24/11/2011 Question Time


With energy secretary Chris Huhne, Sainsbury's chief exec Justin King, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, shadow minister for older people Liz Kendall and Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.

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Tonight we're in the old roaman city of Bath, and welcome to


And on our panel here, the Energy and Climate Change secretary Chris


Huhne, Liz Kendall, from the European Parliament, the


Conservative Daniel Hannan, the Chief Executive of Sainsbury,


Justin King and the founder of Wikipedia, the website that settles


all arguments except those on Question Time, Jimmy Wales.


Thanks. Our first question tonight from Patrick Wenter please. Is the


Prime Minister right to call next week's strike irresponsible?


Daniel Hannan. I think it is irresponsible. We have negotiations


still under way, and the - a number of the unions had already balloted


on strike action weeks ago. I think we have to remember why these


changes are being made. The Government has inHeathrow Airported


this enormous hole in finances. We have a deficit the size of Greece's.


We were teetering on the brink of going the way of Greece and some of


the eurozone countries. Part of solving that deficit has to be to


restore order and sanity to our long-term liability. Are you saying


it's irresponsible to take a different view from the Government


on the way to handle the deficit? Of course it's not. If I wanted to


say that, that's what I would have said. Why are you saying it's


irresponsible? Because calling a strike at a time like this, costing


the economy even more lost revenue and inconveniencing enormous


numbers of people who are going to have to take day office work


because their children aren't in school and is on, seems to me a


dispros portionate reaction when the Government has put on the table


an offer which would leave lower paid public sector workers better


off in terms of pensions than they are now and would leave almost all


public sector workers better off than almost all people in the


private sector. We have all had hard times recently since the crash


hit, and my constituents who work in the public sector, as always of


us have, had to take a decline in their standard oflying. There is a


gap in pay and pensions. Even now what's on the table is something


most people working in the real economy would kill for. Thank you.


APPLAUSE Liz Kendall. I don't think the


public services - our NHS schools and hospitals are unproductive.


APPLAUSE Neither is Daniel right in saying


that the negotiations are ongoing. I think Ministers have had a take-


it-or-leave-it final offer, no more negotiations. What I think is


irresponsible is for the Prime Minister not to get back to the


table and find a solution. The Government needs to have what is


effectively a 3% tax increase on public sector workers - a proposal


that wasn't in John Hutton's original plan, but I also think


that the trade unions need to give ground because as people are living


longer, they going to have to work longer and make more contribution


to have a decent income in retirement, but strikes are


avoidable if people get back around the table, and that's what we're


urging both the Government and the trade unions to do.


APPLAUSE You're - your party leader, Ed


Milliband, said this evening that Government Ministers in this are


agitators and that they're relishing the prospect of a strike.


Do you agree with that? No, I don't think so. I think probably David


Cameron would like a strike to take place next week. Oh. I think that


he thinks - you know, we've heard reports in the newspapers that he's


rubbing his hands with kind of glee about it. I think what is


responsible is for people to get back round the table, and we need a


- you can only get sustainable reform of public sector pensions if,


you know, we actually have proper reform going ahead. OK. Are you


glufl? I'm certainly not gleeful, and I don't recognise that


description of the Prime Minister or anybody else around the Cabinet


table at all. The reality is we were very careful on the subject


because it does touch people's interests directly. We appointed a


former Labour Cabinet Minister, John Hutton, to look into this.


These stem directly from his recommendations. It's partly a


result of the good news story that we're all living ten years longer


even than in the 1970s when David Lloyd George, a proud Liberal,


introduced the old-age pension. It was set literally 18 months before


the point on average which people were expected to die. We now live


far, far longer. We're far, far fitter. The only way we can have


better pensions at the end of the day is either we work longer the


pay for them, or we pay more for them. John Hutton I think has


proposed a fair way forward. Why is it irresponsible to oppose that?


Simply because in current circumstances the state of the


economy, the way in which so many people are out of work - we're


trying to make ends meet and close what has been the largest budget


deficit, inheritance from Labour. As a Liberal Democrat I am gutted


to have had to take many of the decisions we have had to to clean


up Labour's mess. Frankly then to have a strike over something like


this is irresponsible. The man in the front. Do you think that during


the Thatcher years the unions actually took a bit of a bashing,


and I think it has been a long time coming, this, because it's a new


breed of union bosses now. I think you said something about the


Government relishing actually taking on the unions. I think the


unions are actually relishing taking on the Government especially


because it's a Conservative Government. Do you think both sides


are relishing it? I think they're rubbing their hands with joy, to be


honest. If you think of all the children... Justin King, please.


I'll come back to you. Justin King. My own view... On his point - is it


being relished on both sides? think that's the irresponsibility


if that's indeed the case. I think the fact that both the Prime


Minister and union leaders are trading brick-backs in public is


irresponsible. The reality is unions are forced to operate to a


very specific timetable through balloting their members before they


can strike. It's therefore not new news or a surprise that we're


heading towards this industrial action, and so for the leaders of


the alternate sides to your point of relishing it to be currently


trading publicly on this issue rather than sitting down behind


closed doors and sorting it out that to me is the irresponsibility.


OK. The man up there with the white jacket on. When is the right time


to strike, then? When is the right time to take action? You're taking


money off us all over the place - rich bankers, politicians who rip


us off. When is the right time to strike? Jimmy Wales. I think that


this question of whether this particular strike - whether - is


this the right time? Is this irresponsible? I am not enough of


an expert on the details of the negotiations and where things stand


to be able to say. I think the gentleman who just asked the


question made a valid point. We live in a world in which we have


bailed out the banks who promptly then paid themselves bonuses after


running their companies into the ground. Now we're broke. We have to


make these difficult decisions. That's outrage. That's criminal.


APPLAUSE The woman up there in the back row.


I actually fine it quite patronising you think we'd choose


to strike simply to be gleeful. We'll all stand to lose pay, and


how else would you like us to protest? Daniel Hannan.


APPLAUSE I haven't suggested anybody is


doing this gleefulfully. It is, however, matter of record many of


these ballots were taking place in September long before we got to


this impasse. A number of these trade unions had already embarked


on this course. It takes on a momentum, as these things do. Let's


just remember why we're in this mess. Out of every �4 that the


Government is spending, one of them is bag borrowed, right? The state


is already spending more than half our total GDP. We just can't afford


to carry on with this. So it's not really a question of - in a sort of


playground way of who started it and is it fair and so on - we


simply don't have the option of not making savings. If you don't


believe me, look at what's happening on our doorstep in those


countries in Europe which haven't tried to live within their means,


and look at the chaos that's in store. The man up there in the


spectacles, the man in the third row there. If the panel believe


these pension terms are fair and reasonable, will they be trading


their pension conditions for those being offered?


APPLAUSE Chris Huhne. We've got exactly the


same terms, and in fact, we took a pay cut when we came into


Government as Ministers compared with what the last Government was


being paid. These are tough times. You have to lead from the front. If


you don't do that quite rightlys people will ask, what -- rightly,


people will ask, what are you doing? We have to do that in order


to safeguard the national interests, clear up the mess we inherited in


terms of that enormous side of the budget deficit. It's a reality! And


since we first said that remember, the Labour Party at that time was


saying, "Oh, it's only Greece. We're completely unlike Greece."


Since then we have had crises hitting Ireland, Portugal, Spain,


now even Italy. One of the great achievements this Government has to


its credit so far is getting us out of that danger zone so we don't


have the same sort of problems that have beset so many countries in


southern Europe. The woman at the very back there with the spectacles


in the back row on the right there. What people resent is the pay gap.


It's all relative. You may have taken a cut in your income, but


what about somebody who earns �20,000? It makes a huge difference.


What do you think about the strikes? Well, I think it's part of


democracy. Unfortunately for Daniel Hannan, we live in a democracy. You


have to take what comes with it. You, sir, over there. Presumably,


at some stage, the Government is going to have to give concessions


in order to end this. Can I make a plea as a pensioner that the


concessions come in the form of better pensions for pensioners.


Maybe they can be deferred because the fact is, our pot is going to be


reduced by these extra concessions that would be made otherwise to the


public servants. One more point - the man in the blue tie. This is


not democracy. This is actually a subversion of democracy. What we


have here is three unions - the vast majority of their members have


not voted to take part in the strike. It's a minority decision to


go on strike. The unions are trying to hold the country to ransom. In


the meantime, we learned yesterday that the Labour Party is accepting


almost 90% of its funding from these unions, and is entirely in


the pocket of them. We have a subversion of democracy and not a


democracy at all. APPLAUSE


Justin King, we know around about 30% of the union members voted in


all the different unions that voted. Would that, from your point of view,


count as a legitimate test of union opinion? I think ultimately every


trade union member had the opportunity to vote. Those that


didn't vote, in effect, gave up that opportunity to express their


voice. Those that did, clearly within those unions voted in favour


of industrial action. You think we should seek to second-guess that. I


would like to take it back to what is the real issue here? The real


issue is a piece of good news. We're all living longer, healthier


lives. The reality is very few of us have provided adequately for the


life we're going to enjoy beyond our working lives. I think those of


us that are a bit older - I consider myself one of those - have


to ask ourselves tough questions about whether we're going to


ourselves pay for the retirement we wish to enjoy or to pass that bill


on to our children. We've got plenty of opportunity to change the


way we plan for retirement now both in the private and public sector.


This is not a private versus public issue in my view so that those of


us that are young enough and in the working population can provide


differently for our futures because otherwise, it's our children that


are going to pay that bill. Let's bring this to an end and move to


another question. Liz Kendall, presumably, a Labour Government


would be doing something not entirely dissimilar to what this


coalition Government has been doing? I don't think we'd be


looking at what is effectively a 3% tax increase which is going to hit


800,000 of the lowest part-time workers, nine out of ten of whom


are women, but we have always believed in reform. That's what we


did when we were in Government around public sector reform, but


the way we did that was getting people around the table. The only


way - I think somebody said - they're going to have to give


concessions at some point. What we did was we negotiated. Both sides


have to give ground. That's what we would be doing when we're in


Government, and that's what we're urging on the... A fact here - the


proposals actually lead to better pensions for... That's not for


part-time workers. I don't want the two of you to sit here and


negotiate the deal that's for the unions and the Government.


Absolutely trucially to low-paid... Not part-time, Chris. We can't


debate fact. We can only debate opinion I am afraid. We mustn't


make up facts either, David. you're tweeting... Very happy to


have a disagreement on opinions, but I want to get the facts


straight. Your proposal... Do you mind? This is turning into


pantomime. If you want to join the I'm going to Edward Turner. Is it


time for the Government to legislate for a privacy law and


punish future immediate why misconduct. Jimmy Wales? I think on


this issue I come from the United States and we have a strong first


amendment tradition and the risk that we are running here, because


of this misconduct of the media is losing the distinction between


freedom of speech and criminal behaviour. I think the criminal


behaviour and some of the most out rageous behaviour needs to be very


severely punished. The idea that we should rein in the media, is a


dangerous road. In terms of people going to jail for stealing


information, for hacking into phones, blagging to get people's


personal details unethically, you know, toss them in jail.


APPLAUSE What about the apparently perfectly


legal methods of invading people's previouscy that we have heard about


during the inquiry? We need to look at all of those and decide whether


or not they should be legal. If we are talking about behaviour that


amounts to stalking and harassing, if it happened to people in


ordinary lives we would say that's a bit too far and a bit too much.


In general, if it's just publishing some footballer's affair and if


they expect they can go around and behave in an out rageous way and


not be called to task by the public - Sienna Miller said today she was


chased down a dark Ali by -- alley by eight men and the fact they were


carrying cameras - To me that is clear harassment. Chasing anyone


down a dark alley, it's not right. APPLAUSE


Justin King. Well, I rather agree with Jimmy. Ethink we shouldn't


throw the baby out with the bath water and I think actually our


country and society is all the better for the ability of our free


press to hold those of us in power and those politicians in power to


account. We should be very careful that we don't give that up. What do


you make of what Hugh Grant said? You can distinguish between the


baby and the bath water, you lift the baby out and let the bath water


runaway. That is the point that Jimmy makes, that most of us can


see clearly that a lot of the behaviour is unacceptable. Some may


require a change in the law to provide clarity, but I think also


people have to remember that they have incredible power already. The


reason the News of the World is not on sale today is that the public,


you, said you are simply not going to buy that newspaper again,


because of the way it behaved. You have transmitted a very clear


message, which brought about the situation that we are now in, this


inquiry, so we shouldn't forget that we as consumers and readers


have real power to exercise. Toughening up the legislation, the


Press Complaints Commission, or the Government getting involved direct,


no? I think it's clear. It is impossible for the media to seek to


continue to argue that they have been able to actually keep their


own house in order, so it's clear that wherever this inquiry goes and


we should allow the inquiry to complete its work, I would suggest,


that we are going to need a PCC that is truly independent and has


real teeth. APPLAUSE


Chris Huhne, you may sometimes think you are a victim of press


harassment, I don't know. The Time's -- Times yesterday was


ferocious. Is that fair? I was a journalist for 19 years and so


contrary to what you might expect, I would firmly defend the right of


a free press. I think it's absolutely crucial and the


Government's trespass into the whole area of attempting to control


what happens in the media is very, very dangerous. The inquiry is


dangerous? It will be interesting, because it will be absolutely


crucial to see what conclusions he draws. Maybe he'll say we should


enforce the law properly and clearly we didn't here. The


Metropolitan Police did not investigate adequately when they


should have done, what was going on at the News of the World. Some of


us, I said this before the election, said it very loud and clear, we


needed a judicial quieary and a proper police investigation --


inquiry and a proper police investigation. It is now confessed


by The Metropolitan Police Commissioner and they need to get


to the bottom of this. Maybe that's enough. But we have a situation as


well and we have for example the editor of the Daily Mail success


that the PCC needs to be beefed up, self-regulation, yes, but with


proper penalties and proper rights of redress and I think that is


right. We have to be very careful, because the press is a crucial part


of bringing excessively powerful people to account. Whether they are


in business or whether they are in Government, the press is a crucial


part of that process and we mustn't feteer the ability to do so.




You have no complaint about the on- going story about who was at the


wheel of your car speeding down the motorway? I have masses of


complaipt, very constantly about the treatment of all -- complaints,


very constantly about all the treatment of the press and that's


what goes with the public life. If you can't stand the heat get out of


the kitchen. What is happening with that? Please ask the Crown


Prosecution Service? You are waiting to hear? Yes. Will you


plead not guilty? Absolutely. haven't been on the programme since


you had that little - Is that right? That is very remiss of you,


David. The woman in red and yellow there.


Isn't it about time that the media cleaned up its act? There is a


difference between the heroic journalism and on the sleazy end


and it's about time there is an external independent regulatory


body. The problem with that is how do you distinguish, if you allow


the law to distinguish between sleazy against responsible, you may


get another minister at some point who has got some trouble with the


press, who is not as upstanding about freedom of the press who says


it is sleazy to talk about my driving record and who was driving


my car, we are going to suppress that and that is dangerous for


democracy and for all of us. APPLAUSE


I'm a staunch defender of the free press in this country. I think it's


vital for our democracy, but in answer to Edward's question, we


also need a press that is fair and responsible and act within the crim


fal law. -- criminal law. That's what we have heard today,


particularly the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. It's appalling.


It's not just disgusting, but criminal. I think one of the most


important thing that we make sure we get out of the inquiry is proper


rights for individuals of redress, so that if the press oversteps the


mark they are properly held to account. What about a privacy law?


Well, I think the House of Commons has got a committee looking at that


at the moment and it is something we need to debate, but what we have


seen this week is about people breaking the existing law and not


being held to account. You heard JK Rowling says that messages were put


in her daughter's satchel at school, wanting to make contact. It doesn't


sound it's illegal, but the privacy law would prevent that. People have


a right to private life, but I think we need to be careful about a


privacy law, because smoims if people or politicians are doing


things -- sometimes if people or politicians are doing things that


they are doing in public life sometimes need to be exposed. It's


really important when we come out of the inquiry that we focus, I


think, particularly on ordinary people, who have not had the money


or power or the celebrity and what has been happening to those people


is also bad, but it's the ordinary people who don't get the right.


man on the gangway there. How is it that we are talking about criminal


acts and a PPC dealing with it when the place to deal with the criminal


acts is the police? Why have the Metropolitan Police failed us so


badly Apart from that, what is your view on the on-going control of the


press? I think self-regulation is fair. Then we had the banks and the


press and then they were hacking murder small girl's phones. I would


have an independent regulator independent of the press. Would you


have that? We had the crash after the creation of the FSA. It was


Government regulation that have failed. There have been times when


I have felt ashamed of the British press, even when the behaviour was


legal, it was cruel, callous, stupid, insensitive. There were


moments during this inquiry when I think any person of sensitivity


would have flinched in horror to think people didn't have an intern


fal compass holding them back from some of the actions -- internal


compass holding them back from some of the actions. The problem with


regulation is two-fold. First, nobody will agree on what ought not


to be published. Everyone can think of something that they think


shouldn't be in the public domain, but no two people will agree on


what. I have yet to hear two people agreeing. There is a real


difficulty of definition. Secondly, the whole debate has been overtaken


by technology. We were in the situation when we had the super-


injunctions where the whole country knew who was behind the legal


action. When you could tweet it. When you could text it. When it was


talked about in every dinner party, but even now it would be illegal


for me to mention on the BBC who the people behind the super-


injunctions were. Certainly! What should we do instead? Well, firstly,


I strongly agree with Jimmy, we need properly to enforce the law on


harassment. There are perfectly good common law remedies for people


who behave awfully. If you are chased by photographers you could


claim that? Or anybody else. There is a well-understood common law


definition of harassment, but there is another. Editors should be more


afraid of printing something that untrue than of something that is


intrusive and if you listened to the testimony over the last two or


three days, the thing that most upset a number of the people giving


evidence, the McCanns particularly, were the lies that appeared about


them. The quid pro quo of not having a privacy law and external


regulation and I'm against both, is that if a newspaper prints


something that is untrue the damages should not be set by the


hurt feeling of the victim, they should be actually punitive damages.


They should be a level of damages that makes the newspaper not want


to do it again. APPLAUSE


You talk about the cool, callous way in which people's privacy was


invaded and that you flinked at it. Do you flinch at the fact that your


leader is best friends with Rebekah Brooks? I don't think he is. They


spent Christmas together. You know what, I would think less of anybody


who walked out on a personal relationship for political vention.


We know that David Cameron got quite close to the Murdoch family


and your former leader got close. Do you approve? You need to be


brief. I think you raise an important point, which is that one


of the reasons why some of the laws may not have been enforced is


because either people have been too frightened to take on the powerful


parts of the media, or they've wanted to cosy up to them to get


their message across. Politicians have to use the media to


communicate with people. I actually think this comes back to the point


about the internet and Twitter, which is something I use, because I


find it's a direct way to communicate. There is a real


problem, because the only party consistently that stood up to News


International, neither Labour nor the Conservatives, were the Liberal


Democrats and Nick Clegg and through decision after decision,


the one political party that News International and Rupert Murdoch


could never get to was the Liberal Democrats and I do not believe we


would be where we are with the inquiry. I don't think if we had


not had the coalition Government and not had the hew and cry, it's


all the same thing would have happened that has happened before,


and it would have been shoved away. Labour had an awful record in


Government in dealing with Murdoch. I called for a police inquiry and


we had the Home Secretary and his deputy apologising in the Commons


for doing absolutely nothing to ensure that there was a proper


police inquiry into the clear evidence that this went March


beyond one rogue journalist. Labour lapped it up, because they were


hoping to get Rupert Murdoch's No-one wants to get rid of our free


press. We all need that. Surely, it's just down to people power. If


we don't buy the newspapers, they don't get the money. Money talks.


That worked with The News of the World. We're halfway through the


programme. We have only done two questions. I want to ask the


panellists to be more succinct in their answers. Sue Thorne. Yeah,


applause for that. Sue Thorne. executive salaries out of control?


Are executive salaries out of control? We know the FTSE 100


companies - executive salaries went up by half, 50%, as opposed to 2%


for the rest of us and cuts for many people too. Justin King,


you're a well-paid executive. I don't know whether you want to


share with us what you earn before you start your answer or not.


can look it up on Wiki peedya. -- Wikipedia.


APPLAUSE But is it always accurate?


LAUGHTER As it happens... You beat me to it


because, as it happens, I did check my Wikipedia entry before I came on


the panel, but it's not on there. My salary is a matter of public


record. It's 900,000. And I am the Chief Executive of a public company,


and the company I work for report in a very straight forward way. The


salary I earn and of all the other Chief Executives in our company and


the bonuses we earn and how we earn those. That's good model, and I am


proud to say that's the approach our company takes. That said, it is


inescapable, and the High Pay Commission this week have simply


given voice to this - that the vast majority of the UK population think


there is something rotten at the top of the big corporations in the


UK, so those of us that run big corporations better listen, because


if we don't, we're not going to be in a job much longer, and our


customers are not going to shop with us, and our employees aren't


going to want to work for us. What's rotten? I said people think


there is. Is there something rotten? I think the big issue is


there is no sense at all that the rewards people are earning is


connected to the performance they're delivering. Which side are


you on? I think many companies - I would include my own - actually do


have that very clear connection. We lay out in very clear terms the


earnings and the way people earn. We also have a policy in our


company the pay rewards we give all of our employees are the maximum


that we give. What about an RBS Chief Executive getting nearly


eight million and Lloyds getting over �13 million - do you approve


of that? Both of those figures assume success, and as it stands at


the moment, they're clearly not successful. I think we should


remember, of course, in those two organisations, they're


organisations that we as taxpayers and members of public actually own


large chunks of at the moment, and the best thing that can possibly


happen for us is those two banks become successful and profitable


again so we can sell the shares for a profit as taxpayers. We have


already bailed them out. We can't change history. We can only change


the future. Are salaries out of control or not? I think clearly


they are in some organisations because they're clearly not


transapparently linked to performance.


APPLAUSE Jimmy Wales. I think that in


general, yes, salaries are out of control, and I think the real risk


here is we view this as a class divide - rich-versus-poor issue,


and we think all high salaries need to go out the window. The problem


is when salaries are clearly linked to performance for shareholders


this is pear fecically good thing. One of the problems we have right


now is corporate governance has gotten messed up so too many


members of the management for companies are not accountable to


the shareholders. Therefore they loot the company for their own


benefit against true interests of the owners who have retirement


investments and so on. They're really looting? I would say the


word looting, yes. You, sir. agree with both of those comments.


I agree high pay should be linked to performance. I think that's


right. As the UK Plc argument, let's try to promote business in


the UK. There is an argument of when you look at yourself in the


mirror thinking, am I being too greedy, and should I lead by


example by giving away some of what I have? Particularly when we're in


a tough time, people are struggling and leading by example people at


the top and the director levels. I accept the UK Plc argument. But I


think there is a question to be asked in these times. The High Pay


Commission which was set up by a Labour-supporting pressure group,


of course, said all executive pay packages should be published, that


there should be employees on the boards and that the method of


deciding salaries is wrong. Do you agree with all of these points? Do


you think the Government should act on them? The Government already has


because Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, Liberal Democrat, in his


conference speech in the autumn laid out a set of proposals we're


consulting on. But are you going to have... Well, we'll have to see


what comes out of it. No, it's not. We have set out a series of


proposals. One is doing it, and one is not doing it. If you in


Government try to do something without going through the statutory


period for consultation, you get into tremendous trouble, so it is


actually important to consult. We're determined that there is


clearly a problem. I have my personal views about why the


problem arises. I think there are too many people who are on each


other's remuneration committees, so one director scratchs the back of


another and gives another a pay rise. There is another a very per


vasive argument in board rooms a that we have to pay top dollar to


get the top people. Every board room says the same thing. As a


result, there is a steady creep upwards because they're all


actually chasing paying somebody in the top sector. Then there is size


because as soon as the company gets bigger, as soon as there is an


acquisition, they say, a big company like this, we need to exee.


We need a pay rise. There are all sorts of ratchets here. I don't


think anybody should begrudge really good pay for really good


performance, but I think what there is a lack of trust in at the moment


is the link between pay and performance. That's something I


know Vinces is derled to put right and the Government will be put ing


proposals on during the consultation period.


Does it matter that people dislike the salaries people have at the


top? They may think Justin King's sausages may not all they're


cracked up to be and shouldn't get �900,000? Does it matter? What did


you say? His sausages are very nice? Yeah. You can't curry favour.


I think it does matter, precisely because we're all living in the


same society. We need to have trust that people are performing their


roles properly and are being remunerated for that you lose


motivation from employees if you don't. Do you agree? It's ludicrous


for me to say what Justin King should be paid. I have only met him.


I enjoy his sausages, but neither I nor anyone else in the audience is


in a position to say. I agree with Jimmy Wales that we could do much


more to make shareholders think of themselves as proprietors rather


than just investors, and I think there could be a real change in the


climate of corporations if that simple shift were made, but the


idea that a Government remuneration committee could decide what level


of pay is proper - I mean, just think about that for five minutes,


and you'll see it leads to bankruptcy, to the worst kind of


favoritism. If that worked, we'd have lost the Cold War, and the


Soviet Union would have won. Do you think there should be employee


representatives onboard? No. I think the answer is to go down the


road towards proper accountability to the people who own the company,


which is the shareholders. I also strongly agree with what the


gentleman there said about giving away - if the system is working


properly, a man or a woman who has done very well and then chooses to


give to good causes seems to me a much preferable situation than that


chairman or that CEO loading the costs on to his shareholders, his


customers and his clients in the name of corporate social


responsibility or indeed loading it on to everyone else in tax rises.


It was your party that famously said, "We're intensely relaxed


about people getting -" the adverb was "filthy rich" - Peter Mandelson.


Executives' salaries out of control or... Can I say I didn't agree with


that comment at the time, and I don't agree with it now. I think


there is a very strong sense of fairness. Sue's initial question


was, do people think pay is getting out of control? I do think that


when people on median wages are actually seeing a 3.5% cut to their


pay once inflation is taken into account, and yet some people who


have, you know, not been successful at getting big rewards - they think


that's unfair - I think it's very important what Justin has said


about his recognition that people need to feel a system is


transparent and fair. I hope that Justin leads that call amongst


other Chief Executives. I do believe we need more transparency,


and I also do believe that having an employee on remuneration


committees is a bit of a test and a challenge there if you're trying to


agree a very high pay packet for yourself, but you have an employee


on the remuneration committee and says, "What's actually happening to


us?" I do think that gives a bit of a challenge in the system. I'll go


to you, sir, over there. I agree that success should be linked to


wage, but I don't agree that there shouldn't be a limit - there should


be limits to it, and I think even 900,000 is immoral because it could


make hundreds of people's lives better, and I think they should be


moderated by the consumers. The Government could help, but it's


really in the power of everyone in the audience who can choose to


boycott companies who have big bonuses and really big wages.


You, sir, up there in the white jacket? Last it into on Newsnight,


there was an energy executive on �1.9 million. What does that say


about when old people are dying of cold?


APPLAUSE And you in the middle.


APPLAUSE Justin, are you really worth 40


times per year the average man and woman? Are you 40 times as


productive as them? That, of course, is an impossible question to answer.


The only people that can really answer that question are, as you've


heard from Daniel, the shareholders in our company. Ultimately, my


responsibility is to deliver a successful business and successful


results. As I said earlier, we're very clear and open about our pay


policy in Sainsbury. We put that to a vote every year with our


shareholders. Last year 98% of our shareholders supported our policy


on pay and remuneration. Ultimately they're the judges of whether we as


a management team - including me - are delivering the results that


we're worth the money they pay us. What he's asking - I am curious -


you know, you can't work more than 365 days a year. What is it that


you do that is so special that - LAUGHTER


That makes it 40 times... But I think you can't - I mean, you can't


equate one type of work to another in terms of market forces in our


society. The reality is that in all walks of life, people that are


doing specific jobs that very few other people are able to do are


sports stars, are entertainment stars, are media stars, David, do


attract... Don't get paid much. Would you like to tell us how much?


No, it's gone down. We had the cuts. But then it's the reality - the


people at the top of professions - actually, I started out as a young


person in business really aspiring to the idea if I did a great job


over a long period of time, I could get to the top of an organisation


and have the great privilege, which I consider it to be, of leading an


organisation with 150,000 people in it. That's something that I am very


proud to have achieved. I am going to take two more questions. The


woman on the gangway there. That's you, yes. So could you carry a


truss up on to a roof, then? Because I think that people are


doing hard, physical jobs and getting paid significantly less


than people like you. Could you carry bricks up on to a


roof? I expect he probably could if he - I don't know. You probably


could. The woman over there on the left. You say that success is


linked to ages. What about the nurses, the doctors, the teachers


who all do such an amazing job for our community? They don't get paid


that much. Chris Huhne, I want you to be very brief. Pick up on what


he said about the green money going to Monaco and all of that.


entirely agree with the gentleman who raised the tax... That's what


Nick Clegg said to me when I asked him in Bath Hall. Honestly, I


interpreted his reply as being "Don't ask silly questions." If you


would let me tell you what we're actually doing about it, I'll tell


you. We have been trying to close all the loopholes we can. We, for


example, have been signing agreements with countries that have


traditionally been boltholes for funk money like Switzerland to make


sure that hay they're actually reporting back, people who are


evading British taxes, because I entirely agree with you - it's


completely unacceptable for the rest of us who honestly pay our tax


to have a few people managing to get their money out from under and


come and enjoy the right of citizenship in our country but


aren't prepared to pay for it, and they should. We'll speed on to a


question from Mark Simpson, please. Is the coalition living up to its


promise of being the greenest Government ever? Chris Huhne


actually said it was going to be that. Is it? Daniel Hannan.


Worryingly, it is in the sense of fuel bills shooting up and


burdening our economy, as if we didn't have enough on our plate


already without these arbitrary and unforced additional costs. I mean,


there are lots of things you can do to get an economy going again. You


can make it easier to hire and fire people. You can cut the regulation.


You can cut the taxes. One thing that'll always jolt an economy is


cheaper energy. It makes exports more attractive. The one thing that


seems to be jolting the United States out of the mess they were in


is the sudden discovery of all the shale gas they have started getting


on tap. The good news is we have similar deposits in this country -


not as large. So it seems to me a bizarre thing that we should be


choosing to burden our economic recovery at a time like this for


the sake of making a point because anything that we do unilaterally,


when it isn't being matched by the rest of the world, is simply using


legislation to show what nice people we are. It isn't affecting


any outcome in the real world. It isn't having any impact on climate


change, and the worst reason to pass a law is simply in this


Jimmy Wales, do you agree with Daniel on that one? Are you for


greening? I think it's a very complicated issue and I am not


enough of an expert to be able to offer a sensible opinion. OK. Thank


you. I can just say I have no idea because I'm not a politician.


kin King. Well -- Just kin King? Justin King. Well, I would like to


take Chris back to an answer to an earlier question, where I think he


said and I'll par phrase, it was not Government -- para phrase, it


was not Government policy regarding the consultation. They have


announced one that does not conclude until after the change


that they are consulting on is brought into effect on 12th


December. The consequence of that is that actually it has stopped in


its tracks a massive investment in certain energies in our country and


disappointingly that has a second effect, which we saw people


marching on Parliament, protesting, only a couple of days ago, probably


cost �25 -- 25,000 jobs in that industry. You mean solar panelling.


That's it. Chris Huhne, would you like to answer this? You've always


been a believer in the green stuff and prices will go up and we'll all


be better off using less fuel, even if we are a bit colder - you didn't


a that bit - and then you are in a Government that has halved the


tariff for sticking up the solar panels? Are you behind that?


reason for that is very simple. you approve? Of course, I've been


defending it. The reason why the tariff has been halved is because


the prices have come down so much. We have had an enormous reduction


in the cost of solar panels. Unfortunately, under the scheme


that was introduced by my predecessor, now the Labour leader,


there was no recognition of the real world and what would happen if


you had a 30% and 70% reduction in the cost and you have to bring the


subsidy down, otherwise the costs go through the roof and I'm


delighted I'm being attacked by the right from Dan, who thinks we are


massively adding to bills and then from left, from the Chief Executive


of Sainsbury's, who thinks we are cutting too much off. If we had


left the scheme to run on we would have been adding �26 to every


single family's energy bill by 2020. The scheme, as you well know,


finished at the end of March next year. What you have done is to


catch a load of companies out that have already made decisions about


investments by in effect retrospectively changing the scheme.


That is not true, Justin. Firstly, nobody who has installed any


installation now is going to have the tariffs changed. It will go on


being paid for 25 years at a rate of return which is frankly


wonderful for people who got in there. Anything in real terms


between 10% and 16%. That is not a sensible use of bill payers' or


taxpayers' money. There are tens of thousands of householders who have


paid deposits and made commitments to have these systems installed in


the next six months, so they are not going to get the benefit of the


system that they believed existed when they made that commitment.


What will you say to those houses? APPLAUSE


Firstly, the scheme that we are consulting on, which involves a


halving of the tariff, still leads to a real return for those


householders of 5% in real terms for 25 years. It is very generous


and it brings it back into line with the original intention of the


scheme, when the Labour Party introduced it in April 2010. What


does Liz think. No, they are not the greenest Government ever. It's


not only what they are doing on feeding tariffs, it's that they


have cancelled one of our carbon capture and storage projects, which


was another move towards clean energy. Whatever Chris says, the


CBI, the businesses say, we are not going to invest in this any more


and let's just see what other countries are doing. Last month,


Germany announced it's going to be investing 85 billion into renewable


energy over the next five years. That is not just great for the


environment, but creating huge numbers of jobs. We need to get


into the business, not just for the planet, but for the future of our


economy. We have just done that with the consultation. If the


Government taxed 100% and employed everyone surely we would be well


off. I know you are not - One at a time. The key point is we have


encouraged renewable energy. If you look at what is happening with the


renewable obligation, which is our main way of encouraging big-scale


renublz and off-shore -- re nubl -- renewables and and off-shore


energies. We were 25th out of 27 EU states. With regard to Germany, OK,


they've pulled out of the nuclear industry and they have an amazingly


strong renewable industry. UK has decided to go the other way. Why is


it? No, we haven't. Absolutely not. Can I just request that Chris stops


referring to Labour and the Liberal Democrats. We had a message from


the man at the back that said 30% of people voted in the unions. How


many of our country voted for the Government that we have got now?


APPLAUSE The Government has increased the


amount of nuclear power plants. I read it in the newspapers. You are


increasing if you clear power. You can't say you are not. The man


there. I run a company based nearby and we have created 350 jobs. We


are also responsible for putting in free solar cells and I don't have


an objection to you reducing the feed-in tariff. My objection is


that you believe that you can make a company turn around in a six-week


period. You make an announcement and within six weeks you believe


that we can make that change and we will see in my company there will


be 300 people who lose their jobs as a result of the decision you


made because you haven't made it on a timely basis. That is what you


should be thinking about. APPLAUSE


I want to take a last question. You can talk to him after about that


issue. How would you react to a letter of apology from a criminal


convicted of burgling you? Jimmy Wales, you know the policy of


getting the criminal to write to the person they've upset or


attacked or whatever. There is this letter, which everyone has seen


today and we have got it here. "I don't know why I'm writing a letter


to you. I've been forced to right this. To be honest I'm not bothered


or sorry about the fact I burgled your house. Basically, it was your


fault anyway. I'm going to run you through the dumb mistakes you made.


You didn't shut your curtains. Second I you're dumb to think you


can live in your area and you are thick enough to leave your


downstairs kitchen window open. I wouldn't do that in a million years.


I don't feel sorry for you and I won't show you any sympathy or


remorse.." It's a classic letter. This idea of the criminal


apologising? In favour of that? Yeah, I think I'm in favour in


general that criminals should be forced to apologise. I'm a little


annoyed for the BBC for making a huge story about this. It's a


delicious letter. No question. Everyone enjoyed reading this, but


apparently it never went to the family at all, so it's not quite as


out rageous as we might hope. was put about by the police, to


show the kind of letters people shouldn't write? Something like


that. Odd story. Clearly, if we can get criminals to somehow


acknowledge what they've done wrong and make an apology to the relevant


person, why not? It seems like a good thing to do. Do you think the


press will apologise to the people in the Leveson inquiry? Daniel


Hannon? I'm all in favour of people apologising in a part of a system


that uses other issues. You wonder of the moral vacuum or the people


who are taking the metal of the war memorials. You wonder what has gone


wrong that people have got themselves into a position where


they thought this was an acceptable thing to do. I don't think


governments have the power to stop this. Governments do things badly.


We have had a demonstration on energy policy and they are bad at


building planes and running schools and bad at instilling morality, but


the rest of us have a real duty to try to ensure that we are bringing


people up in a way it wouldn't occur to them. I agree with Jimmy,


if it's done properly and the criminals can take responsibility


for what they've done and to apologise to the victims that, can


work. We have also had community pay-back schemes in my constituency,


which I strongly support, but it has to be done in the right way.


believe that if such letters are institutionalised it will simply


become a form of words that people use to get out of it. Maybe that is


what the 16-year-old was doing. This doesn't mean anything unless I


really mean it. That's absolutely the key point. If you are forced to


do it it doesn't mean anything, but there is evidence about restorative


justice when someone is genuinely apologising and the evidence is and


particularly if they have met the victim and genuinely apologised,


it's good for the victim, because it helps reconcile them to what has


happened, but also means they are much less likely to re-offence, so


-- re-offend, so if they are remorseful then that is a good


thing and should be encouraged, but this is learning by rot it's bad


news. Who is the one to judge? Surely if this young man has the


audacity not to show remorse the community punishment should have


been increased to something far harsher? Justin King? It is clear


that you can't force people to make an apology and that letter


demonstrates that the young person involved had no concept of the


crime that they had committed or the impact that would have had on


the people he committed that crime against. Therefore, you have to


come back and I agree with Chris on this issue, which is we have to re-


connect criminals to the idea that their crime has consequence and in


many areas I think that does lead to changed behaviour. Thank you


very much. Our time is up. We have overrun and Andrew Neil will be


very cross. We'll be in Dagenham next week. On the panel we have the


Justice Secretary Ken Clarke, we have a member from Labour, and


Deborah immediate an from the dragons' den and an American


political writer David Frumm and the teachers' union leader. The


week after, we'll be in Stoke-on- Trent. I don't have any details on


who will be there, but if you want to come to either you know what to


Question Time comes from Bath. On the panel are energy secretary Chris Huhne, Sainsbury's chief executive Justin King, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, shadow minister for older people Liz Kendall and Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan.

Chaired by David Dimbleby.

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