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solve this problem. There are four things we can do. The fact remains

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that when these pensions were devised the cost of providing these

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was a lot less due to the fact that people are living a lot longer,

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inflation is higher. The value of those pensions has risen

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dramatically and the taxpayer is left to foot the cost. One of the

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points that I made earlier was that the taxpayer is not left to foot

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the cost. Public sector workers are taxpayers themselves. The fact is

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that the cost of public sector pensions is set to fall and the

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other thing is that younger teachers in teaching have a

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retirement age of 65. We have already dealt with the fact that

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people are living a bit longer by saying the retirement age will go

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up. When I came into teaching, the retirement age was 60. We have

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begun to address the issues. might have to pay an extra 3%. It

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is still a tiny fraction of the overall cost of providing these

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benefits? It is not a tiny amount. What it is is a 50% increase and

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you will find... Employers provide 14%? We do. The fact is there are

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plenty of young teachers who would not be able to find that omit of

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money. The 3% is a -- that amount of money. The 3% is not a figure

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based on calculations of the scheme. So if the Government came to us and

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said, "We value waited the scheme, this is what you will have to --

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valuated the scheme, this is what you will have to pay." You are a

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target? That is the case. It is �2.8 billion... You have not

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presented this as to do with their pension, you are saying 3% across-

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the-board? Christine is making the assertion again that the percentage

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of GDP taken by public sector pensions is going to fall. Those

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figures are based on the assumption that some of these measures we are

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proposing have already been taken. So we need to take these measures

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to achieve those figures. What you need to do is sit down and sort

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this out in a proper negotiation. That is what we are doing. It would

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have been a lot better if a number of things hadn't happened

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strike! If you hadn't... Only three unions are striking today. All the

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others are still talking to the Government. I think today's action

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was a mistake. However, you have got to bear responsibility for some

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of the things that the Government have done. We negotiated changes to

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the schemes that saved �1 billion in the last year. More needs to be

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done as John Hutton's report showed. The answer though is to negotiate

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seriously and get an agreement. Do please stop setting everything up

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as let's get everybody in the private sector resenting everybody

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:19:03.:19:05.

in the public sector... APPLAUSE A bit more on to the politics of this.

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James Laurenson? Ed Miliband says that public sector strikes are a

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mistake. Should the trade unions regret their support for him in the

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Labour Leadership contest? Yes, well... APPLAUSE John Denham, you

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said it was a mistake. Ed Miliband got the leadership by virtue of the

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trade unions. Is it something the trade unions should regret? No, of

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course not. Why do you think it was a mistake to strike? Because I

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don't believe that it was justified to make children lose a day of

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school and to make parents make a day off work. I don't. I will say

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that clearly. Trade unions that support the Labour Party are none

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of the unions involved in today's action and what I saw of the

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opinion polls most of the members of the unions that were on strike

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today didn't vote for the Labour Party at the last election so this

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is a Labour Party issue out there today. Unions affiliate to the

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Labour Party because they believe as a Government we are more likely

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to deliver good services, create jobs and better working conditions

:20:15.:20:21.

for the sort of people that they represent. They don't affiliate to

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the Labour Party so the Labour Party is a cheerleader on the side

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of an industrial dispute. They know very well that in an industrial

:20:30.:20:34.

dispute we will take the side of the public, that we will always say

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you need to resolve the dispute. You always take the side of the

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public? Any strike? What does that mean? It means... No strikes? Did

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you mean to say that? What it means is we, if you look at any

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industrial dispute, we will always say what is the thing we can best

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do to help to resolve that dispute and not... Wait, Philip... And not

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make it worse? It is incredible... Let's have a little economy with

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words. Let me finish. To be clear... Very brief please? It is very

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difficult for me to imagine an industrial dispute that would be

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helped by the Labour Party coming out and saying we support a strike.

:21:23.:21:27.

It is not credible to take 85% of your funding from the trade unions

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and say that they do not call the shots. If they call the shots...

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Hang on... APPLAUSE Does Lord Ashcroft call the shots with you

:21:39.:21:49.
:21:49.:21:51.

given the amount of funding he has given to your party? APPLAUSE It is

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curious... Individual trade... Sorry, David. It is curious that

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they are not supporting the strike. You can tell we have got teachers

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here tonight! It is clear they are not supporting the strike if you

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say they are in the pockets of the trade unions? The whole country was

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talking about the strikes today Ed Miliband pitched up to Prime

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Minister's Questions and he did not mention the action today. Hang on.

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I don't think strike action is going to help win the argument, it

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inconveniences the public, strikes must be the very last resort is

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what he said. What is wrong with that? He didn't say anything

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yesterday. The man at the very back. I'm slightly confused, John Denham

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and Ed Miliband seem to want to have it both ways, they are on the

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side of the people, not on the side of the Government or the unions,

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where are they? Polly Toynbee? have to remember how important

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unions turn out to be for the economy. If you look at what's

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happened in the last 30 years, since unions have lost their power,

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there's been an extraordinary shift in the distribution of wealth in

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this country. What's happened is that people in the middle to bottom

:23:05.:23:09.

have lost out hugely in terms of income and in terms of wealth to

:23:09.:23:14.

people at the top. There's been a massive shift. This has been proved

:23:14.:23:17.

on all of the figures that there are available. That is because if

:23:17.:23:23.

there is no power at all with employees, if it is all with

:23:23.:23:27.

employers, the near Liberal experiment is allowed to win, more

:23:27.:23:32.

money is sucked upwards from the bottom. People at the middle and

:23:32.:23:36.

the bottom have hardly made any progress at all. We have had a 34%

:23:36.:23:42.

increase in GDP, the people middle to bottom were almost static. That

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is what happens when there is no power whatsoever amongst ordinary

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working people. APPLAUSE Richard Lambert? I think the interesting

:23:55.:23:59.

thing is that unions like UNISON are holding back and they are

:23:59.:24:04.

saying - and they are saying there is still room for negotiation and

:24:04.:24:09.

we are ready to go into battle if we feel the need. That is strongly

:24:09.:24:13.

that that is the right way forward. These are complex issues. It is

:24:13.:24:19.

very important that a fair settlement are arrived at. To do it

:24:19.:24:23.

through head-butting - and it is fun to point our fingers at each

:24:23.:24:30.

other here - but this is serious stuff. Do you agree unions matter?

:24:30.:24:34.

Maybe they will in the future. have seen a big shift of

:24:34.:24:38.

distribution of wealth upwards? have seen a shift of distribution

:24:38.:24:43.

of wealth away from the middle sector. Middle and bottom. Up to a

:24:43.:24:48.

point. Unions also matter - the good news in Birmingham is the

:24:48.:24:54.

investment in the car industry couldn't have happened if it wasn't

:24:54.:24:57.

for the co-operation of the workforce here. The thing that

:24:57.:25:02.

worries about Prime Minister's Question Time is the Prime Minister

:25:02.:25:05.

raised it, but he raised it to score a political point. There are

:25:05.:25:08.

too many people, the Prime Minister, people like yourself who look at

:25:08.:25:11.

industrial disputes not as a problem to be resolved but as a way

:25:11.:25:14.

of trying to score political points off the Labour Party. That is one

:25:14.:25:19.

reason you are not putting the effort you should be into into

:25:19.:25:24.

resolving this matter. They are on strike. We can't discuss... The man

:25:24.:25:32.

in the white shirt? I belong, I was in a non-striking union today. I

:25:32.:25:36.

felt - well, I was supporting what the unions were doing. It is

:25:36.:25:41.

important that you can strike. That is the ultimate thing. I can

:25:41.:25:46.

withdraw my labour if I don't agree with what my employer is doing to

:25:46.:25:54.

me. I don't see how the Government is listening to me, how it is, how

:25:54.:25:58.

I can express myself in any other way when it comes to that point

:25:58.:26:03.

where I need to do that. The man at the back? The public sector

:26:04.:26:08.

pensions are amongst the lowest in the OECD countries. The private

:26:08.:26:11.

sector pensions we should be raising up to that standard.

:26:11.:26:16.

man in the blue shirt? I think it sends to the kids a wonderful

:26:16.:26:20.

message that democracy is alive and well here in Britain. Philip

:26:21.:26:27.

Hammond? Just pick up on the point about the private sector pensions

:26:27.:26:31.

being so bad and that the argument that is used constantly by the

:26:31.:26:37.

Conservative Party about it being unfair to the taxpayer is below -

:26:37.:26:40.

it is the private sector that should make up the pensions?

:26:40.:26:44.

would all like to see good quality pensions being offered much more

:26:44.:26:49.

widely. Richard has made the point that private sector employers have

:26:49.:26:54.

found that as life expectancy increases and the cost of providing

:26:54.:26:59.

good pensions increases, they simply cannot afford to do what the

:26:59.:27:03.

taxpayer has continued to do in the public sector. John Denham spoke

:27:03.:27:07.

just now about the positive engagement of private sector unions

:27:07.:27:13.

in the car industry for example. I 100% endorse that. The trade unions

:27:13.:27:17.

in the private sector in this country have engaged with their

:27:17.:27:23.

employers, have recognised they all operate in a competitive

:27:23.:27:26.

environment, their jobs depend on the employers being competitive and

:27:26.:27:31.

they have improved productivity. In the public sector, the unions have

:27:31.:27:35.

got to recognise the cost pressures and that the cost pressures on the

:27:35.:27:38.

taxpayer are also an issue in trying to keep Britain's economy

:27:38.:27:43.

competitive. We have all got to pull together. OK. Now before we

:27:43.:27:47.

move on, Christine Blower, you haven't answered the question from

:27:47.:27:51.

James Laurenson. Ed Miliband says public sector strikes are a mistake,

:27:51.:27:55.

should the unions regret supporting him for the leadership of the

:27:55.:28:03.

Labour Party. I'm in a position of being a General Secretary of a non-

:28:03.:28:08.

affiliated union. I would like to say that one of the things that we

:28:08.:28:14.

have also done is launch a petition for better pensions in the private

:28:14.:28:17.

sector and the public sector and indeed a better state pension. We

:28:17.:28:21.

were looking across the piece today and we support everybody making

:28:21.:28:24.

sure that we have decent pensions for everybody. Do you think Ed

:28:24.:28:29.

Miliband is the right person to lead the Labour Party? Given that I

:28:29.:28:36.

don't... Given your own individual... I don't feel it is

:28:36.:28:39.

appropriate for me to say who should lead the party to which we

:28:39.:28:43.

are not affiliated. I would very much have preferred though that he

:28:43.:28:46.

had been able to say that there is a question about fairness in public

:28:46.:28:50.

sector unions and a race to the bottom is not the thing to do and

:28:50.:28:54.

what we need to do is pay attention to the fact that the state pension

:28:54.:28:58.

is inadequate and we need also to make sure that private sector

:28:58.:29:01.

pensions are as good as they possibly can be and they are not at

:29:01.:29:08.

the moment. We must move on. These very contentious issues, if you are

:29:08.:29:16.

following us on Twitter, go to: You can text us with comments to 83981,

:29:16.:29:21.

Ceefax Page 155 will show what others are saying and you can see

:29:21.:29:28.

us on the red button. I must plead with our panel, to make sure we

:29:28.:29:33.

keep our remarks fairly concise so we can get through a number of

:29:33.:29:38.

questions. You don't need to blush! I thought you were looking at

:29:38.:29:48.
:29:48.:29:50.

Philip. I was looking around the Is being able to stab a burglar one

:29:50.:29:57.

step too far? This was the comment made by Ken

:29:57.:30:02.

Clarke, this week. "if an old lady finds an 18-year-old burgling her

:30:02.:30:08.

house, picked up a kitchen knife and sticks it in him she has not

:30:08.:30:14.

committed a criminal offence and we'll make that clear." I don't

:30:14.:30:19.

know how many old ladies pick up knives and stick them into burglars.

:30:19.:30:24.

I am sorry Ken Clarke has been driven off his position. He had a

:30:24.:30:29.

splendid idea for how best to prevent crime. Prisons don't make

:30:29.:30:33.

people better. Labour hugely increased the number of people in

:30:33.:30:38.

prison for no good reason at a time crime was falling. I wish Ken

:30:38.:30:42.

Clarke had stuck to his guns and said, prison is not the place, we

:30:42.:30:47.

want more people out of prison and better, more likely to be

:30:47.:30:52.

rehabilitated in the community. What about.... APPLAUSE

:30:52.:30:57.

What about hitting the burglar with a poker if he's in a house? Being

:30:57.:31:03.

an old lady, if a burglar came in and a burglar came in, you would be

:31:03.:31:09.

likely to hit them. Yes, you would. Is it one step too far? English law,

:31:09.:31:13.

as I understand it, has always allowed a right of self-defence.

:31:13.:31:17.

The trouble is the tests are complicated. What Ken is trying to

:31:17.:31:21.

do and has promised to do is to put a clear framework around the law

:31:21.:31:26.

that we already have. In the heat of the moment, when you find that

:31:26.:31:29.

burglar in your house you don't have time to consult a legal

:31:29.:31:34.

textbook to find out what you can and can't do. If you are genuinely

:31:34.:31:38.

acting in self-defence, you are not committing a crime. That's my

:31:38.:31:42.

understanding of the law. Equally, if the burglar is running away

:31:42.:31:46.

because you have disturbed him and you decide to stab him in the back

:31:46.:31:51.

then you probably are. People need to understand the clear

:31:51.:31:56.

distinctions where they can and can't act. Stabbing somebody with a

:31:56.:32:02.

knife could be quite dangerous. It could be. In the recent incident

:32:02.:32:09.

it has proved to be. You are saying that is fine. I am saying a

:32:09.:32:12.

householder who is genuinely acting in self-defence must have the right

:32:13.:32:16.

so to act. That is what the English law has always said. All Ken is

:32:16.:32:21.

trying to do is clarify it so that people can feel safe in their homes,

:32:21.:32:25.

know when and how they can act without falling on the wrong side

:32:25.:32:30.

of the law. Christine Blower? Clarke has a colourful to explain

:32:30.:32:36.

what he's trying to get across, doesn't he? I agree with Polly that

:32:36.:32:41.

if someone were in the house and someone were seeking to burgle it I

:32:41.:32:46.

would want to protect myself. The graphic description of sticking a

:32:46.:32:54.

knife into an old lady does not help! Not in the old lady in the

:32:55.:32:58.

burglar! That was a graphic way to describe it. The way I understand

:32:58.:33:03.

the common law is that actually you do have the right to, as it were,

:33:03.:33:07.

defend yourself and your property. The difficulty is that if someone

:33:07.:33:11.

is seeking to leave and you stick a knife in them, then that is an

:33:11.:33:15.

offence. I don't think his intervention has made it very much

:33:15.:33:20.

clearer today. I think the idea that we may be opening ourselves up

:33:20.:33:28.

to the sense that it is like being a vigilanty here and everybody

:33:28.:33:31.

needs a baseball bat under their bed in case someone comes to burgle

:33:31.:33:37.

them is not a society I want to be in. I am struggling to see the test

:33:37.:33:44.

of reasonable force and Ken Clarke's pros posed necessary force.

:33:44.:33:49.

It seems there is no real difference and all he's doing is

:33:49.:33:53.

just faking a change in the law, in order to appease the Conservative

:33:53.:33:58.

right. A fake change in the law. APPLAUSE

:33:58.:34:04.

Philip Hammond whisers in my ear that he -- whispers in my ear that

:34:04.:34:10.

he bets you are a lawyer. Is he right? Yes. That is a good point.

:34:10.:34:14.

The reality was that there had been no mention in changing this issue

:34:14.:34:18.

in the last year. A bill was published which had no changes to

:34:18.:34:23.

the law. Where did this come from? It came from Downing Street and Ken

:34:23.:34:26.

Clarke in the last few days. They have got into a terrible mess on

:34:26.:34:30.

their law and order policy. They decided to cut prison places, not

:34:30.:34:36.

by looking at how the law works, but to save money. They would going

:34:36.:34:40.

to have a 50% cut in sentences for rapists. They are cutting police

:34:40.:34:44.

officers. They got into a complete chaos and lack of sense in their

:34:44.:34:48.

law and order strategy. They have produced this out of nowhere, to

:34:48.:34:53.

say we're going to toughen up the law. Of course you are right, the

:34:53.:34:58.

test in law is there, it is reasonableness. What we do and it

:34:58.:35:01.

is not the best way to do it, you put the evidence in front of a

:35:01.:35:05.

judge and a jury. They listen to the circumstances of the individual

:35:05.:35:09.

case and they make their minds up. Nothing that Ken Clarke might do

:35:09.:35:14.

about changing this or that word in the legislation is going to

:35:14.:35:18.

fundamentally alter the way things work. This is a smoke screen for a

:35:18.:35:20.

Government which has lost control of law and order in so many

:35:20.:35:23.

different ways. APPLAUSE

:35:23.:35:29.

The man there. I think that in the Government's haste to save every

:35:29.:35:34.

penny they are undermining the rights of the victims of the crime.

:35:34.:35:37.

Ken Clarke's recent comments cover that up, by saying we are behind

:35:37.:35:40.

the victims you can do what you want to criminal. It is quite a

:35:40.:35:44.

farce. I don't think John was right this

:35:44.:35:49.

was pulled out of the blue. There have been cases of people being

:35:49.:35:55.

arrested for people sticking pokers around the back of burglars' heads.

:35:55.:36:00.

He is right to say, and make it clear, that this doesn't give

:36:00.:36:05.

vigilante permission - it does not allow you to bash them. It does not

:36:05.:36:13.

allow you to shoot them in the back of the head as they run out.

:36:13.:36:18.

Claefrbg -- Clarke has a powerful - - has a colourful way to describe

:36:18.:36:28.
:36:28.:36:28.

The man in the shirt there. lady in orange...: Polly Toynbee.

:36:28.:36:32.

Sort of orange. That prisons don't work and we should rehabilitate

:36:32.:36:36.

them in the community. What does work is having them locked up and

:36:36.:36:42.

having them off the streets. It is safer than not having them on the

:36:42.:36:46.

streets. Lock them up really. man there in the stripped shirt.

:36:46.:36:49.

don't think we should be worrying about whether we're actually in the

:36:50.:36:55.

right or in the wrong when we've got people breaking into our houses.

:36:55.:36:58.

They should be deciding themselves whether it is right or wrong to

:36:58.:37:04.

break into our houses. The old lady with the knife may concentrate the

:37:04.:37:12.

mind. Exactly. This one now from Roshni Barot. After the recent

:37:12.:37:16.

attack on a well defended hotel in Kabul, is it too early to think

:37:16.:37:19.

about pulling troops out of Afghanistan?

:37:19.:37:23.

We had the British Government's plans for withdrawing troops and

:37:23.:37:27.

then this attack on the hotel, a number of people killed. Suicide

:37:27.:37:31.

bombers, gunmen, all the rest of it. Is it too soon to think about

:37:31.:37:38.

pulling troops out, as a result of pulling troops out, as a result of

:37:38.:37:40.

that? I think we have to recognise that ultimatdly we're not going to

:37:40.:37:45.

stop ef -- ultimately we're not going to stop every attack or

:37:45.:37:48.

atrocity through the military presence. The challenge is, as it

:37:48.:37:54.

has been for some time, to actually have an orderly transfer of power

:37:54.:37:58.

to the Afghan people, to engage politically where we can, with at

:37:58.:38:03.

least some of those who we have been fighting. Who will be part of

:38:03.:38:07.

the future of Afghanistan after we have gone. I don't think actually

:38:07.:38:13.

that strategy can be blown off track entirely by events as

:38:13.:38:18.

horrible as horrific or as frightening as we saw last week.

:38:18.:38:22.

Actually, I think the track on which there is broad cross-party

:38:22.:38:28.

support in this country is still the right one. It does focus every

:38:28.:38:33.

body's mind on the scale of the -- everybody's mind on the scale of

:38:33.:38:40.

the challenge that is there. Roshni Barot, do you agree? I believe

:38:40.:38:45.

there needs to be a strategy in place. It is too early to think

:38:45.:38:49.

about withdrawing troops, just because if a hotel of that size and

:38:49.:38:54.

its security can be breached, then surely there's going to be lots of

:38:54.:38:58.

other issues that, it's too early to withdraw people. I think it's

:38:58.:39:03.

not too soon to be thinking about an orderly withdrawal. I think the

:39:03.:39:07.

purpose of our mission there is getting increasingly unclear to me

:39:07.:39:17.
:39:17.:39:17.

and I think to lots of people.... APPLAUSE

:39:17.:39:21.

British soldiers are still getting killed and we must all grieve for

:39:22.:39:28.

that. I think that on a mission that has gone on so long, and has

:39:28.:39:31.

such uncertain policies and such uncertain outcomes, the sooner we

:39:31.:39:35.

can get plans in shape for a proper withdrawal over a sensible period

:39:35.:39:42.

of time, the better. I go back to the questioner again. I completely

:39:42.:39:45.

agree with that, but at the same time all those soldiers who have

:39:45.:39:51.

gone out there, surely we owe it to them to finish a job they have

:39:51.:39:56.

started, or else aren't their lives lost in vain? We have 10,000 troops

:39:56.:40:01.

there. The Americans have 100,000 troops there. Still this terrible

:40:01.:40:06.

security breach occurred. The mission is clear, we need to pursue

:40:06.:40:10.

a political strategy in Afghanistan. We need to train and equip the

:40:10.:40:14.

Afghan Army and police. We, the Brits, are doing a great job in

:40:14.:40:18.

training the Afghan police., so that they can take over

:40:18.:40:22.

responsibility for their country. Not overnight, but over a sensible

:40:22.:40:25.

period of time. If you get a setback like this, right in the

:40:25.:40:30.

middle of Kabul, a hotel blown up and people, many people killed.

:40:30.:40:34.

agree with John. We mustn't be deflected from our clear strategy

:40:34.:40:39.

by these kind of events. They will occur. If you remember, as the

:40:39.:40:43.

Americans were reducing their presence on the streets in Iraq,

:40:43.:40:49.

there was a period when there were terrible -- was a terrible sequence

:40:49.:40:53.

of atrocities, day after day, after day. Eventually the Iraqi forces

:40:53.:40:57.

have got it under control. Are you saying if there is chaos on the

:40:57.:41:01.

streets of Kabul, then the withdrawal would be slowed down or

:41:01.:41:05.

halted? That you are looking to see improvements, as you bring the

:41:05.:41:09.

troops out? This is a programme over a period of time and this is a

:41:09.:41:17.

setback, of course, but I don't think... If you have setback after

:41:17.:41:23.

setback, would you change? There is a commitment to withdrawal troops

:41:23.:41:28.

over a period of time. Would you stop it if you found the damage was

:41:28.:41:33.

so great? You would stop it. With 100,000 American troops and other

:41:33.:41:38.

troops there, we are not able to stop this kind of tragedy occurring,

:41:38.:41:42.

is simply freezing up and saying, we're not moving anywhere, we are

:41:42.:41:45.

going to carry on doing what we are doing now, will that solve the

:41:45.:41:53.

problem? Because we have invested so much we

:41:53.:41:56.

should carry on. When you talk about orderly withdrawal and you

:41:56.:42:01.

say we have to do knit a dignified way, all we are doing is trying to

:42:01.:42:05.

save our faces. We are trying to train the Afghans. That is what

:42:05.:42:09.

we're trying to do. How long? your view we are pulling out

:42:09.:42:15.

regardless? I think we should get out soon. The last time I was there,

:42:15.:42:19.

the British ambassador who was there, he now, he, having supported

:42:19.:42:24.

the war before, now says we should go. He's the man who really knows.

:42:24.:42:27.

He's been there a long time. He knows the place well. He is saying

:42:27.:42:32.

it is time to go. I don't think because a lot of our brave soldiers

:42:32.:42:36.

have died that is a reason why more should die in order that we can

:42:37.:42:41.

keep a little dignity by going gradually. It's about keeping

:42:41.:42:44.

Britain safe. APPLAUSE

:42:44.:42:47.

Part of what we're doing in Afghanistan, remember, is very much

:42:47.:42:50.

in our own national interest. Afghanistan is still the

:42:50.:42:55.

headquarters of what is still a very potent global terrorist

:42:55.:42:58.

organisation. If we don't deal with them there, we will be dealing with

:42:58.:43:03.

them here. We need to talk with the Taliban. That's the only answer, a

:43:03.:43:07.

political solution. We may not like it much but it's the way. History

:43:07.:43:11.

proves we should never have gone in. We tried it 100 years ago, we

:43:11.:43:16.

failed T Russians 20 years ago. They failed. We should get out as

:43:16.:43:20.

soon as possible. No more British soldiers should die there. We

:43:20.:43:22.

should not be there in the first place.

:43:22.:43:27.

APPLAUSE Ten years ago we went into

:43:27.:43:30.

Afghanistan as a peace mission. I can distinctly remember that. It

:43:30.:43:33.

was distinctly said it was going to be a peace mission. There was not

:43:33.:43:38.

going to be any aGreg. It seems like Afghanistan is like Iraq. We

:43:38.:43:42.

have been misled again. What is your view of the question

:43:42.:43:46.

that was put, that if you've got things still going on in Kabul,

:43:46.:43:56.
:43:56.:43:59.

you've got this hotel blown up, it Christine Blower? We should pull

:43:59.:44:04.

out as quickly as we possibly can. This awful thing has happened while

:44:04.:44:08.

there are 10,000 British troops there. I don't accept the argument

:44:08.:44:12.

that because British troops have died and it is regrettable that

:44:12.:44:17.

they have that we somehow must stay there and "finish" the job. It is

:44:17.:44:23.

not any longer clear what "finishing the job" means. An

:44:23.:44:27.

orderly withdrawal in the shortest time possible is what I think is

:44:27.:44:31.

appropriate. The woman on the left? I'm in agreement with the gentleman

:44:31.:44:35.

at the back, this is a classic case of "mission creep" and political

:44:35.:44:38.

fudge. We didn't know what your strategy was when our brave

:44:38.:44:41.

soldiers went into Afghanistan in the first place and they certainly

:44:41.:44:46.

the didn't know if you have been watching the programmes on the

:44:46.:44:49.

television recently. America has just, President Obama has said that

:44:49.:44:53.

they are going to withdraw their troops. This is the first time that

:44:53.:44:57.

we could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our American allies and make

:44:57.:45:04.

exactly the same announcement. APPLAUSE The woman up there? If you

:45:04.:45:09.

reach negotiated settlement with the Taliban, and then as happened

:45:09.:45:13.

in Northern Ireland, it is not working, do you go back in? Should

:45:13.:45:17.

you not stay and sort it out once and for all? Or do you come out

:45:18.:45:22.

hoping you won't have to go back in? Philip Hammond? We are trying

:45:22.:45:26.

to leave behind a stable, civil government in Afghanistan with

:45:26.:45:31.

forces that can keep order in the country. She is saying if you don't

:45:31.:45:35.

get that? The political deal that is done can be made to stick. I

:45:35.:45:38.

would like to come back to the point I made before. We are talking

:45:38.:45:43.

about this as if it is some foreign adventure for its own sake. We are

:45:43.:45:47.

in Afghanistan because emanating from Afghanistan is a very real

:45:47.:45:51.

threat to the west and to the UK and the US in particular. If we

:45:51.:45:56.

were to pull out tomorrow, I have no doubt that Al-Qaeda would be

:45:56.:46:05.

able to reorganise and launch further attacks on the West Do you

:46:05.:46:11.

have a Plan B if you come out and Plan A doesn't work? The Irish

:46:11.:46:15.

police got a 500-pound bomb. Northern Ireland is supposed to be

:46:15.:46:19.

sorted and calm and peaceful. We are a good way down the road and it

:46:19.:46:24.

is not. It is not as bothersome as it was. What happens? Are you

:46:24.:46:28.

prepared to go back into Afghanistan?

:46:28.:46:33.

John Denham? We cannot say, as you ask us to, yes, we will always go

:46:33.:46:38.

in every where and sort it out. "sorting it out" is enormously

:46:38.:46:44.

difficult. What we must not forget is that Afghanistan was the place

:46:44.:46:47.

where with total freedom Al-Qaeda was able to plan the attacks on the

:46:47.:46:52.

United States of America. I just think it is inconceivable that the

:46:52.:46:57.

world could watch the attack on the Twin Towers and say, "We will do

:46:57.:47:01.

nothing about where the place that Al-Qaeda operated from" and the

:47:01.:47:06.

soldiers that have been talked of have enabled this country to make

:47:06.:47:11.

that difference. We owe it to them now to move on because that was ten

:47:11.:47:14.

years ago. Nobody should say we should never have gone in there in

:47:14.:47:20.

the first place. How then would we Qaeda? Let's go on to another

:47:20.:47:26.

question. We have ten minutes left. Lucy Bellingham? Does the visit of

:47:26.:47:30.

the Chinese Prime Minister this week mean we are prepared to ignore

:47:30.:47:33.

China's human rights issues? Does the visit of the Chinese Prime

:47:33.:47:38.

Minister who landed here in Birmingham and went to Longbridge

:47:38.:47:42.

to the plant that builds MGs which are made here, does this visit mean

:47:42.:47:48.

we are prepared to ignore China's human rights issues? Christine

:47:48.:47:53.

Blower? I'm not. Human rights is a very significant issue for us. We

:47:53.:47:58.

genuinely believe that it is important that we engage

:47:58.:48:02.

constructively with other countries but also engaging constructively

:48:02.:48:06.

means if there are human rights abuses, you have to draw them to

:48:06.:48:12.

the attention of that leader. you do a trade agreement of �1.4

:48:12.:48:16.

billion with a clear conscience? is hard for me to see how you would

:48:16.:48:21.

do that if you were not making very clear statements about what it is

:48:21.:48:26.

to have a free society. So you don't ignore but you don't allow it

:48:26.:48:31.

to change your behaviour? What I am saying is that it has to be a

:48:31.:48:34.

precursor that we understand what human rights would look like in

:48:34.:48:38.

China and we press them to do something about it. You went with

:48:39.:48:43.

David Cameron to China, Richard Lambert? Yes. What is your view?

:48:44.:48:49.

think the question is the wrong way round, the question is are we

:48:49.:48:53.

places too much emphasis on human rights with our discussions with

:48:53.:49:00.

the Chinese? When Premier Wen was here he was visibly furious at the

:49:00.:49:05.

Prime Minister's approach on these issues. He made a point of signing

:49:05.:49:09.

quite small contracts here and buzzing off to Germany and signing

:49:09.:49:13.

contracts which were ten times the value which has implications for

:49:13.:49:17.

British jobs. Are you saying that the Chinese Prime Minister

:49:17.:49:21.

deliberately refused to sign trade deals with us which he was prepared

:49:21.:49:26.

to sign with Germany because Chancellor Merkel kept her mouth

:49:26.:49:29.

shut? More or less. The deals that were done here were modest, the

:49:29.:49:34.

deals that were done in Germany were substantial. What kind of

:49:34.:49:39.

deals are they? They own Longbridge? In Germany they were

:49:39.:49:43.

big investments in green technologies. I think, just to

:49:43.:49:46.

correct a misunderstanding, I think that the Prime Minister was right

:49:46.:49:50.

to express his views forcefully on human rights. He was right to do

:49:50.:49:54.

that. I don't think we should say that he didn't. The consequences

:49:54.:49:59.

are that in his parting press conference the Chinese Premier

:49:59.:50:03.

spoke very... I thought you began by saying we make too much of human

:50:03.:50:08.

rights and we lose trade as a result. Isn't that what he said?

:50:08.:50:13.

What I was saying is in this visit, this week, the issue was that the

:50:13.:50:16.

Chinese were very upset about the position we took on human rights

:50:16.:50:19.

which I think the Prime Minister was right to take but it was not

:50:19.:50:23.

cost-free and it was not the case that had he taken a different view

:50:23.:50:27.

the outcomes would have been different. Polly Toynbee? We always

:50:27.:50:31.

have to say the right thing about human rights knowing it will have

:50:31.:50:35.

very little effect, except perhaps bad effect on our trading

:50:35.:50:40.

relationships. We have to try, but we also have to know that in our

:50:40.:50:46.

dealings around the world we are always going to be hypocritical. If

:50:46.:50:50.

we went about invading every country whose human rights were

:50:50.:50:55.

being abused, we would be at war everywhere. We can't do that. We

:50:55.:50:59.

know we always have to be contained by what is possible. I think it is

:50:59.:51:03.

right that we should stand up to China rather than simply say we are

:51:03.:51:08.

open for business never mind the consequences. But we should be

:51:08.:51:12.

aware that we are never going to be all that honest. We can't be that

:51:12.:51:17.

honest. The woman in the centre? Richard said the Prime Minister did

:51:18.:51:22.

express his views quite forcefully. The most forcible ways would be to

:51:22.:51:26.

refuse to trade with China. If you strip it down, by trading with a

:51:26.:51:29.

country that has such bad human rights abuses we are funding those

:51:30.:51:34.

abuses and a government that has no regard for the rights of its people.

:51:34.:51:39.

Would you stop all imports from China? What would you do about

:51:39.:51:47.

Longbridge? I think really there's too much emphasis placed on

:51:47.:51:52.

international trade and I know it is important because we should be

:51:52.:51:57.

looking more at how we can increase trade within our economy? The lady

:51:57.:52:04.

is deluding herself if she thinks we are funding China. APPLAUSE

:52:04.:52:08.

idea we are funding China, the truth is that China is funding much

:52:08.:52:12.

of the West and most of the American deficit. This is going to

:52:12.:52:16.

be very shortly the world's biggest economy. The idea that we should

:52:16.:52:20.

deal with it by turning our back on it and somehow that will make the

:52:21.:52:25.

human rights problem better is ludicrous. We will see change in

:52:25.:52:29.

China as China gets richer, more engaged with the rest of the world

:52:29.:52:34.

and what David Cameron was saying on Monday, alongside economic

:52:34.:52:38.

development must go political and social development and it is a

:52:38.:52:41.

careful balancing act to engage with China to trade with China for

:52:41.:52:46.

the good of our own economy as well as to improve human rights in China

:52:46.:52:49.

but all the while making the point that China has to develop

:52:50.:52:54.

politically and socially. The woman there? I agree China will be the

:52:54.:52:57.

biggest economy in the future. We can't ignore the human rights

:52:57.:53:02.

issues. If... I didn't say we should ignore them. Shouldn't we

:53:02.:53:07.

liaise with our allies and make it an international problem rather

:53:07.:53:10.

than standing on our own two feet? It has to be something that the

:53:10.:53:13.

West and the rest of the world stand up against China. If they are

:53:13.:53:18.

going to rule the world, we continue ignore the human rights

:53:18.:53:25.

abuses? What do you think? If you think that you can simply trade

:53:25.:53:30.

with countries that don't have human right issues, if Gaddafi had

:53:30.:53:35.

a �1.4 trillion contract, would you be trading with him? We trade with

:53:35.:53:39.

lots of countries with whom we have very serious human rights issues. I

:53:39.:53:43.

think the point I'm making is that we need the way to get change in

:53:43.:53:47.

China will be to draw China more effectively into the world system,

:53:47.:53:53.

to engage with it and to continue to make our point as - Richard is

:53:53.:53:56.

right. David Cameron made the point quite forcefully on Monday and the

:53:56.:54:01.

Chinese were quite offended by it. I think David Cameron got the

:54:01.:54:04.

balance right. We are engaging with China but we have shown them that

:54:04.:54:08.

we will not stop making the point about human rights. That is the

:54:08.:54:12.

right way to do it. We invade some countries because of human rights

:54:12.:54:20.

issues - Libya for example. What do you make of this question? I don't

:54:20.:54:23.

think we have invaded Libya but we did intervene because there was

:54:24.:54:27.

about to be a genocide in the east of that country and yes, there have

:54:27.:54:32.

been circumstances where you take action to save mass slaughter. On

:54:32.:54:37.

China, I think the history of this country over the last 20 years has

:54:37.:54:41.

been pretty good and consistent. We have done two things. We have

:54:41.:54:48.

consistently argued about trying to bring the Chinese economy and the

:54:48.:54:52.

Chinese country into the world system whether it is with

:54:52.:54:55.

international institutions, the World Trade Organisation. We have

:54:55.:55:00.

said better to have a country that big and powerful as a fully-fledged

:55:00.:55:04.

global nation and secondly, we have consistently argued often more

:55:04.:55:08.

strongly an more sharply than other countries about human rights. I

:55:08.:55:13.

think we should pursue both of those strategies. We cannot ignore

:55:13.:55:17.

human rights nor can we ignore the size of the China economy. Nor

:55:17.:55:21.

would we be better off if a country that size with that power were

:55:21.:55:25.

outside the world system not participating and not engaging.

:55:25.:55:30.

wouldn't be in any position to stop them doing because they are so

:55:30.:55:35.

powerful? Bringing the Chinese nation, huge nation with its vast

:55:35.:55:39.

potential into the world system, which it wasn't 20 years ago, it

:55:39.:55:45.

was very much an outcast nation, is better for the world because it

:55:45.:55:49.

encourages that country to engage... My point is could you have kept

:55:49.:55:53.

them out? With the industry and the growth in China, are you saying

:55:53.:55:57.

there was a possibility China could have been side-lined? I don't think

:55:57.:56:02.

- it is a different point. It is a China that was economically

:56:02.:56:06.

powerful but not taking part with all the responsibilities as a full

:56:06.:56:09.

world nation with everything that that means they have to sign up to

:56:09.:56:13.

would have been more difficult for the world than a China where we

:56:13.:56:21.

have got with their relationship now. The man at the back? I don't

:56:21.:56:27.

think anybody is trivialising the human rights issues. We do have to

:56:27.:56:31.

make some concession in that area if we do want to keep living the

:56:31.:56:35.

standard of living that we do at the moment. Do you think the

:56:35.:56:41.

Government has got it right? think there has to be concessions.

:56:41.:56:48.

If the deal is done in Germany and it's on a scale that has been

:56:48.:56:52.

suggested, given the state our economy is in, possibly we did take

:56:52.:56:57.

the wrong line. Polly Toynbee? think we did take the right line.

:56:57.:57:00.

We are always in danger of deluding ourselves about who we are and how

:57:01.:57:10.
:57:11.:57:11.

powerful we are and we have yet to recognise that. APPLAUSE One more

:57:11.:57:18.

from the man two along? What are we trying to say? Is it because China

:57:18.:57:25.

has this money that this Government would like to have the human rights

:57:25.:57:28.

can wait for a little longer while if we deal with another country

:57:28.:57:32.

that is not as rich as China, you would be hard on them. Is that what

:57:32.:57:36.

you are trying to say? There is no shortage of places in the world

:57:36.:57:39.

where there are human rights difficulties. It is incumbent upon

:57:39.:57:43.

us to say that it is important that human rights are important. I for

:57:43.:57:47.

one would like us to be saying a lot more about human rights in

:57:47.:57:49.

Colombia where to be a trade Unionist is a difficult and

:57:49.:57:55.

dangerous thing. We have to stop. Our time is up. We were going to be

:57:55.:57:59.

in Londonderry tonight but we are now going to be there on 15th

:58:00.:58:07.

September. Next week, the last of the series, we will be in

:58:07.:58:14.

Basingstoke. If you want to come to Basingstoke next week, or to

:58:14.:58:21.

Londonderry on 15th September, this is the number to call: Or go to

:58:21.:58:23.

Topical debate from Birmingham with a panel of prominent public figures and an invited audience, chaired by David Dimbleby

The panel: Philip Hammond MP; John Denham MP; Polly Toynbee; Sir Richard Lambert, former Head of the CBI; Christine Blower, Gen Sec NUT.


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