26/01/2012 Question Time


26/01/2012

Question Time comes from Plymouth, chaired by David Dimbleby. On the panel: Jeremy Browne MP, David Lammy MP, Liz Truss MP, comedian Mark Steel and columnist Melanie Phillips.


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Transcript


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Bishops, bankers and benefits, all on the minds of our audience here

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in Plymouth. Welcome to Question With me on the panel, the Liberal

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Democrat Foreign Office minister and in the Government, Jeremy

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Browne. Labour's former higher Education Minister, David Lammy.

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The Conservative MP, Elizabeth Truss. The Daily Mail columnist

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:00:47.:00:55.

Melanie Phillips and comedian Mark Thank you very much. Our first

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question tonight from Mary O'Connell, please. Who is more in

:01:02.:01:06.

touch with the public's view of benefit capping? The bishops or

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David Cameron and the coalition? Melanie Phillips, are you for the

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bishops? No, I'm not for the bishops. I think the bishops are

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completely out to lunch, quite frankly. When you consider that

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many of their own vicars earn less than the amount of �26,000 per year

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which they say would be a level at which people live in dire poverty,

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then you have to ask yourself what on earth is going on. I think it's

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very laudable that Mr Cameron's Government is trying to bring some

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justice, social justice, to the welfare system to restore the

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incentive to work. It's surely only common-sense that if on average you

:01:50.:01:53.

can get more by being on benefits than going out to work, you don't

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have an incentive to work and that it's extremely unfair and unjust

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for all those people who are working and who are bringing in

:02:03.:02:10.

very much less than �26,000 per year to see that money is going on

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benefits to people who are not working and then to be told that

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they can't possibly survive on that amount. There are many people

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working for long hours for very low pay for home �26,000 income per

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household is untold riches. They are being completely abandoned.

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When did we hear the bishops stand up for the working poor of this

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country? Mark Steel, are you with the

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bishops, do they occupy the moral high ground? Well, I think compared

:02:49.:02:53.

to David Cameron they do. You see, I think it can look as if David

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Cameron's in touch with the common people, but if you step back for a

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moment and see what they're doing here, it's not just a one-off issue,

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a one-off cut. This is part of this Government's overall strategy which

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is to make the poor pay for a mess that the rich have created.

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APPLAUSE That's their overall strategy. Of

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course, the people - there's only 67,000 households receive this

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level of benefit, most of the money goes on rent, that's why half of

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these people live in London where the rents are highest. If you just

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consider for a moment when it's posed as being fair and posed as

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being in defence, as Melanie says, of hard-working people, you've got

:03:42.:03:45.

to think to yourself, hang on a minute, in some ways, maybe what

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the Government's complaining about is that these people aren't

:03:49.:03:54.

claiming enough. If these claimants weren't claiming �26,000, but were

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claiming �1 million and then �1 million bonus on top of that as

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well, instead of the cap being put on it, there would just be a mild

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call for them to show some restraint. If they were having

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millions of pounds that they were taking out of society and then they

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were putting that money in their wife's name and shoving it over to

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the Cayman Islands so not to pay any tax, instead of a cap being put

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on it... APPLAUSE

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Instead of a cap being put on it, then the Inland Revenue would be

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meeting them, as they did with many business businessmen before

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Christmas and wrote off in one day �25 billion of tax that was avoided.

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�25 billion is so much more and therefore what's pernicious about

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this argument is it's trying to divide all the different people

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who're being hammered. Yes, the working poor are being hammered.

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That's how pernicious it is to say, do you know who are taking it, the

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people who're even poorer than you. This is what they do all the time,

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put up the fees... APPLAUSE Make you pay tuition fees

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so that we can protect the working poor. The danger here is that all

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the different people they're hammering are all squabbling

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amongst themselves over who it is taking it while the rich run off

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and get away with it. That's why I think when you step back from this

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argument, it looks as if David Cameron is in touch with people but

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I really don't think he is. APPLAUSE

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The woman there? Surely what the bishop was saying

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is that we should be protecting the children. The children don't decide

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whether their parents go out to work or whether they stay home and

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claim benefits. Surely we should be thinking about them and not whether

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we should be going after these people that we've decided don't

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deserve money. APPLAUSE

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Jeremy Browne, you are a Liberal Democrat. Paddy Ashdown, who used

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to lead your party, would agree with that lady there and said this

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was completely unacceptable. Is he right or wrong? I think he was

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wrong and I support the benefit cap and I support it for two reasons.

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The first is it won't have escaped the attention of people in the

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audience that Britain has an absolutely colossal budget deficit.

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We are borrowing, as a Government, over �400 million every single day.

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�400 million a day. That is money that you, in this audience, and

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your children will be paying back for years to come. We have to get a

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grip on that situation. Mark Steel says you could have got a grip by

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not allowing people to get away with not paying tax? We have to get

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a grip on that situation. Welfare is the biggest single item of

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Government expenditure and we can't exempt welfare payments and hope to

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have any chance of balancing the budget of this country and we need

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to do that in all our interests. This is my second point, perhaps

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the biggest point. We do need to have some transitional arrangements.

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I don't think you can suddenly change people's circumstances from

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one day to the next. But, if we had a balanced budget, if we didn't

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have a problem with the deficit, I would still support this benefit

:07:06.:07:11.

cap and the reason is... transitional measures are what

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Paddy Ashdown wants and you say he was wrong? This is for me... Hang

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on a second, that's what he said? think he's wrong to oppose the

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position of the Government's position. There is a moral issue

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which Melanie touched upon which is, if you go up the road to my

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constituency in Taunton, there are a lot of households who earn a lot

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less than this proposed cap. They work full-time often in low paid

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unglamorous jobs, working nights in supermarkets for example. They have

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to make sacrifices, they can't always live in the part of town

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that they would like to and I think it's unreasonable for people to be

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earning more or to be having more household income as a principle

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when they are not in work than people in work who're earning and

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taking it home to their houses. APPLAUSE

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Thank you. The man at the very back in the blue shirt?

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Yes, you mentioned people in Taunton not earning that much, but

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I wonder how many people are claiming benefits in Taunton would

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be receiving this top limit because it's been talked about that

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actually lots of people will find it very difficult to get housing

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and there'll be crowding fam of families into smaller rooms and

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accommodation, a return to the tenement days, that's my fear of it

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-- crowding families into smaller rooms.

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The woman there with the spectacles? In the West Country,

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�26,000 is a lot of money. I have to be earning �35,000 a year to be

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in the same position and there are a lot of people I know who'd love,

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David, to take home �26,000 a year. So when you start talking about

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this, I whole heartedly do agree with the �26,000 cap.

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OK. And the woman here in the third row? Returning to the question over

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who was more in touch with the people, the bishops or the

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coalition government, it seems that a vast proportion of the electorate

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are very in favour of some reform to the welfare system and if the

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coalition Government is actually making steps to do something to

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reform the system, it surely shows the coalition government are the

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ones in touch with the public. APPLAUSE

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David Lammy, your party's also in favour of a cap on benefits, isn't

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it? Yes. So you are with the Government? No, no, no, I'm with

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the bishops. But they are against the cap? The bishops' job is to

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scrutinise this policy. That is what they are doing. It's a bad

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:09:59.:10:01.

policy. In my constituency, one of the poorest in London, �1,750 for a

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bed -- three bedroomed flat. Were going to be moving people from

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Inner London to outer London. I'll tell you what we are going to get,

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something similar to Paris, a suburban ring of the very poorest

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in overCrowded Houseing that will lead to lots of problems in the

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year ahead and of course it's the bishop's job to challenge that.

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What happens to the churn in large families that find themselves

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virtually on the streets or in overcrowded, as the gentleman said,

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tenemented buildings? That's going to cost all of us a lot more than

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the saving that the Government are going to make. That's why the

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bishops are right to challenge this. You say your party, and it's the

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official line, is that you are in favour of it, what is it?

:10:59.:11:05.

prices should be regional. Prices in London are higher than prices in

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Hull. That's not rocket science, it's obvious. People in work

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shouldn't be receiving less than those out of work and claiming

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benefit, but you've got to get this right, you have got to get into the

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detail. This slapdash idea also that people receiving Housing

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Benefit are somehow all scroungers is just wrong. Most of the people

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on Housing Benefit are there because they can't get employment.

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They're part of the 2.68 million people in Britain currently

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unemployed. APPLAUSE

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Elizabeth Truss? Well, I think the issue is that it's not

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compassionate to leave families on benefits for year after year. What

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we have is, we have second and third generations of families on

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benefits which have been left by successive Governments. I think the

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bishops have got it wrong because compassion is about makes those

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work less households households with work. The lady in the audience

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talked about children, but children do much better if their parents are

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working. What the Government is doing is, it's taking active

:12:11.:12:14.

intervention with those families getting those people back into work.

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At the moment, we are wasting a huge amount of talln't from people

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who're capable of working who're capable of being trained up --

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talent. We need to start competing with other countries and getting

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those people back into work. At the moment, benefits are a trap because

:12:31.:12:35.

it's difficult to get out of benefits if you find that you are

:12:35.:12:38.

earning less when you are going into work, rather than being on

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benefits. In response to David's point, there are people in my

:12:41.:12:44.

constituency who get up at five in the morning to commute into London

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because they can't afford to live in London. You know, there are huge

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amounts of people who don't have the privilege of having any kind of

:12:52.:12:55.

home anywhere near London but their job is there. So I think we have to

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think about those people as well. I'm very worried about the idea of

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a regional cap for that point of view.

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Members of the audience now. The woman on the right?

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I don't agree with the �26,000 cap because each family's household is

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different and it's the families circumstances that are different.

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In Plymouth, we have some of the lowest wages but the biggest

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increase in housing costs in any city in Britain. Also, going back

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to the lady's point on the panel, I don't agree with that, necessarily

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that children for familys that are working are better off because they

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might work 24 hours seven days a week and not see the kids, they go

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to breakfast and after school clubs, you know, where's the interaction

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there if they are working all the hours they've got to?

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The man in the white shirt? It's great to have a Government that's

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tackling this issue rather than the previous Government who let it get

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out of control. Gadd to tackle the issue? To have a Government that's

:13:58.:14:05.

tackling the issue. The man in the checked shirt? It's ironic that

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Labour can criticise policy when Labour have no policy. We are in

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this situation in the first place because of Labour's deficit and it

:14:14.:14:24.
:14:24.:14:24.

was their Chancellor who claimed to Who is going to get the money? Who

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is getting the money in housing benefit? Slum landlords, on the

:14:29.:14:33.

whole, in many parts of the country. What we need, and Ken Livingstone

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is proposing this in the London elections, his rent control. That

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is what we need. Not private landlords profiteering from the

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poorest in the country. We need rent control, but I suspect neither

:14:46.:14:50.

of these two will mention that. They don't want to regulate the

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landlords. They want to regulate the poorest people in our country.

:14:57.:15:02.

What the hell is going on with the Labour Party? This year so far they

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have said they are against the cuts but they do not want to reverse

:15:05.:15:09.

them. They have so they are against public sector pay restraint, but

:15:09.:15:13.

now they want to keep it. -- they had said. And they have said they

:15:13.:15:17.

are in favour of a benefit cap but they are voting against it. Labour

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need to ask themselves when they will get a leader who is a credible

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Prime Minister who can put credible policies in front of the British

:15:23.:15:33.

public. Shaun Leavey Government's idea of compassion should be

:15:33.:15:37.

creating more jobs for young people and unemployed. -- shore leave. I

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have not heard anything from the Lib Dems or Conservatives like the

:15:41.:15:45.

Labour five-point plan for jobs. I am not sure where that is coming

:15:45.:15:50.

from. This Government has created a record number of apprenticeships to

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get young people into work. No, you have not. It was 250,000

:15:57.:16:05.

apprenticeships when we left office. And it is now 400,000. That is not

:16:05.:16:10.

a record number when there are 1 million unemployed on the dole. It

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is complacent. Youth unemployment started rising in 2004. It is not

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complacent. We are taking action. The woman on the back row. We are

:16:22.:16:26.

forgetting that benefits are already means tested. It is a

:16:26.:16:31.

figure that the Government says that people need to live off. So

:16:31.:16:34.

what is the Government saying? That they are going to give people less

:16:34.:16:42.

than what they believed to live off? People who take the side of

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the bishops in this discussion seemed to be giving the impression

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that what is being proposed is that benefits are going to be taken away

:16:48.:16:52.

from people and they will be left destitute. All that is being

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proposed is that benefits are capped at 26,000, and that it is

:16:58.:17:01.

considered wrong for any household to earn on benefits more than the

:17:01.:17:06.

average wage. No one is saying people should be deprived of

:17:06.:17:10.

housing benefit or child benefit. All that is being said is that the

:17:10.:17:13.

accumulated total coming into a household should not, in all

:17:14.:17:17.

justice and because of the disincentive effect on working,

:17:17.:17:21.

should not exceed the average wage brought in by people who are

:17:21.:17:26.

working. And all of the discussion on the opposing side seems to

:17:26.:17:31.

ignore the fact that we are talking about people, as has been said also

:17:31.:17:37.

here, who are working for very, very low pay, and as someone said

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over there, all families are different. Of course. People get

:17:41.:17:44.

benefits according to how many children they have. But what about

:17:44.:17:49.

the person who is bringing in one wage who has four or five children?

:17:49.:17:54.

No one seems to care about that person. It is the same thing. Every

:17:54.:17:58.

family is different, but why are only households on benefits

:17:58.:18:01.

supposed to be different, that we are supposed to care about the

:18:01.:18:09.

differences? Why is no one talking about the working poor? We will

:18:09.:18:13.

move on to another question, also about money. If you want to join in

:18:13.:18:23.
:18:23.:18:31.

You can see every rude comment that has been made about the programme

:18:31.:18:35.

as it goes a long, which we cannot see because we are recording it as

:18:35.:18:40.

it goes out. The news tonight that RBS has decided that Stephen Hester

:18:40.:18:44.

will get just under �1 million in shares as a bonus is behind the

:18:44.:18:49.

next question. Is the Government doing enough to address the

:18:49.:18:59.
:18:59.:19:02.

excessive bonuses of the finance sector? David Lammy. No. This is a

:19:02.:19:09.

man that already has a salary of �1.2 million. And then he gets a

:19:09.:19:19.

nice top up that takes it over �2 million. And we own this bank.

:19:19.:19:22.

Shareholders made this decision and the Government is the biggest

:19:22.:19:25.

shareholder around the table. David Cameron has talked a good talk

:19:25.:19:30.

about doing something about this but he has done absolutely nothing.

:19:30.:19:39.

There should be a payroll cap for bankers' bonuses. We should be

:19:39.:19:44.

publishing the ratios of not just the chief executive officers of

:19:44.:19:48.

these companies, but the very poorest, those on the shop floor

:19:48.:19:52.

that are barely making the minimum wage. And we absolutely should be

:19:52.:19:57.

putting employees on the boards of these banks and big business, who

:19:57.:20:01.

seemed oblivious to the hardship that we see across the country. It

:20:01.:20:06.

used to be that you would expect someone like this to be happy with

:20:06.:20:13.

a knighthood at the end of their service. Why do you need �900,000

:20:13.:20:18.

on top of your salary? It is embarrassing, it is a disgrace, and

:20:18.:20:28.
:20:28.:20:32.

David Cameron should do something Jeremy Browne. You would not guess

:20:32.:20:36.

from what David just said that the pay arrangements for Stephen Hester

:20:36.:20:41.

were set up by the last Labour Government, and that the bonus

:20:41.:20:46.

arrangement, the bonus pot for RBS has gone down since his Government

:20:46.:20:51.

got in, compared to under the last Labour Government when Gordon Brown

:20:51.:20:55.

was Prime Minister. Are you saying his bonus is a contractual

:20:55.:20:59.

necessity? The contractual arrangement, as I understand, was

:20:59.:21:04.

set up in 2009, when nationalisation took place, when

:21:04.:21:07.

Gordon Brown was Prime Minister and Alistair Darling was Chancellor of

:21:07.:21:12.

the Exchequer. I want people to start up businesses, create wealth,

:21:12.:21:16.

create jobs. If people are watching and are inclined to start the

:21:16.:21:20.

business, go and do it. If you make a lot of money, I am delighted. I

:21:20.:21:23.

do not mind people who run big international companies making a

:21:23.:21:27.

lot of money because sometimes they are doing complicated, difficult

:21:27.:21:32.

jobs with a great amount of skill. And if Wayne Bridge, the Manchester

:21:32.:21:35.

City 4th choice left-back and get paid �1 million a year, somebody

:21:35.:21:40.

who runs a big company well can also justify a high salary. But

:21:40.:21:45.

there are two areas I have big problems with. One is the crony

:21:45.:21:48.

capitalism, the cosy capitalism which is, you scratch my back and

:21:48.:21:52.

I'll scratch yours, we will sit on each other's remuneration

:21:52.:21:55.

committees and decide what chaps like us ought to get paid in order

:21:55.:21:59.

to have the right lifestyle. Vince Cable and the Government are

:21:59.:22:03.

completely right to take measures to get to grips with that. Labour

:22:03.:22:06.

never did that in 13 years in office. My second point is where

:22:06.:22:11.

I'd basically agree with what David was just saying, which is that

:22:11.:22:15.

there is a question of honour. Even if there is a contractual

:22:15.:22:20.

opportunity for him to have a bonus, it does not mean he has to accept

:22:20.:22:24.

it. He is already being paid more than �1 million a year. His total

:22:24.:22:29.

package now means he gets paid in about three days' work a soldier

:22:29.:22:34.

serving in Afghanistan, risking his life, gets paid in a whole year. He

:22:34.:22:38.

should reflect on that. He is effectively a public servant in a

:22:38.:22:41.

bank which is almost complete the owned by us, the tax payers, and I

:22:41.:22:45.

think he needs to think like a public servant who has a duty to

:22:45.:22:50.

his country and not just to his own wealth. You are saying Stephen

:22:50.:22:54.

Hester should turn down the bowlers he has been offered? No one is

:22:54.:22:59.

forcing him to take it. If Stephen Hester wants to leave RBS and set

:22:59.:23:03.

up a fantastic business, let's say in Plymouth, which ends up

:23:03.:23:07.

employing 2000 people and makes him an extremely rich man, great, go

:23:07.:23:11.

and do it. If he is so brilliant I have no problem with him going to

:23:11.:23:16.

do that. But he is working for a company which is 56 owned by the

:23:16.:23:20.

taxpayer, and I think he has to think like a public servant, not

:23:20.:23:25.

like somebody who is there to line his own pocket. To pick up the

:23:25.:23:28.

point that David Lammy made, could the Government not used their power

:23:28.:23:31.

as shareholders representing all of us to deny him the bonus in the

:23:31.:23:36.

first place? Because, according to what we are told, the decision made

:23:36.:23:40.

has to be put before the shareholders before it is agreed.

:23:40.:23:44.

The RBS bonus pot, or that I know is that it is lower this year than

:23:44.:23:48.

last year, and it was lower last year than it was the year before,

:23:48.:23:51.

and it is lower under this Government than it was under the

:23:51.:23:57.

Labour Government. Not quite what I was asking. I know. I have made my

:23:57.:24:00.

position completely clear, which is that I think he has a moral

:24:00.:24:05.

obligation which he has failed to discharge. Elizabeth Trusts, do you

:24:05.:24:12.

agree? I do. Both he is essentially a public servant. It is 83% in the

:24:12.:24:19.

public sector. I think we have seen too many organisations in the

:24:19.:24:24.

public sector, including the BBC where the director general is paid

:24:24.:24:27.

650,000, Network Rail, which is largely funded by the public sector.

:24:27.:24:30.

We have a public sector pay freeze at the moment and it would be an

:24:30.:24:35.

honourable course of action for him to take. If he gets RBS into a

:24:35.:24:39.

position where it can be sold back and make the public sector money

:24:39.:24:41.

when it is sold back into the private sector, that is the time

:24:41.:24:46.

for him to get a bonus on the basis of performance. But I wanted to

:24:46.:24:50.

reply to David's point about ratios. The problem with having ratios

:24:50.:24:54.

between the highest and lowest paid is that it gives companies

:24:54.:24:58.

incentive to outsource lowest skill parts of their business to places

:24:58.:25:02.

like India to improve their ratio. It gives them an incentive to gain

:25:02.:25:07.

the system. I think what we need internationally is better

:25:07.:25:10.

competition. Shareholders should take control of executive pay and

:25:10.:25:13.

performance. I am a shareholder through the various pension pots

:25:13.:25:17.

that I have, and I want the opportunity to improve the

:25:17.:25:21.

recruitment for top executives. I do not think it is meritocratic

:25:21.:25:25.

enough. I do not think the best people get the best jobs. I want

:25:25.:25:28.

more transparency because I think we have had a bloated culture up

:25:29.:25:33.

here and in the US. If you look at the price of Indian bankers and

:25:33.:25:36.

Indian company chief executives, they get paid a lot less. We may

:25:36.:25:41.

lose out internationally. Stephen Hester is getting short shrift.

:25:41.:25:45.

Would you agree that he should take his bonus, or should he say no

:25:46.:25:51.

thanks? I think it would be very nice if he said thank you and no

:25:51.:25:54.

thanks. I think it would be the morally decent thing to do. I very

:25:54.:26:00.

much agree with what has been said, but with the country owning 83% of

:26:00.:26:08.

RBS, he should be regarding himself as a kind of public servant. There

:26:08.:26:12.

are a lot of people who have lost huge amounts because of what

:26:12.:26:17.

happened at RBS. They have not got their money. There is something

:26:17.:26:22.

really quite disgusting - forget the amount for a moment - there is

:26:22.:26:25.

something disgusting about someone taking a large bonus when the

:26:25.:26:29.

people who have been the victims of what happened at RBS still have not

:26:30.:26:34.

been properly compensated. But the question was broader than about

:26:34.:26:39.

Stephen Hester. The question was whether the Government is doing

:26:39.:26:42.

enough to address, to curb executive pay. I have to say, I am

:26:42.:26:45.

a little concerned about what I think is a kind of lynch-mob

:26:45.:26:51.

mentality that has grown up at the moment about bankers. Bankers did

:26:51.:26:56.

bad things, for sure. But they are being made scapegoats. There were

:26:56.:26:59.

three sets of people in this calamity - there were the bankers,

:26:59.:27:03.

there was the Government that failed to regulate, and there was

:27:03.:27:09.

us, who actually all borrowed as if there was no tomorrow. And if it is

:27:09.:27:12.

the case that people should not only be rewarded for success but

:27:12.:27:16.

punished for failure, what about all the Government ministers who

:27:16.:27:20.

have lost billions and billions of pounds of our money, just poured

:27:20.:27:25.

down the drain, the Public Accounts Committee regularly tells us how

:27:25.:27:30.

many billions are wasted on IT calamities, huge amounts of money.

:27:30.:27:36.

Should ministers lose all of their pay? Once one goes down this road,

:27:36.:27:40.

one is into a very difficult territory. I am concerned about the

:27:40.:27:47.

crudity of the feeling of vengefulness towards bankers. I do

:27:47.:27:51.

think there should be better regulation... But Stephen Hester

:27:51.:27:55.

has done nothing wrong, has he? He has just helped to save a bank,

:27:55.:28:00.

hasn't he? He has not saved the bank yet. You say he should not

:28:00.:28:05.

have his bonus. I think where the bank has yet to discharge its

:28:05.:28:09.

obligation to recompense the people who have lost from what happened to

:28:09.:28:12.

the Royal Bank of Scotland, then the person who is at the head of

:28:12.:28:18.

that should be seen to be cognisant of that fact and not seek this

:28:18.:28:24.

enormous bonus. In all of this talk about the need for austerity and so

:28:24.:28:28.

on there is one layer of people who have become much wealthier over the

:28:28.:28:38.
:28:38.:28:39.

last year. The directors of the top 100 companies in the FTSE 100 in

:28:39.:28:45.

this country have seen their salaries increase by 49%. It is

:28:45.:28:48.

extraordinary that we have all of this from people who go, what about

:28:48.:28:52.

the working poor, we have to attack benefits because of the working

:28:52.:28:56.

poor, and yet they do not bother about his enormous wealth

:28:56.:29:01.

redistribution that goes towards the very rich. -- this enormous

:29:01.:29:05.

wealth redistribution. One of the saddest things, when I hear David

:29:05.:29:10.

he sounds brilliant and I think, I would vote for you. And then when

:29:10.:29:13.

it comes to being in the Labour Party, the party as a whole manages

:29:13.:29:18.

to be an organisation that completely refutes its whole

:29:18.:29:27.

rationale, because the institution that it is is an opposition, and

:29:27.:29:30.

yet it has ceased to be an opposition. Instead, it agrees with

:29:31.:29:33.

pretty much everything the Government has done which is why

:29:33.:29:38.

Jeremy is able to poke fun in that way. That is a terrible shame. I

:29:38.:29:42.

think if David and the Labour Party were able to stand up for the mass

:29:42.:29:45.

of people against this tiny bunch of very rich people, I think the

:29:45.:29:55.
:29:55.:29:58.

country might be going in a APPLAUSE

:29:58.:30:02.

The woman there in red? Yes, I agree with you, Mark, you think

:30:02.:30:07.

this is about an issue of general growing inequality in the world in

:30:07.:30:11.

general. We are rewarding people for their productivity, for their

:30:11.:30:15.

increase in GDP and their contribution to that. We need to be

:30:15.:30:20.

asking, what is that GDP doing, because if it's just people

:30:20.:30:24.

accumulating wealth, taking it offshore, how is that translating

:30:24.:30:27.

into well-being which is what economics should be about. As a

:30:27.:30:30.

country, we need more of a debate about what we mean by economic

:30:30.:30:36.

growth and what it's doing for the well-being of our people.

:30:36.:30:40.

APPLAUSE Thank you. The man in pale blue at

:30:40.:30:45.

the very back? If David Cameron told me as a civil servant that I

:30:45.:30:50.

have to accept less disposable income in 2015 than I had in 2009,

:30:50.:30:54.

why can't he pick up the phone to this gentleman and tell him to sort

:30:54.:30:57.

it out? And the man behind on the very back row? The rhetoric from

:30:57.:31:00.

this Government and the previous Government was that people would

:31:00.:31:05.

only be rewarded for success. The last time I looked, the Royal Bank

:31:05.:31:09.

of Scotland was posting losses, they were making thousands of

:31:09.:31:13.

people redundant, their share is at a penny level. Where is the success

:31:13.:31:18.

in that and high should he get a bonus for failure?

:31:18.:31:25.

APPLAUSE. One more point if we can get to the

:31:25.:31:31.

woman on the right there? Surely, when we stop paying the price for

:31:31.:31:35.

this monumental mess-up is when the bankers should get their bonuses

:31:35.:31:39.

back. When it's all over? Yes. right. Let's go on. We are over

:31:39.:31:41.

half way through the programme. David Matthews has a question for

:31:41.:31:47.

us on a different topic. Is Richard Branson right in saying drug users

:31:47.:31:52.

should not go to jail? Richard Branson, Sir Richard Branson, has

:31:52.:31:55.

been giving evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee is is

:31:55.:31:59.

inquirying for the first time in a decade into drugs and his line is

:31:59.:32:04.

that people using drugs should not go to jail but should be treated

:32:04.:32:08.

quite differently. Elizabeth Truss? I don't think he's right. I do

:32:08.:32:13.

think drug users should go to jail. But, I think the problem is that

:32:13.:32:18.

too often our jails are full of drugs and actually they create a

:32:18.:32:22.

breeding ground for people who have drug addiction. So what we need to

:32:22.:32:25.

do is improve what goes on in our prisons. We need to make them

:32:26.:32:29.

working prisons so people get in the habit of a working life, we

:32:29.:32:32.

need to make sure that they are completely drug free, otherwise all

:32:32.:32:39.

we are doing is exacerbating the problem. Unfortunately, drugs have

:32:39.:32:42.

become a way of life in many of our prisons and we need to change that.

:32:42.:32:47.

So you are not in favour of decriminalisation? No, I'm not.

:32:47.:32:52.

David Lammy, are you? No, because I think if you are living on an

:32:52.:32:56.

estate riddled with crack cocaine or heroin and there may well be

:32:56.:33:01.

users selling as well, I'm afraid you do want to see jail time, so I

:33:01.:33:06.

can't support Richard Branson in his overall call. But I do suspect

:33:06.:33:08.

that Richard Branson is also concerned about treatment and

:33:08.:33:12.

better treatment and resources for that treatment and it's clear to me

:33:12.:33:17.

that we do need to do better in Britain in relation to those issues.

:33:17.:33:24.

Are you in favour, the woman there? Me, yes. For certain things. Both

:33:24.:33:28.

the panellists who've answered so far have made a very clear link

:33:28.:33:34.

between drug use and antisocial behaviour and non-working and being

:33:34.:33:39.

unemployed. I think there's a very big difference between people who

:33:39.:33:42.

maybe occasionally smoke a bit of pot and people who inject heroin.

:33:42.:33:46.

There should be a difference made between the two and not all drug

:33:47.:33:50.

users lumped in together because I just don't think that's not right.

:33:50.:33:53.

Would you like it not to be a criminal offence for instance not

:33:53.:33:57.

to smoke pot? Yes. You would like that not to be an offence? Yes.

:33:57.:34:02.

man in the checked shirt? Yes, I come plaitly agree with what he

:34:02.:34:05.

said. Richard Branson? Yes, completely. If they were to

:34:05.:34:10.

legalise all drugs, for example, tomorrow, I'm pretty sure that

:34:10.:34:18.

everybody here would still not go out to a store and buy some

:34:18.:34:24.

heroined -- heroin. The amount of money spent on keeping people who

:34:24.:34:31.

use the drugs in prison could then be used on people to help them get

:34:31.:34:34.

off the drugs, rather than just sticking them in a place where they

:34:34.:34:38.

could then use in that prison as well.

:34:38.:34:42.

It's still really readily available in that place.

:34:42.:34:47.

The woman here? I wouldn't agree to the extent of

:34:48.:34:53.

Richard Branson of not putting drug users in prison. But I think that

:34:53.:34:56.

the previous Government have really failed within their view that

:34:56.:35:00.

prisons actually work. The best thing, in my opinion, would be to

:35:00.:35:04.

find a way of reforming the attitude and the behaviour of drug

:35:04.:35:07.

abusers to educate them properly. When putting them in prison may not

:35:08.:35:15.

even do anything for them at all and there are a lot better reasons

:35:15.:35:21.

for them to actually be there. OK. Jeremy Browne, you put yourself

:35:21.:35:25.

forward as a liberal on a whole lot of social issues. Are you a liberal

:35:25.:35:32.

on this issue? I will come to that. Did he say users, dealers or

:35:32.:35:38.

traffickers? Did he definitely say users? Decriminalising users?

:35:38.:35:42.

isn't an automatic presumption at the moment that users will go to

:35:42.:35:46.

prison. There are quite a lot of people who're not in prison who are

:35:47.:35:51.

on drug rehabilitation programmes, on substitutes for heroin, for

:35:51.:35:58.

example. They're not criminalised, despite it being known to the

:35:58.:36:02.

authoritys that they use drugs, so that it seems to me, is the

:36:02.:36:06.

existing situation. In terms of the wider point, look, we have more

:36:06.:36:10.

people in prison in Britain than we've ever had before in our

:36:10.:36:17.

history. You get people in prison, sad, mad, bad people in prison. I

:36:17.:36:20.

would rather that a higher proportion of the people were bad.

:36:20.:36:24.

I know it's crude and a simplified way of putting it, but there are

:36:24.:36:28.

people who end up in prison because they have all kinds of other

:36:28.:36:33.

difficulties in their lives, because they've fallen into

:36:33.:36:36.

difficult circumstances. It might make society feel good that those

:36:36.:36:41.

people are no longer in circulation, but it doesn't actually achieve

:36:41.:36:44.

very much. I would much rather those people were getting some sort

:36:44.:36:48.

of specialist care, rehabilitation, treatment, whatever their

:36:48.:36:53.

requirements are, and the people who're a genuine threat to people,

:36:53.:36:56.

that's where the priority should lie in terms of people going to

:36:56.:37:03.

prison. So you are in agreement with Branson in principle? Well, I

:37:03.:37:13.
:37:13.:37:14.

am generally liberal and I go so far as to say libetarian. But uem

:37:14.:37:24.
:37:24.:37:24.

not an absoluteist. I don't go for a clamour of drugs to be sold in

:37:24.:37:28.

shops, so I'm not somebody who thinks that we should have come

:37:28.:37:33.

plaitly liberalised drug laws. man in the third row? When you

:37:33.:37:36.

listen to Richard Branson, he uses very strongly his evidence of the

:37:36.:37:40.

way that drugs have been managed in Portugal and the huge success rate

:37:40.:37:45.

they've had there. Basically, if you got caught with drugs, you

:37:45.:37:50.

weren't sent to the police station, you were sent to a health centre to

:37:50.:37:54.

try to rehabilitate you and stop it becoming a problem. He marks this

:37:54.:37:58.

out with a huge level of success in Portugal. I think that's what he's

:37:58.:38:07.

trying to emmate late. Do you agree with him? I do -- emulate. It's too

:38:07.:38:11.

simplistic. I am a pharmacist and dispense methadone every day. I can

:38:11.:38:18.

actually see that the drug dealers have much less power because of the

:38:18.:38:23.

services that we provide. There's also very serious cases recently

:38:23.:38:27.

where women had to turn to prostitution just to get the money

:38:27.:38:35.

to buy methadone or heroin and providing good Public Services cuts

:38:35.:38:43.

out drug dealers and reduces public, reduces crime. You would like a new

:38:43.:38:48.

approach, would you, the easing of penalties? What Branson's said is

:38:48.:38:54.

far too simplistic and there's far too much prison overcrowding which

:38:54.:39:00.

is very expensive for the country anyway. In comuck terms, were

:39:00.:39:06.

basically helping the social situation by providing a service of

:39:06.:39:08.

supervised supply of methadone -- economic terms.

:39:08.:39:13.

The woman in front of you there, yes? I for one thank Richard pran

:39:13.:39:17.

son for bringing this up in the public agenda again -- Branson.

:39:17.:39:20.

Addiction by its nature is very complex and we should have

:39:20.:39:23.

difficult discussions about what works well for those who suffer

:39:23.:39:27.

from substance misuse, whether it's drugs or alcohol per say.

:39:27.:39:30.

Thank you. The man there in the purple tie?

:39:30.:39:35.

Whether it's a criminal offence or not, it's a mute point, with our

:39:35.:39:38.

police forces being scaled back, there's going to be nobody out

:39:38.:39:43.

there to catch them as criminals anyway? Mark Steel? Well, if people

:39:43.:39:52.

are in a right mess with drugs, if they're heroin addicts on the

:39:52.:39:57.

streets and they're jacking up and everything, their lives are a

:39:57.:40:01.

complete mess, you shouldn't put them in prison. You wouldn't bang

:40:01.:40:06.

up a schizophrenic. David's wrong we he uses the example about the

:40:06.:40:09.

estate, send these people to jail because look at the crack dealers,

:40:09.:40:13.

you would want to send them to jail, but they don't go to jail, it

:40:13.:40:18.

hasn't worked. The current method of just say no and we must put up

:40:18.:40:22.

this barrier against all drug drugs and not even listen to it and so on

:40:22.:40:25.

clearly hasn't worked. If you listen to almost anybody who works

:40:25.:40:30.

in the area of drugs, like the man at the back there, almost anybody

:40:30.:40:36.

who's close to the problem will say the same, that just criminalising

:40:36.:40:40.

it simply doesn't work. I have to also add that the most disturbing

:40:40.:40:44.

part of this story for me is that I find myself agreeing with Richard

:40:44.:40:50.

Branson and I find that a little bit unsettling.

:40:50.:40:55.

We'll see if you agree with Melanie Phillips as well? Melanie Phillips?

:40:55.:41:00.

Oh, I think not. This is completely bonkers. The idea that our jails

:41:00.:41:04.

are full of drug users is false. Sir Richard seems to think this is

:41:04.:41:07.

true, I don't know what planet he's living on. The vast majority of

:41:07.:41:12.

drug related offend, in jails are dealers and general Lynn quite big

:41:12.:41:16.

dealers, people who deal death and destruction to our young. Richard

:41:16.:41:20.

Branson is dangerously wrong. For example, he's so dangerous, he's

:41:20.:41:23.

persuaded some of these good people in the audience that Portugal,

:41:23.:41:27.

since it decriminalised drugs, has had great success. The very

:41:27.:41:32.

opposite is the case. Sir Richard is drawing on one flawed report,

:41:32.:41:36.

much more authoritative data shows that since Portugal decriminalised

:41:36.:41:40.

drugs, drug use there has gone up, the number of people using drugs

:41:40.:41:44.

has gone up, the number of homicides related to drug use has

:41:44.:41:51.

gone up by 40% and drug related HIV AIDS and hepatitis C is up and is

:41:51.:42:01.

now eight times the rate in Portugal as it is in other EU

:42:01.:42:04.

countries. The stpact Sir Richard thinks we have a failed war on

:42:04.:42:09.

drugs -- the fact is. If only, we don't have a war on drugs. We have

:42:09.:42:15.

a war on drug laws. For years, our policy has drifted away from law

:42:15.:42:20.

enforcement towards what's called yuef mistically harm reduction,

:42:20.:42:29.

which is half way to legalisation - - euphamistically. Signals are put

:42:29.:42:35.

out by well meaning people who're naive and easily led betrillion

:42:35.:42:40.

dollar campaigns to subvert and undermine the UN drug conventions

:42:40.:42:45.

which commit countries to try to eradicate drug use and instead to

:42:45.:42:48.

legalise. There has been a procession in Britain of useful

:42:48.:42:53.

idiots of whom Suhr Richard Branson is but the latest who've been used

:42:53.:43:00.

as front men for this pr Nish shus campaign. Every single argument

:43:00.:43:06.

they use is false -- pernicious. They say if you legalise drugs, you

:43:06.:43:11.

will get rid of crime and the black market. 20% of tobacco is in the

:43:11.:43:15.

black market. The only way you will get rid of crime related to drugs

:43:15.:43:18.

is if you make all drugs free completely and available to

:43:18.:43:23.

everybody. That is the only way you will get rid of... Is that what you

:43:23.:43:26.

are advocating then? I know you would like that, but let's not go

:43:26.:43:32.

there for the moment. All right, all right. Would you have an

:43:32.:43:36.

automatic presumption that somebody who was a drug user, even if they

:43:36.:43:39.

were in the terrible state that Mark described, that they would go

:43:39.:43:42.

to prison, rather than have medical treatment? No, I would not say drug

:43:42.:43:46.

users should go to prison, I very much approve of treatment, but the

:43:46.:43:53.

best way you get people to have treatment is that you use the law.

:43:53.:43:57.

In Sweden, it flirted with liberalisation, their drug use went

:43:57.:44:01.

up completely. They criminalised use in order that people are then

:44:01.:44:11.
:44:11.:44:18.

made to have treatment. I think we My understanding is that the vast

:44:18.:44:21.

majority of drug-users who are in prison are not there because of

:44:21.:44:25.

their drug use but because they have turned to criminal activity,

:44:25.:44:29.

theft or prostitution in order to get money to buy the drugs. It

:44:29.:44:33.

seems to me that the biggest issue is getting appropriate treatment

:44:33.:44:37.

for those people, ideally while they are in prison or immediately

:44:37.:44:42.

they come out. I think some of the comments have completely missed the

:44:42.:44:50.

point of where the real issues are. Let's take another question. Wendy

:44:50.:44:55.

Milne. Are considering there is no evidence of Iran having anywhere

:44:55.:44:59.

near the number of nuclear weapons that Israel has, will our

:44:59.:45:09.
:45:09.:45:10.

Government back Obama if he decides to attack Iran? Jeremy Browne, you

:45:10.:45:15.

are a Foreign Office minister, what is your view? I am probably the

:45:15.:45:19.

only person on the panel who has lived in Iran. I know a little bit

:45:19.:45:23.

about the country. It is an amazing country in lots of ways, an ancient

:45:23.:45:27.

civilisation with lots of very talented people, doctors, academics

:45:27.:45:33.

and others. They should be a very successful country. But the fact of

:45:33.:45:38.

the matter is that they are a very threatening, pernicious regime in

:45:38.:45:42.

the most unstable part of the entire world. And it is a genuine

:45:42.:45:46.

threat to the security of the Middle East, and by extension a

:45:46.:45:52.

threat to us, if Iran has nuclear weapons, or sparks some sort of

:45:52.:45:57.

nuclear arms race in that part of the world. Do you think it is not a

:45:57.:46:02.

threat that Israel has nuclear weapons? That is a separate point.

:46:02.:46:08.

That was her question. In case people think that somehow Iran

:46:08.:46:14.

should not be treated as a category which should concern us, it really,

:46:14.:46:19.

really should concern us. It is the only country I am aware of that is

:46:19.:46:22.

actively making threats to obliterate other countries. It

:46:22.:46:25.

sponsors terrorism not just in the Middle East but recently in America.

:46:25.:46:29.

We have just had to close our embassy because the government

:46:29.:46:35.

sponsored protesters, putting our own staff at risk in that country.

:46:35.:46:38.

It is an extremely serious situation. It is a country where

:46:38.:46:43.

people are routinely tortured, they execute children and pregnant women.

:46:43.:46:48.

It is a very dangerous situation. We do not want a war with Iran.

:46:48.:46:52.

That is why we have this package of proposals at the EU this week. In

:46:52.:46:56.

passing, what a good example of working constructively with other

:46:56.:47:00.

EU countries to magnify and project our own foreign policy, a great

:47:00.:47:07.

success. We are seeking... Do not gesture at me. Just answer one

:47:07.:47:12.

point on this. I want to put a supplementary question. We want to

:47:12.:47:15.

put the pressure on to make sure the Iranian regime come to their

:47:15.:47:20.

senses and we do not get to that situation. But what account do you

:47:20.:47:24.

take of the fact, as she put it, that Israel has many more nuclear

:47:24.:47:27.

weapons and other countries around the world have many more nuclear

:47:27.:47:31.

weapons and there is no evidence of Iran having anywhere near that

:47:31.:47:36.

number? What accounts do you take of that? We know there has been a

:47:36.:47:39.

gradual growth of nuclear weapons since the Second World War,

:47:39.:47:42.

including Britain, for instance. Well, we don't know with the

:47:42.:47:49.

certainty with which you have just stated it, Israel's position. But

:47:49.:47:53.

Iran have made a fundamental international undertaking. They

:47:53.:47:56.

have signed the treaty is not to develop nuclear weapons. They are

:47:56.:47:59.

telling us at the moment that they are not developing nuclear weapons.

:47:59.:48:03.

We do not want to stop them having civil nuclear power. They are

:48:03.:48:07.

perfectly entitled to have that. But for the reasons are just

:48:07.:48:11.

explain, including their stated desire to obliterate other

:48:11.:48:16.

countries, and their active sponsorship of terrorism, it is a

:48:16.:48:20.

very serious matter whether Iran acquires nuclear weapons. We do not

:48:20.:48:23.

want the conflict but we do have an obligation to the people across the

:48:23.:48:26.

Middle East and to people in this country and across the wider world

:48:26.:48:29.

to try to make sure that a very dangerous regime does not

:48:29.:48:34.

destabilise the most unstable part of the world. So would you back

:48:35.:48:39.

Obama, who said he takes no options of the table to achieve the goal of

:48:39.:48:43.

Iran preventing getting a nuclear weapon? That is the position of the

:48:43.:48:47.

British Government as well but we do not want to get to that stage.

:48:47.:48:51.

David Lammy, when you were in Government, your Foreign Minister,

:48:51.:48:54.

Jack Straw, said not only is it inconceivable that there would be

:48:54.:48:59.

bombing of Iran but the prospect of it happening was also inconceivable.

:48:59.:49:03.

Would you agree? I do not want to speculate on what is conceivable or

:49:03.:49:10.

not. But I think that clearly Iran having nuclear weapons would hugely

:49:11.:49:15.

destabilise the Middle East. I would be deeply, deeply

:49:15.:49:19.

uncomfortable with any unilateral action in relation to Iran, and I

:49:20.:49:26.

am pleased that so far this is being done through the process of

:49:26.:49:33.

the UN and the European Union. But I do also think that for people of

:49:33.:49:37.

my age, who grew up in an era where it seemed the whole Western world

:49:38.:49:43.

was concerned with nuclear disarmament, it is very sad that we

:49:43.:49:46.

seem to be seeing proliferation and not a discussion about how we can

:49:46.:49:54.

withdraw from nuclear weapons per se. War is a terrible thing in all

:49:54.:49:57.

circumstances, but when it comes to protecting this country against

:49:57.:50:04.

things like terrorist attacks, the British public see things put in

:50:04.:50:08.

place like not being able to take liquid onto a plane without putting

:50:08.:50:11.

grip -- in a plastic bag, so how come they trust the Government to

:50:11.:50:17.

protect them against more serious damage? -- how can they trust the

:50:17.:50:20.

Government? And do you think they should, if the Americans decided to

:50:20.:50:24.

take action against Iran, do you think the British Government should

:50:24.:50:31.

support them? I disagree with war in any circumstance.

:50:31.:50:35.

I am tired of the same old rhetoric that I heard about weapons of mass

:50:35.:50:41.

destruction in Iraq. Are we going to be told the same lie over and

:50:41.:50:51.
:50:51.:50:52.

over? It is nonsense sabre-rattling every time. Well, the IAEA and

:50:52.:50:58.

virtually every Western Government believes that Iran is racing to

:50:58.:51:04.

develop a nuclear weapon. It is behaving entirely as if it is. It

:51:04.:51:12.

is boasting that it is. It is hiding its uranium, some of its

:51:12.:51:16.

uranium manufacturing centrifuge Best in a very deep mountain, very

:51:16.:51:24.

deep in the mountain so that it cannot be bombed. To come back to

:51:24.:51:28.

the question that Israel has nuclear weapons, what's the problem

:51:28.:51:33.

with Iran, that is a terribly confused cemetery which I think is

:51:33.:51:38.

very dangerous. As has been said, Israel does not ever acknowledge

:51:38.:51:42.

that it has nuclear weapons, but let's assume that it does. It does

:51:42.:51:45.

for one reason alone, to protect itself against the threat of

:51:45.:51:51.

genocide, against countries such as Iran. Iran is threatening genocide

:51:51.:51:57.

against Israel virtually every week. And it means it. You are dealing

:51:57.:52:03.

with Iran with people who are not rational, people who believe that

:52:03.:52:08.

if they provoke the a pop -- the Apocalypse, the End of Days, they

:52:08.:52:15.

will bring to earth the Messiah or. So they are in the business of

:52:15.:52:18.

provoking an apocalypse. It does not matter if it -- to them that in

:52:18.:52:21.

a nuclear exchange they may lose half of their own country. It does

:52:21.:52:25.

not matter. This is the mentality you are dealing with. And the

:52:25.:52:30.

threat is to all of us. It is extraordinary to think, since 1979

:52:30.:52:36.

when the Iranian Islamic revolution happen, from that moment, the

:52:36.:52:41.

Iranian regime declared war upon the West. Since then, large numbers

:52:41.:52:46.

of Western interests and people have been attacked by Iran. I think,

:52:46.:52:50.

personally, there is no major terrorist atrocity in which Iran

:52:50.:52:54.

has not had hand. It was Iranian roadside bombs that were blowing up

:52:54.:52:59.

our troops in Iraq. Melanie, I am going to have to ask you to bring

:52:59.:53:06.

the remarks to a conclusion. Just on one point, do you believe this

:53:06.:53:11.

British Government should back Obama if the Americans decide to

:53:11.:53:18.

attack Iran, willy-nilly? Bombing Iran is the most appalling prospect,

:53:18.:53:22.

because it will possibly unleash terror, it will unleash thousands

:53:22.:53:28.

of rockets upon Israel. Yes or no? But the alternative is worse. A

:53:29.:53:32.

nuclear Iran would paralyse the West, would mean nuclear terrorism

:53:32.:53:41.

in our cities. Mark Steel. I wonder if people like you, Melanie, and

:53:41.:53:44.

people in the Government that are going along this road, I wonder if

:53:44.:53:48.

at any point you sit around and think, if only there was a

:53:48.:53:51.

precedent in recent times for us going to war, invading a country on

:53:52.:53:55.

grounds that we thought it had weapons of mass destruction, we

:53:55.:54:03.

might be able to... We might be able to possibly learn from that,

:54:03.:54:10.

to see whether it had gone well or not. And the nonsense... When both

:54:10.:54:14.

you and Jeremy start talking about the obligation we have two people

:54:14.:54:17.

in the Middle East, as outsiders, to going and try and sort things

:54:17.:54:22.

out and help, how do you think that looks? I will tell you what most

:54:22.:54:26.

people in the Middle East will think immediately. Babel thing, we

:54:26.:54:30.

have an appalling regime - it is an appalling regime - but what about

:54:30.:54:35.

Mubarak, he was appalling. How did we deal with him? We sold him

:54:35.:54:38.

weapons and made him a friend. Gaddafi, he was pretty ropey, how

:54:38.:54:43.

did we deal with him? We sent Tony Blair to pose in front of cameras

:54:43.:54:50.

smiling. The Saudi Arabia, not the nicest country... Again, we have

:54:50.:54:56.

got the point and I have to curtail this. Ma, you are absolutely right,

:54:56.:55:02.

there is a precedent, it is the 1930s when this country was in to

:55:02.:55:06.

appeasement... These are the same things you said before we invaded

:55:06.:55:13.

Iraq. You would have been saying the same thing in the 1930s.

:55:13.:55:18.

think example is Libya, which was not started all led by the US. We

:55:18.:55:21.

should look at the other countries who stand to lose out from the

:55:21.:55:25.

Middle East becoming unstable, such as China and India, we import a lot

:55:25.:55:31.

of oil from Iran. I think we need to be looking for a more pan-

:55:31.:55:36.

national solution, putting more pressure on police actions. All of

:55:36.:55:41.

those countries need to be involved in the solution. I think it is

:55:41.:55:44.

dangerous carrying on with this idea that we still have won global

:55:44.:55:49.

superpower. We do not. We have a changing world and it is better if

:55:49.:55:52.

we act in Coalport. That is why the Libyan campaign was successful,

:55:52.:55:58.

because we had the support of the Arab League in mounting a campaign.

:55:58.:56:05.

A couple of points from the audience. I would say, yes, we

:56:05.:56:11.

would do whatever America wants. You think we should. I do not think

:56:11.:56:17.

we should, but we would. We just do whatever America wants. The woman

:56:17.:56:23.

in red with spectacles. How can we criticise a country for having

:56:23.:56:29.

nuclear weapons when we have them ourselves? Two wrongs do not make a

:56:29.:56:37.

right. And you. How are we meant to cope if we do follow Obama when the

:56:37.:56:42.

Government keeps cutting the cost of the army and the armed forces?

:56:43.:56:49.

One more point from the man in the blue shirt. What concerns me is

:56:49.:56:54.

whether we have the capability to take the fight to Iran. Have we got

:56:54.:57:00.

the capability now? All right, you, and then we must stop. I was

:57:00.:57:05.

thinking, if Iran is like Iraq and sitting on how oil, then yes, we

:57:05.:57:11.

ought to attack them. We have just voluntarily decided to stop buying

:57:11.:57:15.

any royal from them. Just because they both start with the same

:57:15.:57:18.

letter and are in the Middle East, it does not mean it Iran and Iraq

:57:18.:57:22.

are the same places. Liberal Democrats voted against the war in

:57:22.:57:27.

Iraq, but Iran is a different category. We do not want a war in

:57:27.:57:30.

Iran but it is in our interest to prevent them getting nuclear

:57:30.:57:40.
:57:40.:57:43.

weapons. We have to stop, because We will be in Southport next week

:57:43.:57:46.

and the week after in central London. If you would like to take

:57:46.:57:56.
:57:56.:58:00.

Or you can go to the website and we will give you a call. I hope you

:58:00.:58:05.

Question Time comes from Plymouth, chaired by David Dimbleby. On the panel: Liberal Democrat Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne, Labour's former higher education minister David Lammy, Conservative MP Liz Truss, comedian Mark Steel and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips.


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