29/09/2011 Question Time


29/09/2011

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, with a panel including Tim Farron, Caroline Flint and Janet Street-Porter.


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Transcript


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After one of the hottest autumn days since the 1890s,

2:37:422:37:46

no respite for our panel in this hot studio in Liverpool.

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Welcome to Question Time.

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On the panel, housing minister, Grant Shapps,

2:37:592:38:03

shadow communities secretary, Caroline Flint,

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president of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron,

2:38:062:38:08

tipped as a possible future leader of the party.

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Broadcaster and author, Janet Street-Porter,

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and the Daily Telegraph's chief political commentator, Peter Oborne.

2:38:142:38:18

APPLAUSE

2:38:182:38:23

Thank you very much. The first question is from Brian Berry.

2:38:322:38:35

Should the speed limit on our motorways be increased to 80mph,

2:38:352:38:39

or scrapped altogether?

2:38:392:38:41

This government is putting this forward for consultation,

2:38:412:38:44

and it's clear the government intends to go ahead.

2:38:442:38:46

Caroline Flint, do you approve, 80mph?

2:38:462:38:49

Erm, I think if there's evidence that suggests it wouldn't do harm

2:38:492:38:54

and it can be enforced, then I think it's worth having a look at.

2:38:542:39:00

The only thing I would say, David,

2:39:002:39:02

is you have to take into account, if you go up from 70mph up to 80mph,

2:39:022:39:07

that's 20% more fuel that will be used.

2:39:072:39:11

So there's issues about the cost for the person driving the car.

2:39:112:39:15

But everybody would get to work sooner,

2:39:152:39:17

because you go faster and get there quicker.

2:39:172:39:21

But I'm talking about how much fuel you use.

2:39:212:39:24

What worries me about this,

2:39:242:39:26

and I'm not saying it shouldn't happen,

2:39:262:39:28

but we've seen decisions made, for example,

2:39:282:39:32

not fund speed cameras, reducing safety grants available,

2:39:322:39:36

cut down on police, which will mean motorway police.

2:39:362:39:40

These are important factors about how we manage our roads.

2:39:402:39:43

Who's to say that if it's 80, people don't go up to 90?

2:39:432:39:47

Well, they go 80 when it's 70.

2:39:472:39:48

The point is that as soon as you push it up,

2:39:482:39:51

-it might go up another level.

-Are you for or against?

2:39:512:39:54

I would like to see the evidence from the government.

2:39:542:39:57

I think there are some issues.

2:39:572:39:59

the targets to try to reduce deaths by car accident have been scrapped,

2:39:592:40:04

and with that some of the safety grants on road safety,

2:40:042:40:07

and potential cuts in motorway police to manage the roads.

2:40:072:40:11

That should worry us

2:40:112:40:12

if we're going to start raising the speed on motorways.

2:40:122:40:15

OK. Grant Shapps.

2:40:152:40:18

There is an argument for having another look at this.

2:40:182:40:21

I am less sceptical about consultations

2:40:212:40:23

since I've been in government and seen that evidence does come in

2:40:232:40:26

and it's usually very carefully looked at.

2:40:262:40:28

As a minister, I take great care to study

2:40:282:40:30

what people come back with in consultations.

2:40:302:40:33

I think it is a genuine question. I think there are benefits.

2:40:332:40:36

One thing which has happened, if you think back to the '60s and '70s,

2:40:362:40:40

the cars that were being driven around at the time,

2:40:402:40:43

they wouldn't have had the brake systems that exist now,

2:40:432:40:46

so I think there is a very good argument

2:40:462:40:49

that actually better technology allows a slightly faster speed.

2:40:492:40:51

For people who've driven on the Continent,

2:40:512:40:53

and I don't just mean the autobahn in Germany,

2:40:532:40:56

but almost anywhere on the Continent,

2:40:562:40:59

it will tend to be I think 140kph, about 80mph.

2:40:592:41:04

It seems to be the new standard, so I think it's worth looking at.

2:41:042:41:07

Janet Street-Porter, you ride a bicycle, or on your feet, if you can.

2:41:072:41:11

I like walking and I think

2:41:112:41:12

there's too much aggressive driving on motorways as it is.

2:41:122:41:16

I'm not very happy about this.

2:41:162:41:19

Most people on motorways, as you said earlier, with a 70mph limit,

2:41:192:41:23

do 80, and if it's 80mph, they'll be doing 90.

2:41:232:41:28

Driving on a motorway, I find programmes like Top Gear

2:41:282:41:32

have made people think the motorway is an official race track.

2:41:322:41:38

I think your lot,

2:41:382:41:39

coming up with this increasing the motorway speed limit,

2:41:392:41:43

it's a crowd-pleasing, cheap thing to do.

2:41:432:41:47

You're not doing that well in the opinion polls,

2:41:472:41:49

you've clawed back a bit this week, and this is a cheap vote-winner.

2:41:492:41:52

Everybody wants to be Jeremy Clarkson!

2:41:522:41:54

APPLAUSE

2:41:542:41:57

No, David, men want to be Jeremy Clarkson.

2:41:582:42:02

I don't think you'll find one woman in this audience

2:42:022:42:05

who wants a backside like that.

2:42:052:42:07

Don't be personal, but I don't...

2:42:092:42:11

The man there.

2:42:112:42:13

Personally for me, I do a lot of motorway driving.

2:42:132:42:16

I wouldn't mind it going up to 80, but the problem for me is

2:42:162:42:20

future generations, carbon footprint and stuff,

2:42:202:42:24

I think it would affect them more.

2:42:242:42:25

But to get the carbon footprint right you have to go to 54 mph,

2:42:252:42:29

is that right, Tim Farron? You're a liberal!

2:42:292:42:33

And we know about these things, yes.

2:42:332:42:35

What do you think about the 80mph limit?

2:42:352:42:37

It's fine to have a consultation.

2:42:372:42:39

As long as it is looked at in every direction.

2:42:392:42:42

Points have been raised as to why it's not a good idea,

2:42:422:42:44

and I agree with them.

2:42:442:42:46

There are three considerations. One, the impact on the environment.

2:42:462:42:50

The faster you go, the worse for the environment.

2:42:502:42:53

Second, the faster you go the more likely people are to have accidents,

2:42:532:42:56

irrespective of the fact that cars are safer these days.

2:42:562:43:00

There are more of them, too. And the third thing is the economy,

2:43:002:43:04

will people getting to destinations quicker be better for the economy?

2:43:042:43:07

Maybe. But anybody who travels on the M6 can tell you

2:43:072:43:11

that if you get up to 40 you're doing well!

2:43:112:43:14

Have the consultation, but we should look at the evidence

2:43:142:43:17

and decide to stick as we are if that's how it concludes.

2:43:172:43:20

The man in the striped shirt.

2:43:202:43:22

Equally, the problem is people driving too slowly on motorways,

2:43:222:43:26

which is just as dangerous because you get massive congestion.

2:43:262:43:29

People drive in the middle lane at 50 and everybody gets irate.

2:43:292:43:33

I think that would also help.

2:43:332:43:36

You think they should be made to watch Top Gear

2:43:362:43:38

and learn how to drive on the motorway?

2:43:382:43:40

There should be a minimum speed the police can enforce,

2:43:402:43:43

because it is equally as dangerous, I think.

2:43:432:43:47

We haven't got any women's hands up. Yes.

2:43:472:43:50

The woman at the very back,

2:43:502:43:51

and then I'll come to you in the second row from the back.

2:43:512:43:54

With regards to the adverts shown on television, where they show that

2:43:542:43:59

if you're going 40mph compared to 30, the impact

2:43:592:44:02

of a child being dragged so much further down the street,

2:44:022:44:05

surely if you're going down the motorway,

2:44:052:44:08

someone doesn't have a seatbelt on,

2:44:082:44:10

they'll go further through the window

2:44:102:44:12

and have far more fatalities.

2:44:122:44:14

You would be against the change? Peter Oborne, are you for or against?

2:44:142:44:17

I'm very strongly in favour of this change to 80mph.

2:44:172:44:22

One of the good things which this government is doing

2:44:222:44:25

is getting rid of unnecessary laws and regulations.

2:44:252:44:30

And there's a bigger point here as well.

2:44:302:44:32

It's very important that laws should be treated with respect

2:44:322:44:35

when we have them.

2:44:352:44:36

The fact is, none of the people round this panel,

2:44:362:44:38

and I suspect very few people in the audience,

2:44:382:44:42

actually ever take any notice

2:44:422:44:43

when there's a clear run on the motorway of that 70mph limit.

2:44:432:44:47

Let's have a limit which people respect,

2:44:472:44:50

and let's get rid of more laws which people simply don't observe,

2:44:502:44:54

like the ludicrous hunting ban, for instance. Let's get rid of that.

2:44:542:44:58

APPLAUSE

2:44:582:45:00

The woman there.

2:45:042:45:07

The woman there, yes, you.

2:45:072:45:09

Will the government's consultation include measuring how much

2:45:092:45:13

extra fuel tax they might rake in from us drivers?

2:45:132:45:17

-You think there's a hidden agenda?

-Definitely.

2:45:172:45:20

The more fuel, the more the government gets.

2:45:202:45:23

It's like the more you smoke, and they try to stop you.

2:45:232:45:26

That's a new conspiracy theory, like Janet's one

2:45:262:45:28

about men all watching Top Gear and wanting to be Jeremy Clarkson,

2:45:282:45:32

which I don't and don't, by the way.

2:45:322:45:34

How do you know, if you don't watch it?

2:45:342:45:36

I don't watch it and I don't want to be him.

2:45:362:45:39

You don't know you don't want to be Jeremy Clarkson

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-if you don't watch it.

-Might be getting pedantic,

2:45:422:45:44

but the point it,

2:45:442:45:46

there's probably no-one in this audience at some point

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who hasn't been on an open piece of motorway...

2:45:502:45:53

No-one's talking about roads where there's a kid walking by,

2:45:532:45:56

people should be wearing seatbelts, but no-one can sit here today

2:45:562:46:00

and say there's never been an open bit of road

2:46:002:46:03

and you've wondered why the speed limit is set at 70,

2:46:032:46:07

when there would be no difficulty in driving a bit faster.

2:46:072:46:11

I think it's worth looking at,

2:46:112:46:13

and if it enables people to get to place a bit faster...

2:46:132:46:16

That is a completely spurious argument, about as spurious

2:46:162:46:20

as your high-speed rail up the middle of England

2:46:202:46:23

vandalising the whole of the centre of the country

2:46:232:46:26

to get people to Birmingham 20 minutes faster.

2:46:262:46:28

Why is getting anywhere ten minutes faster so desirable?

2:46:282:46:33

Of all the personal freedoms you could give me,

2:46:332:46:36

giving me the freedom to get somewhere ten minutes faster

2:46:362:46:39

going 80mph is ludicrous.

2:46:392:46:41

No doubt people will have made these arguments

2:46:412:46:43

when instead of horse-drawn carriage,

2:46:432:46:45

they decided to build railways in the first place.

2:46:452:46:48

I think this is an absolutely Dickensian argument.

2:46:482:46:52

Going faster doesn't mean you're more modern.

2:46:522:46:55

In future, the people with the most money will be going the slowest.

2:46:552:46:59

We'll see over time.

2:46:592:47:03

APPLAUSE

2:47:032:47:05

You in the brown pullover.

2:47:082:47:10

Peter said that raising the limit to 80

2:47:102:47:13

would make people respect the speed limit more.

2:47:132:47:16

I'm in favour of the change,

2:47:162:47:17

but has he seen any evidence

2:47:172:47:19

that people would stick to that speed limit?

2:47:192:47:22

What I was saying was,

2:47:222:47:23

let's not have a limit which nobody in this country observes.

2:47:232:47:27

Let's have a limit which people do observe.

2:47:272:47:29

If you have a limit of 80mph which people observed,

2:47:292:47:33

there will be respect for the law.

2:47:332:47:35

The problem is that we have politicians who invent laws

2:47:352:47:38

and create laws which are never meant to be observed.

2:47:382:47:42

-Let's have respect for that law.

-But why would they follow it?

2:47:422:47:44

What is the evidence that 10mph more will make a difference?

2:47:442:47:48

I'm suggesting that when you do have a sensible speed limit,

2:47:482:47:52

you do enforce it seriously.

2:47:522:47:54

If you raise the speed limit to 80, the question is

2:47:542:47:56

looking at the evidence about the impact on safety

2:47:562:47:59

and how it will be enforced. I think the point the young man's making

2:47:592:48:02

is that people go over 70

2:48:022:48:04

and we know that, but they'll probably go within a range of 70-75.

2:48:042:48:09

If you start bumping it up,

2:48:092:48:11

will people bump up the norm for going over the speed limit?

2:48:112:48:14

I'm not advocating going over the speed limit,

2:48:142:48:16

but I'm talking about human behaviour.

2:48:162:48:18

It's like a Marx Brothers movie.

2:48:182:48:20

Make it 80, then 90, then 100.

2:48:202:48:23

It's like drinking The minute you tell people "You're only supposed

2:48:232:48:27

"to drink 14 or 21 units", ha, ha, ha. How many of us stick to that?

2:48:272:48:30

We don't, as a nation, stick to rules, do we?

2:48:302:48:34

My postbag is more full of people

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concerned about people driving too fast than not driving fast enough.

2:48:362:48:40

At the bottom end, people in residential areas, rural Cumbria,

2:48:402:48:45

are concerned that the speed limit of 30 should come down to 20.

2:48:452:48:49

The police will tell you they don't have the resources to enforce it,

2:48:492:48:52

but those limits do enforce themselves.

2:48:522:48:54

If it's at 30, people drive at 38.

2:48:542:48:57

-If it's 20, they drive at 28.

-That's because of the fining system.

2:48:572:49:01

You can use cameras now on average speeds, which you couldn't before.

2:49:012:49:06

-You're ending the funding of speed cameras.

-The woman there?

2:49:062:49:10

Isn't this just another example of another policy proposal

2:49:102:49:14

that is for the business community who want to get their trucks there

2:49:142:49:18

20 minutes early,

2:49:182:49:19

instead of something that would benefit normal people more,

2:49:192:49:23

and it is also a gimmick, a crowd-pleasing gimmick,

2:49:232:49:26

as Janet said.

2:49:262:49:27

Isn't that just another example of a time-wasting policy?

2:49:272:49:31

It's not pleasing you, and it's not pleasing a lot of people here.

2:49:312:49:35

Perhaps one of the things to consult about

2:49:352:49:37

is whether it's a crowd-pleasing gimmick.

2:49:372:49:39

The idea that you should never look at laws

2:49:392:49:42

that were put in place in the '60s and '70s is crazy.

2:49:422:49:44

Just because it benefits businesses and gets haulage companies

2:49:442:49:49

and all of us around faster, the idea that it doesn't

2:49:492:49:51

have a knock-on effect on jobs is of course not true as well.

2:49:512:49:54

Join in this debate if you want:

2:49:542:49:56

We go now to a question from Gwyneth Evans.

2:50:052:50:07

Is the eurozone a burning building with no exits?

2:50:072:50:11

This is a quote from William Hague, the Foreign Secretary,

2:50:112:50:14

who said that's what he thought it was

2:50:142:50:17

and that powers should be returned from Europe and the rest of it.

2:50:172:50:21

Tim Farron, are you a supporter of the eurozone,

2:50:212:50:24

or is it a burning building, as your Foreign Secretary said?

2:50:242:50:27

I would say it's a building on fire,

2:50:272:50:31

and the number of exits are limited.

2:50:312:50:33

The fact that they are in the euro has limited the number of exits.

2:50:332:50:38

I think William Hague is saying that, I guess to make the point

2:50:382:50:42

that he was right as Tory leader

2:50:422:50:44

to say we shouldn't have gone into the euro.

2:50:442:50:46

In retrospect, you can't argue with that.

2:50:462:50:49

Do you think it was the right decision?

2:50:492:50:51

Absolutely. Is the house on fire? Yes. Did the euro set it on fire?

2:50:512:50:57

No, it didn't. The fact

2:50:572:50:58

that governments have overspent and banks have overlent

2:50:582:51:01

is the reason for fire across the world. The US doesn't have the euro.

2:51:012:51:05

We don't have the euro,

2:51:052:51:06

and we have huge, crippling financial problems that need to be tackled.

2:51:062:51:11

We're in north-west England.

2:51:112:51:13

We have an affinity with Ireland,

2:51:132:51:14

culturally and economically. The talk is of Greece,

2:51:142:51:17

but don't forget our friends and cousins over the water here.

2:51:172:51:20

We need to protect them, for our economy.

2:51:202:51:23

There are thousands of jobs in the north-west

2:51:232:51:25

that depend on the eurozone not going down. It's vital.

2:51:252:51:29

Peter Oborne.

2:51:292:51:32

I so agree that we have to care about our cousins in Ireland.

2:51:322:51:36

And the way the Irish will recover is by getting out of the euro.

2:51:362:51:41

If Ireland got out of the euro,

2:51:412:51:44

their economy would start to recover strongly tomorrow afternoon.

2:51:442:51:47

The same applies to Greece.

2:51:472:51:49

If they got out of the euro and went back to the drachma,

2:51:492:51:54

their economy would start to recover tomorrow afternoon.

2:51:542:51:57

I'm not going to let off Tim Farron lightly.

2:51:572:52:00

His party pushed for this country to go into the euro.

2:52:002:52:05

If we had taken his advice,

2:52:052:52:07

we would now be in the same degraded state

2:52:072:52:10

as Portugal, as Spain,

2:52:102:52:14

as Italy. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury is Danny Alexander,

2:52:142:52:19

the economic ignoramus who tried to drive us into the euro.

2:52:192:52:24

He headed the campaign for the euro for five full years,

2:52:242:52:27

and then at the Lib Dem conference two weeks ago, he had the audacity

2:52:272:52:31

to say that us Euro-sceptics were enemies of growth.

2:52:312:52:35

If he had had his way, there wouldn't be growth in this country.

2:52:352:52:38

This is history, Peter.

2:52:382:52:40

-I wanted to remind everybody.

-But we didn't go into the euro.

2:52:402:52:44

I know you have it in for those who thought we should,

2:52:442:52:47

but they didn't win.

2:52:472:52:49

Your lot won the argument.

2:52:492:52:51

We have to thank the good sense of the British people, actually,

2:52:512:52:56

for not taking us in at the end of the day,

2:52:562:53:00

because Tony Blair didn't dare to do it.

2:53:002:53:02

But the truth now is

2:53:022:53:05

that the solution to this problem for countries like Ireland

2:53:052:53:09

and Greece is to get out of the euro as soon as they possibly can.

2:53:092:53:13

The woman in the second row?

2:53:132:53:15

I think we should cut all ties with the European Union altogether.

2:53:152:53:19

It's ruined our economy.

2:53:192:53:21

I think that the British people should have the right to vote

2:53:212:53:24

whether we want it or not.

2:53:242:53:26

Like the Liberal Democrats, they wanted a referendum to see

2:53:262:53:30

if they could get in in 2015. You've got no chance.

2:53:302:53:33

Where's our vote for the European Union?

2:53:332:53:37

Grant Shapps, you should get out altogether?

2:53:372:53:40

The Foreign Secretary said you should repatriate powers.

2:53:402:53:43

We are an island. we should have the right

2:53:432:53:46

whether we want to be in.

2:53:462:53:47

Ask the British people that pay into the system.

2:53:472:53:50

-Grant Shapps?

-Our coalition partners don't believe we should get out.

2:53:502:53:53

I heard Tim say it would be wrong for us to put that on the table.

2:53:532:53:58

Does that mean you think we should get out?

2:53:582:54:01

I think we should have powers repatriated.

2:54:012:54:04

I can see that whilst we're in a coalition

2:54:042:54:06

during this period of trying to stop our country being in that building

2:54:062:54:10

as well, it's important to concentrate on

2:54:102:54:13

dealing with our own debt. And we're doing that.

2:54:132:54:16

It's one of the reasons we're able

2:54:162:54:18

to borrow at historically low levels of interest rates

2:54:182:54:21

whilst in many places in Europe, it's become incredibly expensive.

2:54:212:54:25

William Hague is right to say that the building is on fire.

2:54:252:54:30

I think there is an opportunity that the European leaders have

2:54:302:54:33

to douse those flames, but they have to move

2:54:332:54:36

very quick. There are 17 countries in the euro

2:54:362:54:39

who need to put these plans through. We saw the Germans take that step.

2:54:392:54:43

These are just the plans from June or July.

2:54:432:54:45

They need to get ahead of the curve.

2:54:452:54:47

They're trying to catch up all the time.

2:54:472:54:49

They need to be ahead of this.

2:54:492:54:50

They need to deal with the debt crisis.

2:54:502:54:54

You sound more optimistic than William Hague,

2:54:542:54:58

because the interpretation

2:54:582:54:59

of a burning building with no exits is disastrous. You don't get out.

2:54:592:55:03

That's the result of me reading the rest of his interview.

2:55:032:55:06

"I once said it was like a burning building".

2:55:062:55:08

"..And I was right". What's different about the interview?

2:55:082:55:13

It looks like the doors are blocked, the windows are jammed

2:55:132:55:17

and it's difficult to get out. We don't have to end up

2:55:172:55:20

in that situation. If the European economy is in the euro,

2:55:202:55:23

it's their responsibility to resolve, get together,

2:55:232:55:26

and have the political leadership and will to sort it out.

2:55:262:55:30

Then it can be done. The trouble is,

2:55:302:55:32

they're behind the curve at every stage at the moment.

2:55:322:55:34

They've got a window of opportunity until the Cannes summit

2:55:342:55:38

to get this sorted out.

2:55:382:55:39

-The man in the black and white shirt?

-I'm listening to the panel,

2:55:392:55:43

and I'm perplexed because everyone's on about the euro.

2:55:432:55:47

At the end of the day,

2:55:472:55:50

the people sat in this room will be bailing this country out.

2:55:502:55:52

If Greece defaults on its loan,

2:55:522:55:57

you are going to come to this country and say

2:55:572:56:00

"We need money because we're skint", in a nutshell.

2:56:002:56:03

If Ireland defaults on its loan,

2:56:032:56:06

how is Mr Osborne going to get his seven billion euro loan

2:56:062:56:09

back from Ireland?

2:56:092:56:11

I think it's a valid point and it worries a lot of people.

2:56:112:56:16

-We're not part of the European Stability Fund.

-We pay into it.

2:56:162:56:20

-No, we pay into the IMF fund.

-But it's going to cost us something?

2:56:202:56:25

Of course it will. If those economies go to the wall,

2:56:252:56:29

if there are problems in Europe,

2:56:292:56:31

one of our biggest markets, of course that's a problem for us.

2:56:312:56:34

You mention the Ireland money, the seven billion or so.

2:56:342:56:37

I think it hasn't been called on as yet, but Ireland and Britain

2:56:372:56:40

have a more interconnected economy

2:56:402:56:42

than many others, and certainly than we do with Greece.

2:56:422:56:45

-The woman on the right?

-Is it possible to be a Eurosceptic

2:56:452:56:48

and pro-Europe by looking at the European Union

2:56:482:56:53

as a potential Commonwealth,

2:56:532:56:54

more loosely constructed than the European Union,

2:56:542:56:57

but as a Commonwealth reflective

2:56:572:56:59

of why our own Commonwealth survives and why it's so strong.

2:56:592:57:02

Why can't the countries of Europe cooperate, work together,

2:57:022:57:06

-but be a more loosely bound Commonwealth?

-Caroline Flint?

2:57:062:57:11

-I call myself a European pragmatist.

-Would you call yourself that?

2:57:112:57:15

That's a new expression.

2:57:152:57:17

What I mean by that

2:57:172:57:19

is that we have such important trading links with Europe.

2:57:192:57:23

It's our biggest market. In terms of where we send our goods and the jobs

2:57:232:57:27

it creates, a lot of people in this country depend on the jobs

2:57:272:57:31

because of those connections with Europe. Difficult at the moment,

2:57:312:57:34

because they're not growing

2:57:342:57:36

and therefore, we're not receiving our exports.

2:57:362:57:38

I'm a pragmatist because I would agree

2:57:382:57:42

that there are a number of occasions over the years

2:57:422:57:45

where the European Union

2:57:452:57:46

has seemed to overcomplicate and involved in matters

2:57:462:57:49

which have caused a lot of scepticism in this country.

2:57:492:57:52

But the problem for us is this.

2:57:522:57:54

One thing I should say -

2:57:542:57:55

I'm pleased that when the decisions were being made

2:57:552:57:58

under the Labour government, we did choose not to go into the euro.

2:57:582:58:02

That was one of the best decisions we made.

2:58:022:58:04

It was Gordon Brown's decision. But where we are now is

2:58:042:58:07

a bit like the Ireland situation.

2:58:072:58:09

If Ireland goes under and other parts of the European Union go under,

2:58:092:58:13

we can't sit as an island outside of that.

2:58:132:58:16

What I would say to Grant is, there's a G20 summit in November,

2:58:162:58:21

which is the most powerful economies in the world.

2:58:212:58:24

It's meant to be happening in France. I do believe,

2:58:242:58:27

given that we're not party to some of the decisions in Eurozone countries,

2:58:272:58:32

that the Prime Minister should say "Bring that summit forward.

2:58:322:58:36

"You've said it's an emergency."

2:58:362:58:38

By bringing that summit forward, at least we can get ourselves

2:58:382:58:41

and others around the table,

2:58:412:58:42

including the French, and have discussions in detail

2:58:422:58:45

about how to deal with this very difficult situation.

2:58:452:58:48

APPLAUSE

2:58:482:58:51

The woman at the very back there? Two in from the gangway.

2:58:512:58:55

Earlier in the week, a market trader appeared on the BBC,

2:58:552:58:58

and he predicted that in 12 months' time,

2:58:582:59:01

people's savings would start vanishing from their bank accounts.

2:59:012:59:04

Does the panel think there is truth in this statement, and if they do,

2:59:042:59:08

what can ordinary people do to prepare for this situation?

2:59:082:59:13

That is the kind of worry that people have. Janet Street-Porter,

2:59:132:59:17

what do you think about the situation we're in?

2:59:172:59:19

I'm glad we're not in the eurozone.

2:59:192:59:23

I look at the EU, and when people talk about turning it round,

2:59:232:59:27

it's not like a burning building, it's like a tanker or something.

2:59:272:59:31

It's like the world's most luxurious tanker.

2:59:312:59:34

The one thing about Europe is what it's cost us.

2:59:342:59:37

Isn't it fascinating that all these MEPs of all political persuasions,

2:59:372:59:42

once they go to Brussels and are signed up to massive expenses,

2:59:422:59:47

this gorgeous lifestyle in Brussels, on our money...

2:59:472:59:51

APPLAUSE

2:59:512:59:53

Suddenly they can see all the justification

2:59:532:59:56

for all this legislation that in many,

2:59:562:59:59

many ways has had a detrimental effect on Britain.

2:59:593:00:04

You go around Europe, and I travel

3:00:043:00:06

around Europe a lot, and you see that in other European countries,

3:00:063:00:10

how they interpret health and safety and food standards

3:00:103:00:14

is completely variable.

3:00:143:00:15

It's like a club where everybody has their own set of rules.

3:00:153:00:19

So I find it bizarre

3:00:193:00:20

that now the eurozone and strong countries like France

3:00:203:00:23

and Germany have to bite the bullet and bail out Greece.

3:00:233:00:26

I find that incredible as a concept.

3:00:263:00:30

Grant Shapps, the point the woman made about savings -

3:00:303:00:33

-do you think there is a danger?

-I think the answer is, in this country,

3:00:333:00:36

through two measures, the danger is less.

3:00:363:00:39

One is that the banks were recapitalised,

3:00:393:00:41

a measure which was very expensive. They're paying it back.

3:00:413:00:44

They need to pay more back, but it's being done.

3:00:443:00:48

Secondly, the country itself is paying down its debts.

3:00:483:00:51

Whatever you think about the cuts,

3:00:513:00:53

no doubt we'll have arguments about those things, but the truth is

3:00:533:00:56

that foreign countries are still prepared to lend to Britain.

3:00:563:01:00

Because of that, we're much less likely to have those problems.

3:01:003:01:03

That's why we're not like Greece, as yourselves and the Liberal Democrats

3:01:033:01:08

tried to make out for all these months.

3:01:083:01:10

Sorry, now you're changing your tune.

3:01:103:01:14

You claimed it was your government that stopped us going into the euro,

3:01:143:01:18

which happened under the Major government.

3:01:183:01:20

Secondly, we were in the position of Greece,

3:01:203:01:23

in fact with a bigger budget deficit

3:01:233:01:26

than Greece, until we started to cut it.

3:01:263:01:28

APPLAUSE

3:01:283:01:34

The burning building is not the eurozone, it's Europe.

3:01:343:01:38

Burning £40 million a day, £280 million a week.

3:01:383:01:44

What we're going through now, that £280 million wouldn't half go well

3:01:443:01:49

on saving hospitals, firefighters' jobs

3:01:493:01:53

and saving public sector workers. That's what we should be doing.

3:01:533:01:57

I was a supporter of Europe, and now Europe has turned

3:01:573:02:00

into the most embarrassing boys' club I've ever seen in my life.

3:02:003:02:07

Euro MPs, it's like, "Bang, I've won the lottery again."

3:02:073:02:13

It is an absolute embarrassment.

3:02:133:02:14

Let's get out of it and put the money in saving British jobs!

3:02:143:02:20

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

3:02:203:02:21

Tim Farron, the Foreign Secretary

3:02:283:02:30

said that powers should be returned to the UK from Europe,

3:02:303:02:32

which is presumably what you would like as a start?

3:02:323:02:35

What powers would you like to see returned from Europe to us?

3:02:353:02:39

The main power that the UK government can exercise over Europe

3:02:393:02:42

is to scrutinise those things that come out of the European Union.

3:02:423:02:45

If you go around the Continent, most countries devote time

3:02:453:02:49

to scrutinising European legislation. We don't.

3:02:493:02:51

We have quite a poisonous relationship with the EU.

3:02:513:02:54

The clear sense of hostility to Europe is tangible here tonight.

3:02:543:02:58

No powers returned in your view?

3:02:583:03:00

The point is making a case for Europe.

3:03:003:03:02

But William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, I hate to say,

3:03:023:03:05

you are in a coalition, I know you don't like

3:03:053:03:08

being in coalition with the Tories, you want a divorce

3:03:083:03:12

within three years or whatever, maybe you're thinking

3:03:123:03:14

of having an affair with Labour, you know,

3:03:143:03:17

but you are in the coalition...

3:03:173:03:20

That got too complicated. I think I might need an injunction.

3:03:203:03:24

You are in a coalition.

3:03:243:03:26

Are you saying that the Liberal Democrats are against that?

3:03:263:03:29

The point is this, we have the European Union,

3:03:293:03:32

which is clearly not popular in this country.

3:03:323:03:35

It is a really difficult situation.

3:03:353:03:37

People like myself,

3:03:373:03:38

those who are pro-Europe and probably the majority around this table

3:03:383:03:42

believe we should remain part of the EU,

3:03:423:03:44

but we, if we're not careful,

3:03:443:03:46

end up apologists for some of the nonsense coming out of Brussels.

3:03:463:03:50

You're right to point to the gravy train.

3:03:503:03:52

Some of the ludicrous decisions.

3:03:523:03:54

It took Europe 18 years to decide how to define chocolate!

3:03:543:03:57

That's an easy hit. Even the Commission knows...

3:03:573:04:02

The point I'm making is

3:04:023:04:03

we need to aim high and make the argument for Europe.

3:04:033:04:07

How about this, next week...

3:04:073:04:09

..The MPs are who stealing our money!

3:04:093:04:13

-The bottom line...

-We don't use it.

3:04:133:04:15

How come we've got to... the Euro MPs?

3:04:153:04:17

Let me bring in...

3:04:173:04:19

I would like to add something to the very eloquent points

3:04:193:04:22

being made by the gentleman in the front row.

3:04:223:04:25

You agree with him?

3:04:253:04:27

I agree with everything he has said, he's brilliant.

3:04:273:04:30

APPLAUSE

3:04:303:04:33

Should be an MEP. But I want to add something else.

3:04:363:04:38

I want to say something else which is very frightening,

3:04:383:04:43

very chilling, is the sheer brutality of the European Union.

3:04:433:04:46

What they are doing, in order to keep their euro going,

3:04:463:04:51

which Tim Farron here supports so much,

3:04:513:04:54

they are driving countries to bankruptcy.

3:04:543:04:59

They are driving hundreds of millions of people out of work.

3:04:593:05:03

There's 46% youth unemployment in Spain

3:05:033:05:06

as a direct result of the euro.

3:05:063:05:07

In the '80s, when Margaret Thatcher was doing her monetarism

3:05:073:05:12

and wasaccused by the left of being an evil, ugly woman

3:05:123:05:15

determined to destroy people...

3:05:153:05:17

She was! >

3:05:173:05:20

APPLAUSE

3:05:203:05:21

Whatever... Thatcher, I think she was a great woman,

3:05:213:05:25

but whatever she was doing...

3:05:253:05:27

BOOING FROM THE AUDIENCE

3:05:273:05:29

She hated Liverpool. >

3:05:303:05:32

Whatever she was doing, it was compassion itself,

3:05:323:05:35

Christian compassion.

3:05:353:05:37

She hated Liverpool. >

3:05:373:05:39

She hated Liverpool. >

3:05:393:05:41

I shouldn't have raised the subject.

3:05:413:05:44

-Come on!

-I'll move on, then. I give up on that.

3:05:443:05:47

Move on, move on! >

3:05:473:05:48

But the point is that the brutality of the European Union,

3:05:483:05:52

the readiness of the Brussels bureaucrats to obliterate

3:05:523:05:58

not just industries, but entire economies

3:05:583:06:00

in the name of the dogma of the euro,

3:06:003:06:02

that is something which really should frighten us.

3:06:023:06:05

Talking about dogma here, next week,

3:06:053:06:07

Jim Paice who is the Agricultural Minister, will go to Brussels

3:06:073:06:11

and sit around a table with 26 other agricultural ministers

3:06:113:06:14

and argue the toss about sheep tagging.

3:06:143:06:16

Six or seven of those guys around the table,

3:06:163:06:18

22 years ago had nuclear weapons on their soil pointing at this city.

3:06:183:06:22

Next week, they're arguing the toss about sheep tagging.

3:06:223:06:25

About what?

3:06:253:06:26

About sheep tagging. LAUGHTER

3:06:263:06:30

Electronic identification for sheep.

3:06:303:06:34

Sheep tagging. Thank you.

3:06:343:06:36

I think you have made your point.

3:06:363:06:39

The point is if all we are doing now with the likes of Hungary

3:06:393:06:42

is arguing the toss about how we identify the bovine community,

3:06:423:06:46

that is a massive progress from where we were beforehand.

3:06:463:06:49

-Thank you, Tim.

-Very expensive.

3:06:493:06:52

Let's go on. APPLAUSE

3:06:523:06:55

I appreciate there is a lot of interest in that question.

3:06:553:06:58

A lot of hands up.

3:06:583:07:00

I think there might well be in the next one as well.

3:07:003:07:03

Which is from Christopher Sinnett, please.

3:07:033:07:07

Should families in employment be given preferential treatment

3:07:073:07:10

on social housing lists over the unemployed?

3:07:103:07:12

This was something Ed Miliband in his speech here in Liverpool,

3:07:123:07:16

where the Labour party conference has been going on,

3:07:163:07:18

said, "Do we treat the person who contributes to their community

3:07:183:07:22

"the same as the person who doesn't? My answer is no."

3:07:223:07:25

He was arguing for social housing to give priority to people

3:07:253:07:28

who are in employment or gave something back to the community.

3:07:283:07:32

Janet Street-Porter, what do you think of that proposal?

3:07:323:07:36

Seems to be both a Labour and a Tory...

3:07:363:07:38

Yes, I noticed today the Tories are claiming that one as well.

3:07:383:07:42

I thought Ed Miliband's speech was bizarre,

3:07:423:07:44

because he divides the whole of our society into good and bad people.

3:07:443:07:48

I was thinking, right,

3:07:483:07:50

so we now have these people in council houses,

3:07:503:07:53

good people and bad people,

3:07:533:07:54

and the bad people are the people on benefits without a job.

3:07:543:07:58

And if you want to get social housing, you need to be in work.

3:07:583:08:04

That's ludicrous because we've got at the moment,

3:08:043:08:06

nearly a million young people out of work,

3:08:063:08:11

so they'll never get on a housing list.

3:08:113:08:13

Then I thought about it again and I thought,

3:08:133:08:16

there is some merit in creating a points system,

3:08:163:08:20

a more modern points system, given the pressure on social housing.

3:08:203:08:25

I thought maybe if people did more for their community,

3:08:253:08:28

after all, if you want your child to go to a certain school,

3:08:283:08:31

you go to church, whatever, you move to an area,

3:08:313:08:34

you try to build up points to get your kid

3:08:343:08:37

into a church school, for example.

3:08:373:08:40

I was thinking, there has been a lot of talk from David Cameron

3:08:403:08:45

and from Labour about community spirit and the big society, whatever.

3:08:453:08:49

I'm thinking, yes, maybe if the people who help run youth clubs,

3:08:493:08:54

help in public libraries, now councils are making

3:08:543:08:57

all these cuts and libraries have to be run by volunteers,

3:08:573:09:01

if they do social work and do stuff in the community,

3:09:013:09:06

that should count as points.

3:09:063:09:08

What about when they stop it after they've got the house?

3:09:083:09:11

I'm not going to be that judgmental, but I think it's a better structure.

3:09:113:09:16

I think this idea of being in paid employment

3:09:163:09:19

to get a council house is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

3:09:193:09:23

Person in the middle, at the back.

3:09:233:09:25

If this is put in place, how are we going to make sure that

3:09:283:09:31

people who are physically and mentally unable to contribute

3:09:313:09:35

to their community aren't forgotten about and victims of the system?

3:09:353:09:39

Caroline Flint.

3:09:393:09:40

First of all, what we're not saying is

3:09:403:09:43

that only those in work can get access to a council home,

3:09:433:09:46

or that run by a housing association.

3:09:463:09:48

What we're saying is, that within a community, councils should

3:09:483:09:53

take into account a number of things,

3:09:533:09:56

for example needs, just like you've expressed there.

3:09:563:09:59

But also, we want to make sure that there's offer

3:09:593:10:01

for those people on low incomes who are in work.

3:10:013:10:04

Unfortunately, at present, in terms of allocating social housing,

3:10:043:10:09

it's too often that people have to present themselves in quite

3:10:093:10:13

a demeaning way, to show that they are so needy,

3:10:133:10:16

so needing help that that's the way you get the points.

3:10:163:10:19

I think that's pretty demeaning.

3:10:193:10:21

But also it's about how we widen the offer to the community.

3:10:213:10:24

For example, if there are some families living in a neighbourhood

3:10:243:10:28

and parents or grandparents and they're in a social home,

3:10:283:10:32

and they're looking to their kids who are in work getting one,

3:10:323:10:36

and a housing estate goes up run by a housing association,

3:10:363:10:39

and they know their kids will never get a chance to live there,

3:10:393:10:43

that creates, I think, tensions and concerns about fairness.

3:10:433:10:47

What we are saying is, we need more homes, that's absolutely the case.

3:10:473:10:51

But we want to make sure social housing isn't seen

3:10:513:10:54

as a second-choice offer, but a positive choice.

3:10:543:10:57

To be honest, it used to be

3:10:573:10:59

that actually most people who lived in council houses,

3:10:593:11:02

you had teachers, you had plumbers, you had all sorts of people.

3:11:023:11:06

We still have that to a certain extent today,

3:11:063:11:08

but unfortunately the allocation procedure

3:11:083:11:11

has meant a lot of those people never get a look in.

3:11:113:11:14

You mean it favours people who can present a case for neediness?

3:11:143:11:19

The problem is when a council is trying to decide

3:11:193:11:22

and create diverse neighbourhoods, we've got to a stage,

3:11:223:11:25

partly because not enough supply, where other people on low incomes

3:11:253:11:29

in work never get a look-in.

3:11:293:11:31

As Janet said, what Manchester council have been looking at

3:11:313:11:35

is those people who make a real contribution to their community,

3:11:353:11:39

saying, actually, they will be part of helping make the community strong.

3:11:393:11:43

It's saying... It's not about just giving to one group,

3:11:433:11:46

but it's taking into account to create a healthy, strong

3:11:463:11:49

and actually a good working neighbourhood

3:11:493:11:51

is good for a community.

3:11:513:11:52

But we need the jobs

3:11:523:11:53

and we're not getting them under this government.

3:11:533:11:56

APPLAUSE

3:11:563:11:57

People who are homeless, living in hostels or whatever,

3:11:593:12:01

they find it difficult to find work.

3:12:013:12:04

Wouldn't this preferential treatment of those who are employed

3:12:043:12:08

condemn people to homelessness and unemployment?

3:12:083:12:10

No, no, it wouldn't because it is not about saying either or.

3:12:103:12:15

There are still allocations to house people who are homeless,

3:12:153:12:18

but actually there's social housing,

3:12:183:12:20

but also the private rented sector is also used.

3:12:203:12:23

One of the things I said today at conference

3:12:233:12:26

is we need to make the private rental sector better.

3:12:263:12:28

Those who are unemployed, homeless, living in hostels,

3:12:283:12:31

they are effectively condemned to not having housing

3:12:313:12:36

because they can't get a job.

3:12:363:12:37

But that policy would make it more difficult for someone

3:12:373:12:40

to get a job, condemning them to homelessness, condemning them to...

3:12:403:12:44

There will be obligations on councils to tackle homelessness and need.

3:12:443:12:48

A single parent mother out of work, they will still be counted in.

3:12:483:12:51

When you have supply, and we hope to increase supply if re-elected.

3:12:513:12:54

We created social homes when we were in, not enough, but we did.

3:12:543:12:58

That's something we hope will create a better balance

3:12:583:13:01

and a real opportunity for social housing to grow.

3:13:013:13:03

It is supposed by... The leader of the council in Liverpool said

3:13:033:13:06

he would resign from the Labour Party if this goes through.

3:13:063:13:10

You haven't got the party on your side.

3:13:103:13:12

I don't think that is the case because I have been out in Liverpool

3:13:123:13:16

in the last few days and I see where they're trying

3:13:163:13:18

to create diverse neighbourhoods through the schemes

3:13:183:13:22

they've operating in Kensington and elsewhere in Liverpool.

3:13:223:13:25

My worry is that this is authoritarian and populist

3:13:273:13:30

and is about creating a culture of the deserving poor.

3:13:303:13:33

It worries me greatly.

3:13:333:13:34

APPLAUSE How do you assess people's need?

3:13:343:13:39

You have to come up with some system in order to judge people's need

3:13:403:13:43

and how high up the list they ought to be.

3:13:433:13:46

In my part of the world, we have 3,500 council houses left

3:13:463:13:50

in South Lakeland, my district area, a waiting list of 3,500 as well.

3:13:503:13:55

-We did have 10,000...

-3,500 available?

3:13:553:13:57

We have 3,500 houses available and 3,500 on a waiting list.

3:13:573:14:01

-You haven't got a problem, have you?

-No.

3:14:013:14:04

They are all occupied and there are an extra 3,500 waiting to get in.

3:14:043:14:07

So 7,000 if you like. The bottom line is a lack

3:14:073:14:10

of affordable and social housing in this country.

3:14:103:14:13

We did have 10 or 12,000 council houses but somebody has sold them off

3:14:133:14:17

and not replace them, the most ludicrous decision ever taken,

3:14:173:14:20

which hit Liverpool and every other town in this country.

3:14:203:14:23

APPLAUSE

3:14:233:14:26

So you were against the right to buy?

3:14:263:14:28

I take the view...

3:14:283:14:30

Were you against the right to buy?

3:14:303:14:32

I am against... I'm in favour of allowing councils to suspend

3:14:323:14:36

the right to buy where there is most pressure on their housing stock.

3:14:363:14:40

I agree with Caroline. Social housing is not a second best option.

3:14:403:14:43

It's a legitimate and honourable option.

3:14:433:14:46

We should not demonise people and put them on irregular lists.

3:14:463:14:50

The woman on the right.

3:14:503:14:53

We are talking about social housing

3:14:533:14:55

and how it goes to the most needy in a priority order,

3:14:553:14:57

but what about young professionals who cannot access social housing?

3:14:573:15:01

We can't rent because the rent is too high,

3:15:013:15:04

and we cannot get on the property ladder.

3:15:043:15:06

-Are you talking about yourself?

-Yes.

3:15:063:15:09

Have you applied for social housing?

3:15:093:15:11

There is no use, is there?

3:15:113:15:14

I live at home with my parents and our house is not seen as overcrowded

3:15:143:15:18

so I wouldn't get a look-in on the social housing list.

3:15:183:15:21

I don't know enough about it

3:15:233:15:26

to talk with any authority at all, to be honest.

3:15:263:15:30

You do not need to talk if you don't have any authority.

3:15:303:15:33

I think there's one observation I would like to do, to make.

3:15:343:15:39

I thought that Ed Miliband's intervention on this issue

3:15:393:15:42

was very interesting.

3:15:423:15:43

I think that the idea that people can get something for nothing

3:15:433:15:47

is difficult.

3:15:473:15:49

To encourage people to go out and work and get off a dependency

3:15:493:15:55

culture which can go on sometimes for generations is a bold thing.

3:15:553:15:59

I think now that it has been suggested by the Tories,

3:15:593:16:03

now being adopted by Labour, that is very good.

3:16:033:16:06

I went to university, got educated

3:16:063:16:09

and I'm not getting anywhere for it now, you know...

3:16:093:16:11

Grant Shapps, pick up the cudgels.

3:16:113:16:13

I think for somebody in your position,

3:16:133:16:15

we've introduced a scheme called First Buy for first-time buyers.

3:16:153:16:18

I've looked into that too. What's the point?

3:16:183:16:21

You still have to save a deposit to get that

3:16:213:16:23

and you have to pay that back in five years' time.

3:16:233:16:25

-To me, that does not make sense.

-How much have you got to save?

3:16:253:16:29

You have to save £5,000 and you have to pay that back.

3:16:293:16:32

So you still get a deposit for £80,000

3:16:323:16:36

and the houses you are looking at for £100,000, are tiny.

3:16:363:16:39

I'd sooner live in a council house and buy one of those.

3:16:393:16:42

Trying to get your 10% deposit that you need,

3:16:423:16:45

it's not realistic on my wages, as well.

3:16:453:16:49

This is the point...

3:16:493:16:51

No, hold on. He's...

3:16:513:16:53

The problem is, the biggest commodity we need to live our lives

3:16:533:16:57

is a roof over our head.

3:16:573:16:59

I may be the first housing minister to ever say this

3:16:593:17:01

but I think it is ridiculous that it takes so much

3:17:013:17:04

of people's monthly income to have the most basic

3:17:043:17:07

of human requirements, to have a roof over your head.

3:17:073:17:10

The only way to fix that is through long-term stability in house prices.

3:17:103:17:15

You're right, schemes like First Buy which enable you

3:17:153:17:18

to get a smaller 5% or 10% deposit are designed to help.

3:17:183:17:21

But your wider point is, why shouldn't someone like you who works

3:17:213:17:25

have access to the social housing waiting list?

3:17:253:17:28

I'd love to access social housing

3:17:283:17:30

and have the housing association looking after you but...

3:17:303:17:33

So why not expand the Government's spending on social housing?

3:17:333:17:38

First of all, we're in this problem of trying to reduce the deficit.

3:17:383:17:43

We are going to get a lot more social houses built

3:17:433:17:45

as a result of something called affordable rent.

3:17:453:17:48

We are going to build 170,000 affordable homes

3:17:483:17:51

which exceeds initial expectation... By 2015, the end of the parliament.

3:17:513:17:56

But can I get to the original question as well, which was that...

3:17:563:18:00

The priority that's given.

3:18:003:18:01

Ed Miliband announced in his speech that he thinks if you work,

3:18:013:18:05

you should have some priority.

3:18:053:18:07

People misunderstand the way the allocation lists work

3:18:073:18:10

but, basically, you get points for various situations.

3:18:103:18:13

I absolutely agree

3:18:133:18:15

because this is our policy, it's in the Localism Bill,

3:18:153:18:18

and the housing tenure changes that I am making.

3:18:183:18:20

I look forward to the support from the opposition.

3:18:203:18:23

It should be the case that if you are in work, that should,

3:18:233:18:26

somewhere along the line, be taken into account and you should get

3:18:263:18:29

more points for doing the right thing and you should benefit from that

3:18:293:18:33

rather than being part of a society where you get something for nothing.

3:18:333:18:37

You also floated that if someone got a pay rise they could

3:18:373:18:40

be evicted from their council house. That is not helping.

3:18:403:18:43

You can misquote me as much as you like but what I actually said...

3:18:433:18:47

APPLAUSE

3:18:473:18:49

What I actually said is if you find yourself some time later

3:18:493:18:52

in a completely different position,

3:18:523:18:55

people like the MP Frank Dobson, who earns over £100,000,

3:18:553:18:58

then that house was built for somebody in need of housing.

3:18:583:19:02

The waiting lists doubled under the time you were in Government

3:19:023:19:05

and it is about time...

3:19:053:19:06

People can pay to stay and then they can pay their rent.

3:19:063:19:10

We think it will raise £56 million by asking people

3:19:103:19:14

on high incomes to pay.

3:19:143:19:16

With that money, we can build more social housing.

3:19:163:19:20

Let's get this problem fixed!

3:19:203:19:22

APPLAUSE

3:19:223:19:26

No matter what each one of the parties wants, this problem is

3:19:263:19:29

going to get so much worse when student fees go up to £9,000.

3:19:293:19:33

It's people like me that are going to get slaughtered

3:19:333:19:37

when we come out of uni with debt we could pay until we are 53 years old.

3:19:373:19:41

A house is just off the agenda, isn't it? What are we going to do?

3:19:413:19:46

APPLAUSE

3:19:463:19:49

You sir on the fourth row.

3:19:493:19:53

I think you can dance around the houses forever and a day

3:19:533:19:56

as to how they are allocated

3:19:563:19:58

but the fact is that there are just not enough out there.

3:19:583:20:00

Caroline, you are right, there is brilliant stuff going on

3:20:003:20:04

in how communities are mixed and how we integrate communities.

3:20:043:20:08

Forget that argument.

3:20:083:20:09

I would like to pick up Grant and say congratulations,

3:20:093:20:12

because for the first time I feel with my own organisation

3:20:123:20:15

we have managed to exceed what we thought possible.

3:20:153:20:18

Your organisation being?

3:20:183:20:20

Chester and District Housing Trust and Cosmopolitan Housing Group.

3:20:203:20:23

On the back of Grant's proposal of putting 1,058 homes on the ground

3:20:233:20:28

in the next three years,

3:20:283:20:29

if there's a second round, we could double that.

3:20:293:20:31

There's another part as well, and this is a plea to you, Grant.

3:20:313:20:35

You have come up with something fantastic and I congratulate you,

3:20:353:20:38

but we need to consider the impact of welfare reform.

3:20:383:20:42

If you are on the bottom of the rung, it's a bloody tough time.

3:20:423:20:45

It really is. I look at some of the residents and I do not know how

3:20:453:20:49

they get from week to week.

3:20:493:20:50

So the capping of rents?

3:20:503:20:52

If you look at housing benefit if it's paid to residents directly,

3:20:523:20:56

and most of them don't want it, that will undermine

3:20:563:21:00

what is actually a fantastic scheme you have come up with.

3:21:003:21:03

OK. I think we should move on.

3:21:033:21:05

Let's stick with politics and go to Simon Nolan, please.

3:21:053:21:12

Is Ed Miliband's attack on business practices a clear indication that

3:21:133:21:17

the Labour Party is moving further to the left under his leadership?

3:21:173:21:21

Is the Labour Party moving further to the left,

3:21:213:21:25

and what Ed Miliband said was talk about producers

3:21:253:21:28

against predators, saying that when Labour came back to power

3:21:283:21:32

they would be taxed differently and he would distinguish

3:21:323:21:36

between producers and predators, wealth creators and asset strippers.

3:21:363:21:40

Is this a move to the left? Janet Street-Porter.

3:21:403:21:43

There was a very interesting article in one of the papers today

3:21:433:21:47

by James Dyson, picking up on this.

3:21:473:21:50

He pointed out he had to move the manufacturing part

3:21:503:21:55

of his business abroad because he couldn't get planning permission

3:21:553:21:59

to expand his factory in the UK.

3:21:593:22:01

He got roundly attacked for that because obviously lots of jobs

3:22:013:22:05

went overseas but his businesses has flourished

3:22:053:22:10

and the research and development division

3:22:103:22:12

and the part of his engineering which develops new products

3:22:123:22:16

has expanded, so lots of jobs have come about in the long-term.

3:22:163:22:21

I think that this story is an interesting one.

3:22:213:22:24

It shows to be successful in business

3:22:243:22:27

you've got to be a combination of both.

3:22:273:22:30

Both asset stripper and... Wealth creator and predator...

3:22:303:22:33

No, very successful businessmen are not good or bad.

3:22:333:22:37

They are complex people who at some time during the building

3:22:373:22:40

up of their business have to act in a ruthless way.

3:22:403:22:45

Business is not as simplistic as Ed Miliband would have.

3:22:453:22:50

I think it's absolutely bonkers.

3:22:503:22:53

When I watched his speech, it's like loads of placards. Isn't it?

3:22:533:22:58

Then you go beyond the placard, and you think,

3:22:583:23:00

"But what does he really mean?"

3:23:003:23:02

I think it wasn't a good speech.

3:23:023:23:07

It's not so much moving to the left,

3:23:073:23:09

it's lunching about looking for the daylight, isn't it?

3:23:093:23:12

APPLAUSE

3:23:123:23:15

I don't know what you think about Ed Miliband,

3:23:193:23:22

now it's rumoured he's going to drop you from his Shadow Cabinet.

3:23:223:23:25

First I've heard of it.

3:23:253:23:26

Maybe this is a chance for you to show your loyalty?

3:23:263:23:29

What do you think?

3:23:293:23:30

I think that what Ed Miliband was drawing attention to

3:23:303:23:33

is the way some businesses behave.

3:23:333:23:36

Clearly we've seen, in terms of the bankers, some worrying things

3:23:363:23:39

about how that sector operated over a number of years,

3:23:393:23:43

but he also talked about, for example this week,

3:23:433:23:45

the way with the energy producers,

3:23:453:23:48

that we have a bad business model there,

3:23:483:23:50

whereby actually it's putting up prices for the average consumer.

3:23:503:23:55

What he talked about was looking at how you can open up

3:23:553:23:58

and have more competition in that area,

3:23:583:24:00

in order to make sure consumers are supported.

3:24:003:24:03

He's also talking about...

3:24:033:24:04

What was his job before becoming the leader

3:24:043:24:07

-of the Labour Party opposition?

-He was involved in that, yes.

3:24:073:24:11

-LAUGHTER

-Was he Energy Secretary?

3:24:113:24:13

And Ed was doing work on looking at the energy markets

3:24:133:24:17

before we lost the General Election. That is only fair to point out.

3:24:173:24:21

What he's saying too, are there ways in way governments

3:24:213:24:25

set certain rules that we can also think about encouraging

3:24:253:24:28

and supporting businesses that are doing the right thing?

3:24:283:24:32

For example, we have huge numbers of government contracts

3:24:323:24:35

at national level. There are contracts at a local council level.

3:24:353:24:38

Why not say to businesses, "If you win a contract,

3:24:383:24:42

"how many apprentices are you taking on?"

3:24:423:24:45

Is that a way of encouraging a skill base and opportunity for people?

3:24:453:24:48

That isn't what he said. He said they had to be taxed differently.

3:24:483:24:51

He was going to distinguish between different types of businesses.

3:24:513:24:54

And by tax, what he was talking about is if there are companies

3:24:543:24:59

investing in research and design and development,

3:24:593:25:02

they could get tax credits to support that activity.

3:25:023:25:06

That's about encouraging innovation and jobs.

3:25:063:25:10

So there are things about some practises that it's only fair

3:25:103:25:13

the government sets rules on, but it's not about being punitive.

3:25:133:25:16

It is about rewarding and encouraging good business practice and behaviour.

3:25:163:25:21

Then why didn't Labour ever insist that all these companies

3:25:213:25:25

had 50% women on the board? You had ten years to do that.

3:25:253:25:29

If you talk about good and bad businesses,

3:25:293:25:31

women have been ignored by the Labour Party.

3:25:313:25:33

But, Janet... APPLAUSE

3:25:333:25:35

OK, the man over there, you sir.

3:25:353:25:38

Caroline, talking about government contracts,

3:25:383:25:42

would you regard good business from the Government being things

3:25:423:25:48

like the NHS failed computer system and the nine fire emergency centres

3:25:483:25:52

that are costing an arm and a leg and aren't being used.

3:25:523:25:55

I would accept that those schemes failed and

3:25:573:26:00

we have to look at those and take responsibility.

3:26:003:26:02

It is a good point about government procurement and how it works.

3:26:023:26:05

Don't be hypocritical.

3:26:053:26:08

Jim Murphy has said the same about issues in the Ministry of Defence.

3:26:083:26:12

In answer to Janet's point, this is about Ed setting out where he thinks

3:26:123:26:16

the Labour Party should go in the future.

3:26:163:26:18

You dropped Harriet Harman's proposal to force companies

3:26:183:26:21

to have a mandatory number of women on the board. That was shocking.

3:26:213:26:24

-Ed wasn't the leader, I don't think.

-You sir, in the fourth row.

3:26:243:26:27

This speech did not represent a lurch to the left,

3:26:273:26:31

but it challenged some orthodoxies, that have been around for the last 30 years.

3:26:313:26:36

We have companies taking advantage of Britain's competitiveness,

3:26:363:26:40

tax evading, asset-stripping and moving things offshore.

3:26:403:26:45

They are taking advantage, but giving nothing back.

3:26:453:26:48

Currently, we reward that, like everybody else,

3:26:483:26:51

we shouldn't do, we should treat them differently.

3:26:513:26:54

Tim Farron, did you agree with what Ed Miliband said?

3:26:543:26:58

Were you sympathetic to what he was saying?

3:26:583:27:02

If I understood it, that would be a start.

3:27:023:27:05

-If you understood what he said?

-"Good and bad businesses."

3:27:053:27:08

I spent last night in Kendal talking to small businesses that

3:27:083:27:12

employ no more than a dozen people,

3:27:123:27:15

they are, by and large, paying themselves less than the minimum wage

3:27:153:27:19

and keeping these folks in work and working their socks off.

3:27:193:27:23

They are good businesses, they are in an awful position

3:27:233:27:26

because of bad government decisions in the late 1990s to

3:27:263:27:29

deregulate the banks and leave us in the mess we are in now.

3:27:293:27:33

Is Miliband taking them to the left?

3:27:333:27:35

Well, they spent 13 years in power behaving like Tories,

3:27:353:27:39

and now 16 months in opposition behaving like Trots.

3:27:393:27:41

That is ridiculous.

3:27:413:27:43

APPLAUSE

3:27:433:27:44

Absolutely ridiculous.

3:27:443:27:48

I am on the right, the Daily Telegraph.

3:27:483:27:50

I thought Ed Miliband's speech was one of the most impressive speeches

3:27:503:27:55

of a political leader at a party conference for a very long time.

3:27:553:27:59

The reason was he was challenging orthodoxy.

3:27:593:28:03

We are living in a troubling period.

3:28:033:28:07

When all of the beliefs we were brought up to believe

3:28:073:28:11

about how society and economy work are being broken.

3:28:113:28:15

I think that Ed Miliband is rising to that occasion.

3:28:153:28:18

I think that is a very interesting thing.

3:28:183:28:21

I would have gone stronger than he did about some aspects of

3:28:213:28:25

modern capitalism as it emerged first under Thatcher and then under Blair.

3:28:253:28:30

It was encouraged by Blair as much as Thatcher - the feral rich.

3:28:303:28:33

There was a reference earlier on to that trader,

3:28:333:28:38

that disgusting trader interviewed on BBC, who said he laid awake at

3:28:383:28:42

night waiting for the recession and that Goldman Sachs ruled the world.

3:28:423:28:47

That is revolting.

3:28:473:28:49

That is a disgusting human being.

3:28:493:28:52

Something has gone wrong with society.

3:28:523:28:54

I think that one of the things that Ed Miliband was doing,

3:28:543:28:57

and it is a huge challenge to George Osborne and David Cameron next week,

3:28:573:29:01

is that he was trying to bring back morality into the way that this country works.

3:29:013:29:07

APPLAUSE

3:29:073:29:11

Is that how you read it?

3:29:113:29:13

I thought it was bizarre, this idea of good versus bad companies.

3:29:133:29:19

I set up a small company, a printing company 20 years ago,

3:29:193:29:23

I'm not sure if I were good or bad.

3:29:233:29:26

What about if I were a builder and I invested in the town centre in my constituency,

3:29:263:29:30

would I be a good builder as I'm building a town centre that needed regeneration?

3:29:303:29:36

Or a bad builder because I was investing and taking a gamble?

3:29:363:29:39

Would I be good or bad?

3:29:393:29:41

That is Alistair Darling's example after hearing that speech.

3:29:413:29:44

I have a question for the audience - would Weetabix be good or bad?

3:29:443:29:47

The AA? The RAC? McVities?

3:29:473:29:49

These are all companies in the bad books of Ed Miliband.

3:29:493:29:54

APPLAUSE

3:29:543:29:58

Why is Weetabix the bad company?

3:29:583:30:02

He didn't mention it in his speech.

3:30:023:30:05

No, but they are all invested in by private equity firms

3:30:053:30:09

-so in his view, they are the bad guys.

-Hang on a second.

3:30:093:30:13

At the very back there.

3:30:133:30:17

I definitely think that Ed Miliband wouldn't have said

3:30:173:30:22

those things one year to an election.

3:30:223:30:25

I would like to reiterate that it is very welcoming having moral issues

3:30:253:30:30

come back into economic ideas and to the Conservative minister there,

3:30:303:30:34

those questions are the right things to say to iron out

3:30:343:30:40

those ambivalences that exist and are troubling our society at the minute.

3:30:403:30:44

You are not concerned the practicalities weren't spelt out?

3:30:443:30:47

You say it's too soon for that?

3:30:473:30:50

I think in airing those issues we are having the discussions

3:30:503:30:53

and ironing out those things that we need to do.

3:30:533:30:56

Man in the second row in the checked shirt.

3:30:563:30:59

Peter touched on the issue, the real issue is greed from

3:30:593:31:02

the multinational companies who are tax evading.

3:31:023:31:06

They are not paying their dues.

3:31:063:31:09

We should say they need a measure of corporate responsibility,

3:31:093:31:12

to do business in this country

3:31:123:31:14

and by extension the European Union, then you have to pay your dues.

3:31:143:31:18

APPLAUSE

3:31:183:31:22

I'd be interested to see how Labour can, with authority, judge

3:31:223:31:27

what is a good and a bad business, considering John Denham's

3:31:273:31:31

admission, that not a single member of the Cabinet had run a business?

3:31:313:31:36

What Ed Miliband was talking about was not picking

3:31:363:31:39

on one sector or another, but talking about bad behaviour.

3:31:393:31:42

Just to answer Grant, he's not having an onslaught against every private equity firm,

3:31:423:31:48

but let's be honest about this,

3:31:483:31:50

it was a private equity funding firm that put Southern Cross on

3:31:503:31:54

an unsustainable footing and tried to sell it for a fast buck

3:31:543:31:58

leaving old people not knowing where they would live.

3:31:583:32:01

Why do you use this example?

3:32:033:32:05

I am using the example that within different sectors, that there

3:32:053:32:09

is bad behaviour that needs to be at least acknowledged...

3:32:093:32:16

What about the person brought in to sort out Northern Rock

3:32:163:32:20

was employed by the Government and allowed to have their tax arrangements paid overseas.

3:32:203:32:25

So Government colludes with it.

3:32:253:32:28

APPLAUSE

3:32:283:32:33

I think most people know and are concerned

3:32:333:32:35

when they hear of certain companies

3:32:353:32:38

and in certain sectors behaving in a way,

3:32:383:32:40

whether it is not enforcing the national minimum wage

3:32:403:32:43

or whether it is issues around safety of their staff

3:32:433:32:46

or when there are actions that don't help the business,

3:32:463:32:49

help the employees, what he is talking about is let's have a debate.

3:32:493:32:54

We have talked about the bankers on many, many occasions.

3:32:543:32:59

Everyone said there is something wrong with the bonus culture in banking,

3:32:593:33:03

and the way it created a situation where people were taking risks.

3:33:033:33:07

That is an example where we have all had a debate in recent times.

3:33:073:33:11

Labour has learned from that, we have all learnt from that,

3:33:113:33:14

that banking and regulation must be put on another footing.

3:33:143:33:18

That is what Ed Miliband is talking about.

3:33:183:33:20

This from the leader, Ed Miliband,

3:33:203:33:22

who was the special advisor to Gordon Brown, when they allowed Fred the shred,

3:33:223:33:26

who they gave a knighthood to and then gave him £17 million

3:33:263:33:29

as a pay off, extraordinary!

3:33:293:33:31

APPLAUSE

3:33:313:33:36

I think that the Conservatives

3:33:363:33:38

wanted to get rid of most of the banking regulations.

3:33:383:33:41

So I accept that we made bad mistakes in a number of areas,

3:33:413:33:45

but you cannot sit there and say you are totally clean.

3:33:453:33:49

The job of the government in this area is to support businesses

3:33:493:33:52

and allow people to make a living and create jobs for other people,

3:33:523:33:55

but the last Labour government entered power in 1997 and committed the appalling sin

3:33:553:34:00

of "out-Thatchering" Mrs Thatcher, deregulating the banks...

3:34:003:34:04

Rubbish! We brought in the national minimum wage.

3:34:043:34:07

This whole line of appalling collapses,

3:34:073:34:10

this is why we are in the mess now it is not because they overspent,

3:34:103:34:14

but because they did something even Margaret Thatcher wouldn't do in '97.

3:34:143:34:18

Just before we finish the programme,

3:34:183:34:20

you said you wanted a divorce from the Tories in three or four years,

3:34:203:34:24

the three years is well before an election,

3:34:243:34:27

is that what you want to do?

3:34:273:34:28

Thank you for allowing me to clarify.

3:34:283:34:30

You have to be brief.

3:34:303:34:32

Three years and eight months, the coalition needs to last till 2015.

3:34:323:34:37

The bottom line is Britain needs stable government.

3:34:373:34:41

-How is the marriage going?

-It's going all right.

3:34:413:34:44

-Why get divorced then?

-It would be a perfectly amicable divorce.

3:34:443:34:48

The point is it is a temporary arrangement.

3:34:513:34:56

Yeah, but you are enjoying the power.

3:34:563:34:58

It is not a marriage, it's a temporary arrangement?

3:34:583:35:01

It is a business arrangement.

3:35:013:35:03

We'd better end there because our time is up.

3:35:033:35:06

We are in Salford next week.

3:35:063:35:08

Manchester is hosting the Tory Party conference.

3:35:083:35:11

The panel next week on Question Time,

3:35:113:35:13

the musician Billy Bragg, Jane Moore from The Sun,

3:35:133:35:16

Sayeeda Warsi for the Government, Andy Burnham for Labour

3:35:163:35:22

and Charles Kennedy for the Liberal Democrats.

3:35:223:35:28

The week after that we are in London.

3:35:283:35:32

If you want to join the audience for either,

3:35:323:35:35

that is Salford next week or London the week after,

3:35:353:35:38

our number is on the screen there, the website as well.

3:35:383:35:41

Thanks to you on the panel in this very steaming hot Liverpool studio

3:35:503:35:52

and to all of you who put up with them.

3:35:523:35:53

It was very nice having you here.

3:35:533:35:56

Until next Thursday when we are going to be in Salford, good night.

3:35:563:35:59

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

3:36:143:36:16

E-mail [email protected]

3:36:163:36:18

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from the Labour Party conference in Liverpool. On the panel are Grant Shapps, housing minister; Tim Farron, president of the Liberal Democrats; Caroline Flint, shadow communities and local government secretary; journalist and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter; and columnist and commentator Peter Oborne.


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