22/11/2012 Question Time


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Good evening. Tonight we are inside the Palace of Westminster where


Parliament sits. We are here in Westminster Hall where over 350


years ago, Charles I was try and for 900 years this place has been


at the very heart of British history and tonight, of Question


Welcome to our audience here who're shivering rather. There's no


central heating in this place and 90 years ago there would have been


braziers all around. Tonight it's cold. Welcome to the panel. Our


panel, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Yate, the Shadow Home


Secretary, Yvette Cooper, the former leader of the Liberal


Democrats, Charles Kennedy, columnist on the Independent, Owen


Jones and the businesswoman and star of Dragons' Den, Deborah


OK, we'll warm up with a question from Roberto Campana, please?


Should Parliament now consider amending sex discrimination


legislation to cover the hutch of England? After the refusal to allow


women to become bishop, should sex discrimination legislation which


didn't cover the Church of England be amended? Deborah Meaden?


staggered by what happened this week. I see both sides of most


arguments and this argument I just absolutely do not get that at such


a tiny portion of the church could say they don't want women to be


bishops and for that to mean that the stay kus quo remains. I


absolutely do not get it -- day kus quo. However, I'm also not sure


that it's Parliament's place to intervene -- status quo. This is


about a faith. This goes to the heart of many people, obviously,


and I feel like it should be left with those people to sort it out.


Actually, for me, the most important thing is, I think they


know they made a mistake. How they deal with it is either going to


mean that the faith has a church has a viable future or it's going


to actually eat itself alive. And that would be an awful thing to


happen. But I still don't believe it's Parliament's place to sort it.


Charles Kennedy? Well, I think that first of all I don't agree with the


decision that they arrived at and it's a rather curious electoral


college that they have got that they'll have to look at. After


years in this place as a Scottish Roman Catholic, I've always felt


that I should not have too much to say and not cast votes on how the


Church of England goes about... don't exactly have women priests do


you? No, and I'm not in agreement about that in my own church as a


matter-of-fact. There was a sensible set of exchanges in the


Commons chamber a few yards from here this morning on this issue and


I think what we'll see, I mean the new Archbishop coming in has


probably got as rough an entry in front of them as the new Director-


General of the BBC actually, you could vie for which is the worst


stat scenario to a new big position in society. But he clearly wants to


tackle it. It can't corrode his forthcoming period as Archbishop,


the way it's dogged Dr Rowan Williams' period and the figures


speak for themselves. One third of those administering the Anglican


ministry within England are female. To say that there's, as it was


rather well put by an MP this morning, there's a stained glass


ceiling on the legitimate ambitions and progress of those women is


ludicrous. But the point is that the church specifically got


exemption from the sex discrimination act didn't it?


not sure but I think... Frank Field wants that withdrawn but I think


they did. Probably. By Parliament, they are given exemption. By


constitutional right, they sit in the House of Lords and Leggett.


So they are different from just any old church aren't they, they are an


established church? If you look at it historically and there was


discussions about this today, there isn't a great deal to be gained


from Parliament, particularly the House of Commons and the decision-


making processes of the Church of England getting into some big head-


to-head and a stand-off. I mean do remember, the bishops, with very


few exceptions, were arguing strongly in favour of this change,


it was just an aspect of the layty that were opposed and were able to


block it by a tiny majority. person second row from the back?


Irbgs I agree with Deborah, I don't think it's Parliament's place to


intervene, I think it's a decision for the church. I think Parliament


should consider whether the bishops should remain in the House of Lords


given this kind of opinion of the church. Owen Jones? I think the


problem when we are saying it's none of our business is this - we


have an established church. In terms of the problems we've got at


the moment is, the church is unwilling to enter the 20th century,


let alone the 21st. That doesn't mean as a society we can't enter


the 21st century and follow the lead of many other advanced Western


countries and disestablish the church. That would mean


independence for the state and the church where neither can stick


their noses in each other's business. Now, the church at the


moment could argue legitimately, you know what right do I have to


get into their affairs like 88% of the population, I don't regularly


attend a church. So I think for me, the point to make is, actually if


we disestablish the church, we protect the rights of people's


private religious beliefs which is very important, with take religion


out of the public life in that sense and defend it as a private


matter then I don't think we'll have these sorts of problems. But


as long as they remain established and the bishop's bench in the House


of Lords remains preserved for men, it's all of our business.


APPLAUSE You, Sir? The basis of Parliament is that the people who


make the laws have to live under the laws. Therefore I think we


should amend the legislation so that it covers the Church of


England and they have to live under the law, like the rest of us.


Duncan Smith, do you agree with that? One thing I would say is in


line with my predecessor Norman Tebbit who also argued for


disestablishment of the church. It's a rare agreement. I'm a


Catholic like Charles. The Church of England is an established church


and I accept that therefore that brings greater responsibility in a


sense with regards to what it does inside Parliament but I'm rather


with Debra on this point. I don't want Parliament to have to go and


lay it heavy hand achos the -- across the church and dictate to


the church what it should do. I think the reality for us is that


the Church of England is going to get women bishops. The we is, how


do they get there in the short- term? The vote by the way...


many years has it been going on? The vote was complex. What


fascinated me was that it broke. Some women bishops ended up voting


against the motion alongside those who didn't want women bishops


because they said those who didn't want women bishops had been granted


too much licence so they didn't like it and so in other words,


these things are never quite as simple as you think. I'm lost.


we walked in as Parliament and hammered and Leggetted, we could do


more damage. What about that man's point, you can't have bishops


Leggetting in the House of Lords when the church has this kind of


discrimination going on and they are there by right, but you say you


don't want to disestablish the church? Put pressure on them to


change their position. In the House of Lords, they need to have that


greater equality. The Prime Minister said... What is the sharp


prod? You need to get this done or it may be that we'd enter into your


realm and start dog something, but we don't want to do it. They need


to get their act together. It was such a small degree that would have


been changed they would have got it through so there is a level of


competence. One vote is enough as you know. Yes. Yvette Cooper?


position would be more credible and the Prime Minister's position would


be more credible if there were more women in the Cabinet, we have seen


the number of women fall over the last three years.


APPLAUSE I also think this was a dreadful decision by the Church of


England. The vast majority of, not just the bishops, the clergy, but


also members of the Church of England across the country, the


diocese, supported women bishops, I think they were outmanoeuvred by a


vocal minority. Yet we have the Queen as the Head of The church, we


have some fantastic women priests, including the woman chaplain in the


House of Commons who is excellent and I think it's just shocking that


the church is effectively saying to those women it's OK to do the


flowers, to sit on the pews, to do sermons occasionally, but you can't


be a bishop, shocking, we have to have this changed within the next


five years and not let it lie. APPLAUSE


You, Sir, then you, then we'll move on? Well, doesn't this show that we


shouldn't listen to the Church of England on anything. It's a


flagrant kind of arm of the state, it's an all pervasive arm of the


state and shouldn't be an arm of the state any more if it acts in


this way. The point there is that most don't attend religious


services, we are a diverse nation, services, we are a diverse nation,


we have Muslims, Muslims, Buddhists, it's act Ronistic when other


countries have separated church and state. Get on with each other's


business without intervening in each other's affairs. The decision


seems strange. All religions are full of anomalies and if we start


Leggetting about this specific act, are we also going to Leggett that


the Roman Catholic Church should have female priests or even go the


length of Germany and start questioning whether Jewish parents


are allowed to give their infant children unnecessary surgical


operations at birth. In other words once you start do you have to


examine... This is my point about the heavy hand of Parliament.


Aagree for those who say there should be women bishops, but when


Parliament moves into this arena, we are more likely to do more


damage than good that,'s my concern, stamping on everybody's pwheefs


when we are not the ones to lecture anybody about what to do, frankly -


- beliefs. The woman there? I can't help but


feel that the church is losing credibility when it claims it hand


for quality but doesn't provietd equality opportunities for men and


women who twoish follow a career in the church -- provide equality


opportunities for men and women who wish to follow a career in the


church. I believe in freedom of religion and we shouldn't tell


people how to worship. The problem for the Church of England is it's


our national church, it does the Coronations, state funerals, and


it's part of our national life because we have 26 bishops sitting


in the House of Lords. Parliament will be expected to pass any change


to the rules of this Church of England. I don't think you can


expect Parliament to pass unfair rules, discriminatory rules, that's


why I hope the church will sort this out. If it doesn't, Parliament


will have to work with the church in order to make sure that the


national church can be fair to all. You can join this debate on Twitter.


We have an anonymous blogger alled -- called bishop. A question from


Paul Haydon, please? Should Britain forge a new looser relationship


with Brussels? Should Britain forge a new looser relationship with


Brussels? I ask you to speak with brevity because a lot of people


have things to say. Iain Duncan Smith? What's happening in Europe


at the moment is set for change. The Prime Minister spoke about this


not so long ago. The reality is that the problems in the euro area


is forcing those members of the euro area to decide to go deeper in


in terms of fiscal union. They are now laying plans so that the


taxation et cetera can be run and overseen centrally. They are


talking about a banking union, all the banks and the various member


states are part of the euro and they'll get closer tied together.


It's a reality for those who're outside the euro, like Britain, and


by the way, I thank God that we are outside the euro, the disaster for


us had we been inside the euro, it's a marvel that we are not in


the euro, thank God... APPLAUSE


So we are seeing, I think, and William Hague's said this, a kind


of re-alignment within Europe. The question isn't should Britain have


a looser arrangement, it's that Britain outside by its very nature


over the next few years will find that relationship will change and


we need to negotiate, as the Prime Minister said, to make sure that we


gain the advantages out of being in part of a trading bloc and


cooperating where we need to, but not being sucked into deeper union


where we don't want to be governed by Brussels or by anybody else.


Where do you stand on the key issue of a referendum, when would you


want that to be held? My view about that is that the Prime Minister


said the other day legitimately, it will be a referendum. The question


is, what will you be asking about and that's the point. No good


saying we want a referendum, the point is, it should be about what


that relationship is about, in other words when we are clear about


where this is going to end, we need to ask the public, is that what you


want, that relationship, the looser relationship, is that where we


should be or would you like to have something different. Before the


next election? I think timing is not the issue. It's a germane


issue? It's secondary. The key thing is what is the question.


Everyone wants a referendum and I say what over, it's not being in or


out, it's about the relationship. We'll have a relationship with


Europe regardless because we trade and cooperate with them. The ideas


in a blissful place that's About a referendum about Europe we


need a debate not just about the disadvantages and problems but the


advantages of being part of the enormous market that is Europe.


APPLAUSE Charles Kennedy? Well, obviously define a looser


relationship. Those that say a looser relationship is lets leave


the formal structures of the European Union. To a certain extent


I would subscribe to this word. A looser relationship means you have


more democracy in Europe, more transparency, more decentralisation


away from Brussels across the nation's and indeed the regions of


Europe. So we can all pay lip service to looser. But Ian and


myself are of a vintage in this place. We go all the way back to


the battles of Maastricht 20 years ago. As he will recall, I was the


Lib Dem European spokesman at the time. I voted in favour of a


referendum then on the Maastricht Treaty. We need to lance the boil,


and so did Ian. And you want a referendum now? Why not now before


the election? Because there isn't a practical proposition. If there was


a new treaty for example, that represents a proposition. That


doesn't appear to be. What about the question, would you like to be


in or out? Whether it was on Maastricht or the single currency,


which Tony Blair baulked at, or as yet some unforeseen further


development, which will take place. We all know in our hearts the


argument will come down to do you want us in or out? That's a good,


honest argument we need to have. This issue, and I'm strongly in


favour of Britain taking a leading role at the top table in Europe,


this issue has bedevilled successive Prime Ministers and


Governments and it has just got be resolved. It seem as very short-


term point of view to say we need a looser relationship with Europe.


Over the next 20 or so years Britain is going to struggle to


find itself in an internationally more competitive economy, so we


need to forge stronger relationships with Europe so we can


remain a significant nation. And you Sir? I do not understand


why politicians constantly pussyfoot about this. The nation


wants a referendum. This is critical, it is costing us a lot of


money. We want somebody to lead us and for the issues to be properly


debated. It makes me that I politicians in Britain are the same


as politicians in Europe. It's a these cosy club and everybody can


get a nice bit of expense and salary. Listen to the people and do


something about it. It's not good enough. APPLAUSE Deborah Meaden, do


you, is that a picture you recognise of political life? Well,


I have to say that in terms of referendum, if we are going to ask


the question, there needs to be a lot more debate. When go about


everyday life, most people don't like Europe, because of the things


that they encounter. Quite small issues they encounter every day -


health and safety this, we've got to do this and that, and that's


crazy. And actually the bigger picture, which is that over 50% of


our exports go within the EU, that they create hundreds of thousands


of jobs for us. And when we say it's expensive, that the cost of


running the EU, the people in Brussels is about 6%. That is not


crazy. 6% of their budget, it is not crazy. If we are going to have


it, I think we are going to have a debate, but if we are going to have


a referendum there needs to be a lot more debate and information so


that people are making their decisions on the actual facts and


what's right and best for this country, and not the frustrations


that I feel, and everybody feels on a day-to-day basis, oh silly health


and safety rules, that is not the basis on which to make this


decision. APPLAUSE Did you vote for this proposal for a cut in the


budget this time, real cut? Would you like to see a referendum? You


are obviously quite anti-European if you want that. I think it is


pro-European to argue for reforms on things like the European budget,


because at a time of austerity for a lot of people right across Europe,


and certainly in Britain as well, if other budgets are being cut I


think that Europe should take its fair share of the cuts, in


materials of the European budget. Otherwise you allow Europe to


become discredited and to become pointless and out of touch with the


countries that contribute to it. just saw a flock of European pigs


fly past the window. APPLAUSE The fact of the matter is, Labour have


done this consistently, I remember John Smith held the Labour Party


together over Maastricht because of the Social Chapter not because of


the pro-Europeanism. He had more splits in the Labour Party on


Europe than were evident. The Labour Party walked through


division lobbys with the right-wing of the Conservative Party...


Charles, you walked through with the right wick of of the


Conservative Party every single week. To increase tuition fees and


VAT hike. You do it every time. cannot accuse me on tuition fees. I


was a party leader. I was against them. I spoke against them under


the coalition and I voted against them, so get your facts right.


coalition Government is deeply damaging. It is opportunism on


Europe .. Which will come back to bite them and I make that


prediction. Isn't the reality that Labour in Government saw budget


rises of over 50%? �2 billion cut off our own rebate and gave it away


for nothing, and yet suddenly in opposition you seem incredibly keen


on cutting the budget. I don't see where this came from. You promised


a referendum, you didn't give the public a referendum. All of sudden


you want a referendum, you want to cut the budget, you are jolly Euro-


sceptic pool.. I don't think the public believe a word of it. Aren't


those three things you rather like in your opposition heart? The Prime


Minister is out trying to get that deal. It's the Conservatives that


wanted a referendum. Why didn't you vote for it? If the Government


supports a reduction in the EU budget y did they not support


something the Labour Party put forward not just recently but in


July. We've argued for it consistently. I think it's the


right thing to do. Where I disagree with Ian and he is undermining the


things we need from Europe, is the fight against crime. He wants us to


pull out of the European arrest warrant, which is what helped us to


bring terroristings back to this country to stand trial in Britain.


I think a looser relationship which makes it harder to fight crime is


deeply damaging for Britain. You have to argue for the right, the


sensible reforms, but stay in Europe rather than walk away.


think the problem is as a country we've been denied a proper debate


about this. The reason is this. Any criticism of the EI is seen to


automatically place you on the frothing at the mouth, swivel-eyed


xenophobic right, and that is wrong. I think arguments about democracy


have been surrounded to the right. For example the Council of


Ministers which wields huge power, only directly accountable to each


nation who sends Ministers to the Council of Ministers. Even when you


get to the treaties themselves, often they've enshrined free market


dog match. It may well be the British people embrace that - I


don't think they do. But it should be up to the British people. One


example. The majority of the British public want to


renationalise the railways. In fact even most Conservative voters want


the railways brought back into public ownership. The EU directive


91-440 which enforces competition on the railways, could prevent that


from it's place. So let's have a proper debate about. It is not


about if you criticise it you want to make it democratic, you don't


want to enshrine liberal economics, especially in the eurozone, where


you are seeing the catastrophe of austerity. A modern European nation


like Greece being dismantled with the support of the people in the EU.


The European Central Bank enforcing those policies. It is not


accountable. It doesn't even publish its minutes. So let's have


an argument about making it democratic and having a Europe that


runs in the interest of working people, not the people at the top.


Deborah Meaden? Very quickly let's make sure that debate is about


what's right for this country in the EU and not who did what, in


terms of if political parties. don't trust the political partys?


To be honest, listening to a debate about you said this, you said that,


many years ago. I see heads nodding and I'm not surprise. That's the


kind of thing that sends glazed looks on to the voters. This is not


the point. Plaus plau If I ran my business -- APPLAUSE $$TRANSMIT. If


I ran my business, constantly trying to find out who did what in


the first place, instead of saying, it doesn't matter. What matters now


is what's the right decision for this country, whether or not we go


into the EU. APPLAUSE OK. Sorry, we are in the EU. You know what I


meant. A slight correction there. Alex Klinger please.


Do you think Israel was justified combing Gaza after months of rocket


attacks on Israeli civilians? College? Well, tinge line the


British Government have taken -- Charles Kennedy? Well, I think the


line the British Government has taken is that they have a right to


defend themselves. Pointing out that if our society, our country,


was suffering an external threat of this type, well, you can imagine


the discussion on a programme like this. There would be an


overwhelming public clamour to know why the Government of the day


wasn't doing something about that. Having said, that it is quite clear


that this is no means to a solution at all. And that the two sides


therefore have got to under some kind of international auspices sit


down and now move beyond the ceasefire, thank goodness that


appears to be in position, appears to be holding, and try and make


progress. The Palestinians are not justified in doing what they've


been doing, but equally Israel's response is a council of despair.


It won't resolve Israel's legitimate security programmes, but


what the Palestinians and the extremists Hamas have been doing


won't meet the legitimate demands of the Palestinians either. We have


to get back to sane, rational talks based on 1967 boundaries and a two-


state solution. That is going to be a very difficult thing to make


progress on given what's happened, and nearly 150 mainly innocent


civilians dead as a result of this dreadful episode that we all


deplore. Owen Jones. I am disappointed by that response,


Charles, in all honesty. APPLAUSE Let's be clear what happened.


Firstly the whole idea that Gaza, that Hamas broke the ceasefire, is


not true. In fact it was broken after in October Israel killed 15


Palestinian fighters, they shot dead a mentally disabled


Palestinian, killed a 13-year-old in an intrusion. When there was an


attempt to get a ceasefire, negotiations were ongoing, that is


when they assassinated Ahmed Jabari, ending the ceasefire talks. It is


often said, and Barack Obama made this point, what country on earth


would tolerate rockets being fired at them? I ask you this. What


people on earth would tolerate a siege which stops basic supplies


getting in... APPLAUSE An occupation. A 45--year-old brutal


occupation, illegal settlements all over the West Bank, which are in


total violation of international law, and what we've seen in the


course of this onslaught are the deaths of 158 Palestinians. At


least 30 children. I don't want to just throw statistics around, but


one example of one of those children. Omar, 11 months old, a


little boy, the son of a BBC journalist. He was killed in a so-


called targeted strike. We all want a secure and lasting peace. When we


have Israeli Ministers like the interior Minister calling for Gaza


to be sent back to the Middle Ages. Another Minister calling for a


Holocaust to be inflicted on Gaza. When we have the son of Ariel


Sharon who wrote in the Jerusalem Post talking about how Nagasaki and


hor or ma were possible solutions to be inflicted. When we have those


people we went get a secure peace. But for Arabs and Jews alike to end


the occupation, the siege of Gaza, dismantle the settlements and have


a just settlement for the people and have a region for Arabs and


Jews as a whole. You, Sir? I think part of the


problem is that people like Owen should actually keep their noses


out of something that they have no intimate knowledge of and that they


jump on the bandwagon of this anti- American, ultra--left Israel


bashing that is fashionable at the moment. You know, it's all very


well for people on the panel and at home to sit in their suburban arm


chairs with no actual knowledge, intimate knowledge of the conflict.


Sorry, can I just come back to that. I'm disappointed you didn't


engaidge with a single argument I put across -- engage. Let him


finish his point. Terms are banded around as if they are factually


correct. What did I get wrong? word pre-1967 territory is banded


around as a given fact whereas pre- 1967, Jordan controlled the West


Bank and Gaza, not the Palestinians. What is your view on the question


of whether Israel yuz justified? was justified. I'm not a person who


whole heartedly agreed with the policies of every Israeli


Government but I think there is a lack of understanding by a lot of


people in Britain and in the West generally when people have no


knowledge of the history and the complexity of the conflict. You,


Sir, up there? I think that gentleman is completely ignorant.


He hasn't asked a single question Owen put to him.


APPLAUSE Why is it that President


Ahmadinejad of Iran, when he said something about blowing Israel into


the Middle Ages that it received such wide scrutiny and America are


threatening to possibly even go into Iran in the future, but when


the Israeli minister seds it, it falls on deaf ears -- says it.


Duncan Smith? Let's take a pace back for a second. This is a


tragedy whichever way you cut it on other side. People killing each


other, seeing civilians and children being killed. That's a


complete and utter tragedy and there's never any excuse for that.


The reality is, how to get out of it. When you say no excuse, do you


mean the bombing was unjustified? The question is, did Israel get


rocketed first, and in which case did they retailiate? My thought is


that the West, America, us, Europe, we took a pace back. For the last


couple of years, we've done nothing about the Middle East, let's be


honest. We got fixateed on the Arab Spring and we completely forgot


that at the heart of this still lies a very deep problem between


Palestine and Israel. Hamas in the Gaza Strip refused to acknowledge


Israel's right to exist. Israel refused to deal with them in Gaza


until they do that and also until they take responsibility for the


rockets et cetera. So each is taken deeper in entrenched positions. My


point here is one thing that may well come out of this which is


really important. Egypt we worried about has taken a front and centre


place which is a very, very good thing. Leadership from the


President of Egypt, he's got this thing rolling again, we've got


actually intriguingly Israel and Hamas having to recognise each


other by both on the one hand agreeing to take responsibility for


the rocket attacks and on the other side agreing to open the borders.


That may be the beginning of a start of a change and we should


actually pledge ourselves in the West with America and the American


President to get behind this and now real ie find a solution to the


two state problem and get both sides talking to each other,


agreeing to acknowledge that each has the right to exist and saying,


now is the time to settle this, otherwise there could end up being


further bloodshed. You, Sir? Is it up to Israel and


Palestine to determine whether Palestine has statehood? In what


sense? Doesn't it go through the UN? Yvette Cooper? I think this is


a very important point because I agree with a lot of the points that


Iain's made about the tragedy that has been unfolding and the


importance now of having a ceasefire, but a ceasefire is not a


peace process and we've got to have a peace process. There is no


military solution that is going to work here, given the history of


what has happened in Israel and Palestine, but also the importance


of us getting towards the two-state solution and having a meaningful


set of negotiations to do that. I think that the debates that have


been put forward for the UN are really important. This is an


opportunity for the UN to give greater recognition to the


Palestinian Authority. I hope the UN will do that and the British


Government will change its position and support the recognition of the


Palestinian Authority because I think that is an opportunity to


support a political and diplomatic process to reach peace, rather than


the violence, the rocket ataxes and bombing that we have seen. Do you


think the Foreign Secretary was wrong to lay the blame on Hamas for


this? I think the danger - look, the immediate trigger of what


happened obviously was about the rocket attacks on Israel and of


course Israelis should be able to live in security and not have to


endure the fear from rocket attacks. Than, I think the wider cause, we


have to accept the wider cause of what's been happening in the last


few weeks which has been the failure to have a proper peace


process, the failure to have a long-term sustained negotiation


towards a two-state solution, the failure to see progress for the


inaction against the illegal setmentments that have been taking


place, as well as the wider issues and long-term commitment --


settlements. We haven't taken that seriously enough, it's our


opportunity to do this now. The woman in the fourth row? Give


than there are now over half a million Israelis living within the


West Bank, I wonder whether anybody feels the two-state solution is


viable? Is it time to have a te bait about a different type of


solution? -- debate. Deborah Meaden? I want to go back to


something the gentleman said over there. The truth of the matter is,


I don't live there and I don't know. I can form opinions, reading


through the news who started this, who caused all that, whose fault it


was, you know, trust me, we'll never understand that, we are in a


cycle that has to be broken and it's not going to be a military


answer to this. But I think what the ceasefire's done is, it's


hopefully created space so that you don't have to have these debates in


this state of high tension, so that it says everybody stop for a minute.


Actually, I suspect we were pretty guilty of causing all of this at


some point, you know, so it's not about who caused all of this. Now,


if people can get their mind wrapped around that, because I can


promise you, that for every reason, that's why we bombed yeah but we


did that because you did it, this can go on for the last 100 years


and until we get our mind wrapped around the fact that it cannot be a


military solution, there has to be an tend to the block aids, the


whole rhetoric. People need to be able to pass in and out of the


country, they need to be able to trade and until we get our minds


round that, there will be no solution. I have to say, what other


country on earth would be allowed to flout international law in the


way Israel's done for decades... Answer her question? Well, the key


point there... You heard what she said which was the number of people


who've now settled in the West Bank make the two-state solution


practically impossible? You could have a federal solution. That seems


far fetched but they said that about South Africa back in the day.


Otherwise you have to dismantle the settlements, enforce international


law, but what has to happen, because the point is Britain


supports, as other Western countries do, they've supported an


armed Israel to the teeth, they're not acting as honest brokers, they


have to use the pressure to force Israel to give in and give justice


to the Palestinian people. A couple more points to the


audience then we'll move on. The person in the back row? The only


reason we are having this conversation is because rockets


were fired. I mean I'm not saying I'm an expert but I've spent time


volunteering in UN schools in the West Bank and what I've seen there


is children growing up in environments where they don't get


taught politics. They draw pictures of soldiers when they draw their


homes and they see their brothers at night getting imprisoned. What


are these children growing up understanding? What do we have for


the future? Thank you. On that point, the clock's against us so


I'll move on to a question from Chloe Heaver, please? Why should


prisoners who've shown they cannot abide by the laws be given a say


into how society is run. In other words, should prisoners be given


the vote as is being proposed. Yvette Cooper are you favour in --


in favour? I thought it was reasonable for prisoners to forego


their vote because if you have committed a serious crime, you lose


your liberty, have restrictions on your right to a family life and


during that period, I think you should also forego your right to


have a say in who the law-makers of the land are because you have


broken the law in such a significant way. So I think it's


proportionate, I think it's the European court who said that they


think the ban on prisoner voting is indiscriminate, it's a blanket ban.


I don't think it's indiscriminate, it's discriminating because you


lose your right to vote in proportion to your sentence which


is decided in the courts and which is in proportion to your crime.


That's why I've always supported it. You've lost me there. You say that


you lose your right to vote in proportion to the length of the


sentence? -- sentence? Yes, in other words while you are in prison.


It's not proportionate to the length of sentence. Yes, it's not


indefinite, but when you are released, you get your right to


vote back because you've served your time. So the European Court of


Human Rights saying it's illegal for us to do this, you would flout


their injunction? I think that the - I mean I disagree with the


court's judgment. I think in fact by making this a decision, it's in


the spirit of the convention, the European convention which I think


is important. We did sign up to it and we have international


obligations. Having a proportionate ban is in compliance with the


European convention. I think what the Government is trying to do here


is to find a way through where we now have a debate in Parliament, we


try and set out detailed legislation because the court's


rightly criticised us for not having had detailed legislation


before the Parliament and discussed that in some detail. I hope we'll


be able to do that and take that back to the court and convince the


court that that is in compliance with the convention and in the


spirit of... Just to collar fierbgs you are Shadow Home Secretary for


Labour -- clarify, you are Shadow Home Secretary for Labour, are you


saying no vote for anyone while in prison, is that Labour's position?


The legislation sets out a series of options. I'm asking what your


view is? Our long-standing view has always been that prisoners


shouldn't have the right to vote whilst in prison and that continues


to be our view. We'll have to look at what the Government recommends,


what its legal advise is, we have asked the Government to show us


what its legal advice is, but that's our position and we'll work


with the Government on the Parliamentary process to try and


get this legislation right. woman with the red pullover on?


by the MPs in the British Parliament defying the rule set by


the European court to... The court saying they must give prison terse


vote? Are they not setting a bad example to society like about


breaking the rule of law, especially because of the


considering it's to do with prisoners? Setting a bad example by


not doing what the European court wants? Dominic Grieve and Chris


Grayling today talked about this. In reality we've always been a law-


awiding nation and stand by our law-abiding -- law abiding nation


and stand by the law-abiding things. What was announced out today is


that what they've asked us to do is, we should have placed legislation,


they say, in front of the House to decide what we will do about their


judgment. So today, he said that we will essential Le place legislation


in front of the -- essentially place legislation in front of the


House, no votes for prisoners under six months intered and prisoners


between six and four years. So we are saying to Parliament,


Parliament is sovereign and it will decide. The British people elected


Parliament to make decisions about their laws, not the Convention on


Human Rights, that is where it should stand. At some point,


Parliament will get that option, when they vote on it, that position,


the Government's position will be that Parliament's sovereign


decision stands and my personal view has been that I've never been


in favour of seeing prisoners goat the vote. I think if you commit


crimes you lose the right to decide If Parliament votes for the option


to say no-one in prison should have the vote you would stick with that?


It is not defying. What they want you to do is legislate on the basis


of what their decision was. Parliament however is sovereign and


Parliament at the end of the day makes final decisions about the law


of this land. That is the reality, so we will make a decision about


that. I also believe Parliament, a point we forget about, Parliament


is sovereign. Everybody out here elected us to make the decisions.


We should make the decision in Parliament and that decision should


stand. OK. Do you not think maybe there is an argument that if you


have been in prison, particularly for a longer time, that as part of


your rehabilitation shoe be encouraged to be involved in


society? APPLAUSE And if you are released within six months if


there's a general election or something like that, that you are


allowed to partake in the election. What do you think? I think a


proportion of people who end up in prison end up in prison or commit a


crime because society isn't working for them. If you take away their


right to vote, in terms of people on remand or there for less than


six months, they have no impact on society in the future. Charles


Kennedy, if it comes to the vote, people with six months only, people


four years, or absolutely no anyone in prison can't have a vote. How


would you vote? I will make my mind up finally when the committee


that's now going to look at this, it is a terrible mouthful, but it's


a prelegislative committee, in other words they have hearings,


everybody under the sun with contribute their thoughts, from


absolutely no votes for anybody to some partial exemptions from such a


ban et cetera. It makes sense, and we've just agreed to do that today


in the House of Commons. Let's see what comes back. I think myself...


You mean you are just going to listen to what people say? What a


terrible thing for an imagine to do, to listen to collective wisdom and


come to a decision. Herely make myself unpopular in front of


millions of people. I do not support a blanket ban on people in


prison not being allowed to vote, which is the basis of this European


ruling. I think that there can be a degree of sensible divergence from


that, which I think at the end of the day in years to come will


square this circle between the House of Commons and Strasbourg.


There's positive reasons are y those on shorter sentences


shouldn't be denied the right to vote as part of their


rehabilitation process. Deborah Meaden? I am clear on this, I do


think they should lose the right to vote. I don't think it stops them


from engaging in the political process. You can discuss it in


prison and hope that when you enter society again you can take part


that. There is a but the. That is half of the argument. The other


half says I think it is a very dangerous route to pick and choose


what we do and don't agree with under the Human Rights Convention.


Not only, we actually, whether we feel it or not, live in a pretty


protected environment, but what signal does that send out to some


of those countries out there who really need protection under that,


under human rights protection? We consider ourselves, we think the


world looks to us, not completely but we do consider o'er influential


in the world and I think we are. I think picking and choosing in terms


of human rights is wrong. That worries me. In those two arguments,


when I weigh those up, I think we should stick to it. I know you're


going to talk about the legality of it. He's not. The man there.


prisons are going to be given a vote, isn't there a danger that


politicians should start appealing this demographic. Is there not a


chance that policys could be catered towards some sort of vote?


Would you get the prisoners' vote? Owen Jones. I would be surprised if


MPs start rocking up to Pentonville and asking people how they are


going to vote. A really important point about the European Court of


Human Rights. It is separate from the EU. Lots of countries signed up


to it with pretty poor human rights records, such as Russia for example.


How can we put pressure on those countries to abide by the European


Court and improve their human rights record if we start picking


and choosing? It is not a blanket ban. People are worried about


murderers and rapists getting the right to vote. I'm not somebody who


lives in some sort of out of touch ivory tower. I've been a victim of


crime many times. I've been violently mugged and Burrelled.


to the point. The really important point is people on short-term


sentences. We are trying to rehabilitate them, integrate them


back into society, what better way of doing that than giving them the


right to vote and making them citizens again connected with


society. APPLAUSE I'm sorry to hurry you all along, but we've got


time for one more question. Debbie Wild. Under the benefit cap,


should large unemployed families priced out of London move to


cheaper areas, or should councils subsidise them? Deborah Meaden.


my goodness. I was hoping... can pass and let Iain Duncan Smith


answer it if you like and come back. Shall I do that and then I will


respond to it. Iain Duncan Smith? The cap is about putting the


benefit cap rather than the housing cap, a limit to the amount of money


that somebody on benefits can receive. The limit is �35,000 a


year gross, �26,000 net, which is essentially average earnings. That


is a cap that says they can't earn more than that. There are some


exemptions, people on Disability Living Allowance, war widows,


people on working tax credits. Those who are not work and not in


those compaempingss. There's already -- exemptions. I don't


think there is any need for people to be transferred outside. There is


housing inside London and the South East that Acomb dates them. The


reality is we are in touch -- Acomb dates them. The reality is that we


are in touch with the councils, and have money to make sure they are


tidied over if they have kids in school. This cap is about saying


look, when people work out and they get to average earnings, it is


Haditha we end up paying benefits to people at way higher because


they live in very expensive accommodation in difficulty parts


of London and the South East. So the cap is fairness to taxpayers as


well as being fairness to benefit payers. APPLAUSE Yvette Cooper, do


you agree with that? I think that there is an issue about making sure


you are not spending a huge amount of money on the large houses in the


highest-cost areas, where large families do need larger housing. I


think that it is right to have restrictions on the level of


benefits that are paid out and on the pay. Made by the. The but I


think the problem with the way the is doing this is that the full


consequence, not just of the measures that Ian is talking about,


but a series of other changes they are making, are pushing up


homelessness. We've seen a 50% increase in the number of families


with children, living in bed and breakfast accommodation. They can't


and sit and have a meal at a table. They are eating food on their laps,


with no privacy. It is really bad for the kids growing up. Completely


Government policy is it that Iain Duncan Smith has introduced that is


causing that? I think a mix of them. Housing benefit changes but also


the benefit cap. The combination of the way it is introduced.


doesn't start until April. combination of the mix of changes


the Government is introducing, it is crazy if we end one welfare


reforms that end up costing the taxpayer more. That's what shoe


change. We must keep moving here. This is a good debate. I think the


introduction of the benefits was a good thing in the first place, but


hate become absurd to think that someone who is not working and


getting benefits should earn more than someone who is. I think the


cap is reasonable, it is appropriate. APPLAUSE Owen Jones?


Firstly, the reason that this whole debate has become so toxic is a


cynical deem onisation of campaign of people on benefits by this


Government. APPLAUSE What they are do, and you can nod your head as


much as you want. I was shaking my head. People have just final anger.


The working poor, the working poor against the unemployed over


benefits. Not-disabled people against disabled people. �26,000 a


year is hardly impoverishing somebody. Average earnings Owen...


Housing benefit is not going into their pockets. Answer Iain Duncan


Smith's point. �6,000 a year. Housing benefit is not going into


the pockets of tenants. It is lining the pockets of wealthy


landlords charging extortionate rents because successive


Governments, new Labour included, got rid of council housing. It is


not just about disabled people and the cap. If there is anything I


want tow remember. Disabled people are compefrpted from the cap.


exempted from the cap. Don't go off on to some other agenda. Tenancy


question about unemployed families. -- Answer the question about


unemployed families. The housing benefit is lining the pockets of


landlords. Charles Kennedy? Well, I don't doubt Owen's sincerity on


this matter, but I hope he would accept I'm not somebody who can


readily be labelled as part of a terrible conspiracy to single owl


groups of society and blame them for all their ills. I think Yvette


has eLeeds United to this, the housing benefit system has


burgeoned to such an extent that even without the need for an


austerity package any Government here today of what of political


persuasion would have to address it. Indeed Labour were doing so.


don't agree with Sarah Teather, your former Minister, who said the


welfare cap was immoral? I think when politicians start using words


like immoral, I would probably leave that for Anglican Bishops.


What surprises me about her comments, I don't know if she's


clarified this. She is entitled to her view. I don't think what Iain


Duncan Smith is doing is immoral. I don't think what he did in terms of


his Centre for Social Justice was immoral... Don't shout out. Madam,


please don't shout out from the back. Please don't shout out. Let


him speak. I'm not complaining at all, madam. This is the home of


free speech. Can I hardly disagree with that can I? APPLAUSE We can't


hear what she was saying anyway. Deborah Meaden? I want to pick up


about a point, you talked about the deem onisation of people on benefit


-- demonisation. We are, welfare benefit happen to be a very sad,


awful truth of the moment. Truth is that this country, the same as any


company with any budget, has got so much money to spend. I think it is


very wise to make sure that we allocate, sorry, I think it is very


wise to make sure that we have a cap on benefits, but I also think


it is very wise to make sure that those people who are at the very


neediest get that money, the right people get that money. And that's


what we need. APPLAUSE But at the moment what you're getting is


you've got working families who are losing thousands of pounds in their


tax credits. That's working families, at the same time as


millionaires are getting a �40,000 tax cut. That is what's unfair.


Most new claimants of housing benefit are in work. They don't


have the money to pay extortionate rents. If we stimulate the economy


and create jobs, but it's a point that has to be made about the


treatment of disabled people in this country. There are two names I


want to give Iain Duncan Smith. Brian McCard dhal, paralysed down


one side, blind in one eye and couldn't speak. He died one day


after being fit for work by Atos. Let me tell you something. I didn't


hear you screaming about 2.5 million people, nobody saw them for


over ten years, not working, with no hope and no aspiration. We are


changing their lives. I'm proud of that. Getting them off benefit is


what we have done. I'm afraid our time is up. I know, can I see you


want to speak, but we've got to speak. Our hour is up. That is the


story of Question Time. We always have to stop just when things are


getting going. Thank you to Parliament for being our host, this


is part of Parliament Week that we are here in Westminster Hall. Next


week Swansea. Our panel is going to include the singer Charlotte Church


and the former executive editor of the News of the World, Neil Wallace.


The following week we are be in Liverpool. Put questions to the


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