10/01/2013 Question Time


David Dimbleby chairs the first Question Time of 2013, from Lewisham. Joining him on the panel are: Ed Davey, Lord Prescott, Nadine Dorries, John Bird and Camilla Cavendish.

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Tonight we are in Goldsmiths College in Lusa Sobral in South


London -- in Lewisham in South Good evening. Of course, a big


welcome to our audience in Lewisham. Tonight our panel has on it the


Energy and Climate Change Secretary, the Liberal Democrat Ed Davey.


Labour's former Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott.


The Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, still suspended from the


Parliamentary party because she went on Am A celebrity, John and


the Times column Nis, Camilla Cavendish -- columnist, Camilla


Thomas Sturge has the first question of the year. S-the 1%


benefits cap fair? Is the 1% benefits cap fair? John Prescott?


Certainly not however you measure it. The Government says their


policies must be fair. They say they have a difficulty, I


understand the point, but if you take 1% of somebody on benefit,


let's say job allowance and 1% on the 500 average wage, then clearly


the differences are considerable and they are not fair. Leaving out


the real problem, if you let millionaires have a cut basically


down to 45 from 50% and they get �107,000 back, it maybe 1%, but by


God it is not the same of somebody on a benefit on 1%. No, it is not


fair and therefore, it is wrong. APPLAUSE


Your argument would be there is no discrepancy in agreeing to 1% on


public sector workers, but not agreeing 1% for people on benefits?


I think we are get nothing a mess about this welfare fronkly and I


think -- frankly and I think politicians start thinking about


the whole range because all the anomalies that are occurring, and


the politicians are getting into the argument about the shirkers and


the people who are working and we need to reform the welfare system.


When it was set-up in 1947 at least we were dealing with the illnesses,


the diseases, the poverty, of unemployment, of disease, that was


a fundamental change. Things have changed considerably. And you have


got to provide something which will cost you more money and perhaps you


have got to ask what is the alternative expenditure, and you


are seeing high expenditures going on at the moment and you are trying


to force those on welfare to pay the price for the fault that they


didn't occur. Looking back on it now, I was a great supporter of of


Beverage, the five diseases he wanted to deal with, he did, but it


has changed and we need to look at other principles that are going to


govern the distribution of wealth and the power and dealing with


those at the bottom of the thing that get a better chance than those


at the top and that's what is going on at the moment.


APPLAUSE Nadine Dorries? Well, can I deal


with something that John said in that little ramble? You mentioned


the tax rate going down. Yes, we did that, John didn't say when you


were in Government, you were in Government for 4,000 days and you


only put the tax rate up to 50% in your last 4 days -- 4 days. -- 4


days. Can you answer? It is not a cut, it


is a 1% increase that are are being capped.


Is it fair? I have nurses and policemen in my constituency,


policemen who go out on a Saturday night into Luton Town centre and


who work in the public sector and had their pay frozen and while


their pay was frozen benefits went up by 5.2%, we inherited the worst


deficit in 2010 and I am afraid everybody has to bear the brunt of


that and bear the cost. 1% cap on increase isn't a cut, it is a cap


on the increase. I also think that we need to understand understand


that it is not a permanent thing this. Is a temporary thing.


don't the pensioners bear the same thing? Not only pensioners, but the


disabled and the vulnerable are being protected... Why do you


protect the pencors? Because pensioners are vulnerable.


Because what? Because pensioners are... What? Why pensioners? Well,


we have actually given pensioners an increase. Pensioners have


contributed to our economy. 90% of people in this country working


people and non working people were eligible for benefits. That means


we are taxing people to give them back benefits. That's expensive and


it doesn't work. What we need to do is to give those people who really


do deserve benefits, better benefits going forward and we need


to to simplify the tax system so we are not taking tax from you to give


it back to you on benefits. APPLAUSE


The woman in green up there. Yes, I am a public sector worker


and I am not happy with this argument that is being put forward


contrasting the effective cut in public sector salary with a cap on


benefit. Why not? Well, I, of course, think


it is not right that public sector workers should have their pay cut...


Or frozen? It comes to the same thing if you take into account


inflation and this is the fourth year, but to use that as a


comparison as to why people on benefit should have theirs capped


is wrong. It is a wrong comparison. It should be made between the


people on benefit who are very poor or even much poorer than people who


are working compared to the wealthy people and so I don't appreciate




You, sir. The man in the fifth row. Do the panel think it is helpful


for politicians to engage in provocative language such as


"strivers and shirkers." John Bird? I think it is dodgy for the


comfortable to be passing judgement on the discomfortable by making


them more uncomfortable. APPLAUSE


I think that's a separate issue to the overhaul that we need to give


to the welfare system. The welfare system needs to be a system which


was invented as a springboard for those people who could use it. It


was not invented as a place where we hair house some of the most


disenfranchised people in Britain today. Something I tried to give Mr


Mandelson many years ago when I said to him, "you have to farewell


on welfare in order to say farewell to welfare." We have got hundreds


of thousands of people who are stuck on welfare. They need to be


reformed. They need to be brought into the workforce. They need to be


put in colleges and universities. But don't at this moment start


giving the poor a kicking specially from some of the of the most


comfortable people who have ever run the British Government.


APPLAUSE Ed Davey? When the coalition


Government came to power we were borrowing �3 billion every single


week. So we have had to take tough decisions with cutting spending in


a number of Hall departments. We are asking, John, the rich to pay a


lot more. Rightly so, they have got the largest shoulders, they should


bear the highest burden. That's not the point. We got rid of the


capital gains tax dodge that was brought in by Labour. It was an


outrageous thing for Labour to do and the rich should be paying more.


Last year, I was praud when the Liberal Democrats -- proud when the


Liberal Democrats fought within the coalition Government to make sure


that benefits did go up by inflation, 5.2% they went up, even


though we were asking many workers in the public sector to have a pay


freeze. I think it is right and fair that other people do have some


of the burden. So it was fair last year, but it is not fair to do that


in year? When the financial crisis happened, to when this Welfare


Reform Bill is in place, wages will have gone up the same as benefits


and I think if everyone is going up the same, everyone is is sharing


the burden, that is right. The rich should pay more and that's what is


happening. What do you say to John Prescott,


that 1% to somebody on a low income is a great deal less than 1% to a


person say on �20,000, or or �30,000 a year in the public


sector? I understand that. That's why we are increasing the income


tax allowance. �600 a year tax cut from this April if you are in work.


�1200 if you have got to two in a couple. That is worth a lot more to


the low paid. The real point is the message we


send to the publish public and that is what we think the poor are


responsible for themselves. They are responsible for the causes of


their own poverty. If you look at the way in which the Social


Security system was created over the years, when Margaret Thatcher


closed down all the lame duck industries, they parked up nearly


one million workers on Social Security and turned the Social


Security system from a contributory system to a non non contributetry


system. She should have been turning those miners into


industrialists. APPLAUSE


I thought you once said you were a Tory? This is so interesting. You


get somebody quotes a little bit. I am a working class Marxist Tory


with socialist liberal liberal leanings which means to say...


APPLAUSE I find it incredibly difficult to


fit into the left or the right. Like most people they are left on


some things and right on others. Camilla Cavendish? I want to talk


about the gentleman who talked about the provocative language. I


think agree with you because I think the language of strivers and


shirkers are distorting this debate and it is unhelpful and we should


stop using it. I also think it disstracts from what we should be


looking at at which is the whole welfare Bill. The whole Welfare


Bill is too big and it is growing and the more we spend on welfare,


the less we can spend on hospitals, the less we can spend on schools


and the less we can spend on defence. That's just the reality.


Somebody mentioned it earlier, the piece that has not been addressed


in this welfare cap is the question of pensions which are, of course, a


vast part of this Bill and pensioner benefits. It used to be


true that being elderly, pretty much meant you were poor and when


we needed to support those people people because it was hard to get


through your old age and we have got a different situation. We have


got a generation coming into retirement, which is the wealthiest


generation of people we have seen. Those Peel are getting winter fuel


allowance and benefits. Unless you address that there is an unfairness.


There is a propaganda going on that, the fault is the welfare system,


namely that it is paying too much. In reality, our welfare system is


subsidising low pay with tax credits which we brought in, with


low pay so the welfare is taken the heavy -- taking the heavy burden


and at the same time it may only have been one year when you did the


50 pence, it means that the millionaires, who are getting


�107,000 back by the proposals that you make are blaming the welfare


system. That's why we need to reform it. That's not true. The


rich are paying more in tax than they have at any time in any year


under the previous Labour Government. The rich will pay more


this year in tax than they did in their 13 years. What you guys did,


you allowed the rich and the wealthy to squirrel away their


money away from the taxman. Bankers were paying lower tax their their


cleaners. That was a scandal that you brought in and we have ended it.


What about tax avoidance? The people who are not paying their tax


and their businesses are taking money, salting it abroad and not


paying their fair share. You are right, you did nothing


Give the panel a chance to get their breath back and go to large


numbers of people in the audience. If you could make your points,


rather than ask more questions, we'll get more of you in. The man


in the blue shirt on the right? It's surely inevitable that the


result of this policy will be to depress economic activity in poor


areas as people have less spending power. That will affect businesses,


that will inevitably lead to more job losses, more division in


society, possible social unrest and you will see more welloff people


wanting to leave those areas and you set off a nasty vicious circle.


Thank you, we'll keep that point. The woman in the black-and-white


dress? How about Labour bear the brunt of the responsibility. You


created a welfare state that threw money at people and left them


trapped and now they are suffering. You didn't invest in education, you


just threw money... I have a family who work for HMRC, there was a new


benefit every couple of months, you threw money at people and now they


are so dependent on benefits and the cuts, you know, they are


suffering and it was your Government who overcomplicated the


welfare state. You sold off our gold bullion, spent money that we


didn't have on an illegal war. APPLAUSE. The woman on the left


over there? I would like to pick up on Nadine's


point which was where she talked about pensioners keeping benefits


because they are vulnerable and have contributed to society. A lot


of people who are on other benefit who is're out of work have


contributed to society as well, we are not all scroungers who've never


had a job. A lot of the so-called scroungers have children who're


very vulnerable and those people are struggling to feed those


children because of the rising costs of food, the rising costs of


bills, the rising costs of rent and they're just not able to do that.


We have to think about protecting those vulnerable people. Can I


just... In a moment. I want a few more points in. Like John Prescott,


if you could hold back for the moment. You on the right? Yes. My


point is, Britain is a wonderful country to be in, and for many


people, the reason they are here is because the benefits system works


for them. You can stay at home and make a lot of money and those


who're going to work are the ones that pay the price of going out. My


children complain. Now, why is it that each time the public talk


about their benefit cap or less taxation, they are talking about


them. What needs to happen is that the system needs to be overhauled


so that we know that to survive - see grease, it's suffering -


somehow it sounds ungrateful that people don't see that it's better


to make the sacrifice so the changes can happen than staying


there as in we don't want the increase. It's not fair on those


that are at work and pensioners. OK, they have benefits, but we need to


look at reform and let the public understand that Britain needs to


survive these hard times. Thank you.


Now, we have still got a lot of hands up but I want the panel to


have a chance to pick up briefly because we have other questions.


The points were that business and demand will be affected by cutting


benefits, not increasing them, that was the point made up there, Labour


trapped people in the welfare state, the point about the pensioners and


your point, madam, there. So Ed Davey, briefly? You are quite right,


you need to make sure people can get by in work, that's why we are


raising the tax allowance, taking two million low-paid out of income


tax all together. What Labour did, they used to tax you then give it


back to you as if they were giving you a present, you know. What we


need to do is take it off them all together. Because we are doing that


with income tax, 24 million people got a tax cut in April of �600.


That is helping people on low and middle incomes. I'm not getting it


because I'm on a high income, I shouldn't get it, people on low and


middle incomes should get it. Prescott, the point about Labour


having trapped people in the welfare state. You are going back


after the war, that's a long time ago when there was mass


unemployment, mass disease, education, all that was changed by


the welfare state. We've now got to a stage where people are trying to


blame it and there's heavy cost put on it so we need to make a


fundamental reform in the system. That's what I'm arguing. People say


we can do reform cheaper. All the benefits took three quarters of


kids out of poverty, Tax Credit, minimum wage, so bear that in mind.


But that hasn't solved the problem though. How would you want to see


the reform of the welfare state? It's as fundamental as when


Beverage started. Let's ask ourselves, do you want a welfare


system? Is it to be fair? How will we measure that? Those are the


arguments, so let's sit down and argue about that.


APPLAUSE Nadine Dorries, can you pick up on


the point that was made at the very beginning that the capping of


benefits will only reduce demand, make people move out of certain


areas, reduce prosperity generally? Obviously I wouldn't agree with


that statement and the gentleman also said about declining


employment. We have a million new jobs which have been created and


240,000 of those were women the work place now have than there were


in 2010, a million new jobs. For every job in the public sector


which is lost, two jobs are created in the private sector so we are


creating jobs, unemployment is falling. We have the lowest rate of


youth unemployment in ten years, unemployment is falling - I'm


afraid that's a fact. That's not true. It is because that's what the


figures say, John. Tory propaganda. I'm sorry, it isn't, John. The lady


who made the point about the pensioner benefits, I was talking


about the basic state pension which I believe should be increased. That


was the right thing to do. What I do question though, and I think you


probably agree with me, is that we have some wealthy pensioners now


who are, the winter fuel allowance I think should go to those


pensioners who really need it, not to those who are wealthy, but I


have heard some figures banded around which I don't agree with. I


heard one the other day which said that pensioners who are on a joint


pension of �25,000 a year shouldn't get the winter fuel allowance. I


think that's on the edge of a limit really because I think that's not


what I would call wealthy. I would call that people just about


surviving. Thank you very much. Camilla Cavendish, do you want to


pick up on any of the points made? John, I love your idea that we can


now sit down and discuss what's fair now. I don't think we can do


that if you won't even accept that actually the welfare bill is too


large and that in fact people, wages aren't better on benefits.


He's saying prove it. There is more money in this country to spend than


at any time. The lady has a good point to make. If you go to the


Department of Work and Pensions, there were 32 new benefits. Every


time they introduced a new benefit, there was a new computer system and


the system didn't work. There was an opportunity to streamline the


system, focus it and make work pay and you didn't do it. You don't


want to go over old ground but it's difficult to have that conversation


now when so many middle class people have got child benefit, baby


bonds, all the things that Labour handed out, now they don't want to


give them back and that makes it really difficult to have this


conversation. Every Government finds it difficult


to govern and it's very, very difficult to govern the welfare


system. One of the real things is, every Government's increased the


size. This Government has just run out of money and it's not going to


increase the size. One thing the Labour Government did and I think


with some faults in a sense, that is the laws of unintended


consequence - when they gave a lot of support to people in work they


supported people in cheap jobs and the people who did well out of it


were the shareholders. I think that is one of the unintended laws and


consequences that we need to be very careful about. Whef we change


something as big as the welfare state, still one to have most


beautiful social creation of the 20th century, it has to be


perfected. But its supporters have to reform it, we have to reform it.


If we don't reform it, we leave it to its enemies and they'll make a


pig's ear of it. APPLAUSE


Now we must move on. You can join in the debate from home by texting


or Twitter. The panellist tonight is a person from blog conspiracy


and he's at the BBC extra text account. You can press red to see


what others are saying. Let's change the topic and take a


question from Karl Timberlake? politicians who court celebrity


debase the honour of their own profession?


APPLAUSE Well, I can't imagine who you are


thinking of! Maybe the cap fits to all three politicians, I don't know.


But, Camilla Cavendish, you start on this? Well, I have to admire


Nadine, whom I assume your question is directed, for going out...


necessarily you say. Prescott is it?! Cagey about it now? The cap


fits and they've been doing some advertising, maybe. The question


was, do politicians who court celebrity debase the honour? I have


to admire Nadine for going to the jungle. I wouldn't have had the


courage to do it but I would also say if I was an MP I don't think I


would have done it because I don't think it was really the right thing


to do. I know you have got a great line on it and you will defend it,


but I just feel, as a woman, people are so cynical about politics and


particularly women in politics. I think a lot of women MPs feel that


they are seen as shallow or they're self-interested and I suppose


that's maybe why I feel I wouldn't have done that. You would have felt


uncomfortable. Right. Ed Davey? a certain extent we are all in the


public eye and we are all wanting people to see us and hear from us.


What do you think about this publicity? Focus leaflets in my


constituencies and things like that. Your junior minister courts more


publicity than you do. Seriously, what I want to do is answer the


question and the point is, I think an MPs job is to represent their


constituents. I do two advice surgeries almost every week so


people come and see me face-to-face with their problems, whether it's


benefits. Was she right to do that from the jungle? She could haven't


done it from the jungle. I saw her eating sheep testicles, it made my


stomach children. That's not the thing people elect their MPs to do.


They should be campaigning hard for them, being there to represent them.


Nadine will say 16 million people watch that programme, fewer than


watch this programme, but the point is, what should an MP be doing?


It's in their constituency and it's in Parliament.


APPLAUSE Was the Conservative Party right to punish her by removing the


whip? That's a matter for the Conservatives. Of course it is!


What is your view?! APPLAUSE


Well, if a Liberal Democrat... APPLAUSE


If a Liberal Democrat MP would have done that, the whip would have been


withdrawn. Nadine Dorries, in your own defence? Parliament was


actually on holiday for nine of the 12 days I was in the jungle if you


include the weekends either side. I worked through the summer recess


because I was going and didn't take any holiday, only had four days'


holiday in the wheel year because I knew I was doing this. We had a


very in-depth meeting about this that I would be the first out. How


did we know that? We looked at the fan base of everybody taking part.


The small Estefan club was Ashley Roberts of 239,000 fans in the UK.


I don't have a fan club, believe it or not, so we just knew that I


would be first out. Someone shouted "Not surprised" from the back.


may say so. And we knew exactly what we were doing. I missed no


legislation whatsoever and I missed no votes. Despite what the press


may have told you, I was away for 12 days, of which Parliament


weren't sitting in nine. Even you weren't in Parliament when I was in


the jungle. It was the right thing to do, and I'll tell you why. Most


people when they look at or speak to politicians and I know this


because I used to feel like this as well, I used to think, whatever,


you know, less than 20% of people went out and voted recently in the


PCC elections. The people are engaging in politics and with


politicians and they're dropping like a stone in terms of numbers.


People are losing interest. The only way politicians are presented,


usually to people, is via the printed media. I think it's one


million people watch this out of 65 million people. I beg your pardon.


How many people watch this? million? It's nothing like...


be honest, 2.5 million to 3 million people. I thought you would have


done your in-depth research before you came on. It's my fifth time,


I've forgot! It's a very select number of people who're interested


in politics, they watch this programme, not the people who


aren't interested. I did think long and hard about it. I'll tell you


what happens to me now when I go into my constituency. The teenagers


really want to talk to me. The teenagers want to know what's going


They say are you Nadine Dorries, are you the MP? I like the fact


that they say, "Are you the MP?" They ask me a a lot of questions


and they usually are about I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!.


When they put a cross next to my name and they will know who they


are voting for and I think that's important because quite often they


don't. I notice the Labour Party have gone on to Dancing On Ice, he


is paid and -- she is paid and I hope she does well because I would


like to see politicians doing different things in a different


form mat, finding out what they are like other than on the green


benches or on Forums like this because there are a lot of people


who don't watch this programme or read the newspapers that we engage


with. You, sir, on the front row? Now to


the not think there is a worry if you go on the public television


programmes how the media portray you? That's an interesting point


actually. And the man up there, you sir? Sympathetic as I am to your


dedication to your job and the fact that you did move your holiday and


I am sure you did work very hard over that summer holiday. Do you


genuinely think that you did good for your constituency in that time


in the jungle? I can only tell you the reaction of my constituents.


You have And that's the important thing to know which has been


tremendous. They know you as a celebrity on


television. They don't know more about your policies as a result,


they are not asking you about your policies. How was it meeting those


other celebrities? They are and in fact... The man in the white shirt


there. Diyou really believe that ITV would let you harp on in the


jungle about your anti-abortion views and other right-wing views?


No, I did not say they would either. John Bird? I have never said that I


thought that is what I thought would happen. It is entertainment.


It is a watershed moment when we realise that we need a different


kind of of politics, we need our representatives, but it does shout


out to the world in general that we need to change the kind of people


who go into politics. I would like some firemen, I would like some


nurses, I would like some people who had real experience and not


just in publicity. The other thing I would like more participatory


democracy, rather than representational democracy, which


means that you lot have to join with people like me and try to do


something profound about making our communities work and making our


society work. And the problem is that we are all looking at


Parliament to answer so many problems and they are not answering


them. The answer lies with us in the same way around poverty, the


answer lies with the poor. What about Nadine Dorries and the


jungle? Briefly. I am a nurse. I was a nurse.


I am glad you are a nurse. I thought you were a fireman!


But the point is, I didn't know this lady, I don't watch that


programme. When they asked me on, I was going to jump at the chance


because I wanted to be up there saying Big Issue, Big Issue, but


they changed their mind. If the lady feels she can prove that she


is helping her constituents better than a lot of MPs help their


constituents, great, but I would agree with the guy over here and


the guy there that you have probably handed the argument over


to the media and the media are not that interested in the real, deep,


local politics. Yes? Well, Nadine mentioned low


voter turnout is a reason for thinking the jungle was a good idea.


Do you not think that one of the reasons that the public are losing


faith in politicians is the disturbing similarities in the


mechanics in politics and the mechanics of celebrity and the


focus on spin and PR which is one of the main reasons why people


don't trust politicians anymore? APPLAUSE


John Prescott, you have attracted publicity in your time? I think you


should go, John. Have you ever court it had? I was


invited to do this programme and so was my wife.


To go into the jungle p I didn't want to to do it because there


wasn't any en-suite facilities. If the people don't like it, they vote


them out. Nadine made that decision, I wouldn't have made that decision.


I remember living in a council house, I think it was in Liverpool,


looking at the difficulties people had living on that income. Now each


can make a decision, but we get invited into situations that almost


become celebrities. I didn't choose to be a celebrity, when a fella hit


me with an egg and I disagreed, but I was turned almost as a celebrity,


I went on Mr and Mrs with the wife for �30,000 for charity. And that


was an opportunities because the media wants to have celebrities.


There is a chance you could get �30,000 for a charity and it seemed


worth doing and they see the other side of you. I am a serious


politician who has done lots of of things for changes, I have never


done a job anywhere else, I have done that. But in the process, the


press and the media will turn you into some of the things you do into


a celebrity and you have to live with that, but as long as you can


use that power sometimes, bringing home to people you have known and


acting in the good, well it is the safety at sea.


So you are on her side? I think she is entitled to make that judgement


and if the constituents don't like it, they have a chance to put her


out. Why Why didn't you go into the


jungle? Did you see Galloway? APPLAUSE That wasn't the jungle.


but I bet he would have preferred to have been in the jungle than


drinking the milk out of that woman's hands.


The woman there? Does the panel agree that the best way to get the


public's attention is to eat testicles out of a bikini? Well, I


guess they always say you get the politician you deserve. If it has


made us more interested, that's the answer. I don't think it has made


people more interested in politics and that's why it was a mistake to


have done it. Kate Hennessy? David Cameron


claimed that the NHS was safe in his hands. Given the cuts and


closures around the country, is this still the case? David Cameron


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 110 seconds


claims the NHS was safe in his In. So they can put their voice to


him. They can represent their people and we will have to await


his decision. The A&E here is being closed


because of a merger because the neighbouring lot went bust and were


taken over. I want to draw you to the UK


Statistics Authority. The UK Statistics Authority says in 2011,


2012, the expenditure is less than it was before. The expenditure is


going down. True or false? Well, when we set the Spending Review, we


were saying that NHS expenditure would be kept at the right level.


Under the Labour proposal... Were you right? They were going up.


Under the Labour proposals, they were going to cut NHS spending.


Hold on. The spokesman for Labour at the moment has said that they


would cut health spending. Let's talk about your Central


Government. The statistics show that spend something lower. Well, I


haven't seen that report. What I have seen is the spending plans


that we set out in 2010 and they show that over this Parliament,


spending on the health will continue to go up. John Prescott?


Well, does it mean that what the statistics people are saying in


real terms you are spending less? You might say it is to do with the


debt and blame everybody else for that, but that is happening and he


said it would not happen. It is another promise... And why are you


proposing to cut it? I don't know the quote that you have got. He is


asking you what doested statistical body say? They say it is in fact


reduced. I have been saying that the spending plans... I know what


you are saying, what about the cuts? I have seen some of the of


the health reforms that are really difficult that that we have put, we


are putting power gh power in the hands of local GPs. Under Labour


all the decisions were made centrally. They didn't take account


of what what what was happening in local communities. I have to say


John, our reforms, yes, they are difficult, but we are trying to


make sure that local people have a voice and I hope they have a voice


here in Lewisham. The woman in the front row? That


really isn't true, the views of the people in Lewisham, the views of


the GPs in Lewisham have been ignored by Kershaw.


Who is the man in charge of the man in charge of the Trust? He is the


Trust administrator. And the plan for Lewisham Hospital was hidden


away in an annex to an appendix in the draft report. It was not in the


con consultation document and when I looked at the plan, every single


entrance to the hospital was going to be sold off and our brand-new


A&E, maternity care and urgent care centre were going to be part of the


land that would be sold off. APPLAUSE


There is a problem here because you have a particular issue here in


Lewisham as other parts of the country do. The question was a more


general question and Nadine Dorries perhaps you would like to answer


that which Tories claimed the NHS was safe in their hands. The


statistics show spending is not keeping up with the real cost of


the NHS. Do you still argue that it is safe in Tory hands? I I do and


there is a commit m to increase db -- commitment to increase real-time


spending. Can you say that again? There is a


commitment to continue increased spending in the NHS. There is a


commitment to that. But spending or spending in real


terms? Spending in real terms. So why is the statisticsical


authority saying that has not happened? I have not heard of them.


Andrew Dilnot, he is a well respected figure, you know Dilnot,


he said it. I don't take my information from Dilnot.


You take it from Cameron then? Well, he is wrong.


Well, what I do know and I have looked at it today and I have


spoken to the protesters about what is happening in this situation. I


know that the South London Trust has two hospitals in it which in


1998 were sat up on a PFI agree which means one hospital pays �36


million and another �35 million a year in interest rate payments. How


Gordon Brown and Ed Balls thought that a hospital would exist with


that level of debt and unfortunately, Lewisham which was


set upon a better system, it performs well and it is a good


hospital, has been looked at by Kershaw to come in and Lewisham is


coming in to save the bad bad financial financial arrangements


that were set-up for the other two hospitals.


How is that fair? I trained as a nurse in a hospital that is very


much like Lewisham, I have one in my constituency, were people are


born, they have their babies, they die, they have their major


illnesses, it is a hospital that people care about because it is


such a part of the community and the reason why that hospital is


under threat now is because what Gordon Brown and Ed Balls set up


for the other two hospitals in the past and that is shame on the


previous Labour Government. I hope it is saved and and Jeremy Hunt


made no decision yet. The decision will be made in the future. He is


going to look at it. I do know this, I know there is a xaint there is --


xaint. I spoke to the protesters and they said what you have said,


about clinicians, local people and patients, nursing staff, they were


not listened to. I tomorrow, will speak to to Jeremy Hunt and take


those message back to Jeremy, because if my party is about


anything, it professes to be about localism and if it is about


localism then it will take those people's opinions into account.


Will you go with her tomorrow? Actually, tomorrow I'm in my


constituency. Simon Hughes has put in a submission to the


administrator and Liberal Democrats locally are campaigning on it and I


know the local MPs, because Jeremy Hunt said they'll meet him and


that's how it should be. Back to Kate Hennessey's question, which


was the NHS Scaife in David Cameron's hands. A lot of people


don't feel that because of this issue. But back to the point. You,


Sir, on the left? The coalition Government broke its pledge not to


introduce any top down change by introducing the biggest top down


social care and health bill. It's the biggest introduced by this


coalition Government. Do you feel that because you work in the NHS or


are a patient? I work in the NHS. You work in it? Yes. As what?


doctor. And the coalition is pushing on more than �20 billion


worth of savings over the next three years and the NHS Bill, total


funding is about �85 billion, giving an idea of some perspective


about it. A Scaife hospital locally is about to close, now make a


judgment, is the NHS Scaife with this coalition Government?


APPLAUSE I was very disappointed, as you were, that the Health Bill


last year focused so exclusively on structures and moving the chess


pieces around for something that is quite expensive is sucking up a lot


of money and a lot of energy at a time when the service needs to save


money. I was also disaed that because it was so focused on


structures it wasn't focused on the vital issue for patients which is


nursing care. People were having to drink water from vases. Those are


extreme examples but there are actually too many of those examples.


There was some fundamental failures in the NHS. If you come back to


Lewisham. That's what's happened in the South London care trust. They


haven't been able to manage things. I had a couple of calls from


doctors because they knew I was coming on the programme, and it's


very clear to me that it's not sustainable that they are spending


�70 million a year propping up one hospital, you are taking that from


another hospital to prop it up so it's not free money and you have


got to stop and put better management in.


I thought, sometimes you have to close things. We can't all live in


a world when we pretend every single thing has to open and there


are some A&Es that will have to close. This area, it seems very


surprising to me that after a very rushed consultation, they're saying


they want to close Lewisham A&E and move people what, five miles down


to Woolwich, quite a long way. They are actually in a way, all that's


doing is rewarding the bad management.


APPLAUSE Lewisham Hospital is a solvent


hospital, giving perfectly good care. A lot of people care about it.


There is apparently a proposal which I think Jeremy Hunt should


look at which is Lewisham Trust said it's happy to go in and take


over Woolwich and try and apply better management to it. That's a


way out of this problem and Jeremy Hunt should give that a try.


APPLAUSE John Bird? Well, I was speaking to


people outside and one of them suggested to me, and I hope it's


not true, that there's a bit of gerrymandering going on here, that


what you have got is Lewisham because it's largely probably a


leftish or working class area is hit while the other areas which are


more likely to vote Conservative are going to be left with their


hospitals. That's not true. APPLAUSE


That may be a scurryless piece of information which I've now passed


on to you. I think as a person who's used the hospital system on


and off for many years, with many broken toes and noses, I can tell


you that probably since the mid 80s, the National Health Service has


been in a permanent state of rebuilding, renaming, rethis,


rethat. I think we must try and find a way of stopping this


permanent state of repainting, problems that we are facing. I also


want to ask the leading question, which I think all of us who're


concerned about health should ask, why is it that the National Health


Service, which was started as a National Health Service, which was


more about self-health so people would make themselves healthy, why


is it that only 1% of the budget of the National Health Service is


spent on prevention? We know that prevention is much better than cure.


OK. I see from the clock we only have a few minutes left. You are


looking very keen to come in. Very quick, if you promise? Thank you. I


don't think the NHS is Scaife at all in David Cameron's hands


because he has actually quite blatantly lied. Nadine, if you are


going to see Jeremy Hunt tomorrow, would you take some of us with you


because we are trying to get a meeting with him and he doesn't


want to talk to us because he thinks this is a sham. You can meet


her after the programme. I want to get to one other topic before we


end tonight. Damon Briggs? Should David Cameron take notice of the US


warning not to leave the European Union? Should David Cameron take


notice? A shot has been fired across his bow by saying America is


against any decision on that. The Irish Prime Minister said exactly


the same, it would be a disaster if we left the European Union. Germany


pitched in today saying you can't black other states, it's neither


wise nor advisable to open the box -- blackmail. We think the Prime


Minister will make a speech on this, it's very much on the agenda.


Should the Government take notice of what the Americans are saying?


Ed Davey? Yes, when our closest allie, the United States, and the


Irish and Germans, but not just that, British business people, are


saying that we must be careful, David Cameron must be very careful,


we don't want to sleep walk out of the European Union, they are saying


it for a very good reason. First of all, they are saying it because


they know it's in Britain's economic interests to be in the


European Union. Jobs are what's critical. We need jobs and trade


for the European Union. Are you saying David Cameron's got it


wrong? We haven't heard the speech yet, but what I do think is, if you


listen to what the Americans are... Referendums? What the Americans are


saying is that we have got greater influence if we are in the European


Union. I think that's what Beijing probably thinks, I think New Delhi


and the world thinks that the UK has more influence and is stronger


and more secure if it's in the European Union. Let me give you one


other example about why I think Britain should stay in the European


Union. The cooperation that we are having now with European colleagues


on tackling crime is not talked about but it's really significant.


This country's threatened by international crime, Mafia,


organised crime, human trafficking, drugs. You have to be in the EU to


control crime? No, seriously, it helps us... I'm not saying you are


not being serious, but is it relevant? Very. Until we have the


European arrest warrant, rapists and murderers are going to Spain


and escaping the law. The European Union brought in the arrest warrant


and those wicked people are serving time behind bars, that's the sort


of thing we can get by staying in the European Union. That's not the


point that was being made by the US or the Irish or Germans. We only


have a couple of minutes left, I'm afraid. Can I disagree with Ed very


briefly? Yes, that would be great. Ed's portraiting the US message as


a sign of our weakness really. I think it's a sign of our strength.


We are the fifth largest economy many the world. We are the only


country in the European Union which has a really functioning mill Tyre.


-- military. When America wants to go into war, whether you agree with


that or not, it doesn't pick up the phone to Brussels, but London. It


wants us in the European Union because we are strong and I think


there's too much defeatism about this issue. We can, if we negotiate


properly, negotiate some of those powers back. I don't want to go


into the drug laundering or the crime, but there are powers that we


need to take back. We don't want to be run by Europe. The working time


directive... I said we had a couple of minutes... Let's not be


defeatist. Let's not be defeatist about what the Government is


intending to do by negotiation. It's about our strength. John Bird,


briefly, if you would? Briefly, I think the problem with Europe is


that nobody has really educated us correctly as to what is actually


happening, what are our advantages or disadvantages? There are many


disadvantages. The greatest disadvantage for me is when I hear


some of those plans that come out of Strasbourg and the other places


where you actually think there is another Government telling us what


to do which we would don't that way, we'd do it totally different. There


are too little understandings of the pluses and minuses. I would


like a referendum. I would like one based on the fact that it was done


because we had the cognitive ability to understand what were the


pluses or minuses on should we stay in or should we go out.


APPLAUSE John Prescott, faced with the


warnings from America, Germany and Ireland, what is your reaction?


Just to say, I led a campaign against going into the Common


Market, we had a referendum and we lost. They don't come easy that way.


These are global problems and we need probably solutions.


Environment and Kyotos are examples of that. You have to negotiate with


these, Ed. Europe is an important card. Don't lose sight of America.


America looks to its own interests, not ours. They like our acceptable


face in Europe, but what they do, if you look at the climate change,


they refused internationally and still do, to join up to a global


solution because that is in their interests. You are saying ignore


the advice coming from America? Listen to it but don't forget that


the Americans are looking after their interests, not our interests


and sometimes we are the acceptable face.


Nadine, very briefly? We spend �53 million a day from the UK into


Europe. One day of that should save Lewisham Hospital. I would like not


to send that money to Europe every day and I think the Americans


should look after America's businesses and we should look after


our own thank you very much. Thank you. Well, we must stop.


We'll come back to that topic no doubt next week and maybe the week


after. We are in Lincoln next week and the week after that we'll be in


Weymouth. Join us, by amaying on the website -- applying on the


David Dimbleby chairs the first Question Time of 2013, from Lewisham in south London.

Joining him on the panel are: Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary; Lord Prescott, former deputy prime minister; Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire; John Bird, founder of the Big Issue; and Times columnist Camilla Cavendish.

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