27/09/2012 Question Time


David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Brighton. The panel includes MPs Harriet Harman, Danny Alexander and Jacob Rees-Mogg, plus Kirstie Allsopp and Steve Coogan.

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Good evening. Question Time is back, and not a moment too soon. As the


new song goes, we are sorry, so sorry we have been away.


To business. On our panel, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury,


Danny Alexander, Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman,


Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, television presenter Kirsty Alsop


Thank you very much. The first question of this new series comes


from Rob Fletcher. Will we see the same level of anger as in Athens


and Madrid once the full impact of the UK Government's austerity


measures are felled? Danny Alexander. There is a very big


difference between those countries and our country. In those countries,


they are having to go further, make more dramatic cuts to keep pace


with the demands of the markets, because their governments did not


start out with a strong plan to deal with the problems they face.


They are having to go further because their interest rates have


been pushed higher because the markets are demanding even further


austerity measures. In this country, because when we came in as a


coalition in 2010 we said from the start that this was a major problem


that had to be sorted out, we have been able to set out spending


reductions and tax rises that are phased in over the four Year period.


Of course, there are some very difficult things there, but I do


not think we will see the same response because we have been able


to keep control for ourselves as a country. Do you agree with your


leader who said, our influence in the world, our standard of living,


public services and culture of tolerance and openness are in the


balance? I do agree with that. His point was that in difficult


economic times, unless you are able to keep control, to make decisions


for yourselves as a democracy, rather than being forced to do it


by the markets, those things become serious issues. At a time when not


only are we in Europe and other parts of the developed world seeing


economic problems, but where other parts of the world, emerging


markets, are growing rapidly, we have to be careful to take the


right decisions to get our economies going again, to ensure


that our way of doing things continues to be the right way.


Harriet Harman, we saw riots over the poll tax. Do you think this


economic policy could lead to what we are seeing in Madrid and Athens?


I hope that before we get near that stage the Government will recognise


that their plan is not working and will change course. They promised


that they would get economic growth, and instead the country is in


recession. They promised they would get the deficit down, and borrowing


has gone up. They promised we would be in it together and they had done


a tax cut for millionaires. So people feel that it is not working.


APPLAUSE So what would you do? Well,


obviously you need to get the deficit down but not in such a way


that it stifles the economy. It is very telling that of all of the G20


countries, all of which were hit by the global financial crisis, this


country alone, as well as Italy, is one of only two in recession. So I


think the evidence is there. They have tried their austerity plan for


two years. For heaven's sake, sometimes it is right to just admit


that it is not working, you have got it wrong, before there is more


pain, suffering and damage done. Jacob Rees-Mogg. There is an


absolutely key difference between us and member states of the


eurozone, which is we have control over our own money. We have our own


monetary policy. You can cut spending if you can have


quantitative easing and low interest rates. That means the


economy has access to cash, which in Europe they do not. Their


interest rates have been rising whilst hours have been falling. You


cannot borrow any money in Spain. It might be difficult here but it


is harder in Spain. We also have a competitive currency. Since 2008 it


has fallen down to about one pound 60p to the dollar. That has been


helpful for exports. If you are in Spain, Greece or Portugal, your


economic policies are imposed on you now by the European Union. In


Greece and Italy, you have had your Prime Minister changed by Ward of


the European Commission. I do not know whether you like David Cameron,


but at least he will be replaced by you and not by European bureaucrats.


I think that gives us confidence in the policies the Government is


taking. We can follow them, accept them, argue about them, but we will


decide them in the end. There were riots over the poll tax in a


democracy with Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister. Why should the same


thing not happen if people are suffering hardship? Because the


ability to use monetary policy, quantitative easing and schemes to


lend the banks are crucially important. We keep mentioning the


poll tax and those riots. I think about a year-and-a-half ago in


Tottenham, when similar things happened. Actually, the reason is


that people do not have a lot of money at the moment and people are


struggling for jobs. Yes, there were issues with youth, but I fail


to see how blame it on Margaret Thatcher's poll tax... I think it


is exactly the same. And you. was allegedly supposed to help the


economy gain momentum and we were supposed to be given this


quantitative easing, �375 billion of cash given to the banks which


are already owned partly by taxpayers, to help small and


medium-sized businesses. We are now taking another �1 billion of


taxpayers' cash and putting it into a special bank that is supposed to


be doing exactly the same job that quantitative easing, which Jacob


Rees-Mogg is extolling the virtues of. Make the quantitative easing


work and it might stimulate the economy to provide the jobs and the


economy that is needed and people would not even consider going on


the streets to riot. Steve Coogan. I think the point made by this


gentleman is right. I think the riots were, to some extent, a


result of poverty and of the fact that we are still in recession, and


these measures are not working. For all the quantitative easing that


took place, people are still finding it almost impossible to get


loans from the banks. It is not working. What I think should have


happened straight away is that there should have been, when they


came into office, the Liberal Party should have pushed for a tax rise.


If anything, I think had they not been there, though, the tax cut


would have been even greater. So their presence has mitigated the


worst excesses of the Tory government. But it is time to


change course. These measures have not worked. We can see that. People


are feeling it. And I think the complacency that it will not happen


here, I think we are in a very dangerous situation. We need to act


now and not wait until something awful happens. What would your


change be? I think certainly the mansion tax, although it will not


make a great difference to the economy, is the right signal. That


kind of thing placates people who are angry, which is important, even


though the economic effects will be minimal. That kind of thing is


politically important. It shows that we are literally all in it


together. Are you going to get your mention tax? We have argued for in


the election, in our manifesto, and subsequently, and we will keep


arguing for it. A path that does not mean you're going to get it!


have increased taxes substantially on wealthy people. Under Labour you


had the scandalous situation where someone who ran a private equity


company could pay less tax on their capital gains than their cleaner


paid on their income. We ended that. We increased capital gains tax


substantially and reduce the amount of tax relief will the people can


get on their contributions. We have ended the loopholes were you could


hide your big property in a foreign offshore companies. So we are


raising much more from the wealthy already. And we are using that


money to ensure we can reduce the burden of taxation, the income tax


rates, or working people of this country, by ensuring that the tax-


free amount on the income that people earn goes up. What Steve


Coogan was saying that a mansion tax, even though it might not raise


money, would assuage people's anger. Which is insulting. Is it going to


happen? We are arguing for it. have said that, but is it going to


happen? The thing that we have said, and Nick Clegg stressed, and I did


at our conference, is that we have to make more painful decisions in


terms of spending reductions, to ensure that our economy gets out of


the mess that the Labour Party left it in, and part of that has to be


extra taxes on the wealthy. So why have you add a tax cut for each


millionaire of �40,000 every year? That is all but cut in the top rate


of tax has given you. Yona because the tax system that you left us was


scandalous. We have replaced that tax with new taxes on the


wealthiest to ensure they can pay money into the system to ensure


that deficit reduction burden is fairly shared. That will cost �3


billion. You will not get the mansion tax through, because people


in mansions vote Conservative, so I don't think it is going to happen.


Kirsty. I am the exception that proves the rule. I would be happy


to pay it. I think what Steve Coogan said his patronising. What


he was saying is that the masses need this tax rise in order to be


convinced of something. Although we know it will not raise money, it


will stop people rioting in the streets. Unless we can have


intelligent political debate, with everybody understanding that we


want to achieve one thing, to raise the maximum amount possible for


those who are less well-off. That is the point. Everybody around this


table knows that high taxes don't do that. And they are not


politically brave enough to say, we have people who are less off and


people who are more well-off. How do we get the most amount of money


from the people who are more well- off to the people who are less


well-off? That is not necessarily high taxes. But we tax income to


highly and unearned wealth too lightly. That is the shift we need


to make. Unfortunately, I do not think that is the reason for the


cuts. We are not trying to give it to the less well-off. We are trying


to do something with debt. Sadly, I do not think they are intelligent.


The cuts are not intelligent. We might be able to change our


government, and we might have that choice, but the damage is already


going to be done because the cuts are not intelligent. They are very


short term. If you look at the cuts in further education, I teach


English to Speakers of Other Languages, and their cuts mean that


students are not going to learn English as they should be, so in


the long-term those people will not be getting jobs. So the cuts are


not intelligent and we definitely do need to change direction but it


will be too late by the next government, unfortunately. The man


It is obvious that the cuts are not intelligent and we are not in it


together. It is the working-class, poor people, who are being squeezed


the most and suffering record youth unemployment, cuts in benefits,


real cuts in wages, and we are all paying the price for bankers'


mismanagement, not for what working-class poor people have gone.


-- what they have done. That Mrs out that we were spending far too


much money that we did not have. If you go back to the 1970s, tax has


almost never raised more than 38% of gross national product. Our


spending, if it is above that, leads to a deficit. However you


readjust the tax system, with attacks at 98%, or 40%, it has


raised 38% of GDP in a good year. If you start spending up to 50%,


you are in trouble, and that is where we were. There have to be


cuts. It has to be brought back and that is painful than it takes place.


In terms of the rich not paying their fair share, the top 1% of


taxpayers pays �39 billion in tax. They pay 26.5% of the income tax


raised, and they earn 13% of the earnings, so they are paying their


fair share. And if you take too much, you will find they will not


work so hard and they will leave the country. So if you want money,


you need to have an intelligent tax system. It is strange that the


Government's policy seems to be that if you are incredibly rich you


need a tax cut to make you work harder, but if you are poor, you


need to appear tax credit cut to make you work harder! -- you need


to have your tax credit cut. course, the Gentleman is right,


none of us want to have to make reductions in public spending, to


deal with the problems we face. But your Government promised people you


could end boom-and-bust, and that was not true. You left a terrible


mess in our economy, under regulated the bangs, let them run


riot, you lost the election and we have to clear up the mess that you


left. -- you under regulated the banks. The Tories used to say a


minimum wage would make the economy fall apart. They always say they


are going to leave the country and go elsewhere, and they will take


away their ball. It did not happen when we introduced a minimum wage.


They seem to be fine. I think the We must go on. We have lots of


questions here. To take part in the debate at home, push the Red Button.


debate at home, push the Red Button. You can see what others are saying.


Join in by texting: Matthew Potter? Would we be better


off with more plebes and fewer public school boys, patrolling the


public school boys, patrolling the corridors of power? APPLAUSE.


That word plebes? James? I thought that question may be directed at


me! It could be something to do with my voice. I think we need the


right people for the job. We have to ensure that we have an education


system that provides a good system in the state as has got from


private schools. I was at Eton with fantastic teachers and facilities.


I don't think that people should be excluded from public service. That


would abmistake, but I think you do want a state-funded education


system. I think that Michael Gove is doing this. That will ensure


that the highest quality education is given to everybody in the


country, not just those who go to the public schools.


Do you ever call anyone a plebe? course I don't! I think people in


public life ought to show good manners to the electorate who put


them there and the police are part of that electorate. I am not in


favour of people being impolite to people who are serving them and


their country. I think that is a mistake. It is very good news that


Andrew Mitchell apologised for it, which he was right to do.


Steve Coogan? I think we would be better served with more state-


educated people in politics. My education was free. It did not do


me any harm. Did it do you any good? Well, I'm


here! I also think that the whole plebe issue is, I thought was


really, we should congratulate the Chief Whip for honestly and


eloquently expressing what has always been Tory Party policy,


which is pea plebe management. Contain the plebes, keep the plebes


at bay, pat them on the head when we they need to be. Put them out in


the back garden. I don't think this is true. There is bread and circus,


probably Labour's approach, bribing people with their own money.


think modern Conservatives have learned to modify and edit their


thoughts. I think most Conservatives probably think the


word plebe, but don't say it out loud.


He said he wanted to make it clear he did not use the words attributed


to... He is clear about what he didn't say, but vague about what he


did say. APPLAUSE


Kirstie Allsopp? I think we could continue talking about the Andrew


Mitchell issue all night. But David would shoot us. There are all sorts


of issue, the first one is failed apologies. He did not say sorry,


not properly. He should have stood up and said what he did was totally


and utterly wrong. That the police officer and his wife are coming to


have dinner with him in Parliament next week. That he is doing 50


hours of community service working with young people with rage issues


and that he is ult Earl ashamed of himself.


-- utterly ashamed of himself. There has been stuff in the press


about John Terry. It comes back to the same issue, you can't speak to


people like that, if you do you have to learn to say sorry. The


fashion for qualified apologies. Some people have it it in their


heads if you say sorry you will be sued, but you have to learn to say


sorry and to be a grown-up. The second thing about the question is


that 7% of people in this country are privately educated. My children


are privately educated. That means there is a �6,000 per annum not


spent on my child, but spent on another child. If everyone who is


privately educated turned up at their local state school, the


education school -- system would be in even more dire trouble. We


cannot afford for everyone at public school to anybody the state


system and will not be able to for a long time in the current climate.


What do you make of the apologies? The Nick Clegg apology? It is


another one. When he made that pledge he would never be the Prime


Minister. I can say to the children, if you are to become a maths genius,


you can eat jelly babies for the rest of your life, but I know I


will never have to come up with the jelly babies. It is the same with


Nick Clegg. You can make all sorts of pledges if you will never have


to carry them out. APPLAUSE.


I would like to ask if your decision to put your children in


private school is purely through altruism? No. The problem is,


because people that feel that they do have to privately educate their


children, that they are raised in such a way that they end up


becoming Tories who then call people... No! No! Who then call


people... That is not true. No, I am sorry.


Who then regard people as plebes. Absolutely not. I will not have you


sit there and tell me that I am not capable of bringing up my children


to respect everybody. I grew up in state -- I went to a


state school... So did I. I would not regard anyone as a


plebe. The one thing I will say that Andrew Mitchell said it was


utterly honest. Harriet Harman were you privately


educated? I was. You see it is not a Conservative


thing. Some people are, some people are not. They can go in different


directions. It has strayed into Andrew Mitchell


territory. You may or may not want to do it, but the question is, we


would be better off with more plebes than fewer public school


boys. Well, I think that everybody feels


really uncomfortable about what happened. Everybody knows that if


the police officer had said to the Cabinet Minister the words that


actually Andrew Mitchell has admitted to saying, he would not be


in his job job in Downing Street anymore. There is unfairness there.


He would have been out. Secondly, why is it, without even bothering


to look at the evidence, that David Cameron believed the word of the


Cabinet Minister and not the word of the police officer? There is a


great worry about that. Also, he has not apologised. I think that


the truth of it is, that the police in Downing Street, you know, Danny


knows this very well. The police in Downing Street are doing their job,


trying to keep Downing Street safe against a background of terrorism


threat. They are there just to do their job. For the idea that Andrew


Mitchell could speak to somebody like that and then refuse to admit


it or deny it, I think it reflects badly on David Cameron that he's


been prepared to sweep it all under the carpet.


APPLAUSE You say if a policeman had spoken like that he would have been


sacked, do you think that Andrew Mitchell should have been sacked?


am hesitant to call for Cabinet ministers to be sacked, the last


one I called for to be sacked was promoted. That is Jeremy Hunt, but


I agree with kirs I r Kirsty in a way, if he really apologised. He


had really owned up, but he is argue against what the police


officer said. I think that leave as very uncomfortable... I think David


Cameron missed a huge PR opportunity it say that his party


is not about that, that they don't speak to people like that, but in


his actions in backing him up, we all know where the Tory Party's


loyalties lie. I would ask the audience if any of you have lost


your temper and been embarrassed about it after. He has apologised.


I think it is part of human nature. It does.happen, it is embarrassing


he should not have done it, but everybody loses their temper at


some point in their lives. I was wondering if a person who


called somebody a bigot should be asked to resign? Danny Alexander?


The answer is yes. It not just the corridors of power, but the legal


profession, the law courts, a whole range of professions which are


still far too dominated by people from a particular social background.


What we should be doing is ensuring that everyone from whatever


background have the bust possible chances in life. We cannot succeed


as a society with the lack of social mobility that we have in


this country. There is a situation where not everyone has the same


life chances. I believe we are trying to change that as a


Government, for investing more money into the schools most to the


disadvantaged children. More to nursery education, to disadvantaged


two-year-olds, you see the gaps emerging from the people from


disadvantaged backgrounds at a young stage. They get wider and


wider. By the time that people reach that stage in life, you get


to the situation where in all of these top professions it is heavily


weighted to people from public backgrounds.


To succeed as a society every single person needs to have the


chance to get to the top. APPLAUSE


Do you think what Andrew Mitchell said betrays an attitude which has


damaged the Tories, therefore damaging the coalition? I don't


know about that. I think it was certainly the wrong thing to say it


was incredibly stupid for him to insult a policeman or a police


woman in the way he is reported to have done. He has apologised to it.


Not just generally, but directly to the individual.


Let me finish. He apologised directly to the individual. That


individual has accepted the apology. The Metropolitan Police


Commissioner does not want to see a further investigation. The two


individuals concerned have dealt with the situation, the rest of us


should do so too. By the way, on the panel, Harriet and I have


personal experience of apologising. Harriet has made comments about my


hair colour, she phoned me to apologise for it. I accepted it,


that is that. Can you remind us of the offending


words? She referred to me as a ginger rodent! APPLAUSE


I laughed about it, but many others with red hair did not. She as


gracious enough to phone to apologise, I accepted it again


straight away, I am glad to have a chance to do so again on air.


Danny Alexander, do you think that raising tuition fees to an


extortion faith amount enables people to have a good education,


the same as privately educated people? I think that the new system


in place is in some respects better for people from disadvantaged


backgrounds. More money is spent on fee waivers so people don't have to


pay money or any fees. Nothing upfront when you go to university.


You only pay it back when you are in a good job earning more than


�21,000. That is higher than under the previous system. So if you are


earning �25,000, you will pay back �30. That is something which is a


fair contribution for the advantages that you get for a


universities education. I don't know how Danny can talk


about his desire for everyone to have equal chances when they are


cutting Sure Start. Thecational maintenance allowances, you say


that they have trebled tuition fees. He just, all of the things that


they say, the pupil premium that has come in, but the biggest cuts


in schools that there have been for decades. Although his hair colour


is lovely, the policies are rubbish! APPLAUSE


We have to go on. From Richard Cook? Joirbgs what does the panel


believe motivated the decision -- what does the panel believe


motivated the system of Rochdale services to ignore the grooming of


under-age females? This is the report that came out in Rochdale


about the way that the Social Services and the police behaved


towards young girls who made complaints. What motivates the


question, do you think? This is yet another telling example of why it


is important that if children complain, that they have been


sexually abused, that you must start off by believing them and not


disbelieving them. Because if you don't actually listen to them and


take seriously their complaints and investigate them, then that is what


the abusers rely on to go on. Whether or not it is the Catholic


Church that had the problem of children complaining but not


listened to over the years or whether what happened in Rochdale.


So I think that the lesson that we have got to learn from this is not


to write-off the complaints. Don't blame the victim. Don't assume


there are some sorts of girls that would do that. Listen to them to


protect them. The other thing that is disturbing about this is the


idea that somehow it could be said that it is OK because these girls


were prostitutes. I mean, when are we going to take a view in this


society that it is not OK for men to be paying for sex and that those


women or girls who get into that situation, that is not a free


choice, that is exploitation. So I think we have to wake up and have


some attitude-changing. The question was what do you think


motivated the decision to act as they did? I think it was the


tendency not to start from the starting point of believing the


girls and taking seriously what they said. Possibly the police


thought, this is not going to go anywhere. Possibly the CPS might


have thought, juries will not believe these girls if we took it


to court. Everybody, whether it is social workers, police, the Crown


Prosecution Service and all of us in the public, have to start from


the starting point of listening to children and not somehow assuming


that people are making it up, because that is how abuse remains


hidden for years. Girls mature faster than boys. So people have


foolishly, idiotically, made the mistake of thinking that these


children were women. They were not women. Just because they have boobs


and wear make-up, it does not make them women. They are children. And


the people involved in this case looked at them and thought these


were bad young women. My stepson is 13 years old and he is a child. And


he may be having all sorts of adult experiences and spending time away


from home and all sorts of things but he remains a child. And in the


law you're a child until you are 16 and cannot vote until you are 18.


The biggest mistake that was made is that people were judging these


girls. They were judging them, thinking they were not from the


right background, or came from families social services knew of,


and that they were wrong ones. That is the assumption they were making.


Actually, this entire thing makes me want to weep. I remember reading


about it in the Times last year and just thinking, this is just


appalling, because these are children, and they have been let go


by the state. I think it is an issue of resources. With all of the


cuts being made on the public sector, a with the social work, the


police, probation, prism, the NHS, the people working in these fields


do not have the resources on the time to investigate claims that are


not clear cut. And I think that with the cuts being made we are


going to see more and more cases where social workers do not have


the resources to check up on issues like these. Was that the issue,


Steve Coogan? We do not know the full facts, so we do not know. I


think there is the inference that is being made in some quarters that


it might have been about the religious dimension to this, of the


accused involved. And whether, because of religious sensitivities,


there may have been recalcitrance on the part of the police. That is


always a political hot potato. The one thing that nobody wants to talk


about is the perception of misogyny in certain religions. I would say


that is true of certain aspects, certain people within Catholicism,


and also other religions. I do not think any religion has a monopoly


on this. I think part of the problem is being able to have a


mature discussion about what we think our shortcomings in our own


and other people's religions without it turning into a racist


football. I am choosing my words very carefully, because it is a


hair-trigger for things. But that has been mooted. Are you saying the


police and social services held back because they felt embarrassed


by the possibility they were going to be accused of racism? I have


read that somewhere. I want to be very careful because this is daily


Mail territory, they love that kind of thing. But I think part of what


happened there is that there is a dimension that was not addressed by


people. People were scared of addressing it for fear of people


jumping down their throat. And also the right for fear in some cases of


igniting racial tension. -- right I think there has been effectively


criminal negligence by the police. There can be no way of excusing


girls of 10 and 11, of saying they were willing. There is no way of


saying that was a right action and the police have to follow that up.


If they did not, you must wonder what was their ulterior motive. To


say they may have been embarrassed by some racial dimension is a


dereliction of duty, and they should be culpable and they should


be blamed. May be the best way of dealing with


this is actually making the prison sentences life, not four years.


Make it strong, rather than what they are doing at the moment.


this is a truly appalling set of circumstances and I do not know was


-- what was in these people's minds when they were hearing these


complaints and ignoring them but I hope the Serious Case Review, which


will go into the details of the people working on it and what


motivated them, will get to the bottom of that. Do you think it


will get to the bottom of the race and religious issues Steve Coogan


mentioned? Is that part of the inquiry? I do not know if those


were the issues at stake. I cannot speculate on the motives because it


seems to me to be such an appalling omission. As has been said, they


were young girls, not women. They were under the age of consent. You


would have thought that when they came to complain, the officials


would have said, something against the law is going on here,


forgetting all the other issues the panel have rightly raised. I am a


father of two daughters and I think it is truly appalling that young


women can go and complain to the authorities and be ignored like


that and have their lives ruined. It is disgraceful. The woman in the


4th row. The points raised by the brave young people that contributed


to this report were that they were not listened to. There had been


countless reports going back many years, Serious Case Reviews, etc,


talking about young people not being listened to. It is not


expensive to listen to young people. Why have we not learn from earlier


reports? I am just adding to what people


have been saying, and there is an issue in Eastbourne, where a young


girl, a friend of hers mentioned to the teachers that she had been


having an affair with a teacher she has run away with, but she was not


listened to. How long does it take for somebody to take action?


I agree with the gentleman in the second row who put it correctly. It


is outrageous that girls at this young age did not have their


complaints taken seriously. To go back to the very beginning, the


question, what was the motives of the people who ignored it? I do not


care what their motives were. I do not want this covered up by saying,


they were nervous about political correctness. That is the wrong way


to go because it gives them an excuse and it says, it might have


been all right to cover it up. And it was not. It was wrong. Their


excuse and motive does not matter. These were children and they were


abused, and it is terrifying that when they went to the people who


they thought would protect them, they were left just as vulnerable


as before they arrived. And we need to ensure that the authorities do


their job, and when they do not, that they are punished with its --


for it. I am not sure that I agree you should send people responsible


to prison for life, but you should find criminal charges for people


who have failed in this way. At the back. Given the length of time that


this case has been happening and the appalling number of referrals


made over that time, apparently 84 from one team and 44 from another,


and over such a long period of time, is there is indicative of practice


all over the country? You think it is widespread. Harriet Harman.


I hope it is not an obviously the Inspectorate of social services


needs to make sure that all social services departments live up to the


standards of the best. But from time to time there is a false


accusation, like a young girl will make an accusation that a school


teacher has molested them. And if that accusation turns out to be


false, everybody gets really hysterical about that and says, his


career has been ruined. And then everybody retrench us. Actually,


what we have to recognise is that, although wrongful allegations and


the investigation of wrongful allegations can be very serious


against the person that allegation is made against, you have got to


have the starting point of starting to believe the child, no matter


what their background, no matter what their circumstances are. They


are the vulnerable ones. Any adult, no matter how important his


professional standing, whether in education, the church, or in his


community, it is better for him to take that risk than to have the


risk on the child. So next time you see hysteria in the papers about a


wrong for allegation about a teacher and everybody is saying


there should be more restrictions against investigations, just


remember the case of these girls in Rochdale.


A question from Andrew Priestley. Can the next generation a four-day


home without hope from the Bank of Mum and Dad? -- can they afford a


home without help from the Bank of Mum and Dad? I think it depends


where you live in the country. I do not think they can in Brighton,


that is for sure. If they are fortunate enough to have a bank of


mum and dad, which the vast majority do not, they will have to


go to them, because the banks are not lending. We saw some


irresponsible lending. I remember saying, we will not have any 100%


mortgages on my programme because I do not believe in them and I do not


want to look for houses for people who have them. But those days are


over. The banks, God willing, have learned their lesson, as have we


all, because we all played a part in this. And they have got to get


their act India and lend. Every day a friend, former colleague, someone


I was involved in, rings me and asks why it is taking so long for


their mortgage to go through. The banks are simply not lending to


people. They say that they are and all of the anecdotal evidence I am


seeing says they are not. So, yes, I think the Bank of Mum and Dad


should be better used, and I think that if people want to give their


children money to buy a property, they should be allowed to do so and


should not be taxed. But I also think that someone has to kick the


banks, and kick them hard. Danny Alexander. Kirsty is right to say


that in a lot of parts of the country, housing is simply too


expensive for first-time buyers to afford. Therefore, as well as


allowing the Bank of Mum and Dad to help, and we had an idea that, as a


Government, we are developing and announced at our conference about


allowing those mums and dads who do not have vast amounts of free cash


to give their children but do have a pension fund that they have built


up, where maybe they could release a lump sum early, use it to


guarantee a deposit, that is another way that parents could be


freed up to help kids buy a house. But we also need to build more


affordable housing in this country. Recently, we announced a new policy


of providing Government guarantees to housing associations to help


them build more affordable homes more cheaply. That is something


which is important here, too. There is more that we can do, but Kirsty


is right about the banks, too. We have been kicking the banks, and we


will continue to do so. Most recently the funding for lending


scheme the Bank of England announced with the Treasury is a


real push to the banks to lend more money to small businesses, which


was mentioned earlier, and to people who need to buy houses, too.


How are you kicking them? You have not been very effective. On


Question Time over the last two years we have had endless people


complaining about borrowing money and the person in your chair always


so as they are putting pressure on the banks, and the person sitting


there says, well, it does not make any difference.


APPLAUSE the problems in the banking system


are very deep-rooted and serious. It is taking a long time to change


the culture of regulation, which we have changed, the structure of


banks, which allowed them to have them lending to you and me and to


small businesses, and have that polluted by international casino


banking. Those are things we are changing. We have had several


schemes to get them lending more, and the latest is by far the


biggest, with the potential to increase bank lending by �80


billion. The early signs are positive in terms of the amount of


lending and the price of lending to people. We have put more money into


a scheme which hopes to fund deposits through shared equity


schemes for first-time buyers. We are putting Government money in to


help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. But these are


deep-rooted problems which take a Let's hear reaction? Why are the


banks not lend, then? There are a number of reasons why the banks are


not lending, but mainly due to the fact that they made such hugely


irresponsible decisions that they have to deal with that. They are


overindebted. So, why kick them? You have to get


them to help? The function that banks should be performing in an


economy working well is lending responsible to individuals that


want to buy homes and small businesses that need money to grow


and we have to get the banks to move forward. Encouraging them to


responsible activities. If people are to release their lump


sum pensions to fund their children buying a property, then what are


those parents going to live on when they are pensioners? It will not be


state pension? Harriet Harman? Do you like the idea of the use of the


pension to buy a house for your children? I think it is an


absolutely balmy idea! For a start, only a very small percentage of


people have pension pots which are big enough, so they, you would be


only helping a small number of people, but the idea that people


should gamble pension pots on the property market is absolutely


beyond bonkers. I do think that actually, even the Bank of Mum and


Dad is not working now as the Bank of Mum and Dad was a way of helping


a young person get a mortgage and even that is not working. That's


why we suggested one way forward would be to have a tax on the pool


of bonuses that banks pay to their top executives and use that money


for helping construction of building more homes which would


provide jobs as well as providing more homes. I do think it is wrong


that the Government are watering down the planning laws which said


that councils could say that as a condition of property developer


being able to develop a property that they would have to build some


affordable homes at the same time. I think it is disappointing that


they are not doing that. I feel passionately about more,


better quality low-cost homes, but the prok lem -- problem about the


planning regulation, it stopped people building. They sat on the


pools of land. The big companies, the big ing if firms have huge


parcels of land. They are waiting for what they see is the right


climate to build. It is incredibly important when anybody builds


anything that there should abproportion of low-cost homes, but


in some areas of London where it was 50%, they did not build. So you


find the point at which they will start building and there is enough


low-cost homes to build. I think that there has been a


generational shift in that people in their early 20s aspired to their


own home, most of us accept it may happen in our 30s, in the meantime


they are renting, but it would be a help if there is control in the


rents, especially in the south-east. APPLAUSE.


I think that suggestion is far more helpful than tax relief on the Bank


of Mum and Dad that will help only a section of privileged middle-


class people to the people at the bottom of the property ladder, it


does not make a difference. They have not any money, their parents


do I have money... So controlled rents? I think anything that helps


people at the bottom. That is where the money should go. In helping


those at the bottom of the ladder. There is tax relief on parents


lending money is something that is meaningless to the vast majority of


people. It helps a small section of society, again, people who are more


likely to vote Conservative. It does not help the vast majority of


people. Why is the Government so powerless


to control the banks? You run the country? Why can't you just say to


them a proportion of this money we have given you, �375 billion in


quantitative easing, which went into the banking system and


disappeared, why not say that a certain percent of that must be


lent to people to buy houses? �375 million went to debt. Not all


to the banks, but the gentleman in front is right. We hate the banks


but we kick them and it is making it harder for them to lend if you


put a tax on a billion pounds. It stops them lending �1 billion. We


put up capita ratios it reduces the amount of money that they can lend.


So there was a loan with the boom, but we put them up when there is a


bust. This is the wrong way round. Put them up to choke off a boom in


lending when it is getting out of hand. When there is a dirth of


money, reduce the capital ratios so that the banks have money to lend.


So it is better that banks do the business of banking rather than


governments, the history of governments running things is not a


very satisfactory one. I think we have time for one more


question it goes to the heart of what has been going on in Brighton.


Rebeba Adams has the question. After two years in clielgs


collision Government is anyone listening to Nick Clegg? Is anyone?


Apart from when he is singing on YouTube. Steve Coogan? He listen.ed


to me. I went to see him. He ensured me that he would ensure


that the fans of the Leveson report would be implemented. So, I was


pleased with him. Whether he can get that past David Cameron, I am


not so sure. The question is whether you were


listening to him, not whether he was listening to you? I was


listening to him as he was telling me what I wanted to hear. Whether


he can follow through it with it, I don't know. I am pleased that the


liberals are part of the coalition. They put the brakes on the Tories.


Maybe not as much as we would like, but had they not been there, they


were the fly in the Tory ointment, the more flies in Tory ointment,


the better, as far as I am concerned, but whether people will


listen to him, I don't know. I think that David Cameron has to


listen to him to some extent. As I don't think that the Tories will


get an overall majority at the in connection election.


Harriet Harman? I think if people are listening to Nick Clegg


theyline wondering what he said before the last election. If you


say you are going to increase the number of police officers by 3,000,


then vote to cut the number of police officers by 15,000, you know


if you say you are not going to put up VAT and straight away do that, I


think that people lose faith, but I also think, this is where I am not


sure that I agree with Steve on this, I think what has happened is


that you know if the Lib Dems fight for the pupil premium, then the


Tories let them have it, but they take away twice as much with the


other hand with the education spending and Sure Start if you


think of what the Lib Dems fought for in the manifesto of increasing


the threshold before paying tax and they won that, but then ended up


voting to cut tax credits and putting up VAT. So what you have


had is the Lib Dems trying to give with one hand and the Government


taking away twice as much with the other. I think that Nick Clegg at


his krches, they answered the question, -- at his conference


answered the question, which is what are Lib Dems for? It seems to


me that the answer to that question is that they are there to prop up


the Tories. Many people think at the next


election that maybe they'll be propping up Labour? We are fighting


for an overall majority. You know people have just one vote. We are


seeing that precious vote you give, we are asking you to give that the


Labour Party. The idea that people do deals behind closed doors...


Harriet! Come on! I'm sorry, Kirsty, we are not doing deals behind


closed doors. Alistair, Peter, Gordon, were not trying to do deals


behind closed door? -- doors? are not... In the situation where


we are now the -- before a general election, we are being straight


with people. We want an overall majority. We are not doing deals.


The only Lib Dem telephone number that I have got in my phone


contacts is actually Danny. That's right.


Well, there you go... Maybe we will have a chat... Maybe a chat on the


train home later. So, you don't obviously rule out a


coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the next election


if the figures worked out for you to have one? I am not a political


commentator. I am arguing and putting forward what our position


is and asking people to vote for that. You can't, we have a first-


past-the-post system. People have one vote. You cannot vote for a


coalition. You can either vote for the Government, which is the Lib


Dem and the Tories or vote for the alternative. Which is Labour.


Jacob Rees-Mogg, what do you think, are people listening to Nick Clegg


after two years? I don't like coalitions. I wish that the


Conservatives had won an overall majority. I don't like coalitions,


I think it allows the politicians to abandon policies. That is a bad


thing. We should be elected on a clear manifesto and deliver on it


or not, not to say we are in a clielgs, we cannot do it. Having


said that, the politicians have to deal with what we are given. We


were given a coalition. You could have been given a minority


government? People have. Then you have another election? They have


not. Harold Wilson had a Liberal /Labour pact.


In 70, he had a minority government... No he did not, he had


it in' 74. All I am saying is that you don't


have to gov entrepreneur as a majority government? We rarely have


minority governments. There was a period in the '70s and the '60s,


where Wilson had a small majority. In the '70s he went into a Lib/Lab


pact, but the parties have to deal with what the electorate delivers.


Actually, I think that Nick Clegg, I can hardly bring myself to say


this... Try! Try! He was rather noble two years ago in going into


coalition to the great disadvantage to his party because we were facing


a huge financial crisis. Remember the weekend after the election was


the point at which Greece was asking for its first bail out. At


that point the interest rate on UK guilts was the same as on Spanish


debt. Now we are at a fraction of Spanish debt. We had to do with


that financial crisis. We needed a clear Government. We could not have


a minority government that could be chucked out in a few weeks and


another election and a period of uncertainty. So much as it pains me


to say it, much though I don't like coalitions, I think that Nick Clegg


did a noble thing then and deserves to be listened to up to the next


election and then I hope you will listen exclusively to David Cameron


and not to anybody else. We have crossed our 60 minutes,


Danny. If you could be brief, I would be grateful?


The first thing to say is that single pearl governments have


broken a lot of promises. Reb the Labour policy of ethical foreign


policy. Remember the war in Iraq? Boom and bust? The mess that they


made of our economy? I think that people are listening to Nick Clegg


and to the Liberal Democrats as we made the right decision for the


country to go into coalition and we are delivering many of the things


that we care about. We are delivering income tax cuts for 24


million working people in this country. We are delivering extra


investment in schools and nursery education for the most


disadvantaged children. Delivering support for the green agenda in


this country. The Liberal Democrats are making a real difference to


this country ags part of a strong stable country to sort out the


country's economic problems and I am very proud that we are part of


this Government. Kirstie Allsopp, a lasting quick


word? Is anybody really listening? Not to you! It is interesting you


mention the war in Iraq. If Nick Clegg told me we would pull out of


Afghanistan early, I would listen to him. My mother-in-law told my


other half that more servicemen committed suicide in Afghanistan


than have died in combat. If this is true it is the most


heartbreaking thing I have heard. Every time with a Question Time,


when this war we are still engaged in does not come up, I think what


on earth is going on? APPLAUSE Well, I'm sorry it didn't come up


this week, but our time is up. We are in mar next week. We have Ken


Clarke and the boss of British Airways, Willie Walsh and after


that in Birmingham. So if you would like to come to Manchester or


David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Brighton. On the panel: Labour's Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp and comedian Steve Coogan.

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