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
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.