20/10/2011 Question Time


David Dimbleby chairs the debate from Glasgow, with guest panellists Alistair Carmichael MP, actor Brian Cox, Margaret Curran MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and Mike Russell MSP.

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Tonight we are in Glasgow at the University of Strathclyde. Welcome


to question final. -- to Question Time. With me tonight, the


Government's Deputy Chief Whip, Alistair Carmichael. Margaret


Curran, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. The film star


and actor, Brian Cox. The Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg.


The Scottish Education Secretary, Michael Russell. The Daily


Telegraph columnist, Cristina Odone. APPLAUSE


Just before we start, I should say we have six panellists and an


audience with a lot of questions, so I ask everybody to be succint if


they can be toe fight. For fear of terrible punishment! The first


question from Emma Fleming. Were we right in interfering in the


political affairs of Libya? Michael Russell? The UN resolution and it's


appropriate for countries who support the United Nations and to


see them enacted. The important thing is what happens next. Today,


the man who lived by the sword died by the sword. What we have to do


now is make sure the country has a fair opportunity to make sure the


people get what they want. I hope it will get a great deal of support


and not meddling. Cristina Odone? Yes. It was absolutely essential


for us to intervene and I always remember, it was the first time


that the social networks brought news to us that we otherwise


wouldn't have had, of people saying, please, please, come and save us


from this man. We can't do it on our own. Yes, the resolution was


important, because we didn't want to do an Iraqi-style intervention,


but I'm very proud of this Government for having gone in there,


because a bad man has come to a bad end.


APPLAUSE Brian Cox? Yes, unlike Iraq, it was


the right thing to do and it was done in the right way. In what was


was it the right way? Because it was done through the proper


channels, which clearly Iraq wasn't. I think they learnt the lesson of


Iraq, because actually it has come to great fruition. Do you think


that there are dangers ahead, Jacob Rees-Mogg and in that sense were we


wise to go in, in the first place? I thought I would answer the first


question first. I think the gentleman is right. We were right


it was striking leadership of David Cameron to do it and it was done


legally, which is crucial. I don't want us to become the world


policeman, so the fact we have been right once and it has worked and


Gaddafi has gone is all good news, but we don't want to do this on a


regular basis. Margaret Curran? Well, can I say in response to


Emma's question who is a young lady, I believe, that I agree with other


panel members. It seems to me that this is a momentous day in Libyan


history and perhaps Middle Eastern world history. We should remember


the victims of the Gaddafi regime and of course I think take one


moment to pay tribute to the servicemen and women who were part


of this, who undoubtedly there would have been slaughter in


Benghazi had they not acted. I do think that there are lessons here


for us to learn and we now need to think about the future of Libya.


There's a debate to be had about being the world's police officer,


but we have to recognise particularly with the Arab Spring


there is a place for international solidarity and to help people


develop a strong Libya that is democratic. Is there a place for us


to do something in Syria? We would need to have a world discussion


about that. The thing that happened in Libya was the fact we had the UN


resolution, 1973, and we had the Arab League supporting it also and


that is very important. Syria is desperate too. We have to


understand that. I think, as Jacob says, we don't want to get in the


situation where we are the world's police officer, but we have to


remember that there are peoples in Syria and gemen as well and should


we now turn there -- Yemen as well and should we now turn there to


intervene? I think the question about being the world's police


officer is a distraction from the main issue. Yes, we were obviously


right to go in there. To intervene in the way that we did, because


remember what the consequences would have been had we failed to do


so. Gaddafi had said that anybody who opposed him would be hunted


down like rats. We know that he would have done it, because he had


done it to his own people for decades. The important thing,


though, is the way in which we did it. It was done with all the proper


authority of the UN resolution and I think that the long-term solution,


the point at which we have seen the turning now, is that from here on


in we have been seen as being a country which will respect the rule


of law and not flaunt it, as was done when we invaded Iraq. If we


had managed to get a UN resolution on Iraq clearly it would have been


the right thing to do? If we had got the resolution, would you -- I


be in favour? You are hedging your bets. No, you said the difference


$here that we had backing from the UN and NATO. We were never going to


get it because the basis on which the UN mandate on Iraq was being


sought was an unfounded one. There is another judgment about whether


it is something you can achieve or get international backing also?


Which is why the authority is only the first step. I think we have to


remember, as the UN Secretary- General said earlier, that this is


not the end. It's a new beginning for many of the Libyan people. We


have had the suggestion that democratic elections will take


place in two years and if we have taken the step to intervene we need


to see that to the conclusion and ensure that stability and democracy


are implemented. You think we should be staying there? In the


short-term, yes. Apart from going into Iraq, we had no plan and no


ability to support. Making it up as we went along. What needs to happen


in the circumstances is the positive help for the provisional


government so there can be elections, but not meddling.


Support, not meddling. You don't think we should have people on the


ground. I don't think we should have the type of people on the


ground that we had in Iraq, because it didn't work out. To be honest,


I'm specifically talking about enemies, why don't we use people


like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. If we start using our soft power in


those countries people would rise more and solve their problems. We


won't need to go for the military solution. I think we have to be


very careful in our dealings with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. They are


very important allies to us, that the oil that comes from Saudi


Arabia is essential to the British economy. Why don't we use the soft


powers for the allies, rather than interfering in other countries, and


you can't predict it, but there could be some kind of soft power


and some stand. In Bahrain protesters were being killed.


soft power, you can persuade your allies? Absolutely. We should


persuade the allies. I think you have to be very cautious about how


you interfere in the affairs of other sovereign states, because you


can make it worse. You can say we think it would be a good idea and


that can lead to opposition to it purely because it is you who are


saying it. We ran an empire in the past. We can't get back into that


business. I think it was the right thing to intervene in inia, but we


have to remember that a lot of people around -- in Libya, but we


have to remember that a lot of people around the establishment


were pro-Gaddafi for the years when we had reliable oil supplies,


despite the fact he was supporting international terrorism. Do you


criticise them for that? They don't really support the Libyan people


until it suits them and then they are all for freedom. Before there


was oil on the table - Thank you. think you are right. I think Libya


- or rather Gaddafi's demise has emposed the great hip pock siz that


western leaders have been very capable of -- but we have the great


confidence in the soft power that Britain enjoys. What came loud and


clear from the Arab Spring protesters was that in no way did


they think that the West had the perfect setup and in no way did


they think they would copy us. Yes, they wanted democracy, but not


necessarily the kind that we have put in place. Afghan began bay and


after the kind of hypocritical stuff that we have done both in


Iraq and Libya, I can see why. have one or two questions that were


asked whether Britain had blood on its hands. Does anyone - I don't


know who asked that question. Did you ask that question? Did you ask


it? I wonder what Tony Blair thinks about Gaddafi being killed today?


What were you going to say and we'll go on. We are talking about a


democracy in Libya and it's a shame we have missed the fact that


Gaddafi is dead now. A beacon of democracy in Libya could have been


him being tried and the results of that. It would have been a great




Thank you. We'll go on. Just a word if you are into tweeting. You can


get in touch: One other thing, if you are a school pupil or a school


teacher, we are running our usual annual Question Time-style debate


for schools and if you want to get involved, the address is on the


screen now. Another question from Anne Connelly. When is the UK going


to stand up to the energy companies and stop the profiteering? This is


in the light of the vague Government attempts to do things


about the price of oil and people are just starting to feel this as


the cold weather hits us. Alistair Carmichael, �125 per customer


profit, not �15 as it before? Indeed. I think the answer applies


not just within the hands of Government and I think there is a


lot more that the Government can be doing, but within ourselves as well,


because we as the consumers are given the opportunity - This is the


old Chris Huhne line that we heard all last week. Shop around, shop


around. Shop around. The fact is that by using your individual power


you have a real opportunity. It's not the whole answer and we


understand completely that the way in which the energy market is


regulated as got to change. It is changing. However, it is going to


be difficult. The Government understands that. The idea of us as


consumers it is like walking into a shop and you see all these things


on sale and you look for the price tag and either it's not there or


there are three different price tags on the same item and you think,


hold on a second. What kind of a shop am I in?


APPLAUSE These are the very changes that


Chris Huhne was talking about. he wasn't. He told us to check.


Little things like the fact that at the end of the year energy


companies are going to have to tell you how you can change. Michael


Russell? The people in the worst fuel poverty are those who are


furthest from the innet, so those people are the people who are least


able to choose from this absolutely extraordinary situation. Three


price tags would be fun. There are more than 30. Sorry, I clearly


didn't exaggerate enough. 400. What we need to have is companies that


offer their consumers the cheapest deal. That's not rocket science.


They should be made to do that and any Government that fails to make


them is condemning people not just to fuel poverty, but actually to


people to die of cold in this country.


APPLAUSE Maybe they should one the �1


billion they were going to spend on the Fife carbon capture in


providing cheaper energy to households. I thought they were


trying to save money. Let's not get into that. That's another one.


Margaret Curran? I think energy prices are one of the most


important issues today. I think the Government are completely out of


touch on this. What can they do? They are implementing a system that


We know that prices go up like a rocket and down like a feather.


What Labour are calling for is that they should share these excess


profits that have gone up particularly quickly over the past


few months. They should be told they have to put that back to help


people pay their bills. That is one thing the Government can do. This


problem has been around for a long time and Ed Miliband was energy


secretary. What did he do? One of the things that he did was to


insist Ofgem intervene and regulate more effectively. We have seen that


the rates have gone up particularly over the past six months, I think a


20%. Ed Miliband, in his position as leader of the Labour Party, has


said we need to introduce market reform and is calling for


significant market reform. What can you do? One proposal is to look at


the pool of prices and how you access to electricity. The figures


show you can bring down the bills in that way and that is something


they should be looked at immediately and we should do that.


But we cannot instruct Ofgem, because it is independent of


Government, and that is how your party set it up. You can pass a


simple all. We could draft it this evening. It would say, companies


have to publish prices simply m customers have to get the lowest


price. I think that would have a good effect. We could do it. I like


the idea of punishing customers if they don't get the lowest price,


implicit in what you said. The man in the white shirt. The answer to


this is that we should not hold our breath for the Government to stand


up to the companies, because I am sure the summit this week was


choreographed so David Cameron could rule with an iron fist and


give us a good deal. What happened? The energy companies stood their


ground and we had Chris Huhne saying we have to shop around.


kept something from the morning paper which says that 2700 people


die in freezing homes in a year. That is more than die on the roads.


That is terrible. And there are problems with the system as it


currently works which need to be addressed so actually you have more


competition, not more regulation, because competition brings prices


down. We also have to look at green initiatives. We are currently


talking �80 a year on bills from green initiatives, predicted to


double over the next five years. Can you explain what you mean by


green initiatives? Some of the things the Government is doing,


subsidies for feed in tariffs... Which the oil and electricity


companies have to do, hopes that they jump through. They have to pay


for electricity that is fed in at a higher rate than they can resell it.


Somebody has to pay for that and �80 extra on the bill for somebody


who is poor could be the difference between eating their home or not.


We have to be really serious about what we wish for in terms of the


green agenda. -- heating their home. The man up there with the


spectacles. With the green agenda, what is the Government going to do


with the finds that they impose on big energy companies when they do


not meet their carbon reduction targets? The under the green deal,


if the large energy companies do not hit carbon reduction targets,


they will be fined a percentage. Should they give it back to


consumers who have been paying for it? It is obscene. It is just


I think that some elderly person who does not know how to shop


around, these people are being marginalised more and more and


there are more of them. They are increasing. There are more elderly


people around. The whole notion of this kind of profit is obscene and


it is part of the whole horrible business of what has been going on,


how people are being ripped off systematically, day after day after


day, and it goes right back to banking, the whole system. Do you


think the six main companies to deliver the energy are in cahoots


with each other? Of course they are. There is no real competition. I


don't think you should talk about a market in heating an old lady's


home. I don't think you should say that is subject to the market. She


does not understand that, she is just trying to keep warm, and I


think it is obscene. The man on the right. The problem is that the


energy companies are controlled by shareholders. Shareholders only


care about profit. They do not answer to anyone other than


shareholders. My concern is that the 20% increase


in energy prices, how does that equate to civil servants who have


been told to take a two you pay freeze? Where is the justice?


you speaking as a civil servant? Yes. And the UK Government is


attempting to enforce a rise in pension contributions. It is


inequitable and it will lead to more fuel poverty and more deaths,


inevitably. I think it is patronising for Chris Huhne and


David Cameron to tell consumers to shop around, as if we do not have


the intelligence to do that already. I think the issue is that when you


do shop around it is so complex, in the amount of tariffs and the


amount of deals, it is not an easy process. I think the deals that are


on the market need to be simplified for consumers. You never meet


anybody who says they understand Most of the people tell me that it


is difficult for them to shop around on the computer. They are


unable to use the computer and it is really difficult for them to


find the right prices for the right tariff. The woman on the far side.


I am wondering when are the Government going to stop blaming


the previous Government and actually start acting and standing


on their own feet. It usually takes 13 years! I have shopped around in


the past four different energy suppliers and each time I have


changed, it has been a complete nightmare and the savings have been


minimal. The stress levels go up and the savings are just about hear,


and then you have to do it again. The companies should give us


savings if you are a loyal customer. It used to be that loyal customers


got a discount but now you have to find the discount. What goes wrong


when you change? It is a nightmare. Difficult instructions and


difficult complicated ways of doing it. It becomes a nightmare.


hidden charges. I wanted to change but I am paying by direct debit and


I thought another company look more interesting. They were trying to


lure me with a cheaper package. I found out that because I was direct


debit with the other one, I would have to pay a charge to get rid of


them. It is outrageous. When we are told by the Government that there


is nothing to do, that the wholesale fuel prices are so high


and they cannot help it, of course they cannot. But they certainly


could sit down with the six creatures and say to them, you are


not going to profit from other people's misery. Let's go on. This


question is from Michael Rossi, please. Why do the three main


National Party is not want a referendum on UK membership of the


EU? There has been this 100,000 signatories, and there is a debate


which was going to be next Thursday in the House of Commons and will


now be on Monday so that the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary can


be there. It seems that all three major UK national parties are going


to tell their members to vote against the referendum, despite


what they have said at various times in their manifestos. Jacob


Rees-Mogg, why is everybody against a referendum? I think, to use a


word Margaret Thatcher once used, they have come to the conclusion


that most people in the UK do not actually like Europe, they think


the EU has failed, the euro is in desperate decline. This weekend we


will see whether it survives. Instead of saying we need a new


relationship with Europe speedily, we want to go back to free trade,


which we agreed to, and not be governed un-democratically from


Brussels, they hope the problem will disappear, but it will not. I


think we will have a referendum but not on the motion that has been put


forward but on new treaties that will be debated to work out where


Europe goes to deal with the collapse of the euro. How will you


vote on Monday? I have not finally decided. But... I have spoken to


the whips. I will probably support the motion. I do not think it is a


perfect motion, but I think it is an important symbol of how Euro-


sceptic this country is, and that we have to be clear that we need a


new relationship with Europe. And we have to work towards that with a


renegotiation of the treaties and powers coming back to the United


Kingdom, and possibly coming to the Edinburgh parliament as well,


depending on where the British people want them to go. But there


are powers. The Liberal Democrats said they were committed to a


referendum, Alistair Carmichael. Why are you and your irate Chief


Whip for the Liberal Democrats, why are you going to be telling your


people that if they don't vote for this they cannot look for


preferment in future? I will be saying no such thing to any of my


colleagues. How will you put it? will not reveal the secrets of the


whips office on national television, because it is much less exciting


than everybody thinks. Really! answer the question, I do not think


the three main parties are closed to a referendum. We are not


necessarily going to be supporting the motion on Monday, which as


Jacob has indicated, is somewhat defective in its terms. But I think


at some stage we are going to have to have this referendum and this


debate. The Government has already, actually, enacted the position that


we had stood on in our manifesto, which is that the next time there


will be a treaty change that sees a proposal for sovereignty to go from


the United Kingdom to the EU, there will be put to the British people.


I think that is absolutely necessary, speaking as somebody who


actually believes in the European Union and who wants to see it


succeed. What is wrong with this one? The deal that people were


given in 1976 was a very, very different one from what they have


now. I think if people like myself, who believe in the European Union,


who want to see it prosper, are going to be able to engage properly,


then we have to have a current mandate, not one for something


different that is 30 years old. This says you should have a


referendum in the next session of Parliament on whether the UK should


remain a member, or whether it should leave the European Union, or


whether it should renegotiate the terms of its membership to create a


new relationship. What is wrong with that? Simply because the final


part is they can leaves too much open. I think the real clincher is


that it would be a massive distraction at this time, when


every politician should be straining every sinew to


reconstruct our economy, to go off on a major exercise in


constitutional navel-gazing. cost of joining the European Union


is around �40 million a day, so how do the panellists justify what are


the benefits that we are deriving as being part of the European


Union? Does it balance with the �40 million a day? I stood in the May


election very clearly on a policy in favour of a referendum about


distant government. It was actually about Scottish independence and


distant government from London. are not having that one either, are


you? We are going to. You do not know when you're going to have it.


We do know exactly when we are going to have it, the second half


of this Parliament, which is what we said when we were elected. The


curious thing is that the party's muttering in the corner are the


ones who are trying to force this referendum early on the Scottish


people but are denying a referendum south of the border on other things.


What does forcing a referendum mean? Surely, a referendum can be


heard at any time. People know their own minds. The Scottish


government was elected on a clear platform. I am sure you were here.


Margaret and Alistair definitely worth. There was a clear commitment


to hold a referendum on independence in the second half of


the parliament. It is not in your manifesto. Now we are hearing from


south of the border that Labour thinks it is a good idea to have


the referendum at the time of the choosing of the Westminster


government, the Westminster Parliament, not the Scottish


Parliament. That would be an affront to democracy in Scotland.


In terms of the European issue, it is essential to recognise the


importance of Europe to a small country like Scotland. I am


unequivocally in support of that. hope to address the issue of the


Scottish referendum, too. To repeat the question, why do the three main


parties not want a referendum on membership of the EU? What is


interesting about this is the process that has got us here,


because I do think that this model that we have, where people can e-


mail in and say they think this is what Parliament should be debating


has been very useful. We saw a moving and powerful debate about


Hillsborough last week which was a reflection of what people wanted us


to discuss. And obviously this is important and the EU referendum is


part of that. We have rising unemployment and the Tories are


fighting about Europe. I have deja- vu. The one. I agree with, the big


issue is the economy and a lot of Tory MEPs want to talk about Europe


all the time. There is a bit of that but I do not want to indulge


because we have the issues to face. Why is Labour opposing the


referendum call? You say was a wonderful bit of democracy, 100,000


people asking for it and now you say you will vote against it.


policy is unequivocal. We said in our manifesto we do not support a


referendum. It seems, to answer the young gentleman's point, our


economic future is tied up with Europe. I think the eurozone is a


bigger issue we should be talking about and there is no point in


denying that our policy is very It seems to me that there's a fear


of the fact that people would say let's get out of Europe. I think


that's what really motivates the fact that three parties are not


wanting to have a referendum, because they are afraid of opening


that particular Pandora's box and what will happen. That to me is so


obvious. Europe is a massive problem. It was too quick, too soon,


too much happened too soon. It moved far too fast a pace and we


couldn't keep up and we now have the mess that we have got. All the


parties are afraid to face up to the fact that people might say,


"Let's get out of Europe." APPLAUSE


Should they take that risk, in your view, or are they right? I can


understand why they don't, because I'm pro-European as well, but


Europe does necessitated looking at. It's a big mess. Do you think a


referendum that had the option of pulling out of Europe, whatever


that may mean, entirely, would be successful? I'm not sure. I really


am not sure. This is all surely about democracy in action. The


people have asked for this debate. Surely a political leader should


give our representatives the option to vote freely on this matter and


respect the wishes of the democracy in asking for this debate.


Absolutely. You have taken the words right out of my mouth. I


can't bear the thought of the whips telling the politicians, "You must


follow up." Telling them not to listen to constituents. I think


it's not what I call real politics. It's certainly not part of


Parliamentary politics. Like most of the panellists, I do think that


Europe - that Britain should stay in Europe, but I think


renegotiation of the terms of engagement is probably called for


at this point, especially as we are watching the euro sink every day


more. I think we should have one, but stay in the EU. Mr Rees-Mogg,


you speak about the euro collapsing, as if it will have no vehicle on


Britain. British banks have one trillion euros in loans that would


be worthless. Alistair Carmichael, we have established that all three


political parties are ignoring the 100,000 people and telling - They


are right to get the debate. Is it not also true that however you vote


on one of these issues that has been raised by the public, it's not


binding on Parliament? That is the rules of Parliament. It is not


binding. You are still fussed about it even though it's not binding.


would be a brave Government that ignored the world Parliament.


went in 1976 and it was the Common Market, which I don't think anyone


has got problems with, but since then governments have creeded more


and more -- ceded more and more legislation away. Power has gone to


Europe and that's the problem that most people don't like. We have no


control in this country over our own affairs, basically none.


Everything is to be done the European way. Nobody voted for that


or got asked for that. That is what we want back. Mike Russell stresses


the fact that Scotland needs to make sure we don't forget about


Europe and how important it is. What he's forgetting is if we


achieve independence Europe will forget about Scotland. We'll get


chucked out of the I could give you chapter and verse -- EU. I could


give you chapter and verse saying that that is simply not true.


Scotland will continue to be a member, or actually neither part of


the old United Kingdom would continue to be a member. That's


what would apply. Would we be in the euro? We are similar to you and


the argument was at some stage it would be worth considering, but


using the sterling north and south of the border. A Scottish pound?


We have said we would like to keep sterling for the foreseeable future


and that's a reasonable currency. The Australians, when they were


independent in 1906 kept the pound for another ten years. One more


point from the audience. Scotland was to gain independence


would there be fi real point exiting one union and joining


another? -- there any real point exiting one union and joining


another? You talk about powers from Brussels. The vast amount of powers


in Brussels are nothing compared to Westminster. You would also have -


We have moved off the question. It was about the EU in the UK. It's


not often I actually agree with Brian Cox, - Does he know that?


I'm telling you now, yes, the Parliamentarians are scared of the


answer they might get from the referendum, but surely if the


answer is no it is strengthening the power that they'll have to go


to Europe and renegotiate terms? you think i Jacob, that the Prime


Minister and William Hague have handled this deftly, moving it from


Thursday to Monday and looking like a panic measure? I think the Prime


Minister and Foreign Secretary are the greatest geniuss we have ever


had in Government in the history of mankind. They have handled it well,


but this may not be quite deft enough for me to support them on


Monday evening. The whips are watching you. I think they know


where he stands. Another question. This one is from Holly McCormack.


Liam Fox has condemned the media frenzy following rezlations about


his relationship with -- relationship with Adam Werritty. Is


this another politician looking to blame others for his mistakes?


attacked the press and rather curiously said the Ministerial Code


has been found to be breached. That's an odd way of putting it.


Cristina Odone, what do you think of this affair and this attack on


the press? I think that the press was there when we needed it and I'm


very, very pleased that the man who was in charge of defence secrets


was caught bringing somebody who hadn't been cleared through


security, to American generals, where they were discussing the most


important security business. He brought him to conferences with


Arab leaders, who were also going to be discussing very, very


important security measures. And, continuously for many, many years -


well, not many years, but more than one year, we have had this man, Mr


Werritty, coming in to places where he had no business being. I think


that for the press to have flushed this out, for the press to have


protected our security, is a great thing. It is almost made me forgive


my industry, my profession, for the whole Murdoch mess, so, yes, I'm


pleased. Almost, but not quite. What he said was that it was


unacceptable that family and friends who are nothing to do with


central issues should be hounded and intimidated. Nobody was hounded


and intimidated. Questions were asked that should have been asked


by governments and politicians and all the generals. They all should


have said, "Who is this guy?" finally, the press did ask. I think


we did the write thing. Jacob Rees- Mogg? I'm with the Duke of


Wellington, publish and dedamned. We want a press that the


governments don't like. The Government likes the press then the


press isn't doing its job. Having said all that, I'm very sorry Liam


Fox has gone. I think he's a decent and honest pan, but it's not the


fault of the press - Honest? Well, - I'm sorry. What was honest about


that? He's not taken any money corruptly. He was clearly unwise to


travel with Mr Werritty. I'm not beginning to pretend he wasn't. I'm


saying - Mr Werritty could have been a terrorist. Mr Werritty could


have been anything. Let's ask the audience, if you've got a friend


you've known for 20 years who was your best man, do you think he's a


terrorist? Really? You don't. You have to allow politicians to have


long-standing friendships to people who aren't involved in poll -- in


politics and Cristina Odone is wrong. I'm a nurse and I'm sure he


would be thrilled to see me in a professional capacity and I brought


a close chum along. He knew from day one it was wrong


APPLAUSE Absolutely. I think what has


happened here is straggering, but there are many questions that still


remain. The fact that so many things seemed to have happened


outside government, that the Civil Service were unhappy about it, but


it wasn't properly resolved. We need to ask questions about that.


More than MIG else, what I want to know is are any other practises


going on in a similar nature in this Government, because the Prime


Minister seems to have been the last to know this and that is very


serious. The issue of security is not as easily dismded as he would


like it to be. -- dismissed as he would like it to be. We need to


know how many others were involved. What were the practises involved


and I don't think we have got to the bottom of this at all yet.


the report actually said was that as he went regularly overseas with


military top brass and other advisers, having Werritty him and


particularly seeing all the movements in the diary, posed a


security risk not only to Dr Fox, but also to the accompanying


official party. That was the security risk. Not that Werritty


was the terrorist, but anyone else could have become involved.


security risk was known by someone who was not in a secure area, but I


do think that public figures are entitled to a private life and that


security is there to protect the principle not to control his moves.


The Cabinet Secretary is wrong. think he's unreasonable, to say


that people should always in high office have their movements


determined by what the police say is wise. I think we have to make


the decisions for themselves and we see that the Queen sometimes


ignores security advice when she thinks it's the right thing to do.


I think that's absolutely proper, otherwise you get politicians


completly encapsulated in an area where -- completely encapsulated in


an area where they cannot get about. A politician shouldn't be


complaining about the press in this situation. The press can behave in


an appalling fashion. They are not angels, but the fault lies with


Liam Fox and nobody else. What do you mean by that in this context?


think I would call in the definition that just as it would


not always apply to matters of morality and money, but it would


apply to pretending yourself as something that you were not --


presenting yourself as something that you were not. He was running a


parallel foreign policy. It's an odd Government you are not a member


of. Brian Cox. I think it was David Cameron who said that the


Government was going to behave with probity. It seems to me that he


said this was very important that we didn't have the issues that we


had before. Liam Fox has not behaved with probity. He's behaved


stupidly. Absolutely stupidly. Then to be in the state of denial about


it and clearly this is - clearly, he's a gifted man, but the folly is


ridiculous. It is theatrical, actually. I don't see why he can't


see that. The fact that then to come back and say, "Well, you know,


friends and others are involved. They are involved ." That's the


level he's gone to. I think Mr Werritty has also behaved like a


Alistair Carmichael. Liam Fox was guilty of an error of judgment and


he admitted that. As a consequence, he has resigned. I think he did the


absolutely right and only thing he could do. Should he have criticised


the media when making his resignation statement? I do not


know. That is a question of judgment. In his circumstances, I


would not have done it that way. He was the one making the statement.


He was complaining about friends and family being harassed by the


press. I do not know what he meant, but I have known it happen to


others in the past. You do hear stories of people being doorstep to


about stuff they do not know anything about. I actually think


that instead of talking about our relationship with the press, the


real issue that comes out of this is the way in which politicians in


Westminster in particular interact with lobbyists. This has just


lifted the lid. David Cameron himself, in the last Parliament,


identified this as being the next political scandal coming down the


line. And I think, I hope that we as a government are now going to be


to move on with more speed and urgency on the work we have already


started. You think lobbying was involved? You think there was


unfair access to ministers, is that what you're saying? If we had a


proper registration system where those who were lobbying were doing


it openly and transparently and you knew what was going on and where


the money was coming from... Just to clarify, are you saying that


Werritty introduced lobbyists for to the Secretary of State? I do not


honestly know the detail of that, but I do not know the detail


because the practice of lobbying is so opaque. Advocacy of any cause is


a criminal offence for members. Our code as criminal... You cannot talk


to him Minister and say, we want this to happen. Advocacy from any


organisation to an MSP is a criminal offence. Isn't bad going a


bit far? What do you mean paid advocacy? Nobody can come to talk


to you about education? Paid advocacy is quite clear. I would


define it as when a company is giving money to any individual, as


they were in Werritty's case, and that individual is going round the


world with a minister. I think that comes pretty close to paid advocacy,


in my view. That is not right and should be illegal. I would say to


the member of the Government here today, it is simply not good enough.


We have had a report, which I tried to read, which gave no clear


answers. We saw his glorious resignation, where he fell on his


sword. There were no real answers. You have said yourself that you do


not know. This man was in charge of the Ministry of Defence, nothing


more important perhaps than that. There is too much smokescreen and


we need real answers. There are other investigations going on. So I


think there is still more to be looked at and doubtless more


answers will come. Let's go on to another question. Caroline Miller.


Would members of the panel be prepared to downsize their home to


make way for young families? I do not know how elderly the members of


the panel are, and whether they qualified. This is a report from


the Intergenerational Foundation, which I don't think anybody had


heard of until this report came out, but it was given a huge publicity


today, saying that about one-third of all homes are under occupied.


People over 65 now live in homes with two more bedrooms than they


need, and old people are urged to leave their homes and move into


smaller homes. Who would like to start on that? I have to be careful


who I go to first. Margaret Curran, what do you think of it? I was


quite shocked by this proposal and I daresay... Were you surprised by


the information, or not? That there were so many people living in half-


empty houses? No, I am not surprised by that. But I am shocked


that it has been said in such a blunt way. I do not know if that is


the solution to the problems we face. In Scotland we have a number


of housing issues, with the way the budget has been cut. In England


there are housing pressures. I do not see this as a solution to that,


and it is not fair to say to elderly people that somehow they


are at fault and to blame. I would rather get this Government get


their finger out, get the economy going and that is the way we saw


these kind of problems. What really upset me about this report, this


proposal, was that it was, yet again, away for this society to


sideline, marginalise and make feel about this big, the elderly. When


this is coupled with what happens to the elderly in care, when it is


coupled with what happens to the elderly and hospitals, it makes me


so ashamed. One thing that we could learn from Asian and African family


is his to cherish, cherish the older generation, because they are


wise, they have seen it all, because they are going to give you


their big house when they are ready, not when you are pushing them to


get out. There is another side of this. Earlier in the week you had


this Westminster Government telling people on housing benefit that they


would have to move house if they had a spare room. This is the most


extraordinary thing. I think this proposal is pretty daft. But when


people would be forced, as is the proposal, to move house because


they will not be paid housing benefit because they have a spare


room, I think we're getting to the obscene stage. That man, are you of


an age to want to kick an older person out? I work in a profession


around housing as a trainee solicitor. There is a severe lack


of affordable housing in this country. How many unoccupied houses


are there in Scotland? I am told 25,000. I do not know the figure,


but I know there are people wanting to get on the housing market but


they cannot because there is not affordable housing. That could help


the construction industry and help the economy as well. We need more


affordable housing. What do you think about putting pressure on


older people to move out? I think it is two things. It is endemic


that it would reduce the opportunity for family being


together, so instead of encouraging inter-generational relationships,


it would reduce that. And who is going to buy these so-called large


houses for the elderly? Young people can hardly buy smaller


houses. So who is expecting... It is just not practical. The problem


would be that it would reduce the opportunity for a build up of


family relationships and family coming together and gatherings,


rather than... So you need rooms for the grandchildren. I do and I'm


sure lots of people do. I was just going to say, old people


have big houses but very few friends. Young people have got lots


of friends but no houses. Maybe we could arrange some sort of trade-


off. I would like to agree with Mr


Dimbleby. Perhaps the company has done this because it will get


attention for a previously unknown company, because it is a ridiculous


report which cannot be legislated for and we are all speaking about


it. Jacob Rees-Mogg. It is the silliest idea anyone has ever come


up with. Surely people should be free to live in their house if they


own it. I am tempted to say an Englishman's home is his castle, an


IOC may Scotsman's home is his castle, as well, and indeed ladies,


too. You should be able to live in your house as long as you like. The


pressure from the state to be told to move house because you have too


many rooms, it is bonkers. I know many elderly people who do live on


their own and do not have family and friends who could move in and


make use of all their spare bedrooms, but the fact is there are


no social housing they could move into. There is not the same


sheltered housing accommodation available to them. They are stuck,


and those are the ones we are picked -- who are paying additional


fuel and heating bills. They cannot afford to heat their homes, so you


are perpetuating this because there is nowhere for them to go.


answer the question, I might well at some stage in the future want to


sell my house and get something smaller, come that happy day when


my children have grown up and flown the nest. It is not happy, it is


not happy! You are losing votes by the score. What is wrong with your


children? One of them plays the trumpet and the other one plays the


violin. There may well come that time, but I certainly would not do


it because they think tank told me I had to do it. I think if this


bizarre notion raises a question at all, it maybe should give us pause


to reflect on how we have changed as a society and how we have lost a


sense of community. Because this is only the sort of notion that can


come from a society that has lost the sense of community we used to


have, which we still have in places like Orkney, where I live. I think


there is a deeper and more serious problem. It is the fact that the


old people are under siege in some way. We had this report last week


about the NHS and how they were being treated, old people, which,


because I do not live here and I live in America, I was completely


shocked at this, the country that I come from, this was going on. And


when I hear something like this, we really have to establish, and as


people are getting older and we are going to have more older people, we


really have to get our act together in taking care of them and actually


honouring them in some kind of way. I would like to see more young


people involved. I kept thinking, wouldn't it be a great thing if


young people, as a service, as a public service, could going and


talk and take care and speak to these elderly people, who are


rapidly becoming more and more disenfranchised. And this is just


another way of disenfranchising them. I think it is an awful


situation. That is how life used to be, and we have lost that. The Boy


Scouts will be starting Bob Bird Job Week again. -- Bob a job. We


have come to the end of our time. Since you mentioned New York, what


is the electricity price in New York. You were pontificating about


prices here. It is all in. Where I live, it is all in, because it is


part of the rent. So you keep warm, 70 degrees. And I live on top of a


high-rise, so I get heat from everybody below. That brings us to


the end of the programme. Next week, we will be in Winchester and we


will have on the panel the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-


Smith, and also Julian Alexander, who happens to be the creator of


Downton Abbey. The week after that, we will be somewhere that Question


Time has never been before, Westminster Hall in the Houses of


Parliament, at the invitation of the officials there. If you want to


David Dimbleby chairs the debate from Glasgow.

On the panel are: Alistair Carmichael MP, Deputy Chief Whip; Brian Cox, actor; Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland; Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Conservative MP; Mike Russell MSP, Scottish Education Secretary; and Cristina Odone, Daily Telegraph Columnist.

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