David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Liverpool. On the panel: Francis Maude MP, Andy Burnham MP, Tim Farron MP, Lionel Barber and Leanne Wood AM.
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QUESTION TIME FKR Y901T/01 BRD476880
The government tells us the pain will last longer than they thought.
What do voters think? Welcome to Question Time.
Good evening and a big welcome, as ever, to our audience in Liverpool,
an audience that is at the heart of Question Time,
and, of course, to our panel -
the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude,
the shadow health secretary Andy Burnham,
the President of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron,
Leanne Wood, the leader of Plaid Cymru,
and the editor of The Financial Times, Lionel Barber.
Good. And Steve Kirkbride, you kick off tonight.
Do the panel agree with George Osborne -
are we "All in this together"?
"Are we all in this together?" Tim Farron?
Well, we need to be...
No, the question isn't "need", it's "are we".
-OK, well, we need to be is the answer and I think that there
is a clear sense out there,
and if you're brought up in the North, like me,
and you've gone to a comprehensive school, like me,
and you've never experienced wealth, like me,
and probably most people here,
then there is a sense that there are some people
who are enduring these difficult times with more ease than others, shall we say,
when you've got people who are extremely wealthy
who remain extremely wealthy.
That's why it was important, for example, in the statement yesterday
that we increase the amount of tax that wealthy people pay.
Why it was important that we prevented it,
you will remember two months ago, at Tory conference in Birmingham,
they wanted to take ten billion out of welfare.
They wanted to stop young people claiming housing benefit,
they wanted to stop people on low incomes having child benefit
for a third child and above,
and you will have seen that none of those things
were in yesterday's statement.
It is critically important, at a time like this,
that we do protect the interests of those who are the least well off
and those people who are the richest should be paying more.
Should more be being done?
Yes, but I'm in no doubt whatsoever
that yesterday the changes that were made, from our perspective,
for example, the lowest-paid 23 million people in this country
now have an income tax cut,
if you're on minimum wage you've had a 50% income tax cut
in the last two years,
the pension's gone up by the highest amount since Lloyd George introduced it.
These are incredibly difficult times and we, as Lib Dems,
have to fight in the trenches, day in, day out, to make sure that
it's not just the poor who are paying the burden,
it is the rich who pay their fair share.
Where did you lose out? You say you'd like more to have been done.
Well, I personally take the view that we shouldn't have given away
the top rate of income tax down to 45p,
even though that's more than was the case in most of Labour's reign.
I take the view that not only should you be raising more money
from people who are the wealthiest,
you need to be seen to be doing it as well.
I take the view that whilst we're taking more from the bankers,
that is progress, we should be taking even more.
We shouldn't be reliant on Starbucks having to volunteer ten million
in terms of taxation.
We should be changing the tax code
so that incredibly wealthy multinationals
are paying their fair share.
Well, no is the answer
and George Osborne can't know many people on benefits
because he thinks all, everybody who is on a benefit
is lying in bed until eight or nine o'clock with the curtains closed.
60% of the people he hit yesterday with his changes to benefits
are the people who he claims are walking past those houses
with the curtains closed, because people get working tax credit,
child tax credit.
Mums who get maternity benefit,
these are the people that he's hitting -
the so-called "strivers," as he says.
And, you know, and the money it raises
is exactly the same as the tax cut, the break is giving to millionaires
by cutting the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p.
And in a week when we learned from the Office of National Statistics
that the top ten percent are 850 times richer than the bottom ten percent,
how could these changes be fair at all?
Are you against the holding down benefits to one percent,
lower than inflation?
We're going to have to look at the bill that comes forward.
Well, this is George Osborne to a T. He sets these political traps
and it's all about trying to put us in a trap.
-We'll look at this bill when it comes forward.
-Why is it a trap?
Let me just come back on the general point.
The principle is wrong.
This kind of holding down benefits across the board.
Number one, it's going to hit kids.
It's going to hit the kids of these families who've got no,
they've got no choice about it.
Number two, it's going to damage the spending power of those families
-and that won't help the economy. Three, it's a false economy...
-So vote against!
-To fund some of those families...
-Are you going to vote against?
-We're going to look at the bill when it...
-Why not vote against after what you said?
There'll be a range of measures in there.
I don't want this blanket approach
where you hit all people in this way.
The last thing I want to say
is when people look back on this period
they will consider that phrase,
"We're all in it together," one of the most deceptive
and cruel pieces of political spin this country has ever heard.
Woman in the back, there. The woman at the very back. You.
You say, "All in this together," but at the end of the day,
you haven't met what you said you set out to do.
You were going to cut the deficit after so many years.
And, all of a sudden,
the country is lumbered in to have this for an extra six years.
Like, and there's people my age in this country now who are just
graduating uni, have already graduated,
and they're just looking at this bleak, black hole in front of them.
There's no way to get out of it.
That's a generation that's just probably,
-just been lost from this whole mess that's been created.
Well, I have children of your age and I don't want them
and their children, and generations to come to have to bear,
pick up the tab for our failure to deal with the deficit
that we inherited.
So we have to do these difficult things, and is painful,
and there's no way of doing this in a way that protects
everyone from the effects of it.
We, it started with the biggest budget deficit
of any country in the developed world.
We've cut it by a quarter.
It's continuing to fall, we need to do more.
And the heaviest burden has to be carried by those
-who are the richest and that is happening...
-I'm sorry, Andy, but it simply is the case.
-So, why did you cut...?
Read what the IFS has said today.
I have done and they absolutely bear out that the heaviest burden
is carried by the richest.
Why did you go against the...?
-DAVID DIMBLEBY CLEARS HIS THROAT
-..and it's right that it should be the case...
Why did you change your mind, then and then not impose the mansion tax?
Just to pick up that point,
we have already increased the rate of stamp duty on the largest houses,
raised it considerably above what Labour put in place.
Just this stuff about the top rate of tax,
you know, Labour went for 13 years in government
with a top rate of tax of 40%.
For the last three weeks that they were in government,
there was a top rate of tax of 50p.
And the tax yield fell, actually -
from the people earning over £1 million a year,
the amount of tax they paid fell by £7 billion.
So that actually meant
that because of that pure piece of political posturing
in the dying days of a failed government,
actually, the burden on the rest of the taxpayers rose.
That's not the right thing to do.
OK, the woman here on the right.
Do you not think if we're constantly highering the taxes
for the high earners, then we're highering benefits as well,
so those who aren't earning are getting more benefits
and those who are working are getting less money.
You're in danger of sort of promoting being on benefits.
I know my family - my dad would be better off not working,
he'd get more money from benefits.
That's not promoting people to go out and get work.
-He'd be better off on benefits?
-Yeah, he would.
Sleeping with the curtains drawn?
In terms of what he had in his bank account, yeah, he would.
-I don't think that's right.
-It's not promoting people going to work.
That's why we're reforming the welfare system.
Nobody wants to support people who are playing the system.
But what this is doing is this blanket approach...
And many of the benefits people get,
like council tax benefit, housing benefit,
these are people who are working who get these benefits.
George Osborne is running this line
that everyone who claims a benefit is bad.
These are people who work hard, try their best.
That bit of help keeps them going
and taking it away really kind of is quite cruel, to be honest.
Andy, the overwhelming majority of people on benefits will actually...
If they're working, they will benefit
from the rise in the personal tax threshold,
which is a total coalition commitment,
and we've raised it way above anything Labour did.
What you called political posturing, the 50p tax rate,
the reduction of that to 45p will give millionaires
£100,000 tax break next April.
How can you possibly justify that?
Because you had 13 years in power...
How can you justify never having done it yourself?
You had 13 years in power and never did it,
until the last three weeks, as he said.
You may have noticed, David, there was a big change...
APPLAUSE Lionel Barber. I'll come back.
-There was a big change in the world economy.
-You may have noticed it.
Are we in this together?
In one sense, you bet, because we're all in a huge hole.
The hole we inherited from the Labour Government,
in terms of this vast, vast hole in public finances.
But on a more serious note, I agree with Andy. We're not.
We're not in this fully together, because the poor,
those out of work, those who are receiving allowances,
even though they're working, even short-time working,
they're having to bear a very heavy price
and I'm talking about the welfare cuts.
They're not being uprated in terms of inflation.
The rich, yes, they are losing
some of the tax benefits on their pension contributions,
but George Osborne made a very serious political error
when he reduced the highest rate of income tax in this country.
I say that because it is not proven in any way
that this was going to create jobs or foster investment.
You could have kept it at 50p and then you would have had
a much more powerful message to everybody in this country
that we really are in it together.
Do you believe, as some of the people
who write in your newspaper say,
and I assume you agree with what they say,
that the proper thing the Government should do
is get the economy moving by pumping much more money...
I think Skidelsky was saying £100 billion of extra spending.
Do you want to see that?
You're suggesting that we are all Keynesians now?
Well, not quite, David.
The fact is we have a huge budget deficit.
It's much bigger than most European countries.
If we were to change the fiscal policy as it stands,
we would risk losing the confidence of the financial markets, which...
Basically, they've given us benefit of the doubt.
Interest rates would likely rise, borrowing costs would rise
and we'd be in an even bigger hole.
I don't think we are all in this together.
In Liverpool, three times as many people this year
will be fed by a food bank than was the case last year.
And throughout the United Kingdom, 200,000 people
will be fed by food banks next year.
That's the modern-day soup kitchen.
How have we found ourselves in this situation in 2012
in what's the fourth or fifth richest economy in the world?
I just don't understand.
For you to say, Francis Maude, that the highest earners
are bearing as much of the burden of this as the lowest income,
I have to dispute that, because a £5 cut to somebody on benefits
makes a much bigger impact on their life
than a £1,000 cut to a millionaire.
And that's the reality of the situation.
The woman up...
The woman up there. Yes, you.
I think what the general public object to mainly
is the use of the phrase, "We're all in this together,"
when we all know we're not.
Personally, I'd rather you said,
"This is really hard, you going to have to deal with it,"
rather than trying...
It's like you think we're stupid - by saying,
"We're all in it together," we're going to believe it
and say, "Oh, yes," when we know we're not all in it together.
It is not the same, like Leanne just said.
It's the use of these tag lines that is infuriating.
It is an assumption that Joe Public will buy it, when we don't buy it.
-We're not in it together.
-No, you're right.
-There's a question...
-No, Leanne, let Francis reply to that.
My point is not that it is the same for everybody, it clearly isn't.
You can't do things
which will have exactly the same effect on everybody.
But, actually, the point we're making
is that everyone has to carry some of the pain.
And, you know, we didn't want to be in this position,
we didn't want to be in a position
where we had an economy that hasn't picked up,
the Office for Budget Responsibility...
-Whose fault is that?
The Office for Budget Responsibility
say that it is because of the loss of trade in the Eurozone.
So now you're in, it's what's going on in the world economy,
and when we were in, it was all our fault? It's very...
Andy. Andy, since you mention it...
You may have noticed there is a worldwide crash.
Andy, since you mention it, I'll say what was your fault,
for which you've not said sorry -
you actually ran up the biggest budget deficit in the world.
You were Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
It was lower before the crash, and you know that's true.
You left the biggest overdraft, you maxed out the credit card
and it is your children and my children and their grandchildren
who are going to be picking up the tab for it for generations to come.
Man in the second row from the back there.
Undoubtedly, if you take a long-term view,
the optimum corporation tax and income tax rate
doesn't necessarily have to be higher.
If you reduce it, you give rich people an incentive
to remain in the country and companies a reason to invest.
It's likely that by decreasing tax rates you can improve HMRC's income.
That's a very reasonable view
and for Andy Burnham to say, "We'll stick at 50% for income tax,"
is not necessarily the best approach to take.
Well, he hasn't said that, actually.
Andy, would you introduce the 50% rate?
If Labour had done yesterday's statement,
we would have reintroduced the 50p rate from next April,
because it is just not fair to hit the lowest paid in this country...
-When you're re-elected...
-One second. One second.
..when you a huge amount of money and a tax break
to the highest earners.
Lionel is right - this has to mean what it says
and the Government's failure to do that is, quite frankly, immoral.
-Would you reintroduce it, Andy?
-I just said we would!
-If we were doing that statement...
-At the next election?
If you win the next election?
If we'd done that statement, we would've reintroduced it.
You can't say yes or no.
I want to go over to the far right, over there. Yes?
The kids in this city are going to be going hungry
because of these cuts.
And you cannot ever say that cuts in tax for some rich person,
who's never had to budget for the food for their kids,
for their kids' shoes, is anything like comparable.
Our kids are entitled to enough food to live decently.
They're entitled to warmth in the winter.
And your Government is taking that directly from the kids.
And the kids are going to suffer!
And the person there in grey. In the grey pullover.
Was it right for the Government to cut another penny
off corporation tax, when the level of taxation is already
one of the lowest in the Western world for company taxation?
And we have not talked about tax avoidance yet, have we?
Tax avoidance and tax evasion.
We'll come to that maybe later on. Lionel Barber.
We need to bring companies to this country,
people who are going to invest and create jobs.
There is a lot of competition,
a lot of places where people, countries,
are trying to attract those corporations.
And, in that sense, I think to go for your comparative advantage,
it was a good move, it was an important signal.
But when you have a corporation tax of 21%,
it would be very good if the companies actually paid it.
I'm going to move on, because we've had quarter of an hour on that
and we'll come back, perhaps, to the economy a bit later.
I want to question from Alison Piers.
Before I do, remember you can join in this debate,
as always, on Twitter. Our hashtag - #bbcqt.
Our Twitter panellist tonight is the Times columnist Hugo Rifkind,
and you can follow him on the @BBCExtraGuest account.
Or you can text your comments,
press the red button to see what others are saying.
I see that the Pope is starting tweeting soon,
so we'll get infallible comments from that source.
Alison Piers, please.
How does the Government plan to ensure
that care and compassion is restored back into the NHS?
"How does the Government plan to restore care and compassion...?"
In light of a speech
that the new Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, made, I think.
Which was he said that in places in NHS hospitals,
"where there should be compassion, we find the opposite -
"a coldness, resentment, indifference, even contempt.
"And in the worst cases, something even darker,
"a kind of normalisation of cruelty,
"where the unacceptable is legitimised
"and the callous becomes mundane."
He said that last Thursday.
Andy Burnham, you're a shadow Secretary of State.
-Did you recognise the description of Jeremy Hunt, of some nursing?
There are recurrent stories of older people lost in acute hospitals,
I was Health Secretary when the stuff at Mid Staffs Hospital
was happening and I had to reflect very, very carefully on all this.
I think there are some nurses who let down the profession,
but the vast majority don't, they do a fantastic job.
Their job is made harder by people like me at times
giving them too much paperwork.
Sometimes managers cut the front line
but protect management jobs, and that's not fair.
But it goes far deeper than all of this.
I went work shadowing and I shadowed a nurse in the Royal Derby
and I asked her this question,
"Why do we hear these stories coming back?"
And she said to me... The best answer she could give me was,
when she trained 10 or 20 years ago,
they saw people on the ward after surgery in their 60s or 70s.
She said, "Now, we see lots of older people
"in their 80s or 90s after major surgery.
"And it's the complex job of caring for those people,
"it's just so different to what we did when we trained."
And those pressures are huge -
the ageing society really is putting intense pressure
on the NHS front line.
And those older people have social care needs,
mental health care needs, physical needs,
and it's difficult to cater for all of that in hospitals
that, quite honestly, were designed for the 20th century, not the 21st.
So it is a complex question. And it really needs...
Any single thing you would like to see done about it?
Let me give you some specifics on the here and now.
Jeremy Hunt says all of this,
his Government has cut 7,000 nurses from the NHS front line.
And, as I proved this week, contrary to the pledge they've made,
they've cut the NHS in real terms.
The CQC, the Care Quality Commission,
said recently that 16% of hospitals in England
do not have adequate staffing levels.
Just think about that statement for one minute -
16% are running below safe staffing levels.
These are the things he should be addressing,
rather than making grand statements and blaming nurses.
He should be dealing with those things,
supporting the NHS front line so it can give the best quality of care
in the current circumstances.
The Royal College of Nursing have supported the campaign
to promote dignity in the NHS,
and I think that's something worth supporting.
But the fear is, with more cutbacks,
that this is a problem that's going to become worse.
There are lots of pressures on nurses
and medical staff to reach targets.
There are also limited resources.
I know, for example, that medical staff have complained
about shortages of bedding and things like that.
And staff can feel harassed and pressured
when there are long queues in A&E and all those sorts of things.
All of that is reality,
but none of it is to excuse bad and cruel practice.
I think one of the things that could help
is much more linking up between health services and social services,
to ensure that people's whole needs are met,
so that people are not just looked at as a medical problem
but their social needs are addressed, too.
Do you recognise the description of some nurses
as "lacking compassion" and "lacking care" for their patients?
I personally haven't had any experience of anybody...
But Wales is where the Government's been cutting back on the NHS.
-There's been cutbacks...
-Have you got experience of that?
No, not personally, but I can't say it doesn't happen either.
The man in the second row there.
I'd just like to say, I think this Government
is determined to bring in privatisation
of the National Health Service
and will systematically reduce the standards
and the care until the rest of the country believes
the claptrap that they're feeding us, so they can bring in their chums
from all these organisations that are members of various boards.
These people will come in and we will be turning up at Casualty
with a credit card in our hands,
and our kids' health care will be absolutely abysmal
if you're not in the top bracket.
Tim Farron, is that a fair...?
-Can I just...?
Hold on a second, I'll come back to you.
Is that a fair description of coalition policy on health?
I don't think it is.
The biggest threat the private sector poses
to the National Health Service is the PFI legacy we've inherited.
If you look at the average NHS Trust up and down this country,
why are they struggling financially?
It's cos one pound in five is going to the bankers,
rather than on to the ward. That's an outrage.
That is the legacy we inherited.
To answer the question that Alison asked,
I think, actually, it's a fairly harsh description
of the overwhelming majority of nurses in this country.
But, in my personal experience,
my mum passed away at far too early an age from cancer.
The care that she received was outstanding,
in an NHS hospital a few miles north of here in Preston.
So my personal experience of the NHS is outstanding,
and the compassion that I see from nurses is also outstanding.
But I can't ignore the evidence in my postbag, as a constituency MP,
that there are instances, from time to time, of a complete lack of that.
Or the MP, the Labour MP, Ann Clwyd,
who described her husband "dying like a battery hen."
It was really moving.
She had the last question in Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday.
It was deeply moving to watch that and my heart went out to her.
-There are plenty of people like that.
-How do you prevent that?
There are two quick analyses, I guess -
one is it was absolutely right
to move nursing into being a graduate profession.
But what a lot of nurses tell me
is that there is an awful lot of emphasis on the clinical stuff,
absolutely right, and a bit less emphasis
than there ought to have been on the human stuff.
The other thing is, I think Leanne mentioned it,
if you have a culture within the NHS of box-ticking
and reaching targets all the time,
then your ability to actually provide those soft skills,
to make sure that someone with dementia actually eats, for example,
is hugely reduced.
There is no league table for compassion.
Therefore, I'm afraid, often that falls off.
Scrapping the target culture is the critical answer.
Do you want to come back on that?
I would rather see one pound in every five go to the PFI
than two pound in every five going to the shareholders.
Every nationalised industry in this country is a disaster.
Look at your gas, look at your railways, everything.
Absolutely. We should never have sold them off!
The National Health Service is the last thing we've got to nationalise.
Then it'd be a complete hat-trick for...
well, our fellows in the blue ties.
-Andy has described very eloquently
the pressures in hospitals,
particularly when dealing with an ageing population.
The fact is, this week, the chief nursing officer described
nursing care standards in hospitals as very poor.
And hospitals in England are said to be now bursting.
So there is a real problem. How are we going to treat it?
Well, not by pouring money at it,
not by adopting a box-ticking culture.
We've poured lots of money into the National Health Service
over the last ten years.
Part of the problem is management, it's about leadership.
It's about expecting high standards
and finding ways to take off the pressure
from people who are dealing with very, very difficult problems
with patients, in very difficult hours and circumstances.
OK. I want to... I think you've spoken already,
I'd like to come to anyone who hasn't.
I'll come to you, and then to Francis Maude.
My mum had dementia, and in 1999, she was in two hospital wards.
One was excellent and one was quite poor.
So we as a family decided that we wouldn't allow her
to stay in hospital on her own,
so we were there from morning till bedtime,
to make sure she did get fed and she was looked after properly.
I think the problem is,
we learnt as a family how to deal with my mum over the years.
It's hard to explain, but you need to have that sort of understanding.
It doesn't come to you.
It's not something that you can pick up in a hospital ward.
You need to have a real understanding.
I think it's partly down to training as well.
I mean, compassion is compassion, I understand that.
But you do need extra training to look after the elderly.
-Well, I think it's...
I think Tim is in the right of it, actually.
I think overwhelmingly, most nurses are compassionate.
I don't have any doubt about that at all.
But that there are examples of
a lack of that kind of human kindness
and compassion is undoubtedly the case.
You mentioned the Ann Clywd experience, and Tim's right,
she was very, very moving in the House of Commons earlier this week.
I think anyone who is a constituency MP will have had letters
from patients and relatives of patients,
concerned about the basic care.
It's very rarely complaints about the medical care,
it's about the basic care. How do you change that?
Well, I think we've had a culture in the NHS which is too much about
bureaucracy and administration and not enough about leadership.
And not enough about asking patients what their experience was.
And I think one of the things that Jeremy Hunt's committed to do
is enable patients in all hospitals
to independently feed in their reactions.
Would you recommend this hospital to your family and friends?
I think a lot of the times when there is a culture in the hospital
of this lack of compassion, a lack of kindness,
actually I don't think the people in the hospital will know about it.
If you start to surface that, then I think people will respond.
Most people aren't unkind, most people want to do the right thing,
want to look after patients right,
and may just not know that actually, that isn't coming across.
Just before we... Have we got any nurses here who want to come in?
-Are you a nurse?
-Yes. Three of the panel have mentioned leadership
as being critical in terms of having the right standards,
but I think Andy's point about the reduction in numbers,
it tends to be the experienced, more qualified,
higher-grade nursing posts that are going.
And that's one of the challenges about maintaining those standards,
but care and compassion and kindness costs nothing.
-Where do you nurse?
-I've retired, but I'm still a qualified nurse.
There was another nurse with their hand up there, yes, the person there?
I agree that the ageing population
has meant that care has become more complex,
but that's not something that the nursing staff complain of.
They do complain about the two things that Andy touched upon,
which is the amount of paperwork that they have to go through
and also, the lack of staff on the wards to support them.
And particularly the paperwork does take away the time spent
being able to deliver good quality basic nursing care.
What about the issue of care and compassion
that you asked in your question?
How would you like to see that restored?
Um, I think there's almost two elements to this.
I think the care and compassion,
personally, I think that tends to be lacking
generally in society at the moment and I think that that is just
naturally reflected in the profession.
I think mostly with the... really looking at the paperwork
and looking at the staffing levels.
-Time to care, in other words.
And the man there in the middle, you, sir.
I think what's disappointing
is the way Jeremy Hunt's gone about doing this.
There is a debate to be had about the NHS, definitely,
but what Jeremy Hunt's done,
like so many politicians, which is disappointing,
is use an oblique approach to open up the debate,
as someone at the front said. Using a sideways attack,
he is trying to introduce it into the public.
-That's quite disappointing.
-I think that's exactly what he's doing.
Like Michael Gove just blames it all on the teachers,
Jeremy Hunt's doing the same thing, it's all about the staff,
it's nothing to do with them.
Let's remember, they promised no top-down reorganisation.
They brought forward the biggest ever in the history of the NHS.
They promised funding increases, they've cut it in real terms.
They promised no hospital closures, they're closing everywhere.
This prime minister was elected on his promises on the back of the NHS
and he's completely and utterly betrayed it.
I thought they'd abandoned the reorganisation of the NHS.
No, sadly, it's coming through. And as he said,
this is taking the NHS to a complete free-market approach to healthcare.
We celebrated our NHS at the opening ceremony of our Olympic Games
because people believe in its values, people before profit.
The bill they put through Parliament just basically destroys all of that.
And it's the saddest thing. We will carry on fighting it,
but the NHS will not stand two terms of this government.
Andy Burnham, wasn't it...?
Wasn't it you who said
it's irresponsible to increase NHS spending in real terms?
Yes, and you know why?
I said it should be frozen in real terms because any...
It would not make sense to give the NHS an increase
if the way you paid for that was hollowing out council budgets.
Leanne is absolutely right about that, these are essentially
one system now, that's the way I want to see it,
full integration of health and social care.
The reason why our hospitals are full, as Lionel said,
is because they can't discharge any more,
there's no support in the community,
so they're running at 90% capacity.
You've got to give the money to social care too.
I said have a balanced approach to giving the money to the NHS
and to social care but this government has actually cut.
Very briefly, Francis, then Leanne.
Just on the spending, the first year was,
of this government's spending on the NHS, those were your plans, Andy.
No, let him answer.
We've increased it since then and we will continue to increase it.
You said that was irresponsible, and we know you mean it because you...
The chair of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot,
wrote to me this week and said you cannot carry on saying that
because you have cut it.
So please do not repeat that falsehood on the television tonight.
We're increasing it from what you left.
And let me remind you about the coalition agreement.
"We will increase NHS spending in every year of this parliament,"
you haven't done it.
-Actually, we have.
-We took your plans and increased it.
Listen to what Andrew Dilnot said this week.
OK, this is a sterile argument.
If we want to know what Labour really thinks about it,
we look at what Labour is doing in Wales.
In Wales, Labour has cut spending on the NHS by 8%,
not freezing it, not increasing it, cutting it.
-Can I just say on this point...
-A last point if you would.
Your government has cut the Welsh Assembly's block grant,
and that is why there has to be a cut to the NHS. Now...
What I would like to know is, how much the NHS in England
is spending on paying back the PFI loans?
We haven't gone down the PFI route in Wales,
we've got a more independent health service in Wales,
and that has meant there is more money about
because we're not paying back the debt.
-Your party introduced PFI into the NHS.
-It was the Treasury minister.
Do you regret introducing it?
I think we won't wind back any further. No, I think we'll move on.
Thank you, Leanne, for the points. We must go onto another question.
This one is from Doreen Squires, please.
Doreen Squires, where are you?
Do the panel trust the press to regulate themselves?
Do the panel trust the press to regulate themselves?
Lionel Barber, you've been in Downing Street today
talking about how the press should control itself.
Do you trust yourselves to regulate yourselves?
Or should there be the law there?
Now, David, you've always been a stickler for accuracy.
So I think it should be pointed out that
I was in Downing Street two days ago.
But, the answer to your question is, yes,
we do trust ourselves to go,
to continue to have a form of self-regulation,
We accept, and this didn't apply to the Financial Times,
we deal with numbers and statistics
and important things like that, so...
The kind of behaviour that went on in certain
sections of the press, notably criminal behaviour by one newspaper,
is not something that I recognise.
I'm not even sure whether some of my journalists
would know how to hack a phone.
What, in pursuit of fraud, you've never tried that?
I certainly haven't tried it.
-So you're not an investigative newspaper?
-No, we very much are.
And again, if you'd seen our expose of Deutsche Bank today, this week...
It was a fascinating, fascinating, fascinating 2,000 word article...
I'm sure we all turned to it first, at breakfast this morning,
nothing else on our lips!
..on mark-to-market accounting, but there we are, we'll leave that.
There is a serious point that went on,
there was a very serious discussion at Downing Street.
All the editors were there,
apart from the editor of the Daily Mail, who had a bereavement.
But this, I've been an editor now seven years,
I've never seen this.
It was really an incredible achievement to herd
that number of cats into one room and get them to agree huge sections,
40 out of 47 recommendations of Leveson were adopted that day.
We are going to embrace Leveson,
and we are going to come up with a new form of regulation
which is going to have serious powers for the new regulator
to investigate newspapers, to enforce with fines if necessary.
And I think this is a huge, important step forward.
And I'd like to make one last point.
One may question the Prime Minister's motives. What...
Whether he really is so attached to the freedom of the press
and free speech, or whether he was worried about the tabloid reaction
if he supported a press law.
I'm going to come down in favour of the Prime Minister,
because he recognised that it is not in the interests of this country
to have a media law, as in South Africa, Hungary, Zimbabwe.
The world is watching us. We don't need a law.
To which I just raise one point,
all broadcasting in this country is done under the law.
-Why not newspapers?
You cannot broadcast on radio
or television without a legal framework.
You have an obligation to be impartial in your reporting.
-We don't, not under the law. And we shouldn't,
we never have had in the history of the press in this country.
The last time the press was licensed in this country
was more than 300 years ago.
We don't want to go back to an inglorious revolution.
OK, the man at the very back there. You, sir.
Lionel says that the press trust the press to regulate themselves.
But as a citizen, we all trusted the banks to regulate themselves,
-and look how well that turned out.
-Let's be clear...
Hold on, Lionel.
The person right up there at the back there, I can see a hand.
-There we are.
-The press are regulating themselves, and failing.
Broadcasters are regulated and they're failing.
There's something wrong, there's something rotten,
in what's going on. Why shouldn't the press have,
why shouldn't the print press have an obligation to be impartial?
Just to pick up the point that was made at the back a moment ago.
I think if the... Let's say, for example,
there was a scandal involving the banks, for instance.
Let's say, even MPs. Obviously that would never happen, but let's say.
Let's say there was a scandal
that affected the police force, for instance.
And if after a judge-led enquiry it was recommended that
there should be independent regulation of those outfits,
and yet, those MPs or bankers or senior police officers said,
"No, trust us to regulate ourselves,"
Lionel and all the other editors would lay into those bodies,
and quite rightly.
It's important we recognise...
This is a city that knows better than most, sadly,
what it's like to be at the sharp end of the abuse of media power.
There is nothing illegal, sadly, about libelling 96 dead people.
And that is one of the reasons, one of the examples that,
when we get to the end of this process,
we have to look those families in the eye.
We have to look the family of Milly Dowler and of the McCanns,
and all those other people who have been victims of press hacking
in the eye and say, we have done something about this.
I am very, very pleased the editors have got together
and responded to Leveson as they have so far.
And I'm open-minded about it.
But the bottom line has got to be independent regulation
so those innocent victims never have to see that repeated again.
I accept that the press needs to be regulated independently,
but I don't see...
But it's been said this week that David Cameron is not
completely supporting Leveson, and I'm just wondering why.
Why the Conservative party doesn't support it.
Lord Justice Leveson said it was essential there was a legal framework
which we will come to in a second.
Up to now, Mr Barber has spoken an awful lot of sense,
-I've been very impressed with what he's said.
-Thank you very much!
But it has to be acknowledged that three-quarters of the editors that
you walk through Number Ten, is that they've all got papers in Ireland.
They're all signed up there to the restrictions which are there
for the papers in Ireland.
And I don't see all the papers refusing to have anything
to do with Southern Ireland. The argument is a nonsense.
They're signed over there, but they won't sign here. Why?
Francis Maude, Lord Justice Leveson said it was essential
there should be legal underpinning, and the Prime Minister said
everything but the legal underpinning. Why?
And can the press be trusted in your view to regulate itself?
I don't think it's the press regulating itself.
I think everyone agrees there's got to be an independent regulator
which commands trust. And can that happen?
I think the jury's out.
I think the press have got to come together
and put together a regulator.
This is what Lord Justice Leveson himself said,
that the press have got to come together and create
a regulatory body that commands genuine support.
And it will have to earn trust.
But he said essential to have legal underpinning,
ie a law, not just he and his fellow editors agreeing a system.
Yes. You see, I'm not persuaded of that.
I think there has to be statutory underpinning,
it has to have the backing of law and I think everyone agrees that.
The newspapers, the publishers, have got to commit themselves
by contract to accept what this regulator does.
And it's got to command real support.
I think there is a job for the press to do to win trust again
and the jury is out. Lionel and his colleagues will...
So how do you differ from Leveson?
You say there has to be statutory underpinning.
Is that not the same as legal underpinning?
No, because what has been proposed, and I think is plausible,
is an arrangement where the newspapers commit themselves
by a contractual arrangement, which is capable of being
judged in courts, but which doesn't have the statutory underpinning.
The danger with statute is that it is open to abuse of power.
It puts power in the hands of the Government and of Parliament
and actually, I've suffered at the hands of the press.
Lots of people have. That's what you do when you go into public life.
I haven't found it comfortable always,
but I will absolutely defend the right of the press to be free
and to have free comment and that independence,
uncomfortable though it is for those of us in public life,
is to be defended.
The woman here on the left, then I'll come to you, Andy.
There are many, many occupations in this country
that we don't allow people to practise if they're not
registered in some way, such as lawyers, doctors, even electricians.
That's because we do that to protect the public
from what harm could happen to them.
I don't see why journalists should be any different from that.
-Andy Burnham, do you?
-No, I don't.
You think all journalists should be registered?
-That's what she said.
-No, I thought...
-I don't mean registered but they should be subject to regulation.
-Like the GMC.
To answer the question, yes, I do trust them, but that's what
Lord Leveson proposed, self-regulation with teeth,
Let's be clear, he didn't propose statutory or state regulation
of the press. Tim's right. I agree with what Tim said.
If any city knows that the current system where the press is
a law unto itself, knows the current system can't go on,
it's surely this city, where 23 years ago
despicable lies were told about the victims, the survivors of a tragedy.
A general slur was cast on the supporters
of Liverpool Football Club and this whole city.
And for 23 years, we lived under that.
The press helped put the lid on one of the biggest cover-ups
this is country has ever seen. It was complicit in that.
What troubles me about Hillsborough,
this city boycotted that out-of-control newspaper in result.
But who was listening? London wasn't listening.
It took politicians' and celebrities' phones to be hacked
till someone listened.
But even for Hillsborough the press has been a double-edged sword.
I worked with investigative journalists who in the end helped us
prise the lid back off and expose the cover-ups.
So the free press is absolutely essential.
But it's where those ordinary people at the lowest point in their lives,
the Hillsborough families, the McCanns, the Dowlers.
They are the people who've been demolished by the press in this
country when they're at their most vulnerable
and the press must be forced to make recompense to those people, give them adequate protection.
That's why what Leveson recommends so tremendously important.
APPLAUSE OK, Andy, but just to try...
The key quote from Leveson that the Prime Minister disagreed with
and said was a Rubicon that we should not cross,
or ideally will not cross, and these are Leveson's words,
"it's essential there should be legislation
"to underpin the self-regulatory system."
-Do you agree, yes or no?
-Yes, I agree with that.
You do? OK, fine. Leanne Wood?
I agree with that as well.
The Press Complaints Commission has completely failed
as a voluntary body.
The serious transgressors were allowed to opt out of the system.
The problem for me is I'm less concerned actually
with the celebrities and even the politicians,
but the ordinary people who've no recourse.
The only way to challenge a newspaper that has printed
lies about you is to take them through the courts
through the libel laws
and for most people of ordinary income
that's completely impossible.
So I support the Leveson recommendations
to protect the public.
But also to protect freedom of expression.
-That's an important point as well.
-I have a quick point.
-Be very, very quick.
It's about the Hillsborough. Andy deserves enormous credit.
He campaigned vigorously on Hillsborough to expose
a lasting injustice.
And he deserves enormous credit for what he did.
And I just make this point.
You were able to do that, which you did brilliantly and bravely,
-because of your right of free speech, and freedom of expression.
-I accept that.
And we have to guard that really carefully.
Nobody should do this lightly.
Every politician who supports the enactment of Leveson's
proposals on press regulation should feel uncomfortable about it,
but we also have to remember that there are threats to the free press
from within the press.
Two of my colleagues, for example,
have had their regular columns pulled this week
by their separate newspapers because they were too pro-Leveson.
This is what we get sometimes, when you see a press
which is very, very powerful.
The suppression of the truth does not always come from politicians.
It can come from extremely wealthy magnates who own vast numbers of newspapers.
Who owns you? Do wealthy people own you?
-It wasn't your paper.
-No, we're just owned by someone called Pearson.
-Just one little point.
In the next week or so, you'll see proposals from the editors,
from the journalistic profession,
which will support what I said about the industry embracing Leveson
and answering a lot of the questions people have
about responsible behaviour, the ordinary people
who are not well-treated by the press.
There will be some serious meat in proposals in the next few days.
Right, well, we will hold our breath. Or we won't...
No, we WILL hold our breath!
Thank you, David, for that resounding vote of confidence(!)
Edward Lamb, please.
When will the new pay-what-you-want tax rule be rolled out to
the rest of the business world?
"When will the new pay-what-you-want tax rule be rolled out..."
".. to the rest of the business world",
or indeed to all of us, maybe, just make voluntary contributions.
Starbucks, obviously at the heart of this.
The managing director has said they will now pay a significant
amount of tax, regardless of whether the company is profitable.
They'll change all their arrangements
and if they've made a loss,
they'll still pay £10 million this year and £10 million next year.
It's the weirdest thing.
Francis Maude understands all this, what is going on?
Well, I think Starbucks have woken up and smelled the coffee. And...
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
And I think what was significant, this was people power actually.
They are a consumer brand, a retail brand,
and the public were making their feelings known.
People who work hard and pay their taxes actually deeply resented
the fact that here was a multinational that was
avoiding paying tax, although it was operating in this country.
Why didn't you make them pay the tax?
We are, for the first time, introducing
a general anti-abuse provision into the law,
which has never been done before.
So if you have a phony arrangement like every cup of coffee,
we have to pay Holland to serve it here in Liverpool
and therefore we don't have to pay tax - you'll change it?
-They've already done it in Scotland.
-What it will do is introduce arrangements so that
if there is something which is plainly artificial, an arrangement
which is clearly artificial, designed for tax avoidance...
I thought that's what the Inland Revenue did all the time!
This is an artificial arrangement, you can't get away with it.
What they do, consistently - four things which George Osborne
announced yesterday which contributed to this -
they're constantly blocking loopholes,
they're looking for loopholes, finding them and blocking them.
-That's what's consistently been done.
But you're always behind the fair.
What the general anti-abuse provision will do
is enable them to look proactively at artificial arrangements
and ensure that the substance is what's properly taxed.
This is guilty conscience. This isn't paying money they have to pay.
Everybody knows it was legal up to now,
doing what they're doing, and they say they'll pay 10 million
this year and 10 million next year, even if they make a loss.
It's weird! LAUGHTER
What I think they're saying is that they're going to
stop claiming some deductions
which may or may not have been artificial, in order to avoid tax.
-Any coffee drinkers here?
-And that's well for them to do.
The woman up there on the left. Yes, you.
They've not paid it for the last three years.
-Is the 10 million too little?
-Well, that's a good point.
-What do you think?
-To view tax as a voluntary donation given
out of the goodness of their heart
is quite an extraordinary view of life.
I just wonder what small British businesses will think
when they see this kind of behaviour.
We hear all this stuff about playing by the rules from the Government,
but they'd better get these people
playing by the rules for a start, that would help.
It has echoes for me of other things we've seen in Parliament,
in banking - an elite setting their own rules.
It's not going to go down well with the public at all.
A bit rich coming from you.
How long has Starbucks been operating in this country?
Ten years and they haven't paid any...
And how many years of that was a Labour Chancellor in power?
-I'm making more of a general point.
-I bet you are!
We've all woken up to the issue, as you were saying in your question.
I think the point is that it's global brands, multinationals,
who can play one bit of their empire off against another.
"Holland's getting the royalties..." That's the problem.
Margaret Hodge has done a brilliant job exposing this
in the Public Accounts Committee.
It seems to me the Government
does now have to go after this issue very strongly.
There's about £32 billion of uncollected tax from these people
and we need to get finding that money, rather than going
after people at the very bottom who are so-called cheating on benefits.
-Let's get after these people.
I set up a company to try to pay my way through university
and it's a real kick in the teeth
to see these multi-million dollar corporations paying nothing,
or even offering money
while I'm having to pay most of the money that I earn out of my company.
It's a real kick up the backside.
-You set up the company and made a profit?
I'm a full-time student and to pay my way through university,
I run this company. It's just quite harsh
to see these corporations offering money,
when really they should be getting it
taken away from them if they're operating here.
OK, and you, sir, behind. Three behind.
I think if you look at Google and Amazon,
where they don't have any competition, unlike Starbucks.
Starbucks has made this decision cos they have a lot of
competition on the marketplace and know people will go elsewhere.
They go to the competitors.
They can go to bookshops instead of Amazon.
-Yeah, absolutely, but I think...
-Still a few!
But I think Amazon is a massive monopoly, as is Google. They know they don't have the same threats.
A quick point - this is true of our Government and the current one.
Governments get too close to big businesses.
This Government has been too close to Google.
All governments need to step back from the press, from big business
-and do the right thing. That was true of us, too.
I don't think anybody should be allowed to decide
how much tax they pay. That should be set out clearly
and the rules should be fair across the board.
There needs to be some sort of international agreement
on tax avoidance.
I'm not sure how much money we're talking here about
because HMRC themselves say that there is £32.2 billion
in tax avoidance every year.
But the TUC say it's £120 billion a year.
It'd be useful to know what we're dealing with.
But surely one of the big problems is the cuts to the staff
who are meant to be going out collecting the taxes.
While the Labour Party were in government
there were 12,500 people, HMRC staff, laid off between 2008-2010,
and a further 5,000 staff have been laid off by the Tories
and the Liberal Democrats between 2010-2012.
But this wouldn't have affected Starbucks. You could see them there.
You don't need 1,500 people to tell Starbucks.
Starbucks is one example.
Clearly, because they are a multinational corporation,
they can play these rules off against each other
in different countries,
which is why you need an international agreement.
But in general, what the Government is doing with its austerity
programme is cutting at the bottom,
while allowing the rich corporations and individuals to avoid paying tax.
And those tax loopholes should be closed down, in my view,
and more people should be taken on in HMRC, with experience.
You've taken on temporary staff with limited experience
and laid off people who can do complex investigations
which can bring the money and...
Point made, thank you. The man up there at the back. APPLAUSE
I'm sure the panel take measures to minimise their tax liability.
This is what the companies have done.
It's the rules that need toughening.
The loopholes need to be plugged.
May be the Government should employ the tax advisers
of multinationals to find loopholes and claim money back from taxpayers.
-Poacher turned gamekeeper.
Let's be clear, the company has not committed a crime.
Not even the Government has said what it's been doing is illegal.
What is important...
There's a parallel between the comedian, Jimmy Carr,
who if you remember, it was reported
he'd been engaged in very aggressive tax management
and not paying a lot of tax.
So he said, "I haven't done anything wrong."
But with the public outrage, he changed his mind.
This is what's happened with Starbucks.
They have understood that their duty is not only
to their shareholders - they operate in a community.
And it is really not acceptable to engage in this
kind of aggressive tax avoidance,
when they've made plenty of money, albeit not in this country.
They have the weird coffee bean manoeuvre,
which David Dimbleby alluded to, which I don't understand.
The royalty payments - that's allowed under EU law,
those transfers, so they've seen sense.
I think the broader question, and something
which really shouldn't be forgotten,
is that, yes, people power has worked,
but who will really suffer in the event of a further consumer boycott?
The answer is, those people who've taken risks to
take on work as franchisee of Starbucks.
They're losing money, they may go out of work. This is a problem.
We had someone in our audience
a fortnight ago actually who'd got a franchise.
The money that's been accumulated is in Seattle,
the home of Starbucks, not in this country.
Tim Farron, have to be brief, we're almost out of time.
What is taxation? It's the subscription charge
for living in a civilised society.
Starbucks benefit hugely from living and operating in our society.
Their staff are educated by us, protected by our police.
Those of us that end up with rotten teeth by drinking their frappuccinos
get their teeth looked after on the NHS... I'm a tea drinker, what do I know?
The point is this - the indictment on our society and on government
of all colours is that we've even got to this situation
in the first place. We should stop rattling on about it
and slagging off Starbucks
and just fix the tax code and stop this happening again.
That's it for tonight.
We're in Bristol next week, the last one of the year.
On our panel, Will Self, the author, and the editor of The Times,
having had the editor of the Financial Times, James Harding.
If you want to come, the website address is there
or you can call 0330 123 99 88.
Thanks to you, panellists.
Thanks to you, all this large audience in Liverpool,
for coming along for Question Time.
Until next Thursday, from all of us here, good night.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Liverpool. On the panel: Francis Maude MP, minister for the cabinet office; Andy Burnham MP, Labour's shadow health secretary; Tim Farron MP, president of the Liberal Democrats; Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times; and Leanne Wood AM, leader of Plaid Cymru.