10/11/2011 Question Time


From Newcastle with David Dimbleby. With Scottish Secretary Michael Moore; Rachel Reeves, Shadow Treasury Secretary; Nadine Dorries, Stephen Pollard and Prof Colin Blakemore.

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Tonight we're in the north-east in the great city of Newcastle.


And with me on our panel, the Scottish Secretary Michael Moore,


the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rachel Reeves, the


Conservative MP who rebelled over the vote on a European referendum,


Nadine Dorries, a professor of neuroscience, Colin Blakemore and


the editor of the Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Thank you very


much. And Jake Unsworth has our first question tonight.


If a private company can run a hospital at the same or better


standards for less, why shouldn't it? This, of course, a reference to


today's news that Cambridge's Hinchenbrook Hospital is going to


be taken over or run by a private company, Circle. If it can do it


better, why shouldn't it, Rachel Reeves? I think in this case there


are particular circumstances, and I think that the hospital has had


difficulties for many years, and it was looked at first to try to find


a NHS organisation to try to take it over. That didn't work. So now


this private sector company is coming in to take over the hospital.


But about - not about this particular instance... Ahh.


thought Andy Burnham was being very critical about it, your Shadow


Health Minister. What we were saying is this is an exceptional


circumstance because this hospital has had huge difficulty, but in the


future when this health and social care bill gets through if it gets


passed in the House of Lords, this won't just be the exception. Any


qualified provider can come in and run an NHS hospital. And I don't


think that that is right because I think there are certain values at


the heart of the NHS that are about cooperation, about working together


that can't be replicated by the private sector. At the moment just


3% I think of NHS services are provided by the private sector in


cases where it can be proved that that'll meet a particular need, but


just saying anyone can come in and set up a hospital, I don't think


that that is right, and I don't think that that's what the British


public want. Michael Moore. I think it's interesting how Rachel


responded there because in fact the difficulties for this particular


hospital began when Andy Burnham was the Health Secretary, and so


there has been some time for this to be worked through. The critical


thing is that without an innovative solution like this, that particular


local community wouldn't continue to enjoy services in their NHS


which they value and think are important, and what we have here is


an operation that'll ensure that the, in shhh remains free at the


point of use and available to everybody and which will also - the


model of the company that is involved is like a John Lewis


partnership arrangement. It involves clinicians and others, and


I think it is an innovative and really smart solution to what would


have otherwise been a withdrawal of service. It is listed on the stock


markets. Private backers get money if it makes a profit. The point is


that patients who are using the service will not pay for it. It is


free and accessible to everybody. The principles upon which our NHS


are founded are continued and maintained by this arrangement.


Because are suspicious about it, Colin, aren't they? I think


everybody is suspicious about the potential changes to our NHS, and


ideal predict this Government would be judged as much by the impact of


the Health and Social Care Bill as it is by any other piece of


legislation. We're very defensive of the NHS for good reasons. That


isn't to say the private sector shouldn't be involved. It doesn't


make its own drugs. It buys them from the private sector. The


question is if a company can do a job as good as the NHS, why not? I


would say why not? Crucially, can the hospital not just deliver care


and service, but maintain an environment for teaching, for


skills, for research, for all the things the NHS is so good at? And I


doubt that a lot. The woman, the second row from the back? Wouldn't


it be possible to say that any circumstances are exceptional


circumstances, and you could play with statistics so that anything in


a particular circumstance was exceptional? Nadine Dorries, if


that's the argument... Well, we could say, however that they were


very exceptional circumstances here, and it's not just a case that this


process was started under the previous Health Secretary. Actually,


the process for this hospital - I'm not sure that it's good enough,


Rachel, to say it's OK for this hospital and not OK for others. One


thing this organisation have guaranteed to do which no other


organisation did - and many looked at this and walked away, which is


why it's taken so long - is because of the amount of debt this hospital


is in. This organisation have guaranteed they'll pay that off


within ten years, so I think it's probably quite premature to think


that they'll be an organisation that'll be able to take vast


profits, because there's huge debt that needs to be paid off first. I


do think also that that hospital has the staff who work at the


hospital - actually deserve better than they have been working under


for the last ten years. The patients in that hospital deserve


better care than they have had for the last ten years, and I think if


a private organisation can come in and turn that around and give those


patients better care, and if they understand the private sector -


because one thing that's always baffled me, and in my previous life


as a nurse, I have worked in the NHS and in private hospitals - why


can't we give our patients in the NHS the same care we deliver in a


private hospital? If this organisation can come in and raise


the standards of care in that hospital and pay off the debts and


give patients who go into that hospital better treatment, better


care, a better standard of care and the staff in that hospital a better


working environment, then so be it. That can only be a good thing for


everybody. APPLAUSE


The thing is, you make it sound, Nadine, as if the treatment people


get in NHS hospitals is somehow second rate to what they get in


private hospitals. I think up and down the country people who have


had treatment in the National Health Service rate it at the


highest levels they have ever rated it, so I just don't think this is


the time to reintroduce a top-down reorganisation of the NHS and real-


terms funding cuts for the NHS when waiting lists were falling under


the last government. Cancer treatment is at its best ever and


satisfaction in the NHS is at its highest ever level. Why rock the




The man at back. As a replay to Nadine Dorries, we thought Southern


Cross was a responsible provider, so I am not really sure you can


justify the incoming providers based on that. You're against what


has happened at this hospital? particularly, but I don't think the


justification for it can be based on the reputation... We'll talk


about that in a moment. Stephen Pollard. I do find the debate we


have about health in this country to be bewildering. There is a


polarity as if there is the NHS or some dreadful American private


model but all you have to do is cross the channel and on the


continent they think it's unexceptional that you have a mix


of mutual provision, charity provision, all kinds of things, and


what counts is what patients get. Yet here we have this notion of if


it's somehow not provided through the state it's moral. The NHS was


completed in 1948 in a completely different world to what we have now


when open rationing was the norm, when the state did indeed provide


so many different things that now it would never - we would never


conceive of the state providing to us. I heard a comedian once dismiss


a heckler as saying, "Who counts your hair, the council?" Everyone


laughed. We don't think twice about the council educating their


children - not the council, but the state providing health care for,


and yet when we talk about the idea of going to the local authority to


have your hair cut would be ridiculous. Actually, we need to go


beyond our ridiculous inslairty and just cross the Channel. Does it


mean, then, every time the public sector gets into problems, we have


to turn to the private sector? Where will it end? Is this going to


be rolled out as a solution? Because you were talking about it


very much as if it was the coming thing... Can I answer his question?


Answer that gentleman's question first. This hospital is an


exceptional case. It has excessive debts, and there are - there is no


other organisation that would take this on. But this is going to be -


they already run NHS treatment centres and a private hospital


already, so they're already running NHS services. How will they pay off


the debt? I don't know the exact details, David. How much was it?


�10 million? I don't know the business plan, but they're the only


organisation that would take on this... Weird. We'll have to see.


Michael Moore, how are they going to pay off... Their commitment is


to ensure that they run the facilities more effectively, that


they manage the way the workers run through the hospital more


effectively. The clinicians will be right at the heart of the decision


making, as they should be. But to answer the gentleman's question, I


absolutely agree with you that this has to be an exceptional case. It


started as a difficulty under the previous government. When you say


it has to be an exception case, you don't want to see it applied to


other hospitals? I don't see this as a model that's going to be


rolled out... Nadine Dorries does? Why not, if it's successful? At the


end of this pilot if we have a hospital that's running efficiently


and providing excellent standards, why wouldn't we? You see the


coalition! The thing is, as others have rightly said, we get first-


class service from the NHS up and down the length of the country from


doctors... The patients' association would disagree.


course there are up and down the country instances - it's right we


keep all of that under review. People want to know they can get


the treatment in the local area... Why not now in the public sector?


There are another 20 hospitals in trouble like this we were told


today. Yeah. You think they won't all go the same way? I am going to


go to the two women there side by side. You first. I am a


radiographer. I have worked in the private sector under the NHS a long


time. I have to agree with you, Nadine. I think that standards are


far higher. What do you think? think it's appalling. I think when


your motivation is profit, patient care suffers.


The man up there on the right. the motive is profit that means


surely people are choosing that care. For instance, if the private


sector is providing good let care we want to pay for, surely that's a


service that is worth paying for. The gentleman in the second row,


and Rachel Reeves, you might pick up on this point. I think the track


record of private companies running for whether it's PFI or public


sector services has been so bad in the last 20 years, we all have no


confidence, and often the owners of these businesses change hands. The


assets strip, and they sell, and we see prisoners run and buy another


company that is not committed to the same model or the same


commitments in terms of the guarantees that they first pledged


at the beginning of the acquisition. I think I might leave this and go


on to another question. I am just puzzled about one thing which you


could perhaps answer. How are they going to pay off this debt without


money changing hands, and who is going to pay them to pay off the


debt? The arrangement is around the way the hospital - the facilities


are run, and they will look very carefully at all aspects of how


that is done. I haven't looked at the business plan. I'm not the


Health Secretary, but it is also about using the health resources in


the hospital more effectively and efficiently. OK. Using the


clinicians and the health staff the drive that. OK. Let's move on. By


the way, if you want to join in this debate, of course, you know


I should say one thing tonight - if you're a school pupil or teacher


and want to get involved with the BBC's schools debate, go to our


website, and you'll see how to do it there. Let's go on to another


question, please. Julie Howells. a society that prides itself on


freedom of expression, should we ban the burning of poppies? Should


we be banning the burning of poppies? This is the decision by


the Home Secretary to ban as from today a Muslim group called Muslims


Against Cruisas who banned a poppy last year, and she's banned them -


illegal to belong from midnight. Nadine Dorries, in a society that


prides itself in froo freedom of expression, should this be done?


think so, yes. I think what the poppy symbolises and represents is


something quite special. I think not only does it represent the


people whose lives - not just in the Great War, the Second World War,


but young men who are losing their lives today for the sake of our


freedom, and there is no greater sackify, and it is hugely symbolic,


and I think also what it does is it lets those soldiers who are about


to go to war on our behalf know we will remember them and they are


These Muslim groups are opposed to the operations in Afghanistan.


not think it is relevant that it is a Muslim group. Anyone who would


want to have poppy burning ceremonies should be banned from


doing so, because I think it goes very much against the grain of who


we are, what we respect, what we stand for. I think it is the most


incredibly disrespectful thing to I agree with what Nadine Dorries


has said. On Sunday I will be at a remembrance service in Leeds and


there will be veterans from wars gone by, but also families who will


have husbands, wives, sons and daughters serving on the front line


now. It sickens me that people would burn the poppy as some sort


of symbol of defiance. I think it is right to ban these groups. I


think whether or not you are in favour of a particular war, whether


it be Afghanistan or Iraq, you should respect those people who


fight him those wars, who give their lives in some cases, for the


service of this country, to protect all of us. Whatever your view on


the wall, you should respect those who serve in the war, and we should


commemorate those who have died for us, but also the last serving today.


Is it the act of burning the poppy, or the act of protesting on


Remembrance Sunday, or as they did on the commemoration service for


9/11? Is that what you object to and they should be banned for, or


the symbolism of burning the flag or the poppy? In this case, it is a


group that has been banned and I think it is right that group should


be banned. It is just a manifestation of a previous group


that has changed its name, so I think the Home Secretary is right


to Bammer Group. I think most people would share the view that it


is not appropriate or acceptable to behave in that way. It does not


sound very effective if they are banned and they pop up under


another name. I think it is effective if on Sunday they are not


there by the Royal Albert Hall, or wherever they congregate, choosing


disruption and for upsetting and angering people, and showing so


little respect for people who have fought for this country and are


fighting today. I think it is interesting what you say. I would


like to add that, I think, by banning any groups who represent an


extremist feeling of hatred, I do not think banning it is the right


way to go about it. Banning it makes it go underground. It is


still going to be there. You just cannot control it if you have


banned it. We need to question why it is there in the first place and


may be approached the cause, the prevention, rather than cause.


agree with that. More important to identify the origins of hatred them


to attack symbolic gestures like this. Five days ago we encourage


our children to burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, a revolutionary who


tried to blow up Parliament. It is not these futile, although hateful,


gestures that matter, but the origin of those feelings that we


I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. I would not


disagree with anything that has been said, and clearly the people


who would burn poppies are despicable human beings. But they


are not being banned because they are burning poppies. If I took this


off and tore it up, I would not be banned. They are being banned


because they are in danger of inciting all kinds of racial hatred.


They are banned for public order offences, for all kinds of reasons.


We made reference to the fact that they previously existed under


another name, Islam for UK, and they were banned as that. The issue


is not whether it is appropriate to ban people for burning poppies, of


course it is not appropriate to ban people simply for burning poppies.


The real issue is whether the legislation we having is in any way


effective, given that in a previous incarnation, all they needed to do,


it appears, to simply create another organisation and simply


there -- suddenly they were allowed to conduct their activities. If


there is something wrong with the legislation. I think Colin is


profoundly wrong when he talks about looking at their grievances,


because these people do not have sensible grievances. They are


committed to turning Europe into a Caliphate. They are not mainstream


Muslims. Most Muslims are peaceable and want to live alongside us, like


Jews, like Christians, like Hindus. These people are outside any


recognisable mainstream. They are as near to terrorists that we at --


As much as I agree with the sentiments expressed by the panel


with regards to poppy burning, I have to admit that I find it, I


think we should be wary when it comes to banning organisations


simply because we wholeheartedly and utterly disagree with them. I


think that leads us into dangerous territory for future years. But it


is not about his agreement, it is about an intrinsic threat to our


existence as a society. -- it is not about disagreement. I disagree


with Rachel, but I would not ban her. It is not about whether we


disagree, it is about existing and operating completely outside the


norms of the way democratic societies conduct themselves.


question was about freedom of expression and our society. I think,


if I might start by agreeing with everybody who has said it is


utterly offensive that people should burn poppies. It would be


offensive to the memories of people who gave their lives in the First


World War, the Second World War, the many conflicts in between and


more recently in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. We have to


remember the huge sacrifices people have made, and rightly this weekend


we will pay tribute to that. The critical thing here is that freedom


of expression, which we must promote at every turn, has to have


limits. When it turns into promoting terrorism, which is what


this group is dedicated to under whatever name it calls itself, then


it has crossed a line. I think it is then legitimate for us to take


further steps. In this country, tragically, in different parts of


the UK we have experienced terrorism first hand. If we cannot


tolerate a situation where we allow people to go out and openly do this.


The offensiveness of what was being proposed hurts deeply, but the real


danger from this group and others is about promoting terrorism, and


that we should not allow. Do you want to come back on that? I accept


what Michael Moore has just said, but, however, I do find it potent


to point out that if you know what organisation to monitor, it is


easier to do so. I am losing my words. But you can fight that level


of extremism. Can we distinguish between what we know them to be


like as individuals, and that will be handled appropriately by the


security services, and what they seek to do, which, of itself, can


be seen to promote terrorism? It is preventing those acts promoting


terrorism that has to be where we are at a. I agree that burning the


poppy is offensive, but if you say that we are banning it because it


incites hatred and disrupts public order, why are the EDL march is not


banned, because I would say that is promoting hatred? Can I point out


that those marchers were banned, the EDL marches. The Home Secretary


was not just talking about poppies, but glorifying terrorism. Let's go


on to a question from Gary Day. Should we accept longer queues at


our borders to protect our national security? Should we accept longer


queues at our borders to protect our national security? This goes to


the heart of what has been going on, if anyone knows what has been going


on, at our borders. Nadine Dorries, longer queues, more security,


shorter queues, less security. Which do you go for? Actually, it


is neither of those. Let me focus on what did happen. What happened


was that there were two things happened. One was that children...


Let me explain why we are talking about, the row between the Home


Secretary and the department. shorter queues delivered an


increase in the number of illegal immigrants, 100% increase in


illegal firearms, a 48% increase in forged documents. What are you


talking about? I assume you are talking about the recent incident


this week with regard to the Border Agency. I do think the pilot has


been a success. If David will just let me explain why I think it has


been a success. The queues were shorter, to a degree, because what


was asked for was that only children coming from European


economic Area countries did not go through the warning index checks.


This was so that Border Agency staff could focus on those who were


a higher risk coming from other countries, and that worked. That


worked because of the statistics I have just given you. If the queues


were shorter - I have no idea if they were - but the objective of


the exercise was to free the staff up so they could work on the people


that we knew would be a risk. And just by the 100% increase in


illegal arms, the 10% increase in illegal immigrants which were


detected and the 48% increase in illegal documentation brought into


the country shows it was a success. Let's go to you, Rachel Reeves, do


you agree it was a success, this experiment in cutting back on the


Czechs? It increased security. Refined Nadine Dorries' answer to


this question staggering. -- I find her answer staggering. We have no


idea how many people were let in under this pilot, no idea of the


scale of the breach in security. You let in 2.2 million! We still do


not know which airports and which ports were operating this pilot.


When a pilot is going on at a time when our threat level is severe,


you would expect the Home Secretary to be monitoring the pilot, to see


whether it is working, to see whether it is being implemented


correctly. And yet none of that seemed to be going on. And the


Government have already said that the number of people employed by


the borders Agency is going to be cut by 1000 this year, by 5000 or


more over the course of this Parliament. Unless the Government


gets a grip on the UK Border Agency, I don't think that we can rest


assured that this pilot and the Border Agency is going to have the


handle on our national security and on people coming into this country.


I think it is perfectly obvious that everybody in the room


deceiving and everybody at home his first and foremost concern about


the security of the country. -- everybody in the room this evening.


That is our responsibility as a Government and we take that very


seriously. What we recognise is that those trying to cheat the


system have become smarter at it, using different techniques,


different technology. So what the pilot was seeking to do was to


ensure that we reduced the checks on young children travelling with


their parents from Europe, all with school parties, so they did not


have to be checked against the warning lists, that the European


parents, adults, were not being checked against the biometric chip


in the passport which confirms the picture matches the person in front


of you. But every single passport was still being checked. The result,


according to the Home Secretary, is that we will never know how many


people enter the country who should have been prevented from doing so.


Wait a minute. There are two distinctions. One is the point that


Nadine Dorries has made, that as a result of the pilot, still being


evaluated, but early indications are that it court increased numbers


of attempts to come into the country illegally. It has trapped


weapons and also... She has said that, but what went wrong? What


went wrong? The point I'm trying to make... I am just trying to get you


to answer the question. I am answering the question and


particularly what happened here was that officials in the UK Border


Force went further than they had been authorised and removed some of


the Czechs for others who should have been checked. Unfortunately


that does mean there are gaps in what we know. Is a forgivable


foreign Home Secretary who puts in an experimental plan not to make


sure it is monitored closely enough for that to happen? The inspectors


were the ones who found out what was going on. The officials in the


Border Agency, the chief executive of the Border Agency found out what


was going on from the UK Border Force and the senior civil servant


was suspended. That is entirely right and proper. There are three


different inquiries going on into this, we will learn lessons from it


and continue to evaluate the pilot so we can be clever and smart about


how we get our border forces deployed, how we use the technology


Let's go to the woman in the front and hear from some members of our


audience about this. Of course everybody would choose security


over shorter queues but if the coalition funded public sector


departments correctly, we wouldn't have to choose. We would have the


shorter queues and the security. APPLAUSE


It is an interesting point whether national security is so important


that it should have been outside the sphere of the cuts, isn't it?


Colin Blakemore. I am really a bit confused here. I was out of the


country when this issue blew up. Did you - I did manage, yes, only


took 20 minutes. LAUGHTER


If this pilot worked so brilliantly well, why on earth Hasbro bro been


dismissed for extending it? Because it was only for countries were at


high risk. What this really reveals is we just don't know enough about


the best methods to control access, to select people for special


selection. We need proper evidence. The only way is by proper data


gathering, difficult when people trying to getly are not seen,


difficult to know whether you have missed them or not. We need to


introduce measures - people know when the planes are coming. Staff


should be available to check people properly. The staff shouldn't be


cut? If it's demonstrated a certain staffing level is needed to provide


a level of security, obviously, yes. I'll come back to you in main. Yes.


I don't think there is anything wrong with the principle of more


targeted intelligence-led check, but the real problem that's caused


this situation is the more discretion you give to people lower


down the chain, the less watertight the system becomes because the less


people that use the discretion, the less streamlined the policy becomes,


the wider the gaps. You shouldn't give discretion? Not so much. There


was a system. There was a policy, a procedure that was watered down,


and that's how the gaps have developed. There is nothing wrong


in principle, but when there are people involved, that's when risks


develop. I think given the utter shambles that existed under the


last Government, to hear Rachel Reeves berate this Government for


one pilot programme that appears to have gone wrong is what in the


Jewish Chronicle we'd certainly call chutzpah. We don't know what's


happened. There is going to be in inquiry. Even if you take Theresa


May's account at face value, what appears to be clear is she lost


control of her department or the Border Agency. That's not


necessarily a culpable offence. I spent about ten years ago I wrote a


biography of David Blunkett when he was Home Secretary and spent quite


a lot of time in the Home Office. It was very clear to me then that


it was, as John Reid, Blunkett's successor referred to the Border


Agency as not being fit for purpose. It was an absolute basket case. I


think the absolute priority of any Home Secretary is to get a grip of


the Border Agency. Now, clearly, Theresa May has not done that.


Whether that's because of her own inadequacies or whether there is


something so fundamentally wrong with it that no politician is


capable of doing that is an issue I think we need to get to grips with.


I mean, really, to have the Labour Party berate this Government for


one pilot scheme that's gone wrong given the utter chaos that existed


under the last Labour Government is preposterous.


APPLAUSE It's a kind of - it is interesting


that Theresa May was on Question Time when Beverley Hughes was


Immigration Minister... Exactly. And she was attacked, Beverley


Hughes, over her policy to admit immigrants to the UK without checks,


and Theresa May said on Question Time, "I am and tired of the Labour


Party who simply blame other people when things go wrong." If the hat


fits... Didn't blame anybody. did. No, she did not. You must get


the facts right. It was Rob Whiteman, his boss, who suspended


him and who alerted Theresa May to the problem. Theresa May did not


suspend him. It was not her inadequacy. It was the inadequacy


of the member of staff who took the pilot too far and his boss who


suspended him when he found out, as he should have done. There is going


to be a court case now. So you're saying she's never uttered a word


of, "It was not my fault"? What I am saying is - Rachel, to say there


will be cuts in the Border Agency - there will be 18,000 staff working


in the Border Agency at the end of this Parliament. That's exactly the


same number of staff who were working in the Border Agency when


Ed Miliband was deciding the budget when he was working at the Treasury.


That is chutzpah... Is it true, what she says? I think it's going


back to... Absolutely true. In 2006, we were increasing numbers, and


numbers have been increasing in the Border Agency to deal with the


scale of the challenges we're facing. They're coming down now.


The challenge is you have 450,000 papers of asylum seekers locked in


a cupboard somewhere. You let 2.2 million illegal immigrants into the


country. You actually opened up our border when the rest of Europe said,


no, we'll wait such years - let everybody pour in. This question


was about a specific issue that arose about 15 months into this


coalition Government. The pilot scheme. That went horribly wrong -


a pilot scheme that went horribly wrong. OK. You don't take no


responsibility for it, Nadine. Let's leave the point there. Let's


go to the woman in the fourth row. Besides the fact I think the


terrorist threat is majorly exaggerated, I also think the


rhetoric and the action on these issues - you talk tough and try get


votes through scare-mongering, but you're not actually believing what


you're saying. Sorry? There's lot of talk and scare-mongering by the


Conservative, but you obviously don't believe the terrorist threat


is that big a deal, not as big as it was made out to be. Let's go on.


Let's take this question from Erica Whyman, please.


Do you agree that regions like the north-east are the UK's equivalent


of the southern Europe states that are in so much trouble? And if you


do, when are you going to bail us out?


APPLAUSE Stephen Pollard, you're in southern


Europe. It's a bit colder, but that's where you are tonight.


Absolutely. I think the issue of bail-outs is actually at the heart


of so much that's gone wrong with economic policy for so long and is


obviously specifically about what's going on in Greece and Italy,


possibly, and so on... Hold on. Let's do the first part. Do you


accept that the north-east is the UK's equivalent to southern Europe


in economic terms, in... Do we mean - if we're talking - the answer to


that is no in that I don't think that workers in the north-east of


the UK and the at tuds in the north-east are anything like the


attitudes in Greece and in parts of Italy and other parts of southern


Europe. In terms of being an impoverished part relative to the


rest of the country, then clearly that's the case. The issue is what


you do about it. I don't think you create economic growth by


Government diktat the way you create Government growth is people


set up businesses and start hiring. People take failing businesses, and


they turn them around. How do you do that? I think one of the


problems we have got with growth at the moment in this country is we


have too much red tape, too much interference. I am an employer at


my nu. I would love to be able -- newspaper. I would love to be able


to take on people for short-term projects, to see whether they'd be


worth keeping in the long term. I can't do that because the moment I


start hiring, all kinds of laws come into effect, and I can't


guarantee I'll be able to keep them on. The answer is we don't hire


people. The real problem I think with prosperity in regions like the


north-east and all kinds of areas across the UK is precisely this


attitude that everything is going on solved through the Government.


It's not the Government that's going to create prosperity. It's


real people doing real jobs creating real prosperity, hiring


people, spending money and buying, creating and investing our way out


of poverty. Erarea, are you looking for a bail-out? Is that what you


meant by the question? I didn't mean that we had any kind of


lackadaisical attitude. You seem to be suggesting that teachers and


nurses and those people who work in the public sector in the north-east


don't have real jobs is that what you mean by that last remark?


at all. Clearly you have teachers and public sector workers and all


of those kinds of things. But they're not creating wealth. It's


business. It's not teachers and nurses that create the wealth. They


are part of the products of that wealth.


I'm sorry. I completely disagree. The wealth of this country lies in


our ability to have a coherent society and a community we're proud


to live in, and that includes businesses that create profit, of


course, but it also includes great schools, great universities, a


great culture in our country, all of which is being cut... If you


don't have business that is prosperous, you don't have any of


that. No. You're taking it away. You're taking it away in the south-


east and in many other parts of this country. Michael Moore.


APPLAUSE First of all, I would disagree with


the comparison. I don't think that the scale of the challenges within


the UK are anything like what we're seeing in the south of Europe, but


that is not to play down the very serious issues that areas like the


north-east and other parts of the country fair, and I realise that


we've got a big responsibility as a Government to assist whatever else


is said about that, and as a Government, we're committed to


supporting the north-east and the rest of the country with the


enterprise zones, with our investment in infrastructure,


whether it's the east coast main line improvement as the are coming


along or another the regional growth funds which we have been


able to support in recent months which support jobs of 15,000


directly, another 25,000 indirectly. That's just some specifics for this


part of the country, but more generally, our major task is to get


the economy back on the right track and make sure we get it rebalanced


away from the financial-services orientated south-east that we had


for generations and exacerbated under the last Labour Government so


that things that are really important in this part of the world


like manufacturing get the support they need. And when we see world-


class companies like Nissan and others based here producing cars to


export all over the world, we want to support them, but - and the


final thing is this about the context in which we're considering


all of this - we export to Europe, to the eurozone a huge amount of


what we produce in this country, and that means that we've got to


see the problems there sorted out, and that's another urgent priority


for us, but more importantly for the countries in the eurozone.


me hear some views from the audience. You, sir, the man with


the beard. I think one of the classic inconsistencies between the


north and the south, for example is the duelling of Air One. We have


fault for years, if not decades, to get that dual carriageway - it's


one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Whichever party is in,


they promise the earth, and it never happens, yet if they want a


high-speed railway down south, they get that. Can't we support that


particular project, which would create a lot of jobs and save a lot


of lives? Infrastructure. APPLAUSE


I think a lot of it has to do with the property prices. London


property will always hold its value, whereas we're suffering more in the


north-east, even though I am not originally from the north-east.


But what do you think can be done about that? What would your bail-


out scheme that was talked about... It would be difficult because


London does always hold its value, always has done, always will do,


but the north-east - we're suffering because of the job


situation and the recession. The north of the country always seems


to suffer more in a recession. Rachel Reeves. Well, representing a


northern constituency, these are the issues that I know from where I


live. Can I just come back to the follow-up point that Erica made. I


think she was absolutely right when she said that the economy benefits


from teachers, doctors and nurses, and, you know, of course we need


businesses to pay taxes to fund public services, but businesses


would not succeed unless we have fantastic teachers, fantastic


hospitals, fantastic nurses because they're the people who make sure


that we're healthy and make sure we've got a well-educated workforce,


so we need both to make a successful economy. That's


important Under Labour this problem was still as it is now. There were


fewer start-up businesses here under Labour. If you look at cities


like Newcastle, like Liverpool, like Leeds, there has been huge


regeneration, and it has made a big difference. The universities have


grown and expanded, theatres, art, but also business. If you look at


Nissan and the Leaf car investment - you know, making a huge


difference to jobs and growth in this region, but now unemployment


in theest. 11.3%. In the UK as a whole it's 8.1%. We know what the


scale of the challenge is and Michael Moore says we need the


regional growth fund. We had a Regional Development Agency in the


north-east, One North-east. That had three times as much money as


the fund that's replaced it, so if this Government are really serious


about jobs and growth in the north- east, they need to put their money


where their mouth is because the north-east is not getting the


investment, the support for offshore wind, for manufacturing or


for public services, and that's why the north of England is back in


recession. You would increase Government spending to...


reality is... I never understand the Labour policy on money at the


moment. Our jobs and growth plan includes a cut in VAT and a


National Insures... That would all be directed here? No, there would


be national programmes but we'd have a future jobs fund


guaranteeing jobs for young people. We have almost a million young


people out of work. At the moment we're paying for economic failure.


The Government is borrowing more in Let's not get into the statistical


How can you expect the north-east to catch up with the rest of the


country when the number of jobs is decreasing in the north-east?


completely that they have been huge disadvantages for the north-east. -


- I accept completely. There are divergences in opportunity across


the country. The variation even within London between south of the


river and north of the river is huge. It is a cause of great social


discontent which has to be addressed. Bail outs are not a


permanent solution to this kind of problem, but they are a help, to


improve the infrastructure, increase the opportunities for the


north-east to do what it is capable of, improving its own lot. But it


needs help to get there, a helping hand. And it is within our country.


We need more social coherence. We need the Big Society, which the


Prime Minister tells us so much about, and that has to include you.


When you say it is a help but not a solution, what is the solution?


solution, of course, is for every region Tapper capacity to do its


own job. As the -- as Stephen said, bail-outs are not a permanent


solution. But the opportunity to work your way up to the point where


you can sustain yourself is essential. I work for one of the


area's biggest property lawyers and we are having to merge with other


companies because people are scared of the future. In the last few


weeks, six or seven solicitors went bust. We are eager to give billions


to foreign countries but a few million would make a massive


difference in Newcastle. Nadine Dorries. This week the Prime


Minister has announced a �95 million fund. One problem is that


many businesses are not able to borrow because the banks are not


lending, which is ironic, really. The point that the lady made about


the house prices in the south-east retaining value, one of the reasons


why that is is because the banks were bailed out and people kept


their jobs and property prices kept their levels. So they insulated the


south-east because of the bank bail out, which had a huge contribution


to that. But the north-east has to take the brunt of that.


completely agree with you. But this fund, the Prime Minister recognise


this, the Government recognises this. The banks that have been


bailed out are not lending to businesses. So this fund is being


created and businesses can apply and borrow up to �500,000 when the


banks will not lend to them. It is a measure which has been introduced


to bypass the banks, who frankly needs sorting out, if the


Government has to lend the money and the banks are not. You can


borrow up to 500,000, so it would only help 200 companies. It depends


how many companies applied. course, but... They do not have to


borrow half a million. I was just trying to test... Without


investment in education, there are a lot of children at risk of


actually not being able to be employed in those jobs because they


are already in areas of multiple deprivation. Things like cuts to


the people premium that has been introduced are going to make a


massive difference in schools. woman in red. I agree with Rachel


Reeves that we need to have a more educated workforce, and it is


interesting that the amount of university applications has fallen


this year. I would be interested to see how many have gone down in the


north-east, compared to the south. I believe the Government are doing


little or nothing for the north- east. We have heard about


investment in business. Over the last 20 years we have lost an


enormous amount of industry, a lot of jobs. I cannot see that being


made up. The small employer cannot borrow, so he cannot employ more.


The answer is to encourage some large employer to come in, like


Petacci, but that is only going to create 500 jobs. We keep hearing


about Nissan, the only large employer around here. We are in the


wilderness at the moment and the quicker the Government realise that


and help the people of the north- Are you talking about willful


neglect of the north-east? Yes. both governments? By both


governments, definitely. Why do you think there would be wilful


neglect? We are miles away from Parliament, from London, miles away


from the rich counties round London. I think we are forgotten, and there


is a lot... Durham University is about the third best university in


the ratings. We have some wonderful educational opportunities appear.


And the quicker that people in the south realise that and help us in


the north-east, the better. The man in the glasses. It is pretty rich


for Michael Moore to say that the the Lib Dems were keen on investing


in business and developing the region. The region, a few years ago,


was a hub for computer games development. In the last few years


that has collapsed. Before the election, yourself and the


Conservatives both supported tax breaks for the computer games


industry to give us a level playing field to compete with the


international market. As soon as the election happened and you got


into power, you changed your mind completely. Very briefly.


understand the point, but what we have sought to do is to make sure


we get the economy as a whole rebalance and sorted out.


Considering the mess we inherited from the last government, as the


gentleman said at the front, there were 20 years of neglect. That


predates this government by some distance. It actually goes back to


the last Conservative government! And as a Liberal Democrat, I am


happy for Nadine Dorries to answer on that particular point. The


important point is that we get the tax system sorted, reduce


corporation tax to help all businesses wherever they run the


country and whatever they do, help them with getting finance, whether


it is through the project Merlin that is increasing the amount that


goes to businesses, and through things like the regional growth


fund, which will ensure that we get investment in the north-east and


other parts of the country. promise that you could speak


because you have been patient. Michael Moore says the Government


cares about the north-east. We have the highest unemployment rate in


the country and it has been going up. Frankly, he is lying. I have


just had a fairly acute point made. The lady at the top made a really


important point about the people premium, which as a Liberal


Democrat I'm delighted we have introduced. I am also delighted we


are reducing the tax burden on hard-working families and also


ensuring that for pensioners we have a guarantee that they will get


better treatment than they ever did under the last government. Really!


Living in a parallel universe, if Michael Moore thinks that the


policies being pursued by this conservative-LED Government are


going to help the north-east. You talk about corporation tax being


cut but capital allowances are being cut, which will hurt


manufacturing industry in this region. The woman at the front who


said about unemployment, it is the highest in the country and it is


going up. Youth unemployment in many parts of this region, long-


term youth unemployment has doubled in the last nine months. Instead of


just saying, everything is fine and we are doing great things, things


are getting better, it does not hold water. We go to a last


question from Daniel bottom, please. Was Tom Watson right to compare


James Murdoch to the head of the Mafia? The Labour MP, Tom Watson,


St James Murdoch, you must be the first Mafia boss in history who did


not know he was running a criminal enterprise. -- saying to germs --


saying to James Murdoch. Mr Murdoch said, I think that is inappropriate.


No, he was not right. Forget whether it is true or not. In terms


of coverage and demeaning himself in the hearing, he was completely


wrong to do that because there was a lot of forensic questioning going


on, serious questioning, and Tom Watson, who has really lead this,


behaved stupidly in doing that. I am probably the only person in the


country remains a fan of Rupert Murdoch and News International. We


want a broad and a free and prosperous press in this country.


If it was not for News International, for Rupert Murdoch,


the Times would not exist. It loses millions of pounds every year.


Murdoch puts that money in. The Times is a wonderful newspaper. I


do not write for it. Just cutting through this, did you say he is a


man who has done more to enrich our lives than any other single cumin


being of the past generation? Absolutely. And he should be a hero


for his commitment to freedom. Absolutely. We will take Sky, and


when it was introduced it look like it would collapse his business. He


was regarded as a maniac for gambling the business on it, and it


is now regarded as a licence to print money. What went on at the


News of the World was clearly criminal and the people involved


should serve a long prison sentences. It brings disgrace to


the profession of journalism. But that is not what freedom, not what


the Times is about, not what Sky was about, not what many of the


great things Rupert Murdoch has done for this country are about.


Rachel Reeves, did Tom Watson go over the top by calling him a Mafia


boss? There were a criminal activities going on at News


International. I am not saying he is a mafia boss. I think what Tom


Watson said was, are you a Mafia boss? He said, you must be the


first Mafia boss in history. say that Rupert Murdoch is some


great bring her of freedom. I would just say one other name to you,


Milly Dowler. I said what went on at the News of the World was


despicable and criminal and they should serve long prison sentences.


Either James and Rupert Murdoch knew about it, which is disgraceful,


or they did not know, in which case they were incompetent at running


News International. You can have it one way or the other. Exactly


Rachel's point. I used to run a news organisation and I would have


been out of the door if something like this had gone on and I had not


known about it. It is either incompetence or criminal and we


will discover that through the legal process. I would object to


the notion that what the Murdoch empire has achieved in this country


is great and glorious. One good outcome from this will be to change


the attitude of politicians to media moguls, and their insidious


single individual influences on policy in this country we hope will


be eliminated. I would say to Rupert Murdoch about James, it was


the Sun wot lost it. We have the coalition here. Do you both have to


answer? I think what has gone on his absolutely outrageous. People


are sickened by what has happened within News International. I think,


sadly, this has been a sideshow and a distraction from some serious


questioning and it is important to continue with those questions.


you believe Rupert Murdoch is one of the few genuinely great men of


our times, as Stephen wrote? No. told you, I was the only person in


the country. I think Tom let himself down today. To his credit,


he has pursued this and has not let it go. I think perhaps he has got a


bit close to it, because someone described him as having jumped a


shock today. When you make comments like that, you begin to lose your


integrity. He has done more than anyone else. He has been fantastic


but sometimes we get carried away. I think he is angry, like most of


us. On that happy note of unity, except for the Murdochs, we come to


the end of Question Time because our time is up. Next week we will


be in Aberystwyth, and the week after that in Bath. If you want to


Question Time is in Newcastle this week. The panel includes: Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland; Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP; Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle; and Professor Colin Blakemore. Chaired by David Dimbleby.

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