11/10/2012 Question Time


11/10/2012

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Birmingham. Panellists include Grant Shapps MP, Caroline Flint MP, Simon Hughes MP, poet Benjamin Zephaniah and columnist Cristina Odone.


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Transcript


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By good evening. Question Time tonight is in Birmingham. -- good

:00:12.:00:16.

evening. And a big welcome to our audience

:00:16.:00:22.

and to our panel, Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps,

:00:22.:00:25.

shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, deputy leader of the Liberal

:00:25.:00:29.

Democrats, Simon Hughes, Daily Telegraph columnist, Christina

:00:29.:00:39.
:00:39.:00:49.

Odone. And poet and author, Thank you. Our first question from

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Des Michael Duff. Is the BBC's reputation about to be blown away

:00:54.:00:59.

by the Jimmy Saville debacle? the BBC's reputation about to be

:00:59.:01:06.

blown away by the Jimmy Saville debacle? Grant Shapps. This has

:01:06.:01:09.

been very, very concerning in the last week or two as this has come

:01:09.:01:12.

out. What is incredible is that this is something which appears to

:01:12.:01:17.

have taken place not just over the last few years, but over four

:01:17.:01:21.

decades, which means a lot of people must have been aware. And

:01:21.:01:26.

now it turns out there are 30 cases the police have said have come

:01:26.:01:29.

forward. Day-by-day, it seems unimaginable that people within the

:01:29.:01:34.

BBC did not know. There was that Newsnight report put together, but

:01:34.:01:38.

not dead, apparently because there was about to be a programme with

:01:38.:01:42.

three separate airings of a programme paying tribute to Jimmy

:01:42.:01:47.

Saville's life. -- it was not dead. I think the BBC knows there are

:01:47.:01:50.

questions to be answered. That is why the chairman, Chris Patten,

:01:50.:01:54.

came out yesterday, fairly firmly saying that somebody independent

:01:54.:01:59.

should be appointed to look at this. Absolutely agree that what happens

:01:59.:02:04.

it is to have been absolutely outrageous. -- what happened.

:02:04.:02:09.

are the issues for the BBC's reputation? Is it the broadcast of

:02:09.:02:11.

the celebratory programmes about Jimmy Saville when they knew that

:02:11.:02:14.

Newsnight had been interviewing people who alleged they had been

:02:15.:02:20.

abused? Or is it that nobody within the BBC over 40 years of the said,

:02:20.:02:24.

I think something is going wrong? think it is disturbing when you

:02:24.:02:27.

hear the number of people who have come forward from within and

:02:27.:02:30.

outside the BBC and have said, I knew something, I suspected

:02:30.:02:35.

something, or why was one of the victims in this. I think it is

:02:35.:02:38.

particularly disturbing that a programme paying tribute, a three-

:02:38.:02:43.

part programme, went out, three different programmes, just last

:02:43.:02:49.

Christmas, wasn't it, after it was already known that something was

:02:49.:02:53.

wrong, enough to have had a serious Newsnight programme made about it,

:02:53.:02:58.

and enough to have raised serious concerns. I think we need to know

:02:58.:03:02.

who knew what and when, and there are definitely questions that

:03:02.:03:07.

needed answering. Christina Odone. One of the biggest shocks is that

:03:07.:03:10.

it happened at the heart of the liberal establishment, in the

:03:10.:03:17.

hallowed halls of the BBC, which is cherished and trusted and respected.

:03:17.:03:24.

We are so comfortable and cosy with the BBC that we call her auntie. I

:03:24.:03:30.

think there were two levels of trust betrayed. One was by Jimmy

:03:30.:03:35.

Saville and his victims, young, under-age girls and I think one boy.

:03:35.:03:40.

But also us, the licence fee payers. And we feel we have been taken for

:03:40.:03:47.

a ride. And I think one of the interesting things is that BBC

:03:47.:03:53.

programme makers were very vicious and thorough in their condemnation

:03:53.:04:00.

of the Catholic church when they have their own gross child abuse

:04:00.:04:05.

scandals. And I think in fact what we could do is for the BBC to learn

:04:05.:04:12.

from the way that the Catholic Church mishandled its dealings of

:04:12.:04:18.

the child abuse cover-up, and we should have a very prompt and

:04:18.:04:22.

independent investigation. We should have a very public apology,

:04:22.:04:29.

not only by Chris Patten but by a the director general of the BBC.

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And we should have compensation for the victims, and a thorough clean-

:04:34.:04:39.

up of what looks like very filthy practices. And do you think that is

:04:39.:04:44.

happening, or do you think the BBC is dragging its feet? I think it

:04:44.:04:47.

has dragged its feet. Already we can say we should have already had

:04:47.:04:55.

a thorough clean-up of what has happened. The the question I have

:04:55.:05:03.

is, it is all well and good for the BBC with Jimmy Saville. What is the

:05:03.:05:06.

reputation of the various charities that he was associated with? Surely

:05:06.:05:14.

they will be tarnished with the same brush. Will there be something

:05:14.:05:18.

dumb thugs something done by which their charities Association can be

:05:18.:05:23.

moved away, because they'd may well lose donations because of

:05:23.:05:28.

association with him. Do you think it was a surprise to the hospitals

:05:28.:05:36.

where he worked? Without a doubt. In the back row. Should he not

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immediately lose his title? Should he lose his title? Benjamin

:05:43.:05:47.

Zephaniah. I think they are considering taking the title from

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him. I must say, when the story first broke, this is a bit of a

:05:53.:06:00.

confession. I jumped off the city and I said, I knew it. Seriously. I

:06:00.:06:03.

saw the documentary where somebody asked him about his feelings, and

:06:03.:06:07.

he had no feelings for anybody. They asked him if he could love

:06:07.:06:12.

anybody and he said, What Is Love? He had no emotional intelligence at

:06:12.:06:17.

all. He did not seem to care about anybody. I remember thinking, that

:06:17.:06:21.

is a very dangerous person. But it was a private thought and I could

:06:21.:06:28.

never have said that. He was raising millions for charities. I

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remember first going into the Catholic Herald and being told,

:06:31.:06:37.

there is this saint called Jimmy. And they will all bowled over by

:06:37.:06:44.

how brilliant he was, -- they were all bowled over. How he was

:06:44.:06:46.

tireless in his devotion to charities, especially charities

:06:46.:06:53.

dealing with young children. I have to say, I went through the

:06:53.:06:57.

children's homes. I knew kids who were abused. I never was. But at

:06:57.:07:00.

night I had to sometimes try to stop children from getting out of

:07:00.:07:07.

bed in the middle of the night and going to meet members of staff. And

:07:07.:07:11.

I remember a kid crying in front of me, begging me to let him go to be

:07:11.:07:16.

abused because he was so scared. And this addresses the point you

:07:16.:07:21.

have just raised. When we put people on a pedestal, and we beat

:07:21.:07:25.

them up so much, and Jimmy Saville was basically the BBC man through

:07:25.:07:30.

and through. They just become untouchable. And they can do good

:07:30.:07:33.

things in the community. Many people who abuse children do good

:07:33.:07:36.

things in the community. They do football, church, all of those

:07:36.:07:42.

things, to have access to these young people. So we put them on a

:07:42.:07:47.

pedestal and they become untouchable. Last night, my mother

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said, I don't believe anything like this about Jimmy Saville, I think

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he is a good man because of the good things he has done. What about

:07:55.:08:02.

the BBC's reputation? I remember in the 1980s going into an office in

:08:02.:08:06.

the BBC. If I could remember the person, I would say. This person

:08:06.:08:11.

was waiting to get a secretary. I said, what is she like? He said, I

:08:11.:08:16.

do not care, as long as she has big breasts. There was a culture at the

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time that allow that kind of thing and they just got away with it.

:08:20.:08:26.

the second row from the back. think there is something of a nasty

:08:26.:08:29.

taste to be left by the fact that if this investigation is to be

:08:29.:08:34.

pursued, basically we live in a society where everybody remains

:08:34.:08:37.

innocent until proven guilty and has the right to be tried in a

:08:37.:08:41.

court of law, that if the BBC is going to be seen to be supporting

:08:41.:08:46.

this, it is going to set a precedent to bring postern has

:08:46.:08:51.

convictions and allegations against other people have passed away, and

:08:51.:08:59.

the trauma that will cause to their families. -- posthumous convictions.

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It is not like he will be tried in a court of law because he is dead.

:09:02.:09:05.

The problem is every single day there are more people coming

:09:05.:09:09.

forward with things they witnessed, or happened to them. I do not think

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we can avoid that, or ignore it. As far as the reputation of the BBC,

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there are two aspects. One, still to get to the bottom of why the

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Newsnight report was squashed and the reasons for that. The second

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part of it is about looking at the BBC as an institution, and

:09:26.:09:29.

reflecting on whether there is more they should have done during that

:09:29.:09:36.

period. I am not just talking about Jimmy Saville. Liz Kershaw, the

:09:36.:09:40.

radio DJ, recounted that when she was broadcasting, male colleagues

:09:40.:09:43.

would literally come to her and put their hands on her breasts while

:09:43.:09:47.

she was broadcasting and could do nothing about it. When she raised

:09:47.:09:51.

it, she was told, that is part of what it is like, that is just what

:09:51.:09:56.

you have to put up with. There is an issue about addressing that.

:09:56.:10:00.

Wider in the BBC, it is recognising about when we put people on a

:10:00.:10:04.

pedestal. But also within institutions, whether a church

:10:04.:10:07.

institution, school, children's home, politics, the media,

:10:07.:10:12.

hospitals, wherever, how do we protect the most vulnerable in

:10:12.:10:16.

those institutions? And we don't allow the powerful to basically

:10:16.:10:20.

take complete liberties with the power that they have got. I think

:10:20.:10:24.

that is important. To bring it up to date, let's not believe this is

:10:24.:10:29.

something in the past. We have seen those young girls who were groomed

:10:29.:10:32.

into prostitution, and they raised their voice and the police did not

:10:32.:10:35.

listen to them, people did not listen in the community. Every day,

:10:35.:10:40.

they are women and men facing sexual harassment at work in

:10:40.:10:42.

different situations and often they are fearful of saying anything

:10:42.:10:46.

because they think they will be ridiculed and told they are too

:10:46.:10:50.

politically correct. It is here today. Maybe not the same as in the

:10:50.:10:54.

1980s, but it is here today, people feeling powerless when they are in

:10:54.:10:57.

a position where people more powerful than them keep them from

:10:57.:11:07.
:11:07.:11:08.

raising their voice. We also have to question why so few

:11:08.:11:13.

people came forward. What does it say about society that they stayed

:11:13.:11:17.

silent for so long? And if they did come for, why were they not

:11:17.:11:24.

listened to? Simon Hughes. extraordinary thing is that

:11:24.:11:29.

apparently nobody went to the police over 40 years. I find that

:11:29.:11:35.

almost unbelievable. If somebody ever did go to the police and that

:11:35.:11:39.

comes up, that raises another set of really serious issues. Of course,

:11:40.:11:44.

there is a BBC issue, because a public broadcaster has an

:11:44.:11:47.

obligation to warn of the people who come to work for it and who, as

:11:47.:11:53.

visitors, to make sure that they are respected and not abused. -- it

:11:53.:11:56.

has a responsibility to all of the people. It is not going to be

:11:56.:12:00.

hampered in this case by a criminal prosecution because the man is dead,

:12:00.:12:03.

so they do not have to wait for the police, the CPS and all of these

:12:03.:12:09.

people. So the BBC can get on with things. But I have one equally big

:12:09.:12:13.

concern. Jimmy Saville appeared to go into hospital on a regular basis

:12:13.:12:15.

and other public sector institutions where there were

:12:15.:12:19.

honourable people. That, for me, is as worrying, that he apparently

:12:19.:12:26.

went about his illegal and disgraceful business there, and of

:12:26.:12:30.

their there were not complaints made, pursued or followed up. And

:12:30.:12:35.

the one place where everybody in this room would want people to be

:12:35.:12:38.

secured are the children's homes and the hospitals in our country,

:12:38.:12:43.

run by the state. We have to make sure schools and hospitals are

:12:43.:12:46.

safeguarded institutions. If they have failed, there is a serious

:12:46.:12:56.
:12:56.:12:59.

issue about Leeds hospital, Stoke Somebody raised the point about the

:12:59.:13:05.

knighthood. Those expire when someone dies. I would be in favour

:13:05.:13:08.

of the forfeiture committee taking a close look at this because it

:13:08.:13:12.

cannot be right but somebody apparently keeps the title in front

:13:12.:13:18.

of their name when this is the reality of their lives. A couple

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more brief points. I like solutions rather than problems, so how do we

:13:27.:13:31.

move on and make sure this does not happen again? I think Jimmy

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Saville's celebrity status is a problem. He managed to get into

:13:34.:13:39.

these places and do this under that umbrella. I think the public sector

:13:39.:13:43.

needs support in ensuring that no matter what state as a person has,

:13:43.:13:48.

with any manager, is a liberty, a footballer, that they have the

:13:48.:13:52.

support to be able to whistle blower and talk and people will

:13:52.:14:00.

believe them. One more point. watching something on the BBC this

:14:00.:14:05.

morning, an interview with a lady that was saying, making an

:14:05.:14:09.

allegation against him. She said she told her parents and they shrug

:14:09.:14:14.

it off, he would not do that. I think there are serious issues with

:14:14.:14:18.

parents saying to a child that that would not happen. Something needs

:14:18.:14:28.
:14:28.:14:41.

We followed the example of David Cameron in one thing and we've

:14:41.:14:43.

Cameron in one thing and we've started tweeting this week, like he

:14:43.:14:50.

says he has. We now have a Twitter panellist.

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Tonight the columnist is Toby Young. If you do tweet, you will know what

:14:55.:15:00.

I'm talking about. If you don't, you can remain the blissful

:15:00.:15:05.

ignorance. Another question, from ignorance. Another question, from

:15:05.:15:08.

Laura Howard, please. Is George Osborne discriminating against the

:15:08.:15:14.

under 25s with his proposal to remove housing benefits? Benjamin

:15:14.:15:22.

Zephaniah, is it unwarranted discrimination? I think it is

:15:22.:15:26.

discrimination and very dangerous. What happens when you take away the

:15:26.:15:31.

benefit of these people. You are going to push them back into the

:15:31.:15:35.

homes where some were abused, you are going to push them on to the

:15:35.:15:41.

street. We are just forcing them to go into situations which they don't

:15:41.:15:46.

want to go in. Nobody wants, well, I believe very few people are

:15:46.:15:50.

people that want to just live off benefits for the sake of it. Young

:15:50.:15:55.

people, especially now, need a hand. We can't keep putting pressure on

:15:55.:16:00.

them to go out and get jobs, when there are no jobs. You can't push

:16:00.:16:06.

people into the swimming pool when you have taken the water out of the

:16:06.:16:14.

swimming pool. APPLAUSE What the Government was trying to do was

:16:14.:16:17.

save �1.8 billion I think in housing benefit, and this was one

:16:17.:16:21.

of the ways of doing it. Grant Shapps. This is a proposal for the

:16:21.:16:26.

future. It is not something for right now. This is as a result of

:16:26.:16:30.

the difficult spending environment, there needs to be savings in future.

:16:30.:16:36.

Sorry, does it make it different that it is for the future? No, it

:16:36.:16:43.

is that figure is not now, it is for the future, �10 million from

:16:43.:16:49.

the benefits bill. The benefits and pension is �200 billion. One pound

:16:49.:16:53.

in three that the Government spends in this country. It is an enormous

:16:53.:16:57.

amount and can't go unchecked forever there. Has to come a point

:16:57.:17:00.

where if you are a young person and you have studied and you are

:17:01.:17:05.

probably now at home living back at home and you're working, you are

:17:05.:17:08.

probably saving up for that first flat. You are probably not going to

:17:08.:17:14.

do it by the time you are 25. What we are saying is if you are not in

:17:14.:17:19.

work you shouldn't be in an advantage because you are on

:17:19.:17:22.

welfare rather than in work. Somebody has to pick up the tab for

:17:22.:17:29.

this and it's the taxpayer who is having to pick up the tab for

:17:29.:17:33.

taxpayers for people who have to live at home and carry on working.

:17:33.:17:38.

There'll be exemptions, people who've come out of care and people

:17:38.:17:42.

with other troubled backgrounds will be exempt. But I do think it

:17:42.:17:48.

is right on the balance of fairness to all, that we do check the

:17:48.:17:58.
:17:58.:17:59.

welfare bill and don't let it rise inexorably. Giving charitable aid,

:17:59.:18:03.

charity should begin at home. We need to look at the elderly, the

:18:03.:18:08.

aged, and instead of trying to take money away from them. Look at what

:18:08.:18:14.

we are spending overseas. Not everybody else jumps up and sends

:18:14.:18:18.

their troops abroad or donates tens of billions. Are you against any

:18:18.:18:22.

cuts in the welfare bill? We need to be prudent at the moment,

:18:22.:18:26.

because of the economic state. However, it seems to be we are

:18:26.:18:31.

always penalising those with the least amount, and that's wrong.

:18:31.:18:41.

APPLAUSE OK. Can I go back to Grant Shapps and say how he thinks it is

:18:41.:18:44.

fair that my grandparents and parents have paid tax all their

:18:44.:18:48.

lives it is not against me not to be allowed to have benefits when a

:18:48.:18:54.

European family from the EU can have those same benefits but I'm

:18:54.:18:59.

having mine taken from me? How is that not discrimination? APPLAUSE

:18:59.:19:04.

My view is this should be fair on everyone. On the aid budget point,

:19:04.:19:09.

I think it is �10 billion. The welfare budget is �200 billion.

:19:09.:19:14.

It's a huge budget and it has gone up and up. We can't go on spending

:19:14.:19:24.

�1 in �3 on welfare. I don't want you to be in a disadvantaged person.

:19:24.:19:30.

A young person watching this probably can't afford to buy their

:19:30.:19:34.

own house. This is about fairness to the taxpayer as a whole. Your

:19:34.:19:37.

parents are having to go out and earn the money. We don't want to

:19:37.:19:41.

put people in a better position when they don't work. The answer of

:19:41.:19:46.

course is to have more people in work. That's why it is good that

:19:46.:19:50.

unemployment has been falling in the last six months. Simon Hughes,

:19:50.:19:54.

will the Liberal Democrats oppose this move that was announced at

:19:54.:19:58.

conference? Grant made clear it is not a done deal across the

:19:58.:20:04.

coalition. I, as proposed, would not agree to it. I'm very clear

:20:04.:20:07.

about it, for the reasons that prompted the question. I have a

:20:07.:20:12.

made who works for Centre Point, the charity working with young

:20:12.:20:16.

single people who can't stay at home. I asked him for four figures

:20:16.:20:22.

today. There are 385,000 youngsters under 25 claiming housing benefit.

:20:22.:20:26.

17% are employed. They use it to top up their employment. If they

:20:26.:20:30.

didn't have it, they probably couldn't afford to stay where they

:20:30.:20:35.

are living and they would probably have to give up their work. On that

:20:35.:20:40.

basis it seems unintelligent. 7% are sick or disabled, so they are

:20:40.:20:44.

not going to be able to go to work and the money won't make any

:20:44.:20:48.

difference. Half of them have dependent children. Are you really

:20:48.:20:52.

saying that we should be depriving a 23-year-old mum of the money she

:20:52.:20:57.

needs to keep the roof over the head of her two little ones? Lastly,

:20:57.:21:01.

I'm for collecting more money from the people who are very well off in

:21:01.:21:07.

this country. There are loads of people... APPLAUSE Who still have

:21:07.:21:13.

most of the wealth. 1% of this country own about 15% of the wealth.

:21:13.:21:17.

10% own half the wealth in this country. Come on, if we wanted a

:21:17.:21:21.

society where we pay off our debts and cut the money, let's collect

:21:21.:21:26.

money from people who can afford to pay, not take money from youngsters

:21:26.:21:31.

who are struggling with all the other pressures and trying to bring

:21:31.:21:35.

up their kids and survive. Do you think Nick Clegg will agree with

:21:35.:21:40.

you and make this an issue, a dividing you? The coalition and

:21:40.:21:45.

refuse? Nick does agree with me. Sorry, so the Liberal Democrats

:21:45.:21:50.

phalanx in Government is going to say no? We are have not signed up

:21:50.:21:54.

to cutting housing benefit. won't? I don't imagine for a moment

:21:54.:22:00.

that we will. I will come back to you. Cristina Odone. I think Simon

:22:00.:22:08.

is thinking that Nick is going to stand up to David in a way that he

:22:08.:22:17.

didn't over university fees. APPLAUSE I can't quite see that

:22:17.:22:21.

that one going. But I also think another thing. I think most young

:22:21.:22:27.

people are motivated by a sense of fairness rather than a sense of

:22:27.:22:31.

entitlement. I do agree that it is very hard to be one of the 3

:22:31.:22:36.

million graduates who are forced to go back and live at home, even

:22:36.:22:43.

though they are working really hard, and to know that there's 210,000

:22:43.:22:49.

people between 16 and 24 who automatically got a council home. I

:22:49.:22:56.

think that is very unfair. Cristina, they don't automatically get a

:22:56.:23:01.

council home. They are automatically eligible. No. You are

:23:01.:23:07.

wrong. Single people... I did my homework. Single young adults are

:23:07.:23:11.

not automatically eligible for a council authority in any authority

:23:11.:23:14.

in England. There are lots of automatic eligibility. One of the

:23:14.:23:21.

interesting things is that I've got friends who are between 16 and 24.

:23:21.:23:25.

Most of them my stepson's friends, and they are saying this is not

:23:25.:23:29.

fair. They are also saying, I don't think I'm entitled to have a home

:23:29.:23:36.

of my own the moment I come out of university. Lots and lots of kids

:23:36.:23:43.

are prepared to share rooms, to go back home and live with mum and dad.

:23:44.:23:49.

You're only entitled to the money on a shared room basis up to the

:23:49.:23:55.

age of 35. Honestly, if you are single. Caroline Flint? I'm afraid

:23:55.:24:00.

this is another one of those ill thought through policies on a back

:24:00.:24:03.

of an envelope which is about disguising the fact that their

:24:03.:24:09.

economic plan is failing. APPLAUSE They are having to find �10 billion

:24:09.:24:12.

to plug the gap their deficit plan, because the truth is this year they

:24:12.:24:18.

are having to borrow 22% more. That's about �800 a second more

:24:18.:24:23.

borrowing, because it is failing. They've restricted growth. That's

:24:23.:24:28.

going down to something like minus 0.4% for 2012, the IMF announced

:24:28.:24:32.

that. Clearly with 1 million young people unemployed, if they think

:24:32.:24:37.

this is the answer, it is a joke. As Benjamin said, let's talk about

:24:37.:24:40.

people rather than statistics. An awful lot of these young people

:24:40.:24:45.

have been in situations where they've come out of the care system

:24:45.:24:49.

or are leaving abusive situations at home. A large number are young

:24:49.:24:53.

parents. Some of them are young people who've got on their bike and

:24:53.:24:57.

moved away from home to find work, but because the work is so lowly

:24:57.:25:01.

paid they are having to get supplement with housing benefit is.

:25:01.:25:06.

Issue here shnot this policy. It is to look at the reasons why young

:25:06.:25:13.

people, whether they are parents, young people who've left for work,

:25:13.:25:18.

need housing benefit. Give them the help to get into work and not rely

:25:18.:25:22.

on housing benefit. That's the answer. Both Caroline and I have

:25:23.:25:26.

been Housing Ministers at different times. One of the things that

:25:26.:25:29.

happened under the previous administration, housing benefit

:25:29.:25:36.

itself, the bill itself, doubled. The working poor happened to claim

:25:36.:25:40.

it. Up to �21 billion. I hear what you are saying, that you don't like

:25:40.:25:42.

this future example of how it could be trimmed. But the question is,

:25:43.:25:52.
:25:53.:25:53.

when are you going to agree with even 1 penny off the deficit?

:25:53.:25:58.

That's ridiculous. We said we would halve the deficit over this

:25:58.:26:03.

Parliament and that would include a 12% cut in policing, not 20%. Cuts

:26:03.:26:08.

in the education budget and elsewhere. The truth is your plan

:26:08.:26:12.

by going too far too fast has restricted the economy. You are

:26:12.:26:19.

having to borrow more. You are not way on target. We would be rattling

:26:19.:26:25.

like Greece if today if we carried on. I think again the Government is

:26:25.:26:30.

penalising the most vulnerable, which is the young people. APPLAUSE

:26:30.:26:33.

If you have a deficit from the benefit system you should go back

:26:33.:26:39.

to the bankers and get our money back from them. Your Government put

:26:39.:26:45.

us into this situation. Shouldn't we sort out the

:26:45.:26:48.

unemployment figures before talking about decreasing the welfare

:26:48.:26:54.

budget? How do you mean by sort out? Unemployment figures are far

:26:54.:26:57.

too high to even consider dropping the welfare budget. We've got

:26:57.:27:01.

record unemployment. Why don't we try to get people back into work

:27:01.:27:06.

before taking their benefits away from them without any jobs?

:27:06.:27:10.

APPLAUSE Welfare takes up a lot of spending in the UK at the moment,

:27:10.:27:14.

so it does need to be reviewed, but a lot of people in this country

:27:14.:27:19.

think that those on benefits just sit at home and don't need them.

:27:19.:27:23.

But a large majority of people in this country do need benefits.

:27:23.:27:26.

There should be an education. There's a small minority, there's

:27:26.:27:29.

not the jobs out from, so unemployment does need to be looked

:27:29.:27:33.

at before spending. A lot of people think we can't good out to work, it

:27:33.:27:36.

is better off to get benefits, because that will pay more than the

:27:36.:27:40.

jobs are paying out there. Following from that man's point,

:27:40.:27:44.

you need to target unemployment before you target the cutting

:27:44.:27:47.

spending og welfare. But you also need to make sure that the system

:27:47.:27:51.

doesn't mean that it is better for you not to work. You earn more if

:27:51.:27:57.

you don't work than if you work. That is the problem. I definitely

:27:57.:28:00.

agree with that. It is a social thing as well there. Needs to be

:28:00.:28:03.

education with your parents. If your parents are staying at home

:28:03.:28:07.

and giving the impression that it is better to stay at home because

:28:07.:28:11.

you will earn more, there needs to be education there. And legislation

:28:11.:28:15.

in schools and things where people need to be more aware of this.

:28:15.:28:20.

want to go to another member of the audience. You keep on mentioning

:28:20.:28:25.

that we are all in this together and let's make things fair. So

:28:25.:28:31.

let's start moving to the other end. Mention the mansion tax. Please

:28:31.:28:37.

mention the things about covering up the loophole tax avoidance.

:28:37.:28:41.

Let's look at the other end of address issue, where we can find

:28:41.:28:47.

money and not just focusing on the vulnerable end, the welfare end.

:28:47.:28:53.

Grant Shapps? I agree with you. Simon mentioned how much the

:28:53.:28:58.

wealthy are paid, the top 1% of earners account for almost 30% of

:28:58.:29:01.

all income tax receipts in this country. I absolutely agree with

:29:01.:29:08.

you. Those with the broadest shoulders should bear the largest

:29:08.:29:13.

contribution. You are giving millionaires a �40,000 tax rebate.

:29:13.:29:17.

The mansion tax. This is what's happening. The mansion tax I think

:29:17.:29:23.

would quickly become a homes tax. It boo quickly turn into ordinary

:29:23.:29:27.

homes. It will require the rebanding of everybody's homes.

:29:27.:29:32.

Anyone who has saved hard and worked hard all their lives will

:29:32.:29:39.

suddenly be called having a mansion. It would become a homes tax. As

:29:39.:29:43.

soon as the Inspector gets there and revalues all the homes,

:29:43.:29:47.

everyone watching this will find their homes would be rebanded into

:29:47.:29:50.

paying more. I do agree with you that the wealthiest need to pay the

:29:50.:29:53.

most. They are. Under this Government. Even under the last

:29:53.:30:01.

Budget they ended up paying over �1300 more as a result. While 2

:30:01.:30:05.

million people have taken out of tax entirely and 24 million people

:30:05.:30:09.

are paying less tax as a result of that increase in the tax-free

:30:09.:30:19.
:30:19.:30:27.

The system does not encourage responsibility. A lot of people

:30:27.:30:32.

that I was a school with had a child and got house immediately. At

:30:32.:30:37.

the end of the day, it is out of my pocket, so why should we continue

:30:37.:30:46.

I have no truck with people who think that being on benefits when

:30:46.:30:49.

they are of working age is a choice they should be able to make for

:30:49.:30:53.

life. It is why I said when I was a minister that when we were looking

:30:53.:30:58.

at young people in social housing, or other housing but out of work,

:30:58.:31:03.

we should focus on making sure they got training and education. But

:31:03.:31:06.

also the carrot and stick to say, you have an obligation to find work.

:31:06.:31:11.

I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with his with coming

:31:11.:31:15.

up with a policy that already various Conservative ministers are

:31:15.:31:19.

saying, we have to deal with this group, and it is unravelling the

:31:20.:31:24.

day-by-day, as some answer to issues around welfare reform. It is

:31:24.:31:28.

trying to find an answer to plug a gap in an economic plan which is

:31:28.:31:31.

not working. Talking of welfare reform, I think we should focus on

:31:31.:31:36.

things like fraud. In the last year of the Labour Government, we had

:31:36.:31:39.

the highest success rate in detecting fraud in the benefits

:31:39.:31:43.

system. It is only right to do that, just like we should deal with the

:31:43.:31:48.

fraud at the top of society by bankers and elsewhere. Before we go

:31:48.:31:53.

on, Simon Hughes, do you accept that the mansion tax is a dead duck,

:31:53.:31:57.

now do you have heard what Grant Shapps and George Osborne said at

:31:57.:32:01.

the conference? It looks as if the Tories are not going to agree. We

:32:01.:32:05.

think it is a good policy because houses do not move. You can tax

:32:05.:32:09.

them fairly quickly. You are going to end up agreeing on less and less

:32:09.:32:14.

as the parliament goes on. Coalition, by definition, is a

:32:14.:32:17.

coming together of different parties. We have agreed on lots of

:32:17.:32:21.

good things. We agreed on taking lots of people out of tax. We

:32:21.:32:25.

agreed on increases to the state pension, really important. There

:32:25.:32:30.

are things we disagree on. I want more wealth taxes, people to pay a

:32:30.:32:34.

mansion tax. But that does not mean to say, to pick up the gentleman at

:32:34.:32:37.

the back, or that I do not want people who are striving to be

:32:37.:32:41.

encouraged. My mum and dad married on no money in the bank at all. My

:32:41.:32:48.

dad got up at 4am to going brew beer, he was ace driver. Thug he

:32:48.:32:54.

was striving. My uncle ran a chemist's shop, he got up every

:32:54.:32:57.

morning and ran his own business all his life to make sure he had an

:32:57.:33:03.

income for him and his daughters and his wife. I am certain we do

:33:03.:33:08.

not want to DIS incentivise people for working instead of not working.

:33:08.:33:12.

If you cannot help youngsters, who may not have run at home, may have

:33:12.:33:16.

fallen out of their parents. There are all sorts of reasons why kids

:33:16.:33:19.

cannot be at home. If you do not hold them, you are more likely to

:33:19.:33:24.

have a generation that do not work. The if you show them compassion,

:33:24.:33:28.

you make them strive and turn them into a success and have them not on

:33:29.:33:37.

the dole. I am clear about that. You in the T-shirt. Briefly.

:33:37.:33:41.

think there is a large focus on the top earners being taxed and that is

:33:41.:33:46.

correct and needs to be addressed 100%. But there is a point that has

:33:46.:33:51.

been sadly ignored, although it might be unpopular with some people.

:33:51.:33:55.

There is a large percentage of his country that works in trade and

:33:55.:33:58.

other occupations that is consistently paid in cash.

:33:58.:34:04.

Consistently. And degeneration of funds that could be generated from

:34:04.:34:09.

that sector itself is enormous. -- the generation. And the fact that

:34:09.:34:15.

it is ignored it, and we are cutting housing for young people,

:34:15.:34:25.

think it is nonsense. Why is it not addressed? And you, sir. Why are

:34:25.:34:28.

young people, just starting out in life, being turned into the biggest

:34:28.:34:37.

victims of this financial crisis? The changes to tuition fees, the

:34:37.:34:44.

removal of the EMA, the potential threat to working tax credit. These

:34:44.:34:48.

are talented, brilliant young people feeling absolutely hopeless.

:34:48.:34:52.

There is that 17% that Simon mention, those that are in work who

:34:52.:34:56.

are young who could, if they lose housing benefit, become even more

:34:56.:35:00.

hopeless. They are those striving for work who, without housing

:35:00.:35:04.

benefit, could become even more hopeless. There is a hopeless

:35:04.:35:07.

generation already and the ironic thing is that it was not their

:35:07.:35:13.

greed and carelessness that put us in his place in the first place.

:35:13.:35:23.
:35:23.:35:26.

Where is it written that at the age of 24 you should have your own

:35:26.:35:31.

flat? On the Continent, nobody, but nobody dreams of that, except for

:35:31.:35:36.

the children of millionaires. And certainly not at the expense of the

:35:36.:35:41.

state. In fact, we have just come back from Rome, where there was a

:35:41.:35:44.

whole street of cars parked with newspaper on the cars because these

:35:44.:35:48.

were young people having it off, because at home they have mum and

:35:48.:35:58.
:35:58.:35:58.

dad. And that is what happens. Having what off? They cannot have a

:35:58.:36:02.

private life at home because they are living with their parents, and

:36:02.:36:08.

that is taken completely for granted. Gopinath! Enough,

:36:08.:36:18.
:36:18.:36:28.

I know, I have seen that. Seriously, as the lay person on here, it is

:36:28.:36:33.

interesting listening to everybody bandying figures about. But, Grant

:36:33.:36:37.

Shapps, you have to understand that no matter how you spinet, in this

:36:37.:36:43.

week of your conference, to young people out there, the world looks

:36:43.:36:46.

exactly like that man was saying. The young people are being bashed,

:36:46.:36:52.

and they did not have anything at all to do with this economic crisis.

:36:52.:36:56.

I would say one thing to those young people, we are on the side of

:36:56.:36:59.

the vast majority of young people who are working hard and try to get

:36:59.:37:02.

on in life. They need a break and I think this is the most important

:37:03.:37:06.

issue for them. We need a system which is fair to everybody, not

:37:06.:37:10.

just some. Hillary could win as a radical suggestion that might

:37:10.:37:16.

change things. Should Boris Johnson challenge David Cameron for the

:37:16.:37:24.

leadership of the Tory party? Benjamin Zephaniah. Would that

:37:25.:37:33.

changed everything? Do you see any of Boris Johnson? I think not. I

:37:33.:37:37.

cannot believe I am thinking about who I would prefer to lead the Tory

:37:37.:37:47.
:37:47.:37:47.

party. Boris Johnson said the Chinese... Thinking about our

:37:47.:37:52.

relationship with people abroad. He said the Chinese have no culture.

:37:52.:37:56.

This ancient culture, that goes back for thousands of years, and

:37:56.:38:01.

their culture is based on copying Western culture. He calls black

:38:01.:38:05.

people pick enemies. He said the problem with Africa is that the

:38:05.:38:13.

British are not there. He may seem like a buffoon, a clown, but he is

:38:13.:38:23.
:38:23.:38:25.

a very, very dangerous person, in my honest opinion. In London, there

:38:25.:38:28.

was an annual festival called Respect, which is bringing young

:38:28.:38:32.

people together with music and poetry and everything else. One of

:38:32.:38:35.

the first things he did when he got into London was to stop it. He did

:38:35.:38:43.

not want to see that kind of unity. I heard somebody in the Tory

:38:43.:38:50.

conference, a Tory supporter, I think, that really is worth

:38:50.:38:58.

repeating. He said, could you trust Boris with his finger on the

:38:58.:39:04.

nuclear button? It is all right for a joke, but could you trust him

:39:05.:39:10.

with the lives of everybody in Western Europe? I think not.

:39:11.:39:15.

somebody who has to share eight- page with Boris Johnson in the

:39:15.:39:20.

Daily Telegraph on Mondays, I have to say, even I have to look at his

:39:20.:39:23.

column before I look at mine, because he is that witty, that

:39:23.:39:30.

funny, that brilliant. Would I trust him? Forget the finger on the

:39:31.:39:40.
:39:41.:39:43.

thing. Would I trust him in a cab, which I trust him... Would die

:39:43.:39:49.

trust him to be on time? -- would I trust him? He is a force of nature.

:39:49.:39:55.

I think we would never be bored. We would always be on the edge of our

:39:55.:40:01.

seats. We would be laughing a lot. We would be the laughing stock of

:40:01.:40:09.

the world. The Olympics were a pretty impressive event. And Boris

:40:09.:40:19.

was the Mayor of London who made it happen. He did. The point about

:40:19.:40:23.

this question, presumably, was that you saw the reception he got from

:40:23.:40:33.

the Tories. He was a rock star. question is, would the Tory party

:40:33.:40:37.

do better under Boris Johnson as leader? In other words, should he

:40:37.:40:43.

challenge for the sake of the party? No, I think because the Tory

:40:43.:40:47.

party is going through one of the most difficult of economic times,

:40:47.:40:52.

they should stick to their present leader, not have the kind of

:40:52.:41:00.

factionalism, the kind of civil war that would be entailed in a Boris

:41:00.:41:05.

opposition. It is a shame, but let's see what happens next time

:41:05.:41:11.

around. Because the Tory party is so messed-up, Boris looks exotic.

:41:11.:41:17.

Is that what you meant? I do not think they should be a change at

:41:17.:41:23.

the moment. I agree with Christina Odone. I think Boris Johnson is

:41:23.:41:29.

riding on the crest of a wave, in view of the success of the Olympics.

:41:29.:41:34.

I actually think Boris mentioned Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Tessa

:41:34.:41:38.

Jowell, as well as others, in terms of the success of the Olympics, so

:41:38.:41:43.

I do not think you can give it all to Boris on that one. He was

:41:43.:41:49.

generous. He actually was generous in terms of all the people who took

:41:49.:41:55.

part to make the Olympics are a success. Importantly, I would

:41:55.:41:59.

imagine that there is part of me that things when people like Boris,

:41:59.:42:05.

long, you should either put up or shut up, basically, in terms of his

:42:05.:42:10.

challenge. He is clearly a thorn in David Cameron's side. But I think

:42:10.:42:13.

the politics of this, demonstrated this week at the Conservative

:42:13.:42:18.

conference, is that Boris is about being the messenger for more right-

:42:18.:42:22.

wing policies. And what happens in terms of the Tory party when Boris

:42:22.:42:26.

appears, Cameron has to start moving more and more to the right,

:42:26.:42:31.

to feed that need within the Conservative Party. And that is why

:42:31.:42:35.

this week we saw a lot of the things that David Cameron talked

:42:35.:42:40.

about when he was opposition leader, to get into the centre ground, to

:42:40.:42:43.

take the nasty out of conservatism, that was very much given a low

:42:43.:42:46.

profile against other policies like the one we have just discussed, to

:42:46.:42:50.

show that they are on the right of British politics. Boris, David

:42:50.:42:54.

Cameron, to be honest they both represent a type of politics which

:42:54.:43:01.

I do not think is good for Britain. Isn't this whole saga just making

:43:01.:43:05.

fun of a whole idea of a mayor? Many places around the country have

:43:05.:43:10.

been voting on a mayor. Is it just the position to put the old

:43:10.:43:14.

buffoons school friend, or is it away to get into parliament? It is

:43:14.:43:19.

not actually a place anyone would aspire to. You do not sound

:43:19.:43:24.

convinced. Well, I did think so, but this saga has changed it all

:43:24.:43:29.

around. I think the only way the

:43:29.:43:33.

Conservative Party would get back in in 2015 is to have Boris, and

:43:33.:43:38.

maybe a zip wire straight into Downing Street. The woman in the

:43:38.:43:43.

centre. Do you think Boris Johnson would want the job as Prime

:43:43.:43:48.

Minister? Grant Shapps. Can you answer the question? It is

:43:48.:43:54.

impossible to know what Boris thinks. Why? Because he comes up

:43:54.:43:59.

with lots of different views. disagree with the gentleman who was

:43:59.:44:07.

not sure about the job of the mayor. The position is fabulously

:44:07.:44:11.

successful. People would have seen the Boris bikes everywhere, they

:44:11.:44:14.

would have seen that he has done things for London, got rid of the

:44:14.:44:21.

ridiculous bendy bus that used to block every road. We do not want a

:44:21.:44:24.

eulogy to Boris Johnson. He might actually challenge you for the

:44:24.:44:30.

leadership one day, more to the point. Now, now! Do not say that to

:44:30.:44:34.

me. I know it is an embarrassing thing to be tipped to do, but you

:44:34.:44:38.

are one of those tipped as a potential leader. Let me stick with

:44:38.:44:45.

the question for a moment. Not too long. His term runs until 2016. He

:44:45.:44:52.

has said he will see out the term. I want to trade a couple of quotes

:44:52.:44:57.

from Boris. My favourite one is one where he says, there is no such

:44:57.:45:00.

thing as disasters, only opportunities, and each opportunity

:45:01.:45:10.
:45:11.:45:18.

is a fresh opportunity for renewed Right! I think his sense of humour

:45:18.:45:22.

is terrible. I canned understand why a group - I don't know how many

:45:22.:45:27.

people are in the Tory conference, found that mop, brush thing funny.

:45:27.:45:33.

If that was left to market forces and he was in a comedy club...

:45:33.:45:37.

been to hundreds of party conferences and the fourth or fifth

:45:37.:45:42.

day you will laugh at anything. Simon Hughes? No, he shouldn't

:45:42.:45:47.

challenge, is the short answer to your question. Look, I understand

:45:47.:45:51.

why Boris is so important to the Tory Party. They want won an

:45:51.:45:55.

election outright since 1992, which they won with Sir John Major. Not

:45:55.:46:01.

quite the same. But you haven't won one for 85 years. No, that's true,

:46:01.:46:06.

but we are on the way there. It takes time. I can see why the

:46:06.:46:12.

Tories think anything that excites, but no. The nuclear button is the

:46:12.:46:15.

bottom line question. Yes he's made a contribution in London, but

:46:15.:46:21.

bluntly for the Olympics it was other people - Tessa Jowell, Seb

:46:21.:46:31.
:46:31.:46:33.

Coe, a range of people. He has to serve out his term. My judgment is

:46:33.:46:37.

will he deliver the affordable housing that my constituents want

:46:37.:46:41.

in London? Will he honour the promise before the election that no

:46:41.:46:46.

police station will close? I will judge him on his actions, not his

:46:46.:46:51.

speeches. He is very funny, it is light relief for the Tory Party

:46:51.:47:00.

conference, but in my view he is not material for the leader of the

:47:00.:47:07.

party. Des pit what Benjamin said, the quotation or -- despite what

:47:07.:47:12.

Benjamin said, the quotation, should he be considered as Prime

:47:13.:47:17.

Minister or the next Mayor of London, the remarks he made about

:47:17.:47:24.

the Chinese. You don't think he should be? What do you think?

:47:24.:47:28.

think one of the reasons bore sis so well liked is he is not part of

:47:28.:47:32.

the coalition and is able to speak his mind freely and challenge what

:47:32.:47:36.

the Government propose. Tinge problem with Boris, if you like, is

:47:36.:47:42.

also that he does have this sort of approach that is almost the anti-

:47:42.:47:46.

politician's politician. I can see that. And I can see, I watched him

:47:46.:47:52.

this week on the TV, and I could see how he could touch the right

:47:52.:47:57.

buttons and come off almost like the Peter Ustinov of politics, for

:47:57.:48:02.

those hof you who are old enough to remember him. We should not

:48:02.:48:05.

underestimate Boris and his political philosophy. It is very

:48:05.:48:10.

right-wing. We shouldn't be lulled into a false sense of security that

:48:10.:48:15.

this guy with a bumbling persona, quite amusing on occasion, even

:48:15.:48:20.

though Benjamin doesn't think. So he has some pretty extreme right-

:48:20.:48:24.

wing views. He is very keen on supporting the bankers. So you

:48:25.:48:31.

would rather have Michael Green? Again we are into fantasy politics.

:48:31.:48:36.

I also think that if it got down to seriously voting for him as Prime

:48:36.:48:40.

Minister, outside the M25 I don't think he would have that much

:48:40.:48:46.

popularity, in Yorkshire or Birmingham. APPLAUSE

:48:46.:48:51.

If we had Michael Green, alias Grant Shapps as Prime Minister, I'm

:48:51.:48:58.

told we could give him $200 to buy software and we would make $20,000

:48:58.:49:06.

in 20 days or get our money back. You shouldn't believe everything

:49:06.:49:16.
:49:16.:49:16.

you right -- read. I've read in the last few weeks I am a Jehovah's

:49:16.:49:21.

Witness. I'm too late to give you $200. It is closed. How many people

:49:21.:49:29.

did you have to pay back and how many made $20,000? For viewers who

:49:29.:49:37.

are not aware, before I was in politics, I used to write business

:49:37.:49:42.

publications under the pen name Michael Green. I always remembered

:49:42.:49:52.
:49:52.:49:52.

what the slogan vote blue get green really means. Now we all know it.

:49:52.:49:58.

Are you really rich? No. Benjamin, my wife has spent the last few

:49:58.:50:02.

months asking me where this $28 million is hidden. Sadly we still

:50:03.:50:09.

have to work to pay the mortgage each month. Sadly you had to pay

:50:09.:50:15.

back so many $25 each months. find it interesting, they were

:50:15.:50:20.

businessmanuals, advising people on how to run their businesses. I

:50:20.:50:30.

understand when you are... You are running a business with an assumed

:50:30.:50:35.

name. Hello, I'm running a business. Give me your money. Bye-bye.

:50:35.:50:41.

must end with a serious question. Annie Sheen, please. Shouldn't the

:50:41.:50:46.

abortion limit be a matter for the morality of individual women and

:50:46.:50:53.

not Jeremy Hunt? APPLAUSE The new Health Secretary, who said

:50:53.:50:59.

he personally favoured reducing the abortion limit to 12 weeks and the

:50:59.:51:03.

Prime Minister saying he thought 22 instead of 24. The question, is

:51:03.:51:07.

should this be a matter for the morality of individuals and not for

:51:07.:51:11.

Jeremy Hunt? We had a number of people saying it shouldn't be a

:51:11.:51:15.

matter for men at all. Caroline Flint. This issue is one of those

:51:15.:51:19.

matters where there is usually a free vote in Parliament. I think

:51:19.:51:25.

that's right. But I think at the heart of this issue is when does it

:51:25.:51:30.

begin to matter that you override a woman's decision that she wants to

:51:30.:51:35.

make over whether to continue a pregnancy or not? What worries me

:51:35.:51:40.

about this discussion in the last week is that a lot of information

:51:40.:51:44.

is put into the public domain that presents a picture that doesn't

:51:44.:51:52.

bear any relation to reality. The truth is 91% of terminations or

:51:52.:51:58.

abortions happen before 12 weeks. 7% between 13 and 19 and less than

:51:58.:52:04.

1.5% between 20 and 24 weeks. Those that do take place over 20 weeks

:52:04.:52:11.

are for a whole number of reasons, connected to young girls who come

:52:11.:52:14.

forward or circumstances in terms of testing and screening. And also

:52:14.:52:19.

matter that change that create a huge matter of concern to that

:52:19.:52:24.

woman. I would say to the women in the audience and at home, this is

:52:24.:52:31.

not an easy issue for any woman to take. What worries me in this

:52:31.:52:34.

debate is an idea that women are casually applying to have a

:52:34.:52:37.

termination. The other point on the science, this is really important,

:52:37.:52:41.

because Jeremy Hunt said he felt the evidence suggested it should be

:52:41.:52:45.

reduced to 12 weeks. The Royal College of Obstetricians and

:52:45.:52:49.

gynaecologists, the royal college of nursing, the British Medical

:52:49.:52:53.

Association, have reaffirmed what they said in 2008. There is no

:52:53.:52:57.

scientific evidence to suggest that the viability of a foetus between

:52:57.:53:01.

20 and 24 weeks has changed. There is no evidence that that has

:53:01.:53:07.

changed. When we have these debates and it is puts into the public

:53:07.:53:11.

domain in the way it is, that people are bandying around that

:53:11.:53:17.

they know the evidence, particularly politicians, it does

:53:17.:53:20.

undermine access to safe abortions and for women to choose. There

:53:20.:53:25.

should be that option. APPLAUSE

:53:25.:53:30.

The notion was that a foetus at an earlier age had a better chance of

:53:31.:53:35.

surviving. I wand to ask should be should be should be, do you have a

:53:35.:53:42.

view about what the - dish want to ask Annie Sheen, do you have a view

:53:42.:53:47.

about what the limit should be? shouldn't change. I don't agree

:53:47.:53:51.

with Jeremy Hunt. 24 weeks. I completely agree with Caroline. A

:53:51.:53:55.

woman who decides to have an abortion at any time in her

:53:55.:53:58.

pregnancy, it's a terrible thing to have to decide to do. We should

:53:58.:54:08.
:54:08.:54:09.

have a health policy that allows that breth of individual choice for

:54:09.:54:17.

women. All the way up until what? don't work in the health profession.

:54:17.:54:20.

Really my question was more about that it should be the woman's

:54:20.:54:25.

choice and that the policy should reflect that. And that Jeremy Hunt

:54:25.:54:30.

and other politicians shouldn't be politicising this when perhaps it

:54:30.:54:37.

shouldn't need to be. We need to be brief. I think that unfortunately

:54:37.:54:43.

politics does come into it, because we need a legal framework within

:54:43.:54:50.

which to work the abortion line. I think that unlike Caroline, there

:54:50.:54:57.

is plenty of medical, scientific breakthroughs that show us that a

:54:57.:55:04.

foetus is viable between 20 and 24 weeks. That they survive at 20

:55:05.:55:11.

weeks. There are thousand thousands of Britons alive who've not only

:55:11.:55:15.

survived but thrived as premature babies who were born between 20 and

:55:15.:55:22.

24 weeks. What are we saying about them? What's your view? My view is

:55:22.:55:28.

that we should certainly review the law, because medical science has

:55:28.:55:32.

shown us that the way it stands doesn't make sense. You are not

:55:32.:55:37.

against abortion at all? As a Catholic I'm against abortion, but

:55:37.:55:42.

as a citizen I do not expect the laws to reflect my religious views.

:55:42.:55:48.

But I do think that the law should take into account medical science.

:55:48.:55:52.

Benjamin Zephaniah? As a man I think I have, I should have no say

:55:52.:55:59.

in the way that a woman chooses to deal with this issue, unless I am

:55:59.:56:06.

attached to that woman. I have known a lot of women, quite a few

:56:06.:56:11.

women who've had abortions. Never in the history of me have I seen a

:56:11.:56:16.

woman celebrating, great, I've had an abortion. It is always under

:56:16.:56:20.

some very drastic circumstances. Absolutely. Just to answer the

:56:20.:56:25.

question. She said, the lady said she is happy with 24, because she

:56:25.:56:28.

doesn't know any better and that seems to be working now. I think

:56:28.:56:33.

that's right. A man has just said he thinks it should be cut to 12 or

:56:33.:56:39.

whatever it is. We shouldn't listen to him. He was only giving his

:56:39.:56:42.

personal view. That's why we shouldn't listen to him, it is only

:56:42.:56:47.

his personal view. Unless there is some amazing scientific

:56:48.:56:54.

breakthrough. There is! We have a minute or two left. I want to bring

:56:54.:56:58.

Simon Hughes and Grant Shapps in. As a Christian, my starting point

:56:58.:57:04.

is that abortion is not a desirable thing to happen. Nobody says that.

:57:04.:57:07.

David Steel was brave and made it legal in this country, which was

:57:07.:57:11.

the right thing to do. I have checked as a man and somebody who

:57:11.:57:16.

votes on this in Parliament on a free vote. For me the one test is

:57:16.:57:21.

viability. You shouldn't allow abortions after lives can continue

:57:21.:57:24.

independently. For me I agree with Caroline, the medical evidence that

:57:24.:57:31.

I have seen and I've talked to the hospitals locally to me, Guy's

:57:31.:57:36.

Hospital and elsewhere, it is 24 weeks or very near it. It may be 23,

:57:36.:57:42.

it might just be 22, that for me is the margin. We should have

:57:42.:57:46.

evidence-led decision, not prejudice-led decision. Grant

:57:46.:57:53.

Shapps? As Simon says it is a free vote in Parliament. When I voted on

:57:53.:57:58.

it I voted I think down to 22. Possibly down to 20. I was really

:57:58.:58:01.

looking carefully at the medical evidence to try to identify whether

:58:01.:58:06.

there was a trend. It looks like babies can survive slightly earlier

:58:06.:58:09.

nowadays. In terms of the Government's position, we don't

:58:09.:58:12.

have one. We are not seeking to bring forward a vote. There isn't a

:58:13.:58:17.

Government position on it. It will always be a free vote as far as

:58:17.:58:21.

we're concerned. I think there should be a proper period of time.

:58:21.:58:24.

I'm surprised to discover that in Northern Ireland it is just nine

:58:24.:58:28.

weeks, which is very short indeed. And the Health Secretary was simply

:58:28.:58:34.

expressing his view. He was asked how he voted and he said how he

:58:34.:58:40.

voted. Apologies if you haven't had a chance to speak. We are going to

:58:40.:58:43.

be in Easterhouse next week and the week after that in Slough. If you

:58:43.:58:47.

week after that in Slough. If you would like to take part visit our

:58:47.:58:52.

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Birmingham. On the panel: Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps MP, Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint MP, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Simon Hughes MP, the poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah and the Daily Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone.


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