14/02/2013 Question Time


14/02/2013

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Leicester. On the panel are Maria Miller, Mary Creagh, Susan Kramer, George Galloway and Fraser Nelson.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to 14/02/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

We're in Leicester tonight. Welcome to Question Time.

0:00:020:00:04

Good evening to all of you watching at home

0:00:080:00:10

and to our audience here, and of course to our panel,

0:00:100:00:13

a Conservative Culture Secretary and Equality Minister, Maria Miller,

0:00:130:00:17

Labour's Shadow Environment Secretary, Mary Creagh,

0:00:170:00:21

the Liberal Democrat peer Susan Kramer,

0:00:210:00:23

who sits on the parliamentary commission investigating the banks,

0:00:230:00:27

the Respect MP George Galloway,

0:00:270:00:30

who returned to parliament last year after the Bradford West by-election,

0:00:300:00:34

and the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson.

0:00:340:00:37

APPLAUSE

0:00:370:00:40

I'm not sure our first question

0:00:490:00:51

will come as an amazing surprise to everybody.

0:00:510:00:53

It's from Nadine Lynes, please. Nadine Lynes.

0:00:530:00:57

Who is to blame for the horse meat scandal?

0:00:570:01:01

Is it profit-driven supermarkets, incompetent food industry regulators

0:01:010:01:07

or consumers demanding ever-cheaper food?

0:01:070:01:09

So we've got three options - profit-driven supermarkets,

0:01:090:01:12

incompetent regulators or consumers wanting cheaper food.

0:01:120:01:17

Mary Creagh.

0:01:170:01:19

Well, I think it has to be, erm,

0:01:190:01:22

I'm not going to blame people on very low incomes for wanting to buy

0:01:220:01:27

meat products for their families to feed them that are good value,

0:01:270:01:30

so I'm certainly not going to blame consumers for wanting a good deal

0:01:300:01:33

when everybody is really feeling the squeeze

0:01:330:01:35

from wages stagnating and prices going up.

0:01:350:01:39

But I do think there is an issue about what is happening to our...

0:01:390:01:43

the food system. I think there's an issue about criminal,

0:01:430:01:48

systematic adulteration of the food system,

0:01:480:01:51

which we now know spreads across Europe,

0:01:510:01:53

and I think that the processors have been too quick

0:01:530:01:56

to look for very cheap meat,

0:01:560:01:58

and the supermarkets have also perhaps pressed them down on prices

0:01:580:02:02

and not conducted some of the testing that they could have done

0:02:020:02:06

to get ahead of what is now a very widespread problem.

0:02:060:02:10

It seems to get...by the minute, more and more stories come out,

0:02:100:02:13

more and more supermarkets withdraw stuff.

0:02:130:02:15

Is any of it dangerous, or is it a matter of being lied to by people,

0:02:150:02:18

that you think you're buying beef

0:02:180:02:20

and you're getting horse meat instead?

0:02:200:02:22

Well, people have a right to know that the food that they're buying

0:02:220:02:25

is correctly labelled, is legal and is safe for them to eat,

0:02:250:02:29

and what started out as a bit of a...

0:02:290:02:31

three or four weeks ago, when Ireland announced they'd found

0:02:310:02:35

the adulteration in the burger products, it was a bit of a joke,

0:02:350:02:38

there were a lot of horse jokes going around.

0:02:380:02:40

I think with last week's developments with Findus,

0:02:400:02:42

where we saw that it was coming in from another route,

0:02:420:02:45

from continental Europe,

0:02:450:02:46

the events that we've seen even just this evening

0:02:460:02:49

with arrests taking place, with schools,

0:02:490:02:53

Staffordshire County Council

0:02:530:02:54

withdrawing products in its schools, and erm,

0:02:540:02:58

it now turning up in a fresh product this evening in a supermarket,

0:02:580:03:02

we're finding that it's actually,

0:03:020:03:05

it's much more widespread than we could have first thought,

0:03:050:03:07

and obviously, the more you look for it, the more you find.

0:03:070:03:10

You, sir.

0:03:100:03:12

Could this food crisis have been prevented

0:03:120:03:15

had the Labour government in 2003

0:03:150:03:18

not withdrawn random processed meat testing?

0:03:180:03:21

Well...

0:03:210:03:23

APPLAUSE

0:03:230:03:25

-Fraser Nelson.

-I was rather waiting for Mary's answer on that.

0:03:250:03:30

You'll get it in a moment, but she's had two answers already.

0:03:300:03:32

It's true that the Food Standards Agency was Labour's creation,

0:03:320:03:35

and at the time the Conservatives were saying,

0:03:350:03:37

"Look, these guys are not going to be able to keep a proper check

0:03:370:03:41

"on the supermarkets," but I don't think you can blame

0:03:410:03:43

either Labour or the government for this.

0:03:430:03:45

This is the problem, simply, of the food companies.

0:03:450:03:48

I would lay the blame squarely at the door of Findus.

0:03:480:03:51

We've been amazed by the length of the supply chain.

0:03:510:03:54

A Swedish company using Cypriot, Dutch, French, Luxembourg, all these

0:03:540:03:59

companies, and in a way, it's not surprising that a scamster

0:03:590:04:02

would try to insert some fraudulent product into that supply chain.

0:04:020:04:06

But who's responsible for making sure?

0:04:060:04:07

I think it's the company, and the company should be punished.

0:04:070:04:11

See, for the last ten years,

0:04:110:04:13

we're not sure what meat we've been eating.

0:04:130:04:16

And what I'm really annoyed about is the fact that that's happened.

0:04:160:04:20

For the last ten years, we do not know.

0:04:200:04:22

Now we're being told that, "It's just horse meat, it's safe."

0:04:220:04:26

How do we know that?

0:04:260:04:27

We do not know how this meat's being transported, processed or stored.

0:04:270:04:31

OK, George Galloway.

0:04:310:04:33

But the back end of the pantomime horse has to be government.

0:04:330:04:37

We don't elect Findus.

0:04:370:04:38

We don't elect food companies.

0:04:380:04:40

We elect government to protect us.

0:04:400:04:44

And the reality is that not only, as you put it,

0:04:440:04:48

did the Labour government abandon random testing of processed foods,

0:04:480:04:53

but the Tories have cut 700 food standards officers.

0:04:530:04:59

Now what kind of false economy is that?

0:04:590:05:02

What's the cost to the country as a whole?

0:05:020:05:06

And they throw their hands up and say,

0:05:060:05:10

"We didn't know what was going into the food."

0:05:100:05:13

Well, if they didn't know horse was going into the food,

0:05:130:05:16

what else is going into the food that they don't know about?

0:05:160:05:19

That's the point.

0:05:190:05:20

APPLAUSE

0:05:200:05:22

And so, the answer to the question, David,

0:05:220:05:25

is the responsibility lies with profiteering food companies, yes,

0:05:250:05:28

but the people who are supposed to regulate the activities

0:05:280:05:32

of business in this country are the elected politicians,

0:05:320:05:36

and they're just not even at the starting gate on that.

0:05:360:05:39

OK, well, we've got two, we've got the former Labour

0:05:390:05:42

and the current Tory. Let's come to the Tories first.

0:05:420:05:45

-Have you cut 700, is that the figure you gave?

-Yes, 700.

0:05:450:05:48

I think what the chief executive of the FSA has made very clear...

0:05:480:05:51

that she has exactly the right resources that she needs.

0:05:510:05:54

She would say that! You're paying her a big salary to say that!

0:05:540:05:57

-And we're still undertaking...

-You sacked 700 officers. Yes or no?

0:05:570:06:00

And we're still undertaking 90,000 tests a year,

0:06:000:06:03

and I think that's important,

0:06:030:06:05

but what we mustn't do here is get away from the fact that

0:06:050:06:08

there has been potentially a mass European-wide fraud going on,

0:06:080:06:13

and I think as things unfold, we can see that,

0:06:130:06:16

certainly when it comes to the Great British public being able to

0:06:160:06:21

go out and buy food on our shelves and know what they're buying,

0:06:210:06:25

yes there has been, I think, some enormous problems in people's...

0:06:250:06:29

But is the Food Standards Agency responsible for making sure

0:06:290:06:34

that if you buy a cut of meat or a hamburger which says it's beef,

0:06:340:06:39

it is beef and not beef plus pork or beef plus horse?

0:06:390:06:43

Is that the job of the FSA?

0:06:430:06:44

What the FSA is there to do is make sure that we do have good standards,

0:06:440:06:47

-but it can't account for...

-No, but is it responsible for the content?

0:06:470:06:51

But what it can't account for is the fact that there has been

0:06:510:06:54

potentially a mass fraud on a European scale here,

0:06:540:06:57

and we have to take that into account.

0:06:570:06:59

Why can't it account for that, if it's doing its job?

0:06:590:07:01

When it comes to looking at who is culpable here,

0:07:010:07:05

we have to say that those individual companies

0:07:050:07:07

that are putting products on our shelves,

0:07:070:07:10

labelling them as beef and then not being beef,

0:07:100:07:12

then the responsibility really has to lie at the manufacturing arm.

0:07:120:07:15

So George is wrong to say

0:07:150:07:16

government should be able to do anything about it?

0:07:160:07:19

I think that the first

0:07:190:07:20

and prime responsibility has to be with the manufacturers,

0:07:200:07:23

because all of us who go into our supermarkets

0:07:230:07:26

expect the products on our shelves to be what is on the label.

0:07:260:07:29

OK, no hold on, you've had your say. The woman up there, sorry.

0:07:290:07:32

The woman up there on the left, on the gangway.

0:07:320:07:35

The supermarkets don't much care where their products come from

0:07:350:07:38

as long as they get it for the right price and can make

0:07:380:07:41

a lot of profit on it, and that's the issue at the end of the day.

0:07:410:07:44

It's just profit, it's getting things as cheap as possible.

0:07:440:07:46

And it's a shame, really, that we can't go back to using local

0:07:460:07:49

independent stores that source their products locally.

0:07:490:07:52

I appreciate the supermarkets for people that are on a really

0:07:520:07:54

tight income are the answer, but we really need to get back

0:07:540:07:57

to supporting our own local independent stores

0:07:570:08:00

that can help us to know what we're eating.

0:08:000:08:02

APPLAUSE

0:08:020:08:05

Susan Kramer, I'll come back to you about Labour's role,

0:08:080:08:11

but Susan Kramer, what do you think?

0:08:110:08:13

Well, I strongly agree with the lady who just talked about local food.

0:08:130:08:17

This is fraud, it's got to be prosecuted, it's got to be hit hard,

0:08:170:08:21

and I hope people end up in handcuffs and in jail as a consequence of this,

0:08:210:08:24

but I am worried about the length of the food chain.

0:08:240:08:28

This starts out in Romania, it goes to France, it goes to Holland,

0:08:280:08:31

Sweden...I don't know that any regulator,

0:08:310:08:35

no matter how staffed they are,

0:08:350:08:38

and how good and strong they are, can really keep

0:08:380:08:41

a grip on a food chain that is this long and this complex.

0:08:410:08:45

I hope that when we come out of this,

0:08:450:08:48

there is some review of the sort of length of the food chain

0:08:480:08:51

and whether or not we can shorten this and build much more focus

0:08:510:08:56

and intense traceability throughout the whole system.

0:08:560:08:59

-More expensive, though.

-It may be more expensive,

0:08:590:09:02

but there is a price to pay when you go cheap.

0:09:020:09:05

And that price is that you create an opportunity for bad people, and

0:09:050:09:09

unfortunately there are bad people, to come in and exploit the system...

0:09:090:09:13

And do you make it easier for them

0:09:130:09:16

by abolishing 700 Food Standard Agency officers

0:09:160:09:19

or do you make it harder?

0:09:190:09:21

The sad part is, you could probably have the 700,

0:09:210:09:24

and I've no idea what different things they were doing.

0:09:240:09:27

My question is, even if you had them back again,

0:09:270:09:29

would that have made the key difference or is this

0:09:290:09:32

so complex and so wide and so interesting, essentially,

0:09:320:09:36

to the criminal bodies, that that isn't going to be the answer?

0:09:360:09:40

Sometimes you have to look at the structure of things,

0:09:400:09:43

not simply say, "We just have to have a stronger regulator."

0:09:430:09:46

I want a strong regulator, but we must look at structure.

0:09:460:09:49

So, you know, support your local butcher, and...

0:09:490:09:52

What, and make your own hamburgers?

0:09:520:09:55

If you have to eat a little less meat but better meat, that is tough,

0:09:550:10:00

and I know that's not easy, but there are other benefits that come with it.

0:10:000:10:04

Well, everybody...

0:10:040:10:06

APPLAUSE

0:10:060:10:08

We could all become vegetarian.

0:10:080:10:10

There are a lot of people with their hands up.

0:10:100:10:12

So I'd like to hear your views, actually.

0:10:120:10:14

The person there in spectacles, in the fourth row.

0:10:140:10:17

I've got two young children and they're even asking me now,

0:10:170:10:20

"What is safe to eat?" They're looking on the news as well,

0:10:200:10:24

and it's not just the beef burgers,

0:10:240:10:26

it's the chicken coming out with the chicken nuggets

0:10:260:10:28

and everything, and it is very worrying, and you think,

0:10:280:10:32

"Well, who can you trust... what can you trust to eat?"

0:10:320:10:35

What do you say to them, and do you go on feeding them...?

0:10:350:10:38

Oh, well, obviously you feed them, yeah.

0:10:380:10:40

LAUGHTER DROWNS SPEECH

0:10:410:10:44

No, I look on the boxes and it says 100% beef or 100% chicken,

0:10:440:10:49

and it's not.

0:10:490:10:50

There's 98% or 50% or 76%, so it's like, what are you actually eating

0:10:500:10:56

that's, you know, it's packed with all these different ingredients.

0:10:560:11:00

-What can you trust?

-OK, and the man, bang in the middle there, up there.

0:11:000:11:05

-Yes, you.

-This horse meat scandal

0:11:050:11:06

has been going on for almost a month now

0:11:060:11:08

and we're still no closer to finding out where it actually

0:11:080:11:11

comes from or how many products are affected.

0:11:110:11:13

Why is the government being so slow to act on this?

0:11:130:11:16

And in regards to the lady's comment before about how it's

0:11:160:11:19

travelling from Romania to France to Sweden,

0:11:190:11:21

so it's too big, that's a bit of a cop-out answer.

0:11:210:11:24

Saying, "Well, this task was too big,

0:11:240:11:26

"so we're not going to take it on," isn't right.

0:11:260:11:28

If the task is too big, you need to take it on.

0:11:280:11:30

The panel listening carefully to this,

0:11:300:11:32

but we'll hear from one or two other people.

0:11:320:11:35

You, sir, the man in the blue and white striped shirt, yes.

0:11:350:11:38

I think the Food Standards Agency is in the same situation

0:11:380:11:41

the financial services was in four years ago.

0:11:410:11:43

I think the government hasn't got any hold of what's going on

0:11:430:11:46

and it's...I think we're just being run by a bunch of Eton grads

0:11:460:11:50

who don't know how to run a country.

0:11:500:11:52

APPLAUSE

0:11:520:11:54

The man in the bright blue with silver on. You there, sir.

0:11:540:11:58

I think what the problem is is the government is, erm, it's not

0:11:580:12:02

putting enough funds into the study of where the meat comes from.

0:12:020:12:05

This horse meat, you know, horses get given this drug called,

0:12:050:12:08

-what is it? Phenylbutin?

-Bute, yeah.

0:12:080:12:11

Now, that is obviously hazardous to humans

0:12:110:12:13

so surely that should be a red light for the government to say,

0:12:130:12:15

"Hang on! Why aren't we really being stringent with this

0:12:150:12:18

"and protecting people's lives?" We can't really buy meat

0:12:180:12:21

if everyone's going to start becoming ill because A,

0:12:210:12:23

people are going to lose faith in the producers, supermarkets,

0:12:230:12:27

the government, and then it'll just be a total collapse.

0:12:270:12:30

OK, Mary Creagh, do you think it's as dangerous as that, bute,

0:12:300:12:32

because somebody was on television saying you'd have to

0:12:320:12:36

eat 500 hamburgers a day to get even a trace of this bute.

0:12:360:12:42

That's presumably in adults,

0:12:420:12:44

but the dose for children would be a lot lower.

0:12:440:12:46

-So you're alarmed by it, are you?

-No.

0:12:460:12:49

What I say is that I raised the issue

0:12:490:12:50

of bute-contaminated horses being slaughtered in the UK

0:12:500:12:53

with ministers on the floor of the House of Commons

0:12:530:12:56

exactly three weeks ago.

0:12:560:12:57

I had evidence that they were entering the food chain.

0:12:570:13:01

What I want to know is,

0:13:010:13:02

why did the government then start testing every horse in UK abattoirs,

0:13:020:13:06

but still keep releasing them into the human food chain?

0:13:060:13:10

That is simply not good enough.

0:13:100:13:12

Ministers have been asleep on the job on this,

0:13:120:13:14

and I'm afraid they cannot just keep hiding behind FSA officials,

0:13:140:13:17

when actually they've been

0:13:170:13:19

so catastrophically slow to act, and I just want to come back on this...

0:13:190:13:23

George Galloway said about Labour.

0:13:230:13:25

Well, and the gentleman at the front who said we ended random testing.

0:13:250:13:28

We did not end random testing. The last time we had intelligence

0:13:280:13:32

that horse may have been in the food chain was 2003.

0:13:320:13:35

There was no evidence from then to 2010...

0:13:350:13:37

GALLOWAY: That's not random. That's intelligence-led.

0:13:370:13:40

That's right, it's intelligence-led

0:13:400:13:42

and the last piece of intelligence that the government received

0:13:420:13:44

was in November last year when the food safety authority of Ireland

0:13:440:13:47

said, "We're going to start testing for horse,"

0:13:470:13:50

and they thought, "That's lovely. Ring us when you've got the results."

0:13:500:13:53

Look, I think we're really got to be very careful here.

0:13:530:13:57

You've been attacked for being dozy on the job.

0:13:570:13:59

OK, I think we've got to be really careful here.

0:13:590:14:02

Yes, we need to have strong regulation in an area like this,

0:14:020:14:05

but also we should expect that people who are producing products,

0:14:050:14:09

putting them on our shelves, labelling them as beef

0:14:090:14:11

and they're not beef, they have to be held to account.

0:14:110:14:14

And we need to make sure that people are not let off the hook

0:14:140:14:17

here by some political will to try and point score...

0:14:170:14:20

But can I clarify one point, Maria.

0:14:200:14:24

Is it, in your view, the government's job to make sure,

0:14:240:14:27

if I buy a can, and it says "Beef,"

0:14:270:14:31

is it your job to make sure it is beef or somebody else's job?

0:14:310:14:34

I think it's absolutely squarely the role of both the manufacturer

0:14:340:14:38

and also the retailer

0:14:380:14:39

to make sure the products that are on their shelves...

0:14:390:14:42

-And not yours?

-..are absolutely as they should be.

0:14:420:14:44

Everybody is blaming government, both governments,

0:14:440:14:47

for not checking that that's beef.

0:14:470:14:49

The government has got a role to check that,

0:14:490:14:51

-but the primary responsibility...

-CREAGH: You haven't done it.

0:14:510:14:54

-The primary responsibility...

-You haven't conducted any...

0:14:540:14:56

..when you're dealing with a mass fraud on a pan-European scale...

0:14:560:14:59

GALLOWAY: David, they're trying...

0:14:590:15:01

All right, you say the government has a role,

0:15:010:15:03

but I'd like to know what the role is,

0:15:030:15:05

whether you've been fulfilling it. George Galloway.

0:15:050:15:08

They're faffing around in this debate.

0:15:080:15:10

The Liberal Democrats and the Tories want to blame it on criminals.

0:15:100:15:15

I may say, if it's all just a criminal matter,

0:15:150:15:18

why did the Tories take three weeks to call in the police?

0:15:180:15:21

Because that's what it took them before they asked

0:15:210:15:24

the police in this country to start treating it as a crime.

0:15:240:15:28

But this goes to the heart of the matter.

0:15:280:15:31

There are consequences to deregulation.

0:15:310:15:34

The Tories are always talking about,

0:15:340:15:36

"We need to get rid of red tape and deregulate this."

0:15:360:15:40

These are the kind of consequences that occur when you deregulate,

0:15:400:15:43

and there are consequences to sacking public servants.

0:15:430:15:46

So George, you want to let the manufacturers off the hook, then?

0:15:460:15:49

No, but I hold you responsible for what happens in this country,

0:15:490:15:53

not Findus! We didn't elect Findus! We can't remove Findus!

0:15:530:15:58

But we can elect and remove you, and I promise you, the British people

0:15:580:16:01

-are about to do it.

-So you'll turn a blind eye

0:16:010:16:03

to people who are potentially committing a fraud?

0:16:030:16:06

Not a blind eye, throw them in jail instead of in the House of Lords!

0:16:060:16:09

The House of Lords is filled with...I don't want a blind eye!

0:16:090:16:13

I want you to face up to this!

0:16:130:16:16

If you sack police officers, there are consequences.

0:16:160:16:19

If you sack Food Standards Agency inspectors, there are consequences.

0:16:190:16:24

It's time to end this cutting of public service workers as if

0:16:240:16:28

public servants were some rubbish that can be easily dispensed of!

0:16:280:16:32

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:16:320:16:35

You, sir.

0:16:360:16:38

Just like to point out that in 2008,

0:16:390:16:41

when the banks collapsed all over the entire world,

0:16:410:16:43

we blamed Gordon Brown and Alastair Campbell,

0:16:430:16:45

at least the Tory government, the Tory people did.

0:16:450:16:48

Now that the entire country's food processing is in problems,

0:16:480:16:52

we need to blame David Cameron and George Osbourne.

0:16:520:16:56

The buck stops with them.

0:16:560:16:57

Fraser Nelson?

0:16:570:16:58

Food labelling is a competence of the European Union, actually.

0:16:580:17:02

We don't know if you can have any control over it any more.

0:17:020:17:04

What happens happens in Brussels.

0:17:040:17:06

The crime that happened happened in France.

0:17:060:17:08

The thing is, George, if your 700 food inspectors,

0:17:080:17:11

you could have 7,000 of them,

0:17:110:17:13

they would never be able to probe every freezer, every

0:17:130:17:17

supermarket, cos we've got millions of lines of food in this country...

0:17:170:17:20

Is it better now there's 700 less? Is that what you're saying?

0:17:200:17:23

Are you arguing it's better that we've got 700 less?

0:17:230:17:25

Also, their job is not to look for horses,

0:17:250:17:27

their job is to look for food safety, which means food poisoning,

0:17:270:17:30

and there are 500 people who die every year of food poisoning

0:17:300:17:32

and that's what the FSA does.

0:17:320:17:34

It doesn't go around, to answer your question,

0:17:340:17:36

checking to see if horses, perhaps it should,

0:17:360:17:38

but if that's what these guys were doing if they were back,

0:17:380:17:40

perhaps...they probably would not have detected this. Now that...

0:17:400:17:44

CREAGH: No, Fraser, you said that it's a European competence.

0:17:440:17:48

This government has blocked attempts by the European Commission

0:17:480:17:51

to get country-of-origin labelling on processed meats.

0:17:510:17:56

They blocked it in 2011.

0:17:560:17:57

Owen Patterson went to Europe yesterday, came back and said,

0:17:570:18:00

"I want this labelling in by December 31st."

0:18:000:18:03

Suddenly, he's had a Damascene conversion to European regulation.

0:18:030:18:06

The Euro-sceptic suddenly wants more of it!

0:18:060:18:08

It's been an extraordinary week in parliament where

0:18:080:18:11

we've had Bill Cash and Christopher Chope,

0:18:110:18:13

the arch Euro-sceptics suddenly saying,

0:18:130:18:15

"The European Commission has got to do something about this!"

0:18:150:18:18

We don't have the power to do it any more in our own country.

0:18:180:18:20

That's a convenient Tory myth to cover up the fact that the

0:18:200:18:23

Food Standards Agency, when it was set up by Labour,

0:18:230:18:26

was a world leader in the whole area

0:18:260:18:27

and it was independent from government.

0:18:270:18:30

-Did it work well, given the results?

-It worked well, and this government,

0:18:300:18:34

when it came in, removed nutritional labelling to health,

0:18:340:18:37

it removed compositional labelling, what is in the product,

0:18:370:18:40

over to Defra. It's Defra ministers

0:18:400:18:42

that are responsible for the labelling of your food.

0:18:420:18:45

And you think it is possible to check hamburgers,

0:18:450:18:49

tinned food, the whole range of things if Defra

0:18:490:18:53

is doing its job properly? If Defra is doing its job properly?

0:18:530:18:57

Defra has moved it back in-house. It is clearly not the right place

0:18:570:19:00

for it to be. They've broken up the system.

0:19:000:19:02

They've got to get on with it, put it right. If the system

0:19:020:19:06

can't tell us if our food is fit to eat,

0:19:060:19:08

the system is not fit for purpose.

0:19:080:19:09

Not fit to eat, it's whether it's what it says.

0:19:090:19:13

That's fit to eat. We don't want to eat beef when it's actually horse.

0:19:130:19:16

You're making a very dangerous blur here.

0:19:160:19:18

The lady's children are asking, is this food safe to eat?

0:19:180:19:21

To listen to the Labour Party in the last few days

0:19:210:19:23

you would get the impression that there was a health hazard,

0:19:230:19:27

and there isn't. Horses are actually fine.

0:19:270:19:30

In The Spectator we've got a guide about what to drink

0:19:300:19:33

with horsemeat in this week's magazine.

0:19:330:19:35

If it is coming in from criminals, I doubt

0:19:350:19:37

they've followed proper food hygiene standards on the way in.

0:19:370:19:40

Let me just quote...

0:19:400:19:41

The Chief Medical Officer...

0:19:410:19:43

APPLAUSE

0:19:430:19:45

I don't know whether you trust what she says,

0:19:450:19:50

but she says a person would have to eat 500 to 600

0:19:500:19:55

100% horsemeat burgers, just think of this, a day,

0:19:550:20:00

to get close to consuming a human's daily dose of bute. Who knows?

0:20:000:20:06

The woman up there, the blonde lady on the right. Yes.

0:20:060:20:09

What we haven't mentioned is actually who is eating these products.

0:20:100:20:15

It is the poor, the people on low incomes,

0:20:150:20:17

those that have been made unemployed by the Government.

0:20:170:20:21

People whose benefits are going to get squeezed because of bedroom tax,

0:20:210:20:26

council tax changes and so on. These are the people

0:20:260:20:29

that are buying the value products. It's the poor

0:20:290:20:32

that are being defrauded,

0:20:320:20:34

both by the way the Government is treating them

0:20:340:20:37

and scapegoating them and by now by these alleged criminal gangs,

0:20:370:20:41

which are making their money out of other people's poverty.

0:20:410:20:44

A lot of people are having to go to food banks because they can't afford

0:20:440:20:49

to buy the food that they choose.

0:20:490:20:52

So those that can buy their food are buying the lowest things

0:20:520:20:55

because that's all they can afford

0:20:550:20:57

-and they are the ones being conned.

-OK.

0:20:570:20:59

APPLAUSE

0:20:590:21:01

On that note, though I know a number of you are waiting to speak,

0:21:040:21:08

we'd better move on. We've got a lot of questions to come.

0:21:080:21:11

You know at home you can join this debate by Twitter or by text.

0:21:110:21:15

Our hashtag is #bbcqt. We've got this new idea running

0:21:150:21:21

of a Twitter panellist who comments.

0:21:210:21:23

You can comment on what the Twitter panellist says.

0:21:230:21:25

It's Mark Pack form the website libdemvoice tonight.

0:21:250:21:29

He's @bbcExtraGuest. If you want simply to text, 83981

0:21:290:21:37

and the little red button will tell you what others are saying.

0:21:370:21:40

Let's go on to another question. This is from Michael Joyce, please.

0:21:400:21:45

Should the 10p tax be reinstated?

0:21:450:21:47

This is the rage today apart from the beef. Should the 10p tax,

0:21:470:21:51

which was abolished by Gordon Brown, be reinstated?

0:21:510:21:55

It seems all the parties are circling around this,

0:21:550:21:58

with the Tory backbenchers saying it should be

0:21:580:22:01

and Labour saying it may be, and I don't know where we've got to.

0:22:010:22:05

Maria Miller, would you like to see the 10p tax reinstated?

0:22:050:22:10

Certainly I want to see the taxation regime in this country

0:22:100:22:14

work better, particularly for people on lower incomes.

0:22:140:22:16

That's what we've been working on

0:22:160:22:18

for the last two-and-a-half years.

0:22:180:22:20

My concern is the way the Labour Party have said they are going

0:22:200:22:23

to pay for this, through what they call a mansion tax.

0:22:230:22:27

That may sound on the surface very attractive.

0:22:270:22:31

Yes, it does.

0:22:310:22:33

But when you try and work out how that is

0:22:330:22:35

actually going to happen,

0:22:350:22:37

that anybody in this room who pays council tax would then be subject

0:22:370:22:41

to their house being revalued. I think that if you remember

0:22:410:22:44

the record of Labour

0:22:440:22:45

under the last Government, where they doubled council tax

0:22:450:22:48

for every single household in this country,

0:22:480:22:51

saw the equivalent of a doubling of their council tax,

0:22:510:22:53

I think we should all be very concerned indeed.

0:22:530:22:56

-What would a mansion be?

-I'm not sure I've seen the detail of that.

0:22:560:23:01

-£2 million.

-£2 million. £2 million. It's nicked straight from the...

0:23:010:23:07

Poll tax, Maria. You're old enough to remember the poll tax?

0:23:070:23:10

It is not that the mansions over £2 million would just be revalued,

0:23:100:23:15

every household would need to be revalued.

0:23:150:23:17

Let's come back to the 10p tax. From the Tories' point of view,

0:23:170:23:21

are you in favour of it being reinstated?

0:23:210:23:23

The 10p rate?

0:23:230:23:25

We've already cut taxes for 24 million people in this country.

0:23:250:23:29

-Yes or no?

-I'm not going to write the budget.

0:23:290:23:33

-Would YOU like to see it?

-I would like a tax regime that supports

0:23:330:23:38

-people on lower incomes, whether it's a 10p tax...

-You're the government.

0:23:380:23:43

-So you don't rule out the 10p thing?

-I don't rule it out. We need to

0:23:430:23:48

understand how it is going to be paid for.

0:23:480:23:51

That's the concern that I have got.

0:23:510:23:52

You would like to see it in the budget if it could be paid for?

0:23:520:23:55

I think anything that reduces taxation's got to be a good thing.

0:23:550:23:58

-Well, I hope George is listening.

-I am.

-Susan Kramer?

0:23:580:24:02

The 10p isn't good enough. What we've done so far

0:24:030:24:07

is raise the starting point of tax. All the people

0:24:070:24:11

who used to be in that 10p band and then Labour put it up to 20p,

0:24:110:24:15

but that's all the people who used to be in that 10p band

0:24:150:24:19

are no longer paying tax at all. They are completely out

0:24:190:24:22

of the income tax category. We are getting it up to,

0:24:220:24:27

by the end of this Parliament the starting point of tax

0:24:270:24:29

will be £10,000 of earnings, that's up from

0:24:290:24:33

£6,490 when Labour was in power.

0:24:330:24:38

We are arguing that that should carry on up to the point

0:24:380:24:41

that you are looking at minimum wage.

0:24:410:24:43

Somewhere around the £12,000 mark. That is much more effective.

0:24:430:24:47

It genuinely takes those people out of tax,

0:24:470:24:50

but it means that other people on the standard rate

0:24:500:24:53

also benefit from the higher start.

0:24:530:24:56

Are you in favour of the 10p tax being reinstated?

0:24:560:24:59

-It is not enough. It is not enough.

-But you are saying

0:24:590:25:02

all these other things have been done.

0:25:020:25:05

No, it will be done by 2015 up to 10,000.

0:25:050:25:08

It's now at 9,000. It has got to go on to 12.

0:25:080:25:12

That's a far better way to use your money. It's more costly

0:25:120:25:16

but it is far better than this silly business of a 10p rate

0:25:160:25:20

affecting £1,000 of income.

0:25:200:25:24

I thought the Liberal Democrats wanted this?

0:25:240:25:27

We want to raise the threshold, which is a far more effective way.

0:25:270:25:31

The people who used to pay 10p,

0:25:310:25:34

on that band which Labour raised,

0:25:340:25:37

are out of tax altogether. That's exactly what we should be doing.

0:25:370:25:43

Our tax cuts have to come to people at the bottom

0:25:430:25:46

and people on standard rate.

0:25:460:25:48

Are you against what Ed Miliband said today?

0:25:480:25:52

-It is insufficient.

-But are you against it?

0:25:520:25:56

I'm not going to water down what I'm talking about

0:25:560:26:00

and what my colleagues are fighting for in order to do a sort of

0:26:000:26:04

pettiness of the Ed Miliband.

0:26:040:26:06

-Petty?

-It's not sufficient. It's too petty.

0:26:060:26:08

The man in the middle with the black hair. You're waving, not drowning.

0:26:080:26:15

In the last decade, Labour put the personal allowance up just over

0:26:150:26:18

£2,000. When you removed that 10p rate, you clobbered

0:26:180:26:22

some of the most poorest people.

0:26:220:26:23

My brother is only earning £11,000 and that really hurt,

0:26:230:26:29

so Labour don't put this gimmick in, "Here's a 10p"

0:26:290:26:33

and whack it back off poor people, because it is not fair

0:26:330:26:37

and it gives them false hope.

0:26:370:26:39

Don't do it just to take it away from people,

0:26:390:26:42

-it's not fair.

-Mary Creagh?

0:26:420:26:44

APPLAUSE

0:26:440:26:45

Well, in response to your point, what we are

0:26:490:26:52

saying today is yes, removing that 10p tax band

0:26:520:26:55

was a mistake and here's what we plan to do

0:26:550:26:58

at the next election to put it right. We are clear

0:26:580:27:01

that we've had some very difficult economic news.

0:27:010:27:04

The Bank of England talking about

0:27:040:27:06

living standards being squeezed over the next three or four years.

0:27:060:27:09

We know the economy is flatlining.

0:27:090:27:12

The economy shrank over the last three months,

0:27:120:27:14

so it is imperative that we have

0:27:140:27:17

a recovery that is led from the bottom upwards,

0:27:170:27:21

not from the top downwards,

0:27:210:27:22

which is what this Government is doing.

0:27:220:27:25

And Susan's colleagues voted for a tax cut for people

0:27:250:27:27

earning over £1 million a year.

0:27:270:27:30

They are going be getting a £100,000 tax cut this year.

0:27:300:27:34

We don't think that's the right way.

0:27:340:27:37

We don't want trickledown economics. We want bottom-up recovery.

0:27:370:27:40

That's what this country needs.

0:27:400:27:42

In ten years though, you only put the personal allowance up £2,000.

0:27:420:27:47

That's not good enough. Ten years and only 2,000.

0:27:470:27:50

You need to look at the whole package,

0:27:500:27:52

in terms of working tax credits.

0:27:520:27:54

I know that didn't work for people

0:27:540:27:57

-who were single and without children.

-Or the young people.

0:27:570:27:59

We lifted a million people out of poverty. We lifted a million

0:27:590:28:02

children out of poverty, a million pensioners.

0:28:020:28:04

What about young working people?

0:28:040:28:06

A significant achievement in dealing with the problem

0:28:060:28:09

of poverty in our society.

0:28:090:28:11

Can I just check one thing? Do you want to see this 10p tax rate

0:28:110:28:14

as part of the next manifesto?

0:28:140:28:17

We've said today this is our clear direction of travel.

0:28:170:28:20

-It is a priority for us.

-What's a direction of travel?

0:28:200:28:24

Unlike George Osborne, who promised to raise the inheritance tax

0:28:240:28:29

threshold to over £1 million, and this week said he

0:28:290:28:32

wasn't able to do that, we are not going to make promises

0:28:320:28:35

that we can't keep. We must not make promises

0:28:350:28:40

and then renege on them.

0:28:400:28:43

We want a fairer tax system and we are consulting

0:28:430:28:47

on how to get it absolutely right.

0:28:470:28:49

-So nobody can believe you will do it.

-No. It's not

0:28:490:28:52

even in their manifesto. Ed Miliband and Ed Balls said

0:28:520:28:56

it's not going to be in the manifesto, so what is today

0:28:560:28:59

-all about?

-It's not a manifesto promise,

0:28:590:29:02

-we're two years away from the election.

-Well, there you go.

0:29:020:29:04

Absolute waste of time. You've given people false hope.

0:29:040:29:07

George Galloway?

0:29:080:29:09

I thought that it was a promise.

0:29:090:29:13

I must have been driving up the M1 when this reneging on it occurred.

0:29:130:29:19

I was about to congratulate Mr Miliband

0:29:190:29:22

on finding some real Labour guts for a change,

0:29:220:29:26

to say that a situation where some people live in £2 million mansions,

0:29:260:29:32

and if they earn £1 million a year or more

0:29:320:29:36

they are getting a £100,000 tax cut

0:29:360:29:38

is the Tory-Liberal way.

0:29:380:29:41

The Labour way is

0:29:410:29:43

to cut the taxes of the people at the bottom.

0:29:430:29:46

Not least because the people who earn the least,

0:29:460:29:49

if you give them more by cutting their taxes,

0:29:490:29:52

they will spend it, and they will spend it here,

0:29:520:29:54

in our shops, on local services, local goods,

0:29:540:29:59

and that will drive the economy.

0:29:590:30:02

If you give a £100,000 tax rebate to a millionaire,

0:30:020:30:06

he is spending it in Monte Carlo or spending it on his villa in Nice,

0:30:060:30:10

or on another foreign tour. APPLAUSE

0:30:100:30:18

The reality is the poorest people, the best engine for the economy

0:30:180:30:23

is to cut the taxes of the people at the bottom.

0:30:230:30:25

George, when you were in the governing party you did not do it.

0:30:250:30:30

Let me tell you something.

0:30:300:30:31

-Ironically...

-Thanks for the reminder.

0:30:310:30:35

I'm one of the very few people who told Gordon Goldfinger Brown,

0:30:350:30:41

the man that sold off all our gold at the bottom of the market,

0:30:410:30:46

I told him that scrapping the 10p tax rate was a grave mistake,

0:30:460:30:50

one which has been acknowledged by Balls and Miliband today.

0:30:500:30:54

OK. The man there in the second... very far back?

0:30:540:30:59

What is the Government doing about tax evasion in this country?

0:30:590:31:03

Tax evasion? It's a slightly different point.

0:31:040:31:07

Anyway, Fraser Nelson?

0:31:090:31:10

The important thing about the 10p tax is that

0:31:100:31:13

there's even less to it than meets the eye. Ed Balls was asked,

0:31:130:31:16

what will it mean to the worker? And he said £2 a week.

0:31:160:31:21

When you withdraw the benefits and Working Tax Credits,

0:31:210:31:26

it works out at 66p a week.

0:31:260:31:29

That's what they call a promise, except it's not even a promise,

0:31:290:31:32

even that has been reneged upon. I think the low-paid in this country

0:31:320:31:37

deserve a lot better than these pitiful suggestions and overtures

0:31:370:31:41

that on close inspection just collapse.

0:31:410:31:43

One of the best things this coalition's done is cut tax

0:31:430:31:48

for the poor by lifting people out of tax altogether.

0:31:480:31:51

George talks about this as a Labour mission.

0:31:510:31:53

The Tories and the Liberal Democrats have done this,

0:31:530:31:56

that is the irony. We need to go further. Youth unemployment

0:31:560:31:59

is at crisis levels so I think we need to have a major tax cut

0:31:590:32:03

for the low-paid and by that, I would say

0:32:030:32:05

give people the equivalent of a month's extra salary a year.

0:32:050:32:10

That really would bring help to those that need it.

0:32:100:32:13

I wish to God we would stop

0:32:130:32:16

talking about these 10p tax things, which always end up being a con.

0:32:160:32:20

They sound nice to start with.

0:32:200:32:23

If the Labour Party was serious about helping working people

0:32:230:32:26

it would come up with something that would genuinely

0:32:260:32:28

leave more money in their pockets. APPLAUSE

0:32:280:32:31

Just briefly, but a similar point, how would you pay for that?

0:32:360:32:40

-One month?

-There's many ways you could do it. There's lots of

0:32:400:32:43

waste in Government, for example.

0:32:430:32:45

I wouldn't be against borrowing more money to pay for that too.

0:32:450:32:48

I don't think we have got the option of not cutting taxes

0:32:480:32:51

because the Government's heading

0:32:510:32:53

for economic failure and probably political failure as well.

0:32:530:32:57

So increase the deficit? You're a Keynesian?

0:32:570:32:59

-This is basic economics, really.

-Really?

0:32:590:33:05

Why don't they do it if it's basic economics?

0:33:050:33:07

Good question. They did it in Sweden recently. It worked.

0:33:070:33:13

We have talked about whether the 10p will affect poorer people

0:33:130:33:16

and Fraser mentioned people out of work. A question from

0:33:160:33:18

David Hawkes which is relevant to this, please? David Hawkes.

0:33:180:33:22

Should people on benefits be made to work somewhere like Poundland

0:33:220:33:25

to justify receiving their money?

0:33:250:33:27

This is the case of Cait Reilly, who complained

0:33:270:33:29

that she had been forced to work at Poundland

0:33:290:33:31

or told she would have to work there or she would lose her benefits

0:33:310:33:37

and she took it to court and the court decided something rather odd

0:33:370:33:41

which was, perfectly all right to tell people to go to Poundland,

0:33:410:33:44

but that they hadn't got the procedure right,

0:33:440:33:46

as far as I can understand it. George Galloway?

0:33:460:33:49

I want to beatify Cait Reilly.

0:33:490:33:51

I think she has done Britain a great service by

0:33:510:33:54

taking this case and the court, by its decision, has done so too.

0:33:540:33:58

This is a young woman who had a voluntary job, unpaid, in a museum

0:33:580:34:04

who was forced by Iain Duncan Smith to take a job in Poundland.

0:34:040:34:09

That's what we have become. Poundland.

0:34:090:34:12

Where people are frog-marched into working in Poundland

0:34:120:34:16

and told that they are actually doing a job.

0:34:160:34:19

We are deporting people from Camden, from Newham

0:34:190:34:22

to the north of the country.

0:34:220:34:24

We are cutting public expenditure on a massive scale.

0:34:250:34:28

We are introducing a bedroom tax,

0:34:280:34:32

which I warn you now in case I don't get a chance later,

0:34:320:34:35

this is David Cameron's poll tax, the bedroom tax.

0:34:350:34:39

APPLAUSE

0:34:390:34:40

This is Britain today. A land where you go into a cheap chicken shop

0:34:400:34:44

and you get horse,

0:34:440:34:46

where the only economy in many of our northern cities is Poundland

0:34:460:34:49

and where the Tory answer is to force people into working

0:34:490:34:57

in these dodgy places for pitiful wages rather than a real economy,

0:34:570:35:00

the one that we need to build.

0:35:000:35:02

APPLAUSE

0:35:020:35:03

-Maria Miller.

-I'm not sure I really accept the way

0:35:030:35:10

that George is talking down the really important role

0:35:100:35:13

that work experience can have in many people's lives.

0:35:130:35:17

-Actually, the facts here...

-In Poundland?

0:35:170:35:20

OK, the facts, because we can't let facts get in the way

0:35:200:35:23

of a good story, the facts are, the court said the Government was quite

0:35:230:35:27

right to use things like work experience to give people

0:35:270:35:30

the opportunity to get into jobs.

0:35:300:35:32

These are people who are on Jobseeker's Allowance,

0:35:320:35:35

they are not people who are unpaid

0:35:350:35:36

and it gave them the sort of experience which might get them

0:35:360:35:39

their next job. Surely we should be applauding organisations

0:35:390:35:43

that do that and give young people in this country the opportunity

0:35:430:35:46

to get the skills to get ahead. I just don't think it's right

0:35:460:35:49

to be writing people off to a lifetime on benefits.

0:35:490:35:52

Let's give them the opportunity to get ahead.

0:35:520:35:54

She was working in a museum. You put her into Poundland, for God's sake.

0:35:540:35:58

Let's be clear here.

0:35:580:36:00

All the court said was that there was a technical issue

0:36:000:36:03

around the Government policy but the main thrust of the policy

0:36:030:36:06

was perfectly acceptable and I think that's something that's important.

0:36:060:36:09

I think we should be again applauding those employers

0:36:090:36:11

that go out of their way

0:36:110:36:12

to give young people in this country a chance.

0:36:120:36:15

-OK. You, sir?

-Whilst it's important for young people

0:36:150:36:20

to get experience, you have to make sure it's relevant

0:36:200:36:23

to their skills and in getting them into a job. There is no point giving

0:36:230:36:26

it to a person who's one, volunteering,

0:36:260:36:29

two, educated at university

0:36:290:36:31

to then force them to do cleaning jobs, menial jobs that

0:36:310:36:34

don't actually help them get into work.

0:36:340:36:37

You have to provide meaningful placements that will support them

0:36:370:36:41

in developing skills and getting into real job prospects,

0:36:410:36:44

not just simply using it as a form of punishment

0:36:440:36:47

because you are on benefits. It has to be driven by providing skills

0:36:470:36:51

to help people into jobs.

0:36:510:36:54

Susan Kramer....

0:36:540:36:56

APPLAUSE

0:36:560:36:57

Is she suffering a form of punishment, in your view?

0:37:010:37:04

I'm a huge fan of work experience. If I had been unemployed

0:37:040:37:07

for over a year and my volunteer job wasn't doing me any good in terms

0:37:070:37:11

of getting an employer to take me seriously and somebody offered me

0:37:110:37:15

a few weeks or couple of months' work somewhere, I'm getting my benefits

0:37:150:37:24

so in a sense I owe back I think for my benefits. I would take it.

0:37:240:37:27

If one of my children were in that situation,

0:37:270:37:30

I would tell them to take it,

0:37:300:37:32

because when you are in a job, even if it's in that set-up,

0:37:320:37:36

everyone knows it's far easier to then get another job.

0:37:360:37:39

You go and apply and you can push. I think work experience,

0:37:390:37:42

I don't regard jobs as particularly menial.

0:37:420:37:49

There are all kinds of jobs in which you can learn

0:37:490:37:52

a whole series of different experiences. It's terrific if you

0:37:520:37:56

can find something that fills a real gap in your training.

0:37:560:37:59

I think that would be fantastic. But I would go for work experience.

0:37:590:38:03

Cait Reilly was a geology graduate

0:38:030:38:06

who wanted to work in the museum sector. So surely she was...

0:38:060:38:12

I don't want to talk about one particular individual

0:38:120:38:17

but we can at least accept, can't we,

0:38:170:38:19

that her CV wasn't selling her to employers?

0:38:190:38:22

They weren't coming out offering her jobs, so she's either in a situation

0:38:220:38:27

of saying "I will take nothing, I'll stay on benefits till I get a job

0:38:270:38:31

"in the area I want," or you have to compromise

0:38:310:38:33

and take jobs in other areas. That's what I would do personally.

0:38:330:38:37

I will take any job rather than be unemployed

0:38:370:38:40

and I'd give the same message to my children.

0:38:400:38:43

From there you build up and find the job in your field.

0:38:430:38:47

I don't have a problem with work experience.

0:38:470:38:50

-I think we ought to really respect that.

-Thank you.

0:38:500:38:53

The man in spectacles.

0:38:530:38:55

I think the problem is, and why the girl was probably so angry

0:38:580:39:03

is that another big failing of the Lib Dems,

0:39:030:39:05

the rise in tuition fees and things like that,

0:39:050:39:08

increasingly people aren't going to put up with this sort of thing.

0:39:080:39:10

She wouldn't be paying under the Lib Dem system,

0:39:100:39:14

she wouldn't be paying fees up front

0:39:140:39:15

and wouldn't be paying her loan back until she was earning £21,000

0:39:150:39:19

and earning it back at a lower rate.

0:39:190:39:21

Why did you pledge the opposite then before the last election?

0:39:210:39:26

Why did you sign in blood that you would scrap tuition fees?

0:39:260:39:31

We were wrong.

0:39:310:39:33

APPLAUSE

0:39:330:39:35

I want to go to the back of the audience

0:39:350:39:37

because there are many people up there with hands up

0:39:370:39:40

who've not had a chance at the moment.

0:39:400:39:42

There is a woman in the second row from the back. Yes. You, madam.

0:39:420:39:46

Yep, you.

0:39:460:39:48

I was just going to say, there are a lot of things wrong

0:39:480:39:52

with the welfare state, but I'm glad it's there.

0:39:520:39:55

I would rather have it here than it not be there.

0:39:550:39:59

And I think that a lot of people who claim benefits

0:39:590:40:02

have previously been in work and paid their stamp.

0:40:020:40:05

-It's not like they're getting something for nothing.

-OK.

0:40:050:40:08

And the man six along. You with the spectacles on, sir. Yes.

0:40:080:40:14

I understand that Miss Reilly is now working in a supermarket,

0:40:140:40:18

so it looks like perhaps that scheme

0:40:180:40:20

was particularly effective in her case.

0:40:200:40:22

LAUGHTER

0:40:220:40:23

Mary Creagh.

0:40:230:40:25

Well, I think it comes back to the issue of competence, doesn't it?

0:40:250:40:29

Because what we had, as you say,

0:40:290:40:30

is a judgement that says there's nothing wrong with work experience,

0:40:300:40:33

but the way the government laid the regulations, made the regulations,

0:40:330:40:37

means it was not legal.

0:40:370:40:40

And the failure to explain to the young lady

0:40:400:40:43

her right to refuse work, etc, means that the government

0:40:430:40:46

laid itself wide open and had this very embarrassing court defeat.

0:40:460:40:52

I started my working life in British Home Stores

0:40:520:40:55

and I did tights and I did lights

0:40:550:40:57

for two years as a Saturday girl.

0:40:570:40:59

And I don't think... It was a paid job,

0:40:590:41:02

and I learned an awful lot about customer service

0:41:020:41:05

and about cleaning and all sorts of things.

0:41:050:41:07

So I'm not against work experience,

0:41:070:41:08

but what we can't have is a work experience programme

0:41:080:41:12

that isn't just for a few months, this can go on for two years,

0:41:120:41:15

and people only go on it

0:41:150:41:16

when they've been unemployed for nine months.

0:41:160:41:18

You cannot have people coming out after two years of work experience

0:41:180:41:21

and nine months on the dole with nothing to show for it.

0:41:210:41:24

There's got to be training alongside it

0:41:240:41:26

and there's got to be some sort of training pathway

0:41:260:41:28

and hope that there's going to be something better.

0:41:280:41:31

We cannot just park people on work experience programmes

0:41:310:41:33

and say, "Oh, something will turn up."

0:41:330:41:35

-APPLAUSE

-Fraser Nelson.

0:41:350:41:38

I think there is no doubt that

0:41:380:41:40

the government messed up this case. The court has said that.

0:41:400:41:42

But it's important to draw a distinction. The easier thing to do

0:41:420:41:45

would be to write the welfare cheque and walk away.

0:41:450:41:48

I think one of the great failures of the last Labour government

0:41:480:41:51

is that that's what it did.

0:41:510:41:52

It took the easy route, to write the welfare cheque, walk away,

0:41:520:41:56

and basically condemn millions of people to poverty.

0:41:560:41:59

Now, a welfare state, you're right, it's worth something.

0:41:590:42:02

It needs to be protected, it needs to work.

0:42:020:42:04

But right now, it's creating the most expensive poverty in the world.

0:42:040:42:08

That's what we're doing here.

0:42:080:42:10

Actually condemning people to live in these jobless, workless ghettos,

0:42:100:42:13

who will never be able to get back into the habit of work.

0:42:130:42:16

And when the government tries to do better, it will get it wrong,

0:42:160:42:19

as it did in this case, but I think, thank God it's trying.

0:42:190:42:21

Because the alternative, leaving these people,

0:42:210:42:24

is something that we just can't afford to do any more.

0:42:240:42:26

APPLAUSE

0:42:260:42:28

And I'll take one more point, from the person

0:42:280:42:30

with the tinted spectacles in the third row from the back.

0:42:300:42:33

I think part of our problem is in education,

0:42:330:42:36

that we're not educating the people that society actually needs.

0:42:360:42:41

There are a hell of a lot of people today who go to "yooni",

0:42:410:42:44

as they call it, and get a degree,

0:42:440:42:46

and then find they can't get a job

0:42:460:42:48

that's suited to the intellectual level.

0:42:480:42:51

And I don't think we're training enough creative and practical people

0:42:510:42:55

for the creative, practical jobs -

0:42:550:42:57

plumbers, gas fitters, people like that. That is part of the problem.

0:42:570:43:01

You're absolutely right. We need to do much more on vocational,

0:43:010:43:04

technical education in this country.

0:43:040:43:06

For too long there has been a focus

0:43:060:43:08

-on the aspiration of 50% to university.

-Yes.

-And not enough

0:43:080:43:11

for young people who have these creative talents.

0:43:110:43:13

We've got apprenticeships, which you guys did not work at.

0:43:130:43:16

We've also got a work programme...

0:43:160:43:18

We now have one million people on apprenticeships.

0:43:180:43:20

We have a work programme now where you're more likely

0:43:200:43:22

to get a job if you're not on it than if you are on it, Fraser.

0:43:220:43:25

-That is not a welfare system.

-All right.

0:43:250:43:28

We've got a good heated-up audience here on politics,

0:43:280:43:32

and we've got four politicians

0:43:320:43:34

on the panel and a political commentator.

0:43:340:43:36

So I want to go to the next question and widen this out a bit,

0:43:360:43:40

and ask you as politicians not just to list your policies,

0:43:400:43:44

but to listen carefully to what the question says. Elliott Hill, please.

0:43:440:43:47

Elliott Hill.

0:43:470:43:49

With public scepticism towards MPs, similarities between major parties

0:43:490:43:53

and a decrease in party membership, is party politics dying?

0:43:530:43:57

Is party politics dying? You start, Fraser Nelson.

0:43:570:44:01

I think people talk a lot about apathy in Britain,

0:44:010:44:04

about how people can't be bothered to vote any more,

0:44:040:44:07

but if you look at the amount of engagement in Britain,

0:44:070:44:09

we're actually an incredibly passionate country

0:44:090:44:12

when it comes to people going on marches, they attend protests,

0:44:120:44:15

you get groups like 38 Degrees who did brilliant protests.

0:44:150:44:18

The Taxpayers' Alliance and fuel tax.

0:44:180:44:20

People get passionate,

0:44:200:44:22

but they're not very excited at the menu that they get on polling day.

0:44:220:44:25

A lot of people can't bring themselves to choose

0:44:250:44:27

one of these parties who'll probably break their promise anyway

0:44:270:44:30

if they go into coalition with somebody else.

0:44:300:44:32

I don't think our politics in Britain is broken,

0:44:320:44:35

but I do think our party political system is broken.

0:44:350:44:38

These guys try to copy each other too much.

0:44:380:44:41

They don't follow through on what they say they will do.

0:44:410:44:43

And I really do think that we need

0:44:430:44:45

renewal of politics in this country,

0:44:450:44:48

because the way things are going, really,

0:44:480:44:51

the turnout is going to get lower and lower and lower,

0:44:510:44:53

because people think "Well, what's the point?

0:44:530:44:55

"No matter who you vote for the government still gets in."

0:44:550:44:58

APPLAUSE

0:44:580:45:00

Maria Miller.

0:45:000:45:02

The accusation is that political parties, not just the Conservatives,

0:45:020:45:06

your party, but all political parties, don't follow through

0:45:060:45:08

with what they say and people have become cynical about it as a result.

0:45:080:45:11

I simply don't agree with that.

0:45:110:45:13

When I go into schools and colleges in my constituency

0:45:130:45:17

and I hear the passion that young people have for issues

0:45:170:45:21

like the environment, like climate change, like,

0:45:210:45:24

I was talking recently to a group

0:45:240:45:26

about the work of Amnesty International.

0:45:260:45:28

I think there is an enormous passion amongst young people

0:45:280:45:32

for political issues.

0:45:320:45:33

I think the challenge for all of us at the moment is to make sure

0:45:330:45:37

that we're communicating to that new generation,

0:45:370:45:40

make sure that we're showing them the very different approaches

0:45:400:45:43

that each of the parties take to these issues.

0:45:430:45:45

And I do think there's a difference.

0:45:450:45:47

The real challenge at the moment is something new for our country -

0:45:470:45:51

well, for the modern day - which is coalition government.

0:45:510:45:55

And making sure that individuals know that, voters know that,

0:45:550:45:59

whilst you can work with a party on issues,

0:45:590:46:03

there are still considerable differences between your parties

0:46:030:46:07

on many of those issues

0:46:070:46:08

that you may want to vote on at the general election.

0:46:080:46:11

I think that's an interesting challenge.

0:46:110:46:14

But you think people are not sceptical towards MPs, as Elliott Hill suggests?

0:46:140:46:17

I think of course there'll always be scepticism about people in power,

0:46:170:46:20

but I think in terms of politics,

0:46:200:46:22

the important role that politics has in the lives of all of us,

0:46:220:46:26

and particularly young people, I don't see that.

0:46:260:46:29

Too many similarities, Susan Kramer, between the major parties.

0:46:290:46:31

You got involved in coalition,

0:46:310:46:33

you may be in another coalition, I suppose, after the next election.

0:46:330:46:36

Well, we think coalition has a lot to offer.

0:46:360:46:40

-Because, when I talk to people...

-LAUGHTER

0:46:400:46:42

When I talk to people and they see this sort of, if you like,

0:46:420:46:45

the time when party politics is the sort of clash,

0:46:450:46:49

at Prime Minister's Questions for example,

0:46:490:46:51

they regard that as sort of entertainment.

0:46:510:46:54

But actually they want people to work together.

0:46:540:46:57

And I do think this sort of pressure, particularly when we're in

0:46:570:46:59

a time of financial austerity, with such economic difficulties,

0:46:590:47:04

the notion of people having to work together,

0:47:040:47:06

that there aren't instant answers, that it's the art of the possible,

0:47:060:47:11

that you have to move things,

0:47:110:47:12

particularly when you're trying to remedy

0:47:120:47:15

the damage that's been done to an economy

0:47:150:47:17

essentially over a 20-year period,

0:47:170:47:19

you're trying to change all those fundamentals,

0:47:190:47:22

get people to have skills, get businesses started,

0:47:220:47:25

get the banks functional again after all that they've done to themselves.

0:47:250:47:29

Hang on, you're going to policies now.

0:47:290:47:32

Is party politics dying?

0:47:320:47:35

Is the politics, the commitment to MPs, was the question.

0:47:350:47:38

Well, I think we are in a period where cooperation

0:47:380:47:41

and consensus have a lot more to offer if people look at it that way.

0:47:410:47:46

As for MPs, I think it's true.

0:47:460:47:48

With the scandals that we had in the past, MPs lost trust,

0:47:480:47:52

and I think you can say, rightly so.

0:47:520:47:55

And I recognise I'm part of the political group that has,

0:47:550:47:58

collectively, if not individually, lost that trust.

0:47:580:48:02

And we have to earn it again.

0:48:020:48:03

But I do think that consensus has a lot to offer.

0:48:030:48:06

Let's hear from our audience. The person in purple there,

0:48:060:48:08

then I'll go back up there. You.

0:48:080:48:10

I was just wondering, if you say that you're all fighting for the people,

0:48:100:48:15

when do you listen to the people that you are there for?

0:48:150:48:19

APPLAUSE

0:48:190:48:20

You think that doesn't...?

0:48:200:48:23

You don't listen to the people. You've got to listen to the people.

0:48:230:48:27

-What THEY want.

-Are you talking about any particular party, or all MPs?

0:48:270:48:33

-All MPs.

-George Galloway. Does George Galloway listen?

0:48:330:48:37

Does George listen to you?

0:48:370:48:39

I think the only people

0:48:390:48:41

that's a party for the people is Labour.

0:48:410:48:44

Because they actually listen to the people.

0:48:440:48:47

George Galloway, what do you make of the main question?

0:48:470:48:50

Well, I agree with Fraser Nelson, and that doesn't happen often!

0:48:500:48:53

Actually, people in this country

0:48:530:48:55

are fantastically interested in politics.

0:48:550:48:59

I have hundreds of thousands of people following me on Twitter

0:48:590:49:02

and Facebook, and not only are they absolutely engaged

0:49:020:49:06

with all the vital political issues of the day,

0:49:060:49:09

they are extremely well-informed,

0:49:090:49:11

often times better informed than I am

0:49:110:49:14

about some of the issues that are in front of us this evening.

0:49:140:49:17

The problem is in this country,

0:49:170:49:21

the political parties,

0:49:210:49:24

Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Tweedledee and a half -

0:49:240:49:26

if a backside could have three cheeks, these would be

0:49:260:49:29

the three cheeks. There is no difference.

0:49:290:49:31

We've heard that one before.

0:49:310:49:32

-It's a good one, though.

-People say "stop me if you've heard it before,"

0:49:320:49:37

-I have it, George.

-Why don't you think of something memorable

0:49:370:49:40

to say that people will remember?

0:49:400:49:42

I will be slapping yours at the end of the show.

0:49:420:49:45

CHEERING AND LAUGHTER

0:49:450:49:46

The reality is, these three parties believe

0:49:460:49:51

that politics has only an inch in which we can differ.

0:49:510:49:56

That we differ about the colour of the walls

0:49:560:49:58

that the we'll paint the departments in Whitehall.

0:49:580:50:00

That it'll be a penny off this, a penny on that.

0:50:000:50:04

In reality, people know that this country isn't working.

0:50:040:50:08

That our institutions are in a state of collapse,

0:50:080:50:11

and that a radical change is necessary.

0:50:110:50:13

And if you put forward a radical change,

0:50:130:50:17

people may or may not agree with the radical change you propose,

0:50:170:50:21

but they are ready to listen to it.

0:50:210:50:23

My last point is this, and I'm sorry, I don't want to get personal.

0:50:230:50:26

But we have a parliament full of expenses frauds.

0:50:260:50:30

We have a parliament that's almost always on holiday.

0:50:300:50:34

Since I was elected 11 months ago,

0:50:340:50:36

Parliament has been on holiday almost 50% of the time.

0:50:360:50:40

And the rest of the time they're filling in their expenses forms.

0:50:400:50:44

That's the face of British politics so far,

0:50:440:50:48

including in the House of Lords.

0:50:480:50:51

Unless I'm deaf, George, unless I'm deaf,

0:50:510:50:53

when you arrive, they complain that you're never there now.

0:50:530:50:57

-I'm there every day!

-Where are you? We never see you.

0:50:570:51:00

I am in Parliament every day.

0:51:000:51:02

And my expenses are virtually the lowest in England.

0:51:020:51:05

And people are following what I have to say

0:51:050:51:08

because I'm different from these three cheeks of the same backside.

0:51:080:51:12

If you were actually doing your job as an MP,

0:51:120:51:14

when we're in recess, what we're supposed to be doing

0:51:140:51:16

is actually in our constituencies working with our constituents.

0:51:160:51:19

You're lying on beaches!

0:51:190:51:20

All right, the woman behind you, four behind. Four rows behind.

0:51:200:51:23

Isn't it our democratic system that's actually broken?

0:51:230:51:26

I go to a polling booth and have to vote for the best of a bad bunch,

0:51:260:51:30

because I don't want the Tories to get in.

0:51:300:51:34

It's not who I want to vote for,

0:51:340:51:38

but it's who's going to stop a different party getting in.

0:51:380:51:41

If AV had gone in or we did have proportional representation,

0:51:410:51:44

I would be able to vote for who I believed in

0:51:440:51:51

-rather than who would stop the Tories from getting in.

-We tried!

0:51:510:51:54

-Mary Creagh.

-Well, I don't think our society is broken.

0:51:540:51:58

And I don't think politics is broken.

0:51:580:52:01

And I think that George Galloway's rhetoric about

0:52:010:52:03

how awful everything is is actually dangerous and deeply, deeply cynical.

0:52:030:52:08

I'm ambitious for this country.

0:52:080:52:10

I didn't come into politics to just make,

0:52:100:52:14

to govern slightly better or make little changes.

0:52:140:52:17

I came into politics because I wanted to change the world.

0:52:170:52:20

I started as a local councillor, I carried on being elected to be an MP.

0:52:200:52:25

I go out, every Friday when I'm at home in Wakefield

0:52:250:52:28

I go out and listen to the people,

0:52:280:52:29

and meet them picking up their children from the school gates.

0:52:290:52:32

In the snow, in the hail, in the sun.

0:52:320:52:35

I've got 30-odd schools and I go round every one of them.

0:52:350:52:38

I listen to what people tell me. When they tell me stuff, I act.

0:52:380:52:42

I take out the police with me sometimes.

0:52:420:52:44

And I'm passionate about the role that politicians can play.

0:52:440:52:47

If you go to countries where politics really is broken,

0:52:470:52:50

I went to South Sudan last year, I went to Rwanda, I went to the Congo,

0:52:500:52:54

I've been to places where terrible things

0:52:540:52:56

have happened because of catastrophic political failure.

0:52:560:52:59

I don't think people in this country really understand

0:52:590:53:01

-just how lucky we are with our system.

-All right.

0:53:010:53:04

Can I go back to Elliott Hill, who asked the question?

0:53:040:53:06

What do you think of what you've heard? What's your view?

0:53:060:53:09

I think there's a big difference between passion over politics

0:53:090:53:12

and passion for parties in politics.

0:53:120:53:15

I know it's a lot...

0:53:150:53:17

A few panel members sort of talking about Amnesty International,

0:53:170:53:20

I think Maria Miller said,

0:53:200:53:22

and people being really interested in these political issues,

0:53:220:53:25

and that's definitely true.

0:53:250:53:27

But whether they're so interested in parties is a different matter.

0:53:270:53:32

I think they're on the way out if they don't do something.

0:53:320:53:34

And the minute the public do realise that parties are expendable

0:53:340:53:37

and politics can work very well without them,

0:53:370:53:41

it might well change the entire political system.

0:53:410:53:44

-To more independent MPs, you mean?

-Perhaps, yeah.

0:53:440:53:47

The man in the white suit. You, sir.

0:53:470:53:50

The thing with talking about coalition

0:53:500:53:52

and working together as being the solution

0:53:520:53:55

to the political problems, I have to disagree with that.

0:53:550:53:59

When the Liberal Democrats

0:53:590:54:00

voted against boundary changes for constituencies very recently.

0:54:000:54:05

Therefore the public see

0:54:050:54:07

that politicians are playing their own game.

0:54:070:54:10

"If it's in their favour, we'll vote against it."

0:54:100:54:13

But that's playing against what the public need,

0:54:130:54:15

which is a fair say in who gets elected.

0:54:150:54:18

Fraser Nelson, do you agree with that, on this boundary change point?

0:54:180:54:21

Yeah. This is the thing, politicians go on about constitutional reform,

0:54:210:54:25

but only the type that benefits the own party. It's really depressing.

0:54:250:54:29

You broke the deal, you can pretty much write the script.

0:54:290:54:32

But I'd say to Elliott, if you think the situation is bad now,

0:54:320:54:35

then wait until they get state funding for political parties.

0:54:350:54:38

I mean, right now they're losing members,

0:54:380:54:40

all the main political parties, and they've got to find financing.

0:54:400:54:44

If they say, "Nobody wants to give us money, let's get the government

0:54:440:54:47

"to give us a bailout," that's still on the cards,

0:54:470:54:49

which is why it's so important it should never happen.

0:54:490:54:52

They should be forced, all of them - Labour, Tory, Lib Dems -

0:54:520:54:55

to go and find ideas that people think are worth supporting.

0:54:550:54:58

Either do that or go bust.

0:54:580:55:00

And the drop in membership is absolutely staggering.

0:55:000:55:04

The Tories have halved under Cameron alone,

0:55:040:55:06

-pretty much.

-In the '50s, the Tories had three million members.

0:55:060:55:09

-Labour had a million members. You, sir, on the left, here.

-Yeah.

0:55:090:55:12

Doesn't the panel think that the despondency shown

0:55:120:55:15

by the general public at the moment towards political parties,

0:55:150:55:21

is it not because before an election, they promise,

0:55:210:55:25

all parties promise this, that and the other,

0:55:250:55:27

so they vote them in, and then after they renege on what they promise?

0:55:270:55:32

-Has it ever been different, in your view?

-It was...

-No.

0:55:320:55:36

Every single...

0:55:360:55:37

Every single election, they've always gone back on what they said.

0:55:370:55:42

Parties used to be very different, but now

0:55:420:55:44

the Tories are giving us just as much debt

0:55:440:55:46

as Labour was planning to,

0:55:460:55:48

-so you do wonder what all the fuss was about.

-OK.

0:55:480:55:50

We're a bit out of time, but because of where we are,

0:55:500:55:53

I'm just going to take this question from Joseph Sharp,

0:55:530:55:56

and it'll be a yes or no around the panel. Joseph Sharp, please.

0:55:560:55:59

I'd just like to ask the panel,

0:55:590:56:00

where should Richard III be buried - Leicester, Westminster or York?

0:56:000:56:03

-Or indeed Gloucester, as some have said.

-George, quickly.

0:56:030:56:07

Has to be York. He built a mausoleum for himself there.

0:56:070:56:11

BOOING AND LAUGHTER

0:56:110:56:13

And a person's last wishes should be honoured!

0:56:130:56:16

-He wanted it to be York, it must be York.

-Maria Miller.

0:56:160:56:19

We've made sure that Leicester University has got some say in this,

0:56:190:56:23

and I think there's sort of a rule generally

0:56:230:56:25

that when you exhume bodies from the ground,

0:56:250:56:27

you try and rebury them somewhere close to where they were taken out.

0:56:270:56:30

OK, Mary? That's one for Leicester.

0:56:300:56:33

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

0:56:330:56:36

Westminster, where his wife is?

0:56:360:56:38

Richard has been lying under Leicester council

0:56:380:56:41

social services car park for the last 500 years,

0:56:410:56:44

I think he deserves a decent burial in Leicester Cathedral.

0:56:440:56:47

-APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

-Susan?

0:56:470:56:51

Finders keepers!

0:56:510:56:53

APPLAUSE

0:56:530:56:56

I thought you were saying "Findus" for a moment!

0:56:560:56:59

LAUGHTER

0:56:590:57:01

-Not that bad!

-I think he should be buried

0:57:010:57:03

with his wife, Anne Neville,

0:57:030:57:05

who's buried in Westminster. I know I would certainly like to be.

0:57:050:57:08

If he were alive, which obviously is not,

0:57:080:57:11

he would probably want to be with her. Most people do.

0:57:110:57:14

-Westminster Abbey?

-Yeah.

-OK. Fine.

0:57:140:57:17

That's it. I'm sorry.

0:57:170:57:18

It's perfectly obvious where everybody here wants him buried.

0:57:180:57:22

Our hour is up. We'll be, oh, we're going to be in St Paul's Cathedral!

0:57:220:57:25

We didn't mention St Paul's!

0:57:250:57:27

St Paul's Cathedral, where Nelson is buried.

0:57:270:57:29

SUSAN: Richard I is buried in three different places.

0:57:290:57:32

-They kind of broke him up and scattered them.

-Thank you.

0:57:320:57:35

We've got to stop, Susan.

0:57:350:57:36

LAUGHTER

0:57:360:57:38

-I like dissections!

-Thank you.

0:57:380:57:40

And St Paul's Cathedral next week, and in fact it's the first time

0:57:400:57:43

question Time has come from St Paul's.

0:57:430:57:46

Our panellists are going to include Vince Cable,

0:57:460:57:48

Michael Heseltine and Diane Abbott.

0:57:480:57:50

And the week after that we're going to be at the site

0:57:500:57:53

of the Hampshire by-election in Eastleigh.

0:57:530:57:55

We'll be going live just after the polls close on that by-election

0:57:550:57:59

triggered by Chris Huhne's plea of guilty, of course, in the courts.

0:57:590:58:02

If you'd like to come either to St Paul's or to Eastleigh,

0:58:020:58:05

you can apply by our website.

0:58:050:58:07

The address is on the screen.

0:58:070:58:09

Or you can call us, 0330 123 99 88.

0:58:090:58:13

You'll be catechised by our administrators.

0:58:130:58:16

It would be extremely nice to see you for those two occasions.

0:58:160:58:20

My thanks to our panel here,

0:58:200:58:22

and to all of you who came to take part in this programme.

0:58:220:58:25

From Question Time here in Leicester,

0:58:250:58:27

until next Thursday, good night.

0:58:270:58:29

APPLAUSE

0:58:290:58:31

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:570:58:59

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Leicester. On the panel are: secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Maria Miller; shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh; Liberal Democrat peer Susan Kramer; Respect MP for Bradford West, George Galloway; and editor of the Spectator, Fraser Nelson.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS