22/03/2012 Question Time


22/03/2012

David Dimbleby chairs a debate from Grimsby. Business secretary Vince Cable, former shadow home secretary David Davis and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna are on the panel.


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Transcript


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The day after the Budget, who are the winners and who are the losers?

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Our audience in tkpwreupls has their -- in Grimsby has their say,

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as welcome to Question Time. On our panel here in Grimsby the

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Business Secretary Vince Cable, the shadow Business Secretary, Chuka

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Umunna, the former shadow Home Secretary, leadership challenger,

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David Davis, The Spectator columnist Melissa Kite and the

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novelist Marina Lewycka. APPLAUSE.

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Now, our first question from Matthew Thompson, please. With more

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than one in six six people now aged over 60 isn't the Government right

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to ask pensioners to pay their fair share? Chuka Umunna? I think this

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was the big surprise in the Budget, wasn't it? So much had been leaked

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before, so of course people focus perhaps on those things that the

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Government didn't really want people to know about, and the fact

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they're taking about �83 a year from 4.4 million pensioners in the

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country from next year. I don't think this was the right thing to

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do. Particularly when at the same time they're doing this to the

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pensioners in this country, they're giving 14,000 millionaires a tax

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break in the order of �41,000, I have nothing against people who

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earn a lot of money and create wealth and jobs for our country,

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but in a context where people are really struggling with squeezed

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living standards, we have 2.6 million people out of work, I am

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not sure I would have made giving 14,000 millionaire that is tax

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break a priority in the current context. APPLAUSE.

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Vince Cable, was the argument for freezing the tax allowances of the

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pensioners, as Matthew Thompson says, getting them to pay a fair

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share, is that what you are after? Not at all, five million pensioners,

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the majority of course don't pay tax at all, and most of them are

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poor people and the key theme of the Budget was giving them a

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substantial increase in the basic state pension, more than I think

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they've ever had. Take the last two years of this Government, they will

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get I think �10 a week for a single person and that far outweighs the

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extra cost to a minority of pensioners of the freezing of the

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allowance. Nobody's been asked to pay more tax, it's just the

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allowance is being frozen and depending on the rate of inflation,

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which is currently low and falling, they will not have to pay any more.

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If you have an allowance and people expect the allowance as normal to

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go on up with inflation, you suddenly say it's not going to, you

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can't then say you are not taking more money off them. You are taking

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money off... If there is inflation... Let's go back to the

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base quick question. There are elderly people, actually people

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sort of late middle age, people of my generation, who do very well

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actually, who have good post- retirement income and are asset-

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rich and it's right they should pay more. The people who we are worried

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about, the people who have been affected by this particular

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proposal are people on fairly low incomes who have a small

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superanation, for example. They will benefit considerably overall

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from the Budget because of the increase in state pension, far

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outweigh any losses. Looking to 2012-13, the gains to pensioners as

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a whole from improving the state pension is something this

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Government's done, it's protected it. Five times more important than

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the losses that have been experienced with this group. The

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big story in the Budget was about lifting allowances for 20 million

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people, low and middle income, that's what was where most of the

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money in the Budget's gone, it's something my party fought for and

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it will do a great deal to help ordinary people, �220 a year extra

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in tax cuts. And will particularly help low paid workers. APPLAUSE.

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Marina Lewycka? Pensioners of that generation, they do want to pay

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their fair share and so the question is really what is fair?

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What is the fair share for for pension stphers. What's

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particularly unfair about this tax, this sort of little theft of

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people's money is that it actually comes, not from the well-off

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pensioners, actually I checked, I am not affected because I earn too

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much, it's people who have that little bit extra who are going to

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be squeezed by this, they're the people who have worked, saved, done

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all the right things, tried to contribute and actually I don't

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think it's fair. APPLAUSE. David Davis? I came at this a

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slightly different approach, I take the view generally with economic

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policy that pensioners are in a unique position, they aren't able

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to change much about their circumstances, the rest of us

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stpheul work can do something, earn overtime, change the job maybe, but

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pensioners can't. I was a little nervous when I heard this proposal

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come out, as it were at the end of the Budget. So I had a look at it,

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thinking it wouldn't be a good idea. Actually what the numbers show is

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that if you take the whole package, not just one piece of it, but the

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whole package, the state pension with - this horrible phrase triple

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lot, borrowed from Gordon Brown, what that means is you either get

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the higher of 2 2.5% or earnings or inflation increase, the highest of

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those and you look at that against the freezing of the pension. The

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pensioner ends up roughly, the worst off ends up �67 a year better

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off, not very much, better off than under Labour policy. So, the answer

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is they don't have to take something which is worse than was

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reasonable. So I think it's a reasonable policy. It did worry me

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when I first heard it because of the issue of pensioners not having

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many options but I think it works. OK, up there on the far left.

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think the biggest issue for me is that this Budget, unfortunately,

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has done very little to address the massive gap in our society which is

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very devisive between the average people and the small top end who

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earn vast amounts of money, vast multiples of what the average

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person earns and that's devisive for society and I think it's

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morally indefencible and repug repugnant. We will come on to that

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in a moment. The man at the back. am concerned about - the people

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talk about the age group we are talking about, people who have

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benefited from free university education, tax relief on their

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mortgage when they were younger, and NHS when we had one, I think

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they can afford to pay a bit back because it's our grandchildren who

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will be paying for our mistakes in the future. You are in favour of

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what the questioner said? Yeah. Melissa Kite? I agree with the last

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speaker, he makes a very good point. I can totally understand why people

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are upset about this because it was massively mishandled by George

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Osborne. I have heard of rabbits out of hats, but this was a hound

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from hell. It was not explained and dropped as a bombshell and as David

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says when you actually look at the whole thing together it's not as

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bad. But there's been a lot of Labour scaremongering as well,

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talking about �60-�200 that earning pensioners with an income are going

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to lose. But just to pick up on that point, yes, today's pensioners

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have had chances and opportunities that I am afraid a generation

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coming up now will never have. They had the free university education,

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they had soaring house prices and they had final salary pension

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schemes and so on. Now they can help pay? They can pay a little bit.

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The point I am trying to make is we have to do something for society as

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a whole and to get Britain moving again because this generation of

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young people coming up are just not going to have these chances.

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will move on in a moment. The woman in white in the back row. To me it

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seems just another way of eroding my standard of living in retirement.

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I work in the public sector. I was expecting to be out able to retire

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at 60. I have been told now that my pension will actually be consumer

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price linked, instead of inflation linked. In the past two years -

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three years I have been told I can't get my state pension at 60.

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It was going to be 63. Now I have I have recently had a letter and told

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it's 65 years and three months. I feel the money I am trying to make

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up that shortfall now is also being eroded because the amount of

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interest I am getting in the bank is almost negative. I just feel

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that at the moment I am really quite dreading my retirement. Can I

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afford to retire? APPLAUSE. Vince Cable, do you want

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to answer that? Well, I do acknowledge that a lot of people

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feel squeezed. It has to be seen in the context of the massive crisis

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that we have just been through. The country as a whole is actually 10%

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worse off than before we had this massive financial crisis. We are

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trying get back on to track and share the burden as fairly as

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possible. The reason interest rates are very slow basically to stop the

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economy collapsing. The last Government brought in low interest

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rates, through the Central Bank. We have had to maintain that. It does

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make it very hard for small savers, I understand that. It's more

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important that we help the economy to recover from the terrible

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economic heart attack it suffered because that's what we have been

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through. Let's stick with the Budget, but from a different angle.

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Shell done Ellis. Does cutting the 50p tax rate to 45p signal the end

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of us all being in it together? APPLAUSE. It was introduced by

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Labour, but Labour apparently are not prepared to say that they will

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bring it back in 2015 if they're re-elected s that right? If there

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was a general election tomorrow... There isn't going to be one. And we

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won we would reverse it. We will be voting against it when it comes

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before the House of Commons shortly. I am not going to write a manifesto

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for 2015 now or start to spell out different types of spending

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measures. Let me say this... not promise it, if you believe it

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should be at 50p which is what your leader said? It's not a spending,

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the Government gets the money. You can give it away to pensioners or

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poorer people. Do something with it,... There is a balance of tax

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and spending measures that you spell out at the time of a general

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election before you expect to take Government. Look, the principle

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that I think everybody here will agree with, is that when you are

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going through tough economic times those with the broadest shoulders

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should bear the heaviest burden and this measure, cutting it from 50 to

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45 runs counterto that. And that is the problem that I think people

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will have with this. I mean, 300,000 people are going to get a

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tax break earning six times the average salary at a time when 2.6

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million people are out of work, including tragically one million

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young people, at a time when people who are in work are facing the

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billingest -- biggest squeeze on living standards in a general raeug

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and actually -- generation and the average family is very difficult.

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Are these really the group of people should be prioritising in

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that context? I don't think so. David Davis. You said you were

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uneasy about the other change. Were you in favour of this one. This is

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an astonishing piece of hypocrisy by the Labour Party. For 13 years,

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this idea that those with the broadest shoulders carry the

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biggest burden is not new, it's been a part of political life for

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my lifetime and for the last 13 years of Labour Government Gordon

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Brown first as Chancellor, then as Prime Minister, never thought it

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worthwhile moving the rate from 40p, he said in private he thought that

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was the level at which you got the most out of the rich. It's the key

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point. You got to decide are you just trying to punish the rich or

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trying to get the most from them? If you are trying to get the most

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from them, then what we learned before with the Geoffrey Howe and

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Lawson Budgets, the maximum rate, 60% didn't get the most. When they

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cut down to 40, eventually end up double, triple the amount of money

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coming from the rich. Why, because they stopped trying to avoid paying

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tax, stopped leaving the country, did different things to earn money

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and that's what we need to do. We are in an economy now that needs,

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in my view, a shock and and awe to get to a growth phase. I have a son

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in 20s, his generation getting jobs, real trouble. We have to run the

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economy in a most sensible way, not the most political way which we

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have had for the last 13 years. George Osborne blamed the revenue

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that was coming in from the tax on 50p rate as not being sufficient,

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there was a lot of avoidance issues. You we should be putting more

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effort into recovering the tax He is doing that. I agree with that.

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For example this idea that you could buy an expensive house using

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a foreign corporation, to avoid capital gains and other taxes is a

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dreadful idea and should have been shut down, and he has shut it down.

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That's going to give us three quarters of a billion pounds. Well

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worth having. I don't understand how you can say that by lowering

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that they won't try to avoid it. They are going to try to avoid it

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whatever it is. That's why they are so rich anyway. So the rich will

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always avoid it? Yes, always. was a theory that they would stop

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avoiding it if you lower the rate. They are certainly avoiding it now.

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It is always amusing listening to Labour hearing them say how putting

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up taxes it is going to work. It has never worked in the past.

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They've tried it at 80 and 60 and every time the revenues fell. We

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have to find a way to make the wealthy people stay and pay. And

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50p just isn't doing it. It hasn't worked. OK. Well, it hasn't. It

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raised �100 million. That isn't going to help. Vince Cable, you've

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got form on this. You said some believe if taxes on the wealthy are

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cut new revenue will miraculously appear - pull the other one. Is

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that still your view? I am officially of the view that at a

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time of hardship the wealthiest people in society should pay their

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:16:16.:16:16.

share. So you are against this stkphut I'm not against - - Against

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this cut? I'm not against it but it is not my party's policy. This goes

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back to David Davis's point. If you want the wealthiest people in

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society to pay their share, you've got to find a way of doing it where

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they actually pay. This particular gimmick which was dreamt up 57 days

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before the end of the last Labour Government, after 13 years, didn't

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work. It didn't bring in much money. We are replacing it with much more

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effective measures, taxation on very valuable property, greatly

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limiting the allowances which the wealthiest people in society can

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pay and putting more effort into genuine tax avoidance to catch the

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dodgers. This is ludicrous nonsense. The loophole they are clamping down

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on in respect of properties worth �2 million or more, there are about

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4,000 of those properties sold in the last year, whereas there are

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300,000 very reasonably wealthy people who are going to be

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benefiting from this measure. This notion that you don't do this out

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of envy, that you do it because we have grave issues to deal with. We

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have to reduce our debts, and therefore you get those who can

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afford to contribute more to contribute a bit more for a period.

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It is not true to say it wasn't working. What the Government has

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done here by abolishing it, it is going to lead to an upfront cost of

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�2.9 billion. No it is not. If it comes to �100 million, predicated

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on a massive assumption, and that is that wealthy people will change

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their behaviour and suddenly miraculously decide to pay more tax.

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That's how you get to the �100 million. It is HMRC who says that

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isn't it? The OBR, the Office for Budget Responsibility, said it is

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very uncertain, because you can't actually make a proper evaluation.

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They've only allowed a year to see what it brings in. When the

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Institute for Fiscal Studies has said you should allow this tax to

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be in place for a longer period to see how much it can raise. Is it

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unreasonable for people on Sykes times the average salary to

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contribute a bit more to help out. What happened the last time the

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rate was dropped from 60% under Lawson? This isn't a 60p rate drop.

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The answer is that the take went un. But hang on just a minute...

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APPLAUSE No, you hang on. We've heard your point Chuka. I want to

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hear from the audience. I'm an education student so I'm in and out

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of school as lot of time, talking to young people. They think they

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have got such an unfair deal. And they have. They'll be paying higher

:19:11.:19:15.

tuition fees. The minimum wage hasn't gone up. Yet at the same

:19:15.:19:20.

time they watch the Six o'clock News and they see millionaires

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getting tax cuts. They feel under pressure to make up the deficit

:19:25.:19:28.

that they never caused and it is so unfair.

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APPLAUSE Marina Lewycka, do you think it will benefit the country

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by people coming back and paying the tax they never paid? It is a

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bizarre that somehow because people who are obviously in some sense

:19:46.:19:51.

fiddling the 50% tax are going to suddenly stop fiddling because it

:19:52.:19:57.

has gone down to 45 % seems odd to me. I don't think people are like

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that. APPLAUSE The only way you are going

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to do it is the same with seat belts. Bring in a law, a tax

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avoidance law. If you tpwhring a tax avoidance law for everybody,

:20:13.:20:18.

these people will stop avoiding, including Tony Blair by the way,

:20:18.:20:24.

and stop avoiding the tax that they should be paying. David Davis, do

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you think it should be 40p instead of 45p? If it had been me I would

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have gone to 40. It could be cut to 40 providing... That's a funny way

:20:42.:20:47.

of talking. Providing it was replaced with a proper tax on

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wealth. What happened to your "mansion tax"? There's a small

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mansion tax in the Budget. There isn't going to be a levy on large

:20:59.:21:06.

mansions which are registered in companies. That's anti-tax

:21:06.:21:10.

avoidance measure. It is making sure that you actually collect the

:21:10.:21:17.

tax that the levy exists there already to do. Vince Cable, you

:21:17.:21:22.

said in the Guardian in the autumn, clearly understood there's a trade-

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off, if my colleagues will buy the idea of a "mansion tax" or some

:21:26.:21:31.

variation of that tax, and I hope they will, we can look at the 50p

:21:31.:21:36.

rate. If they are not willing to look at it, did 50p rate stays. Why

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aren't you quitting this Government? Because there's been a

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very good trade-off. APPLAUSE Two things have happened

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in this Budget. Instead of having the 50p rate, which brought in very

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little money, we now have much more effective taxation of wealth and

:21:54.:22:00.

very high income. And in addition... The most important part of the

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Budget is that �20 -- 20-million plus ordinary taxpayers have got a

:22:10.:22:14.

substantial tax cut by raising the louns. It is the centrepiece of the

:22:14.:22:18.

Budget. It is where most of the money has gone. As a consequence of

:22:18.:22:24.

it, 20 million taxpayers get a reduction of �220. That is what the

:22:24.:22:28.

budgets is essentially about. It is right also that we tackle extreme

:22:28.:22:32.

wealth and income and that is what we are doing, in a more effective

:22:32.:22:38.

way than before. Even that is so telling "extreme wealth". This is

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about wealth as a dirty word almost. This Budget was trying to send out

:22:43.:22:47.

a signal that we are not going to tax success, that we are not going

:22:47.:22:52.

to hunt down people who've done well. But this is about wealth

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creation as well. APPLAUSE OK. Surely Labour should

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celebrate the fact that the Chancellor, a man with great

:23:05.:23:10.

integrity, has had the moral courage to lift people out of

:23:10.:23:18.

poverty by increasing the tax threshold to �9,000 a year. So they

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should be celebrating what George Osborne has done. You Sir?

:23:25.:23:34.

members of the BBC over �50,000 a year have avoided paying tax. It

:23:34.:23:39.

seems everybody is able to avoid tax if you have the right money.

:23:39.:23:46.

Where did you get that from? It is on the web and it is from the

:23:46.:23:53.

information Act. You are not one of them! No. LAUGHTER

:23:53.:23:59.

I'm not a member of the BBC. I just work for them. That is a

:23:59.:24:03.

very narrow answer David. That was a politician's answer.

:24:03.:24:09.

interesting thing is if you look at France for example, one of their

:24:09.:24:15.

left-wing candidates is looking at introducing a supertax, 65-75 %.

:24:15.:24:21.

They do believe that those who can afford more money pay the biggest

:24:21.:24:25.

load. Warren Buffett said he wanted to pay more tax. What this Budget

:24:25.:24:30.

is actually done is rewarded the frontbench team, most of which are

:24:30.:24:34.

million airs and allowed them the skip more tax. We need to be

:24:34.:24:38.

looking at those who can't afford it and making sure that they don't

:24:38.:24:43.

have to suffer. More needs to be done. It is absolutely ridiculous.

:24:43.:24:53.
:24:53.:24:53.

APPLAUSE Just before we leave the point, is

:24:53.:24:58.

your argument to do with encouraging enterprise or cutting

:24:58.:25:02.

tax. Both are relevant, if it encourages enterprise that's good,

:25:02.:25:08.

but the primary objective of the treatment of the tax at the top was

:25:08.:25:12.

that if 50p rate did not raise very much money and there are much

:25:12.:25:17.

better, more sensible ways of taxing wealth and very high income.

:25:17.:25:24.

Let's move on the a different subject. Holly Brown. Why did the

:25:24.:25:29.

British woman kidnapped in Somalia have to finance her own freedom?

:25:29.:25:34.

Why did the Government not do more? Tebbutt theeb was released

:25:34.:25:40.

yesterday. Apparently -- Judith Tebbutt was released yesterday.

:25:40.:25:46.

Apparently it was reported that her family raised the money. Clearly

:25:46.:25:51.

the Government couldn't do more. If they did pay the ransom more people

:25:51.:25:57.

would be kidnapped. That is an agonising position to be in. All I

:25:57.:26:00.

can say is I totally understand why they did absolutely everything they

:26:00.:26:05.

could to pay it themselves. And I would have done the same. I would

:26:05.:26:10.

have done the same knowing that probably by doing that I had stored

:26:10.:26:14.

up future kidnaps. That just is an agonising position.

:26:14.:26:24.
:26:24.:26:26.

APPLAUSE David Davis. Ransoms are a bad idea

:26:26.:26:32.

generally. I ran a hostage rescue operation in the '90s and we spent

:26:32.:26:38.

a great deal of time trying to prevent the family of the victim

:26:38.:26:43.

paying a ransom precisely because it would encourage, it was in

:26:43.:26:47.

Colombia, it would encourage more people to be kidnapped. There were

:26:47.:26:56.

75 Americans held at that time in Colombia. It was a trade. We

:26:56.:27:00.

resolved it militarily. I'm afraid I feel great pain, agony really,

:27:00.:27:07.

for the families involved in this, but when you pay ransom you get one

:27:07.:27:11.

person back and hold out the prospect of another ten being

:27:11.:27:14.

kidnapped later. I'm afraid it is the wrong way to do it. The only

:27:14.:27:18.

answer to kidnap is to rescue the people, get them back, using

:27:18.:27:22.

military force if necessary. Using negotiation if you can. Never pay

:27:22.:27:28.

ransoms. APPLAUSE

:27:28.:27:34.

The Government, I think this is correct, makes it a criminal

:27:34.:27:38.

offence to pay terrorists a ransom. In other words if it had been Al-

:27:38.:27:45.

Qaeda or alshe bab who had been proven to have held Mrs Judith

:27:45.:27:49.

Tebbutt the Foreign Office could have banned the payment. Do you

:27:49.:27:52.

think they should extend that to say no ransoms under any

:27:52.:27:56.

circumstances should be paid? think they should. Criminally

:27:56.:28:01.

prosecute the family? No, I can talk from my example. We just made

:28:01.:28:07.

it difficult for it to be paid. this when you are in the SAS?

:28:07.:28:16.

was in the Foreign Office! LAUGHTER The simple truth was we could

:28:16.:28:20.

resolve it another way, by rescue. But I do think it is problematic.

:28:20.:28:26.

It is impossible really for the parents or relatives or even

:28:26.:28:29.

friends of the individuals who've been kidnapped. For them it is an

:28:30.:28:33.

impossible circumstances. The Government really has to take a

:28:33.:28:38.

hard line on it. Surely the point that needs to be considered is that

:28:38.:28:41.

people need to take more responsibility for where they go.

:28:41.:28:45.

It is not like people don't know the situation near Somalia and they

:28:45.:28:51.

should take care not to go into ar area that's a hotbed of pirate

:28:51.:28:55.

activity and then expect the Government to go there if you get

:28:55.:29:00.

kidnapped. APPLAUSE It is fair to say there

:29:00.:29:07.

had been no on-shore kidnaps from Kenya where this happened. Chuka

:29:07.:29:12.

Umunna. I'm part Nigerian and I hope to go back to Nigeria soon. It

:29:12.:29:16.

is not always seen necessarily as the safest place. There are

:29:16.:29:19.

kidnappings that happen there. We had a tragic incident where a

:29:19.:29:23.

couple of lives were lost in a rescue attempt in Nigeria. Does

:29:23.:29:26.

that mean because of what you have said that I shouldn't seek to go

:29:26.:29:30.

and see my family over there because of the risk involved?

:29:30.:29:37.

do you think about the issue? think the Government has to take a

:29:37.:29:44.

hard line on it. Notwithstanding that, I would say that I wouldn't

:29:44.:29:48.

necessarily encourage people to do it but if a member of my family

:29:48.:29:52.

were in that situation I'm damned sure I would try to find the

:29:52.:29:56.

resources necessary to try to free them. It is not something that I

:29:56.:30:04.

would encourage,s that would You make a distinction between what

:30:04.:30:07.

you would do and society as a whole? If the principle is not to

:30:07.:30:11.

do it and if it happened would you do it, which many people would.

:30:11.:30:14.

Well, there is a question as to whether Government makes the

:30:14.:30:17.

payment or the family should. I suppose I just think it will be

:30:17.:30:21.

disingenuous to sit here and give a lie and pretend actually if it

:30:21.:30:26.

happened in my family, the emotion of it and the attachment wouldn't

:30:26.:30:31.

overcome you. It would. There was a case of the Chandlers, there was a

:30:31.:30:35.

ransom paid and who knows that didn't encourage this operation.

:30:35.:30:38.

agree with that. Although I agree with David's point of view, I think

:30:38.:30:44.

if all avenues have been exhausted human life is more important than

:30:44.:30:49.

money. So, if everything has been exhausted, every single option, you

:30:49.:30:54.

can't just leave someone there to be killed. I do agree with what you

:30:54.:31:00.

say. Would you pay the ransom? every avenue has been exhausted.

:31:00.:31:03.

Human shraoeuf life -- life is more important than money. You can't put

:31:04.:31:07.

a value on it. Unfortunately, it's not just the problem of human life

:31:07.:31:12.

or money. It's a problem of human life now, as against the

:31:12.:31:14.

possibility more human lives in the future. That's what makes it so

:31:15.:31:19.

difficult. It makes - these things are terrifying because there is no

:31:19.:31:23.

right answer and we become aware of how vulnerable we are. Vince Cable.

:31:23.:31:26.

The distinction should be made between the role of the Government

:31:26.:31:29.

and the individual, it's a very important one actually. I don't

:31:29.:31:33.

think we can possibly say that as a matter of Government policy we will

:31:33.:31:38.

pay up ransom. Kidnapping would just go completely out of control

:31:38.:31:42.

and it would be a massive incentive for people to do it. But in an

:31:42.:31:44.

individual circumstance, particularly a very tragic one like

:31:44.:31:49.

this, I think the husband was killed in the first raid, and the

:31:49.:31:55.

family, this is what they want to do. I don't think we can proheub

:31:55.:31:58.

proheub -- prohibit them. In the case of terrorist organisations we

:31:58.:32:02.

have to be very careful and payment to terrorist organisations is a

:32:02.:32:05.

crime, I think if an individual family is caught up with a criminal

:32:05.:32:09.

gang like that, one has to understand their situation and

:32:09.:32:13.

their pressures and certainly it's not - I don't think it's our job to

:32:13.:32:21.

stop them doing it. Pretending to take money, and getting the

:32:21.:32:27.

situation where you are in contact with these people and then...

:32:27.:32:31.

Deceiving them? That won't work a second time around. The person at

:32:31.:32:34.

the back. Given comments that have been made what does this say about

:32:35.:32:38.

our Government? We have had our foreign Minister saying that

:32:38.:32:41.

Somalia and Sudan are failed states, we have had the pirating going on

:32:41.:32:46.

in the seas. What action should our offices be taking in respect of the

:32:47.:32:50.

diplomatic mission and the aid we give these countries in order to

:32:50.:32:56.

ensure that their people don't do this to us? A brief answer, David

:32:56.:33:01.

Davis. What should we do? There is a limit to what you can do. Somalia

:33:01.:33:04.

is an enormous place and it's been in turmoil for, I can't remember

:33:04.:33:10.

how many decades now, but certainly a couple of decades. You cannot go

:33:10.:33:14.

into every lawless part of the world and pacify them, otherwise we

:33:14.:33:17.

end up with a series of other problems. You just have to respond

:33:17.:33:21.

to the circumstance when it arises. In my view, we should respond

:33:22.:33:26.

forcefully, those countries that have responded forcefully have been

:33:26.:33:29.

effective. When we responded forcefully in Columbia there were

:33:29.:33:34.

no more Brits kidnapped for a significant time afterwards. That's

:33:34.:33:37.

all you can do. Do you think that was considered by this Government?

:33:37.:33:41.

I am sure they would have considered it, yes. But rejected?

:33:41.:33:44.

Well, there's a practical issue, whether you can find them. Whether

:33:44.:33:48.

you know where they are. Whether it's safe. You have got the

:33:48.:33:52.

Nigerian circumstance, we went in and the two hostages died in the

:33:52.:33:55.

course of the raid. You have to take all this on board and make a

:33:55.:33:58.

judgment accordingly. We will move on to another question, but if you

:33:58.:34:08.
:34:08.:34:09.

want to join in the debate, you can on Twitter, or look at Ceefax to

:34:09.:34:13.

see what others are saying. Georgeina Harris and the next

:34:13.:34:18.

question. Should teachers in Grimsby be paid less for doing the

:34:18.:34:23.

same job as their counterparts in the south of England? APPLAUSE.

:34:23.:34:28.

This goes to the heart of what the Chancellor announced, that the

:34:29.:34:33.

Government is looking to see if public sector pay can be made more

:34:33.:34:37.

responsive to local pay. In other words, if public sector pay should

:34:37.:34:44.

be locally negotiated. Chuka Umunna, you wanted local benefits made

:34:44.:34:47.

different, region by region. Do you think that these teachers, for

:34:47.:34:50.

instance, in Grimsby should be paid less because living costs in

:34:50.:34:56.

Grimsby are less? Well, I mean perhaps if I just read out a quote

:34:56.:34:59.

from a well known cabinet Minister it would cause all kinds of

:34:59.:35:03.

problems if you had different shal pay within the public sector, would

:35:03.:35:06.

you have people looking for promotion in one part of the

:35:06.:35:10.

country and not working to get... was looking for your opinion, not

:35:10.:35:13.

Vince Cable's. I happen to agree with Vince on this one. All right.

:35:13.:35:17.

Vince. We certainly have to be very careful T may be actually there is

:35:17.:35:21.

an argument for having higher teachers' pay in Grimsby if there

:35:21.:35:26.

is a shortage of teachers in Grimsby. APPLAUSE.

:35:26.:35:30.

That is the common sense point. What the Government's looking at, I

:35:30.:35:35.

just want to stress this is a very preliminary look, this is not

:35:35.:35:39.

imposing a policy. It's that there are one or two models already in

:35:39.:35:44.

the court service, the last Labour Government introduced, where pay is

:35:44.:35:47.

set locally, reflecting local conditions and it could be there is

:35:47.:35:51.

a shortage of staff, that housing costs differ from one place to

:35:51.:35:56.

another, and there is an argument for extending that. But I - for the

:35:56.:36:01.

reasons that Chuka Umunna has quoted, I think imposing regional

:36:01.:36:04.

variations in pay would be completely wrong and it wouldn't

:36:05.:36:10.

work. You have just said that if there were a shortage of teachers

:36:10.:36:15.

in Grimsby there might be an argument for paying more. Allowing

:36:15.:36:18.

flexibility. Are you suggesting there should be a regional

:36:18.:36:23.

marketplace for nurses and teachers where you would say in Liverpool we

:36:23.:36:29.

have a shortage? Cow allow more variation -- you could avow more

:36:29.:36:39.

Var vasion. - be - variation. In London, you have London weighting

:36:39.:36:42.

for example. We don't want to be in a position where in relatively low

:36:42.:36:47.

income parts of the country pay is then depressed and that would be

:36:47.:36:51.

wrong and inappropriate. But there may be areas where the shortage of

:36:51.:36:55.

labour in some areas, housing costs vary enormously, let's have a bit

:36:55.:36:58.

more flexibility in the system as we have already seen in one or two

:36:58.:37:03.

areas like the court service. quoted him, do you agree with him?

:37:03.:37:11.

He's being rather contradictory, in the one sense he... Shouldn't

:37:11.:37:15.

imposing. I am confused by the message that he is giving. It's

:37:15.:37:21.

also at Var kwrepbts with what other Ministers are saying. David

:37:21.:37:25.

Davis. I am sitting here thinking that you are saying this and as we

:37:25.:37:30.

heard Labour introduced this exact thing for the court service. They

:37:30.:37:34.

also changed quite dramatically the London weighting for the police in

:37:34.:37:40.

the last - let me finish the point. I don't want to pick a row. The

:37:40.:37:45.

simple problem we have here is that when a part of the country has high

:37:45.:37:50.

unemployment the Government quite properly is prone to move public

:37:50.:37:54.

sector work there, it happened in the north-east of England where my

:37:54.:37:57.

family come from and other parts and Wales and other parts of the

:37:57.:38:02.

country. Then what happens, of course, in Wales the people doing

:38:02.:38:07.

exactly the same job in the public sector end up being paid 18, 20%

:38:07.:38:11.

more than in the private sector. It then becomes really difficult for

:38:11.:38:13.

anybody to start a company in that part of the world because they

:38:13.:38:16.

can't get the staff. So have you the unemployment gets worse. We

:38:16.:38:22.

have to solve this problem. We haven't decided exactly how to do

:38:22.:38:25.

it but we will look at these options, it may be different for

:38:25.:38:28.

teachers and nurses and other administerive staff. Wherever there

:38:28.:38:34.

is high unemployment there are low private sector wages, relatively.

:38:34.:38:38.

Not always, - naturally, the north- east of England where my family

:38:38.:38:43.

came from, huge industrial tradition, huge tradition of energy

:38:43.:38:47.

and enterprise there in the past. What would normally have happened

:38:47.:38:52.

is that because because -- labour is cheap people have reinvested

:38:52.:38:55.

there, it didn't happen because of the effect of large public sector

:38:55.:38:59.

employment. So we have to find a solution. We can't just live with

:38:59.:39:04.

long-term unemployment in some parts of the country. If you cut -

:39:04.:39:07.

the question, if you cut the pay of teachers in Grimsby are you saying

:39:07.:39:11.

that would help the private sector? What I was saying, David, is that

:39:11.:39:14.

you probably have a different answer for teachers, where there is

:39:14.:39:18.

more of argument for national scale than other general skills.

:39:18.:39:21.

woman in the front row. Is it a a coincidence the Conservative

:39:21.:39:25.

Government are looking at legislation or changing the

:39:25.:39:27.

bargaining power of teachers that would undermine the power of

:39:27.:39:34.

teaching unions? APPLAUSE. Marina Lewycka, you have been in the

:39:34.:39:38.

teaching profession, what do you make of that point? Well, on the

:39:38.:39:41.

point of regional pay, because what I think is that in places like

:39:41.:39:49.

Grimsby or Sheffield where I live, the public sector, including

:39:49.:39:54.

teachers, form a sort of - possibly a disproportionally large part of

:39:54.:39:59.

the workforce and the fact that teachers' wages are higher than the

:39:59.:40:05.

average wage actually raises the overall income of the community and

:40:05.:40:10.

having that money coming into the community means that local

:40:10.:40:14.

businesses, shops can stay open that would shut otherwise, you know,

:40:14.:40:17.

cafes and restaurants stay open. There's a little bit more spending

:40:17.:40:20.

power in the community. If you actually lower the public sector

:40:20.:40:25.

wages then I don't think it creates, there's no testified creates jobs

:40:25.:40:34.

in the private sector t drags down the whole economy. The woman in the

:40:34.:40:38.

back row. I agree that the cost of living here is cheaper than it

:40:38.:40:43.

would be in the south, but there is other issues other than the cost of

:40:43.:40:48.

living. If we want to buy alcohol, for instance, it's a long way to go

:40:48.:40:52.

down to the channel to cross and obviously more expensive for us,

:40:52.:40:57.

also to go on holiday, regional airports charge more than they do

:40:57.:41:03.

in the south. It wouldn't be fair in your view? No, I don't think

:41:03.:41:07.

would be. The woman in the third row. I think you want to make sure

:41:07.:41:10.

that you get decent teachers across the country. We all train the same

:41:10.:41:15.

way. We go into the profession because we are keen and want to

:41:15.:41:18.

make sure our children are well educated and to start to vary the

:41:18.:41:22.

pay o could actually affect the amount of people who go into the

:41:22.:41:25.

profession and cause social economic problems because you get

:41:25.:41:28.

certain people moving to certain areas to do the jobs and it would

:41:28.:41:32.

mean that certain areas would lose out and maybe the teaching in that

:41:32.:41:36.

area would become worse as a result. Vince Cable, can you answer that

:41:36.:41:40.

point, would you like to see teachers taken out of this study

:41:40.:41:45.

that the Government is doing? mean this already happens. If there

:41:45.:41:49.

are scarcity subjects, for example, and teachers are paid more. The

:41:49.:41:52.

idea that there may be parts of the country, I don't know what the

:41:52.:41:57.

position is like in Grimsby, where there may be a shortage of teachers,

:41:57.:42:01.

surely the pay system should reflect that in some degree. Does

:42:01.:42:05.

it? I don't know the position in Grimsby, but if it is, surely there

:42:05.:42:12.

is some common sense in allowing local conditions to reflect that.

:42:13.:42:17.

This does point out the differences between the life in the public and

:42:17.:42:22.

private sector. If you work in the private sector it's a sort of given

:42:22.:42:27.

that if you want to earn big wages you gravitate towards the areas

:42:27.:42:31.

where the big wages are being paid. I grew up in the Midlands and a lot

:42:31.:42:36.

of us decided that we had to go to London to earn more money. That

:42:36.:42:42.

just is life in the private sector. And part of me thinks well, you

:42:42.:42:46.

know, it's protecting people in the public sector from that is sort of

:42:46.:42:50.

not living in the real world. But, I do think there are precious few

:42:51.:42:54.

perks at the minute to working in the public sector and therefore if

:42:54.:42:57.

this is one of them and if the security of knowing that wherever

:42:57.:43:02.

you work you will be paid a certain rate keeps good teachers and so on

:43:02.:43:06.

in the profession, then I think it's probably better to keep it

:43:06.:43:14.

that way. All right. The woman there. I just think

:43:14.:43:18.

regional variation in pay just creates more of a north-south

:43:18.:43:28.

divide. Also, particularly for say young graduates or whatever, if

:43:28.:43:31.

they settle in one part of the country they become trapped and

:43:31.:43:36.

can't afford to move for that very reason, because there's more of a

:43:36.:43:42.

divide throughout the country. Let's go on to another question.

:43:42.:43:48.

George Wilson, please. Is this year a good time for the UK to consider

:43:48.:43:57.

becoming a republic? Dare I ask your view? Well, I will

:43:57.:44:02.

give you my view, I think the Queen's doing a pretty good job. I

:44:02.:44:07.

have been perturned for a long time about the family. They seem to be

:44:07.:44:11.

improving a bit and when you consider the alternative, God help

:44:11.:44:15.

us, we might have President Blair or President Prescott.

:44:15.:44:25.
:44:25.:44:30.

OK. So the question Marina Lewycka, is this year, the Queen's Jubilee

:44:30.:44:34.

year, a good time for the UK to consider becoming a republic?

:44:34.:44:38.

this year I think. The Queen's doing a pretty good job. In a way,

:44:38.:44:43.

when you think of all the things she has to put up with and all the

:44:43.:44:50.

travelling around, I feel a bit sorry for her. She has to put up

:44:50.:44:54.

with living with Prince Philip, has too be smiling all the time when

:44:54.:44:58.

she feels cross about something. Definitely not this year. Possibly

:44:58.:45:03.

when the Queen's ready to retire or passes away, that might be the time

:45:03.:45:07.

to consider becoming a republic. Would you like Britain to be a

:45:07.:45:16.

republic? Um... Yes. APPLAUSE

:45:16.:45:20.

Melissa Kite? I think the Queen is such terrific value for money I

:45:20.:45:24.

can't think of anything else that is as good value as the Queen...

:45:24.:45:32.

APPLAUSE I was having this argument... You don't get much for

:45:32.:45:36.

our money nowadays, but I was having this argument the other day.

:45:36.:45:41.

I looked it up at the time on my BlackBerry and it was something

:45:41.:45:45.

like 50p a year per person. What do we get for that? This is fantastic.

:45:45.:45:50.

The tourists that come. The fact that every day outside Buckingham

:45:50.:45:56.

Palace, crowds are waiting to see the Changing of the Guard. It is

:45:56.:46:00.

fantastic value for money. So it is commercial judgment for you whether

:46:00.:46:06.

we are a republic or a monarchy? is a bit of heart as well as head

:46:06.:46:10.

for me. I do think even if you don't like the idea of a monarchy

:46:10.:46:15.

you have to see that gives us such a fabulous identity. And it makes

:46:15.:46:24.

us a bit special and a magnet for tourists. I think the general

:46:24.:46:29.

public have had enough of politicians. There are far too many

:46:29.:46:35.

of them around... APPLAUSE And the last thing we want

:46:35.:46:40.

are more failed politicians as head of state. Far better to have

:46:40.:46:44.

someone that considers duty before their own personal advancement.

:46:44.:46:54.
:46:54.:46:57.

APPLAUSE Do you want monarch cal rule really? You could say that.

:46:57.:47:01.

You would like the Queen to rule rather than the politicians?

:47:01.:47:07.

not really. You don't quite go that far. Her current role is quite

:47:07.:47:11.

satisfactory as far as I'm concerned. What about the next

:47:11.:47:15.

generation coming along, did you feel the same about them? That's

:47:15.:47:20.

what a monarchy system is all about. You don't elect then. The man with

:47:20.:47:28.

the beard, not, "In a beard" that makes it sounds like you have put

:47:28.:47:36.

it on for the evening. I wear it. I agree the Queen is good value for

:47:36.:47:41.

money. I come from experience of working abroad and travelling a lot.

:47:41.:47:48.

What I hear about is a lot of time people drinking abroad and fighting

:47:48.:47:53.

abroad, but whenever they mention the Queen it is always about what a

:47:53.:47:58.

great country wefrplt it encourages growth and tourism. It is all-round

:47:58.:48:04.

value for money, it is a great investment. Vince Cable. I'm not a

:48:04.:48:09.

republican and I think this old saying of the it ain't broke, don't

:48:09.:48:15.

fix it. The monarchy works perfectly well. It performs, the

:48:15.:48:20.

Queen admishly performs the head of state, is popular, and is respected

:48:20.:48:24.

overseas. Although I am a politician I rather agree with if

:48:24.:48:29.

gentleman at the back - we should stick with what we are supposed the

:48:29.:48:35.

do and throw monarch to do her job, which she does very well. Chuka

:48:35.:48:44.

Umunna. I met the Queen for the first time this week. What has that

:48:44.:48:50.

got to do with it? I tweeted that I think she does a superb job. I

:48:50.:48:56.

describe myself as a default monarchist. I don't agree with the

:48:56.:49:00.

hereditary principle but I can't think of what is better to put in

:49:00.:49:07.

its place. If you doingle the Queen, our Queen comes up. She is a

:49:07.:49:10.

fantastic asset and puts us on the map. The President of Germany

:49:10.:49:15.

stepped down the other day. I don't even know whether a new one has

:49:15.:49:19.

been appointed. I doubt anybody knows the name of the last German

:49:19.:49:23.

President. But everybody knows the name of our Queen. I'm with the

:49:23.:49:26.

rest of the panel on this. We haven't heard from you yet David.

:49:26.:49:33.

Maybe you are a shock republican. I'm smiling at the idea of being

:49:33.:49:37.

asked about the hereditary principle by a Dimbleby!

:49:37.:49:47.
:49:47.:49:48.

APPLAUSE We don't go back so far. Not yet. I travelled up on the

:49:48.:49:58.
:49:58.:50:00.

train with El Presidene and his ambitions only extent to the police

:50:00.:50:06.

at the moment. But that's bad enough. The best comment came from

:50:06.:50:09.

Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. He once said that one of the things

:50:09.:50:14.

that keeps Britain from becoming a dictatorship is having to kneel

:50:14.:50:19.

before the Queen once a week and explain your job to her. That is a

:50:19.:50:22.

really wise insight. We are fabulously lucky in this country

:50:22.:50:26.

that the most powerful people have to bend their knee to somebody else.

:50:26.:50:31.

That's what keeps us as civilised as wefrplt so long may she reign.

:50:31.:50:41.
:50:41.:50:42.

APPLAUSE Are there any republicans in our

:50:42.:50:48.

Grimsby audience? You are? We've talked about how great value for

:50:48.:50:52.

money the Queen is, but I'm wondering whether Prince Charles

:50:52.:50:56.

will have that same sort of international love drawn to him. I

:50:56.:51:04.

agree with Melissa Kite that perhaps this year is not the -- I

:51:04.:51:14.
:51:14.:51:14.

agree with Marina Lewycka that perhaps this year is not the year.

:51:14.:51:20.

Rob Connor. Is David Cameron's idea to private as a vast swathe of our

:51:20.:51:27.

road network not just another excuse to fleece the already put

:51:27.:51:31.

upon motorist? APPLAUSE This is a complex idea

:51:31.:51:35.

that not everybody understood except people who smelt a rat. The

:51:35.:51:42.

Treasury is going to carry out a feasibility study of new ownership

:51:42.:51:47.

and financing models for the road system in England, where private

:51:47.:51:50.

contractors would take over the roads and get a share of the road

:51:50.:52:00.

taxes. I'm lost. I'm not sure I can help you! There is an argument for

:52:00.:52:03.

getting private funding and private enterprise into the highways system.

:52:03.:52:09.

There are, I don't know how many people in the audience have used

:52:09.:52:13.

the M6 toll. It is an efficient, reasonably cheap addition to the

:52:13.:52:18.

motorway system that wouldn't have been funded simply with taxpayers'

:52:18.:52:24.

money. If there are big, important roads that need to be wilt, --

:52:24.:52:28.

built, there is an argument for getting it done that way. If people

:52:28.:52:32.

have travelled in France, and that is a way of improving the network

:52:32.:52:36.

and introducing a toll system. I know people in this part of the

:52:36.:52:43.

world have experience of the Humber Bridge. It has aroused strong

:52:43.:52:47.

feelings because of the charges. But big infrastructure like that in

:52:47.:52:52.

future are not likely to come from public funding. We have to be

:52:53.:52:57.

pragmatic about it. I agree with the original intervention that we

:52:57.:53:00.

should not be fleecing the motorist that. Shouldn't be the motivation.

:53:00.:53:05.

If the infrastructure is going to be improved it is probably going to

:53:05.:53:10.

require private capital. Chuka Umunna, are you in favour of this

:53:10.:53:15.

study? Would Labour back trunk roads and motorways being given to

:53:15.:53:20.

private contractors? I think we are all a bit lost because we don't

:53:20.:53:24.

know the details. Apparently the Prime Minister said it would apply

:53:24.:53:30.

to new roads and trunk roads but it seems new roads would include an

:53:30.:53:36.

extra lane on an existing road. I do think where people are finding

:53:36.:53:42.

rising living costs, a VAT hike and credits being taken away, this is

:53:42.:53:46.

probably not a welcome measure. Wasn't it daerblgs your Chancellor,

:53:46.:53:51.

who recommended -- wasn't it Alistair Darling, your Chancellor,

:53:51.:53:59.

who recommended road charging? need to see the details. It is also

:53:59.:54:02.

a question of timing as well. I think Alistair Darling was in

:54:02.:54:05.

charge of the transport department some time ago when the economic

:54:05.:54:13.

climate was perhaps a bit different. People often, as Vince Cable did,

:54:13.:54:18.

talk about the French system. But the issue there is that alongside

:54:18.:54:22.

the toll roads is an excellent national road system that you can

:54:22.:54:28.

use at the same time. You don't think we have that? No, we are too

:54:28.:54:35.

crowded for that to happen. Melissa Kite. Can someone please explain to

:54:35.:54:40.

me how there is not enough money that's been taken from the motorist

:54:40.:54:49.

to pay for our roads? APPLAUSE Perhaps your neighbour on

:54:49.:54:55.

your right confirm Fuel prices, vehicle exice duty. Am I did only

:54:55.:55:01.

one to notice ta our roads are booby-trapped nowadays. You can't

:55:01.:55:07.

go in your car and go outing with being fined for something. Speeding.

:55:07.:55:15.

Speeding, doing 31 in a 30, there's speed guns everywhere, cameras,

:55:15.:55:20.

CCTV. You can't stop anywhere because it is a bus lane or a taxi

:55:20.:55:25.

pull-up. You get to the point where you think, I can't bear to get in

:55:25.:55:30.

my car. It is an assault course, like the Krypton factor. I feel

:55:31.:55:36.

that there must be money in there somewhere. The they use the money,

:55:36.:55:42.

taken from us in these charges, the stealth taxes that are already

:55:42.:55:47.

being imposed on us, they must be able to pay for roads. Perhaps the

:55:47.:55:53.

option is we offer the Chancellor a deal. We'll have road tolling but

:55:53.:56:00.

halve the price of petrol. That would do. I'm going to beg to

:56:00.:56:05.

differ on this. I think that actually unfortunately we need in

:56:05.:56:09.

the long term to be working towards a situation where we have fewer

:56:09.:56:14.

cars on the roads, rather than just carrying on building roads. The

:56:14.:56:17.

truth is that there'll never be enough roads to mop up all the cars

:56:17.:56:24.

that want to be on them. We need a more radical way of organising our

:56:24.:56:30.

transport system. You would charge more for if fuel and you want cars

:56:30.:56:35.

off the road? We have to look hard at other forms of transport, to

:56:35.:56:42.

make them cheaper, accessible, nicer, quicker. I'm with Melissa, I

:56:42.:56:47.

think the motorists already pay enough. I can't see that giving a

:56:47.:56:50.

private company an extra slice of money out of everything we pay is

:56:50.:56:54.

going to make things better. But I don't think it is going to solve

:56:54.:57:00.

the problem. We have to stop. You had the intriguing idea of halving

:57:00.:57:05.

the price of petrol and using it on the roads. Is that a serious

:57:05.:57:11.

question. You think the motorist is fleessed, yes or no? Yes. Thank you

:57:11.:57:16.

David. APPLAUSE You've got me out of a

:57:17.:57:21.

hole and got warm applause from the hole and got warm applause from the

:57:21.:57:25.

audience. We are going to be in Portsmouth next week. We are off

:57:25.:57:35.
:57:35.:57:35.

air during the Easter recess. We're back in Leeds on 19th April. It is

:57:35.:57:39.

Portsmouth next Thursday and Leeds on 19th April. If you want to join

:57:39.:57:44.

the audience, the number is on the screen.

:57:44.:57:49.

David Dimbleby chairs a debate from Grimsby on the big stories of the week. The panel includes business secretary Vince Cable, former shadow home secretary David Davis and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.


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