25/04/2013 Question Time


25/04/2013

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Worcester. Panellists include Sajid Javid MP, Luciana Berger MP, Simon Hughes MP and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.


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Transcript


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Tonight, we are in Worcester Cathedral, and welcome to Question

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Time. Good evening to you at home. Good evening to the audience and

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the panel, economic Secretary to the Treasury, Sajid Javid, Labour's

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shadow climate change minister, Luciana Berger, from the Liberal

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Democrats, Simon Hughes, their deputy leader, and two leaders,

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Natalie Bennett of the Green Party, The first question tonight comes

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from Thomas Doyle. Is George Osborne's economic plan finally

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working? We have heard today that the Chancellor has tried to spin

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the growth figures as a victory. If the Chancellor was to come out into

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the country and to speak to people up and down the country, he would

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know that people are facing a really, really tough time. There is

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a cost-of-living crisis in this country. People are really

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struggling to get by. We heard only this week that 350,000 people in

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our country had to go to a food bank because they could not afford

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to feed themselves and their families. I want to see people in

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work. There are over 2.5 million people in the country who do not

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have a job, including over 1 million young people. I want to see

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the Government come forward with a proper plan for jobs and growth.

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How many more people will it take for the Chancellor to listen and

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get on with it and get a proper plan for jobs and growth? There are

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many things he could do and I would like to see him do immediately to

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get people into work. Firstly, I would like him to repeat the

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banker's bonus tax so we can get young people into work and build

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homes that this country if desperately needs. He could reduce

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VAT temporarily to stimulate demand. He could reduce VAT in the

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construction sector. He could do all manner of things, and he does

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not have a plan. It is people up and down the country that are

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suffering as a result of it. Sajid Javid, there is quite a long

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list there. I think today's news was welcomed. The Zero debris

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basenji ADP figures? Yes, it shows the economy is healing but it

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equally shows there is a long way to go, the road will be bumpy but

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we are on the right track. Before I came into politics three years ago

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I used to do a tremendous amount of business in emerging markets in the

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fastest-growing countries, Brazil, China, India, countries of that

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type. I saw for myself how fast those countries are growing and

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expanding. As a result, these countries today are eating our

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breakfast, having our lunch. If we do not change our ways, they are

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also going to be having our supper. That is the simple truth of it.

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When the Prime Minister talks about us being in a global race, that is

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what he means. The world does not owe us a living and we have to

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fight hard in this global space to succeed. The Government's job is to

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make sure we equip British citizens to succeed in the global race. What

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have we done about it? It meant, when we came to office, that we had

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to deal with the largest deficit of any of the large 20 leading nations.

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We have cut that by a third. That has brought economic credibility,

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lowered interest rates and brought Investment. You mention the jobs,

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and you are right to talk about jobs. 1.2 5 million new private

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sector jobs have been created in the last three years. There are

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more people think -- employed in the private sector than at any time

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in history. We created jobs last year faster than any other G7

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nation. That is something we should be proud of. I will not pretend for

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a second that we do not have serious economic challenges, but

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once they were grown at home and ones that come from abroad, but

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this Government is walking up to those challenges, confronting them

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and dealing with them, rather than sticking its head in the sand and

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pretending the problem can just go away. Thank you very much for that.

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Why is it that the IMF does not seem that keen on what you're doing,

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if you think it is so right? And why do the credit rating agencies

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not seem to entirely approve of what you're doing? First, the IMF

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will be coming to the UK very soon. It goes to all the leading

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economies every year and does a proper assessment. It will be

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interesting to see what they say in the light of today's news. I would

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rather wait to see. I am pleased you mentioned the rating agencies.

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The two rating agencies that have downgraded our credit rating, they

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have both said the same thing, which is that if Britain deviates

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from its deficit reduction plan, its plan to make sure that our

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country once again start living within its means, they would

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downgrade us again. If we look at the two countries that have not

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been downgraded, AAA across the board from all of the rating

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agencies, Germany and Canada, if you look at both those countries,

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they fixed the roof when the sun was shining. The previous

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Government ran a deficit from 2001, long before the international

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crisis, and we are having to pay the price to Dave. George Osborne

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said it was essential that Britain was not downgraded, but they you go.

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Is the strategy working, no. This strategy was put together to get

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rid of the annual deficit. The plan was that over five years the death

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as it would disappear. The deficit is still running at �130 billion

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per year. If we go on like this, by the end of this Parliament our

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national debt will have increased by 40% in the lifetime of this

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Parliament. So it is not working. Sajid talks about living within our

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means. We have barely dented the deficit over the course of these

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last two and a half years. It is not working. Growth is anaemic. The

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international community looks at the UK, not just because of the

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downgrades, but they are pretty pessimistic and bearish about the

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outlook. I think what George Osborne is going to need to do is

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to be much more radical. We are going to have to have some real

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cuts in government spending, particularly if one looks at the

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�60 billion per year that we are spending on quangos. Again, the

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Tory party talked about a bonfire of the quangos. We need to see it.

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We also have to reduce taxation for the low-paid. If you get them out

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of the tax system, no tax on minimum wage, that money will go

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into people's pockets and get spent in the High Street. Something

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radical needs to happen. Everybody in the audience is

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experiencing what is going on here, so I am sure there are many

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different views that I would like to hear. The woman in the third row.

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The Government says the state of the economy is improving but isn't

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the 0.3% meaning that it is within the definition of not being a

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triple-dip recession, because we are still in the same position we

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were in five years ago? Simon Hughes, as a supporter of the

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coalition. I would link that question to the initial question,

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is it finally working. It is not finally working because it was

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never going to be a quick fix. Nigel is right in one respect,

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although he went on to say something inconsistent with

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something else he believes. This is very complicated, isn't it! When we

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joined the coalition we did so because we believed we needed a

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stronger economy, to rescue Britain from paying �120 million each day

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in interest on our debts. Not sustainable. Personal debt at its

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highest level ever, and an inability to understand that you

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have to make the books balance. We went into a coalition in the

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national interest to do that. But we were clear we needed a fairer

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society, because Labour and the Tories have left the gap between

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rich and poor wider than it had ever been, with a ridiculous

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bonuses while other people struggled at the bottom side. We

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have done the steps that shut -- Sajid has talked about, and many

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things have succeeded. Interest rates are low, inflation is low,

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the deficit has been reduced by one-third, we have created over 1

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million new jobs. Are you are attracted by what Luciana Berger

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has been saying about the other things that could stimulate the

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economy? There is not a difference of view in politics that we want

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unemployment to be as low as possible, as many people in work as

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possible, but we have to do it in a way that is sustainable. We have

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done that. There are more people in work. When I came into Parliament

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and Mrs Thatcher was the Prime Minister we had 18% unemployment.

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Unemployment in this constituency is something between 4% and 5%.

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Youth unemployment is lower than when you left office, and that had

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started when you were still in power. You were not in Parliament

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then, but I am not taking lectures from colleagues in the Labour Party

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who did not deal with this issue. But we need to do other things. We

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need to go on slowly and steadily making sure we get growth,

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manufacturing investment, money for small businesses to grow. I am

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committed to making sure the people at the bottom end do not pay the

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price and the people at the top pay more. We have been taking the low-

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paid out of tax. The start that the tax threshold of �6,440, it is now

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�9,400 and next year it will be �10,400. We are trying to make sure

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people on high incomes pay more, and for me that is the right way to

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go in difficult circumstances. Behind the question was presumably,

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is there a glimmer of light? The person second row from the back.

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Going back to the point about the outlook for the UK economy being

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pessimistic. Surely it would be even more pessimistic if we left

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the European Union of which, even by your figures, 40% of our exports

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go to, which is too large to brush aside and say it is not important?

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If you look at the cost... There is the top-line figure of the

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�50 million each day as a membership fee, but there are some

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interesting academic reports saying that the cost of unnecessary

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regulation being put on British industry is perhaps costing up to

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5% of our annual GDP. I will promise you one thing, Britain not

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being a member of the European Union does not mean that Mercedes

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will not want to sell cars in this country. We will go on doing

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business with Europe. We would be free to open trade deals with the

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rest of the world which we are currently forbidden from doing.

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do it anyway. We are forbidden from making a trade deal with any other

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country in the world. The European Union can make our trade policy, we

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cannot. The sooner we get rid of the lunacy of climate change policy

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we have signed up to in Brussels and excessive employment regulation,

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we will be a wealthier countries. am going to largely ignore Nigel

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Farage's magic recipe. He is going to do one thing, leave the European

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Union, and that will solve all have our problems. I think simple

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recipes like that are not the way forward. We need to look at our own

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economy. Mystic Hughes says he is worried about the poor and

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disadvantaged, so he is part of a Government that has to seen in the

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last year the wealth of the wealthiest 10% go up by 11%. The

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Sunday Times Rich List, there are 11 new billionaires in Britain.

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Isn't that wonderful? I don't think it is. Luciana Berger referred to

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the unemployed, but it is not just the unemployed. 2.6 7 million young

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people. It is also the one in 10 people who are working fewer hours

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than they would like to be working, who are struggling to get by with

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less than full-time hours, and the one-in-five people who are on less

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than a living wage, after 13 years of a Labour government. We have a

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minimum wage that is significantly below the living wage, and that

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simply is not good enough. We need to rebuild our economy with jobs

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you can build a life on, bring manufacturing and food production

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back to Britain and rebuild our local economies around small

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business. Would you increase borrowing? The whole Government

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position, as has been explained, is about getting borrowing down. Would

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you increase borrowing? What matters is what you do with the

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borrowing. Would you increase it? We are borrowing for things like

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Trident, to cut the corporate tax rate. Would you increase borrowing

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in principle? Yes, because we believe austerity is the wrong

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direction. The IMF says we are playing with fire. This Government

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is borrowing �245 billion more than it said it would. Would you reduce

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borrowing? In terms of the next general election, with a set out

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our plans. Are you going to increase borrowing, saying to the

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voters, we are going to increase borrowing, or stick with the Tory

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plans? We do not know what the economy will be light in two-and-a-

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half years. We have a responsibility not to make promises

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wasn't the case. Clearly, you must want borrowing to go up. You can't

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do it any other way. The independent IFS says if Labour

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carried out its policy, borrowing would be higher by at least another

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�200 billion. It was excessive borrowing that got us into this

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problem in the first place, so how on earth can more borrowing get us

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out of it? That's what's happening. You, Sir, yes? We have acknowledged

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over the last few years that we were naive to believe there was an

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end to boom-and-bust, to not notice that we were carrying on spending

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when we had not enough resources to support it. Are we now being naive

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in thinking it will be sorted out in a short time without any pain?

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It's going to take years, we should realise that and accept it. It's

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bad news and we need to take care of the people mostly affected by it,

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but we are naive to think we'll have green shoots now or next year

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- it's going to take a long time. Do you agree with that? Absolutely

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right. APPLAUSE

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If ever there was a time for a British Chancellor of the Exchequer

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to go on TV and have a fireside chat with the British nation, it's

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now. We keep hearing about cuts and living within our means. The

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reality is that this annual deficit is still hopelessly and totally out

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of control and it needs somebody in the British Government to honestly

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tell the British people the mess we are in and to explain that things

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will be tough for a few years. We are not having that conversation.

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We are having a false debate about cuts. We are not cutting, we are

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borrowing �130 billion a year more every single year. Why can't you do

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what he wants to have done? I've looked at UKIP's policies. Many

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people can say that, but I have. UKIP's policies would lead to more

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borrowing as well. If you look at their central point, they want

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unfunded tax cuts, which will lead to more borrowing and at the same

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time they want to protect spending on the NHS, they want to protect

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spending on education and on this and that, so there are three people

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on this table. In the '80s, the Conservative Party used to believe

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if you cut taxes, it led to economic growth because people

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spent the money. If you cut people's taxes at the bottom end,

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and I agree there's been progress, there needs to be more. If there's

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no tax on the minimum wage, that would lead to people having more

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money in this country. That would be a flat party policy. UKIP's tax

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policy, 31% tax means the rich would pay far less tax. You are

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nervous about UKIP, the way you are talking? We have the most

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complicated tax system. The tax code was 5,000 pages long, it's now

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13,000 pages long. There is a simple argument for our tax system.

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Top rate taxpayers should have... In the policy. You haven't even got

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a policy. What is your tax policy? APPLAUSE

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Very simply, what is your tax policy? No tax on the minimum wage

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and a mass simplification of the tax policy. With a lower rate.

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We'll abolish national insurance, roll it into tax because all it is

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is tax anyway. What rate would these people pay? 25-30%, I suspect

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no national insurance. So you would change your policy from the flat

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rate? Every party changes their policies close to the general

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elections, that's right. So we shouldn't believe a word you say?!

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APPLAUSE Hang on. We stood under a different

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leader in a different general election with a policy of 31%,

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doesn't mean that will be our policy next time around.

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You, Sir? The legacy left by the Labour Government surely means no

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party can afford to make cuts? There's still too much to pay back

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to move forward, so everyone's going to have to borrow anyway.

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you think there can be no cuts in order to try and reduce borrowing?

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I can see no reason how you can cut if you have got to save money.

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think what the gentleman's getting at is the fact that this enormous

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debt the country's built up, at some point the debt needs to go

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down which means payback, so it's not just an economic problem, but

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it's a moral problem. I also believe this generation that

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wracked up the debts has no right to pass on that bill to the next

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generation, to our grandchildren and children. We have got to think

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about that as well. That makes it all the more important, we have got

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to start the economy now. We need to get back to where the legacy

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came from. It was not as a result of Government spending, it was as a

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result of the banks very nearly crashing and going down and us

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having to rescue the banks. That is why we have to look at dealing with

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the banks. That is one of the issues. The lady at the front said

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we hadn't moved on in the past three or four years. That's true.

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We haven't reformed our banks. If you want to join in this debate

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on the economy or anything else, you can always do it by text or

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Let us go on to a question from Amanda Galvin, please?

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Do the panel think it's justified for the UK to suspend human rights

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values in order to pursue the deportation of one individual?

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Abu Qatada, of course. Nigel Farage? Well, it isn't going to

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happen. You know, this is classic, classic of this Tory party and

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Theresa May and they keep talking tough about human rights because

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they know the vast majority of the British public are enraged that we

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are not allowed to get rid of people like account Abu Qatada. So

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they keep promising that they'll do such things. In this case, they are

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thinking about temporarily suspending our membership of the

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European Convention on Human Rights. They won't do that, they don't

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intend to do that, they are just hoping that by saying something,

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they'll kick the issue into the long grass. The real reason is this

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; that we cannot be members of the European Union unless we are full

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signatories to the European court in Strasbourg. They've become one

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and the same thing. As we know from David Cameron, he's a great lover

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of our membership of the European Union, as indeed are the Liberal

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Democrats and the Labour Party. This is short-term politicing by

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Theresa May. They are terrified about what will happen to their

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vote next Thursday in the shire counties and they are sounding

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tough but they don't mean a word of APPLAUSE

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Simon Hughes? The answer to the question is, it would be ludicrous

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to withdraw from the European convention to deal with one case.

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We were the principal authors of the European Convention on Human

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Rights. It was the post-war initiative of Churchill and his

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allies to try to make sure Europe had a civilised set of values and

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we sent British lawyers to draft it and we have been signatories

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throughout. The European convention does things like defend your right

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to freedom of expression and your right to protest if you are a

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member of a Trade Union and your right to education and family life.

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I assume everyone here would regard that as very important.

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Occasionally, occasionally, the European court finds against this

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country. If we were to pull put of the European convention, what

0:22:580:23:03

message would that send to Russia, Belarus and other countries like

0:23:030:23:07

the Ukraine where people are on trial wondering about their human

0:23:070:23:11

rights? How do we say to the States that we want decent treatment for

0:23:110:23:14

people they want to extradite and we don't want them on death row?

0:23:140:23:19

Where would we stand? The answer is absolutely not, we need to hold the

0:23:190:23:22

convention and the Liberal Democrats were very clear when we

0:23:220:23:27

entered into the coalition that for this Parliament we would keep

0:23:270:23:30

everything that's a convention right and potentially build on it

0:23:300:23:34

but not reduce it. Do you think there is any chance that...

0:23:340:23:44

said, do you think there's any chance that the Conservative Party,

0:23:440:23:47

the coalition, might allow itself with Labour and find a way of

0:23:470:23:51

getting Qatada out, ignoring the convention, or indeed temporarily

0:23:510:23:55

withdrawing from the convention, leaving you high and dry? No, I

0:23:550:24:01

absolutely don't think so. Why not? Firstly, because the coalition

0:24:010:24:05

agreement is clear that the two parties agreed we'd build on the

0:24:050:24:09

convention and not change it. That was a deal done for five years and

0:24:090:24:12

it holds. Secondly, Theresa May said very clearly in the House of

0:24:120:24:16

Commons this week, I asked her myself, that she thought it would

0:24:160:24:20

set a very bad example to break the law of the country and she didn't

0:24:200:24:25

intend to do it. Thirdly, the Labour Party have signed up to the

0:24:250:24:28

European convention and have never suggested that they think it should

0:24:280:24:30

be broken. Imagine the Home Secretary or the Government saying,

0:24:300:24:35

we think we can break the law now and put this man, however odious he

0:24:350:24:39

is, back on the plane to Jordan. He was convicted in Jordan of offences,

0:24:390:24:42

he should go back, the European court says it's perfectly possible

0:24:420:24:47

that he could go back and I hope now that the deal's been done with

0:24:470:24:50

Jordan that she'll be ratified in about three months and he'll be

0:24:500:24:54

able to go back and I wonder why he hasn't been prosecuted in this

0:24:540:24:59

country for some of the odious things he said here. That should

0:24:590:25:05

have happened. I agree with Simon. I very much ask him that question -

0:25:050:25:09

he's a vile individual, Abu Qatada, some things he said are dreadful

0:25:100:25:13

and they would clearly be incitement to murder, so why has he

0:25:130:25:18

not been put on trial in this country? That's what we should be

0:25:180:25:22

doing, where we can guarantee a fair trial, we can have much

0:25:220:25:27

respect for the jury system, 12 members of the public can decide

0:25:270:25:30

his fate. Why do you think it hasn't been? Because the evidence

0:25:300:25:34

isn't there? There's a lot of things the Security Services don't

0:25:340:25:39

want out. A lot of issues about extraordinary rendition and issues

0:25:390:25:43

about why he was allowed into this country in the first place. He was

0:25:430:25:48

seen as the philosophical basis of the Mujahideen. This goes back to

0:25:480:25:51

long-term policy in Afghanistan which has come back to haunt us.

0:25:510:25:56

There's a lot of potential embarrassment. So there's a

0:25:560:26:00

conspiracy not to prosecute him? lot of people in the Security

0:26:000:26:06

Services don't want to do it. the Police Service's decision, no-

0:26:060:26:10

one else's. You were not lent on? No, listen, the reality is if they

0:26:100:26:13

were, that would be extremely serious. There's no question

0:26:130:26:18

they've been lent on. Why do you think he's not been prosecuted? You

0:26:180:26:23

said there's evidence to prosecute him, why hasn't he not been

0:26:230:26:27

prosecuted? I believe there's enough evidence and if I was the

0:26:270:26:31

CPS person, I would prosecute but I hope he can be sent home before the

0:26:310:26:35

trial begins. The woman at the back? Simon Hughes

0:26:350:26:39

says it's one person, I pick up a newspaper every day and read about

0:26:390:26:43

foreign criminals who haven't been able to be deported, rapists

0:26:430:26:48

murderers et cetera and I wonder what the judiciary is up to. They

0:26:480:26:56

are certainly not supporting law- abiding society, British society?

0:26:560:27:01

Sajid Javid? Not supporting the society? I have a lot of sympathy

0:27:010:27:05

with the lady. Abu Qatada has no respect for our way of life and he

0:27:050:27:08

should be on a plane to Jordan right now. We should get him out of

0:27:080:27:11

the UK as quickly as we can. One thing we also know about him is

0:27:110:27:14

that because he doesn't respect our country, he also doesn't respect

0:27:140:27:20

the way we, as a country, observe the rule of law and that is

0:27:200:27:24

something, the rule of law we can not give up, it's vitally important

0:27:240:27:29

no Government ignores the rule of law. If the courts are proufr

0:27:290:27:34

frustrated in the process, we have to respect that -- however. That is

0:27:350:27:38

not the same as saying politicians can't change the law. If ultimately

0:27:380:27:42

we need to change the law to get Abu Qatada on a plane and out of

0:27:420:27:46

the country, that's what we need to do. If that means that we need to

0:27:460:27:51

look at suspending our membership of the ECHR, that's what we need to

0:27:510:27:57

look at as well. It isn't going to happen, is it? You are committed to

0:27:570:28:02

membership of the EU which means we have to remain signatories, simple

0:28:030:28:07

as that. The lady said she thought the judicial system was working

0:28:070:28:11

against the interests of law- abiding people in this country and

0:28:110:28:16

you said you agreed with that snfrpblgt with aspects of that. As

0:28:160:28:19

the Conservative Party, it was our intention to replace the Human

0:28:190:28:22

Rights Act put in place by the previous Government and replace it

0:28:220:28:26

with a British bill of rites which protects your rights and recognises

0:28:260:28:29

that with rights comes responsibilities, the two things go

0:28:290:28:36

together. We haven't been able to do that. It's not a consensus among

0:28:360:28:39

the coalition. You heard from Simon, there's a different set of views

0:28:390:28:44

from the Liberal Democrats. We have put those views aside. But that is

0:28:440:28:49

still our intention. I want to replace the Human Rights Act with a

0:28:490:28:52

British Bill of Rights. Strasbourg court is the highest

0:28:520:28:56

court in the land, that doesn't make any difference and that's the

0:28:560:29:01

lady's question. We have surrendered the ability to make the

0:29:010:29:11
0:29:110:29:16

decision in our own country. If we pulled out of the Convention,

0:29:160:29:20

would we have to leave the European Union? It is an option we have to

0:29:200:29:25

look at more carefully. I am not a lawyer and it is terribly

0:29:250:29:28

complicated because you need legal advice across-the-board for this,

0:29:280:29:33

but it should remain on the table as an option. Shouldn't human-

0:29:340:29:43
0:29:440:29:44

rights applied to everyone, You do not think Abu Qatada is

0:29:440:29:50

being properly treated by the courts? I think this argument about

0:29:500:29:54

opting out of the European Convention on Human Rights is

0:29:540:29:58

arbitrary, because the whole idea of human rights should be equal to

0:29:580:30:05

everyone. As I can see from the response in the audience, I want to

0:30:050:30:09

see Abu Qatada on a plane. We were told last year by the Home

0:30:090:30:12

Secretary that he would be sent back to Jordan and it is my

0:30:120:30:15

disappointing that he has not been. Ken Clarke said yesterday that even

0:30:160:30:20

if we were to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights,

0:30:200:30:24

British law would also not send him back to Jordan, because we do not

0:30:240:30:30

have the assurances we need that he will not be subject to torture.

0:30:300:30:35

This man is despicable. This is a man that both the Home Secretary

0:30:350:30:39

and the courts have said is very dangerous. He has advocated attacks

0:30:390:30:43

against Jewish people. He has praised attacks against American

0:30:430:30:53
0:30:530:30:54

people. He is Europe's right hand man, as has been told, for Al-Qaeda.

0:30:540:30:59

And this man should not be allowed to be in the UK. But we need

0:30:590:31:02

serious action from the Government, not promises that they are not

0:31:020:31:07

going to keep. Using the European Convention on Human Rights is

0:31:070:31:10

essentially a smokescreen for what the action is that they will take.

0:31:100:31:15

The deal with Jordan has been done and it is ratified in the next few

0:31:150:31:20

weeks. That should permit that he can go to Jordan. We will see what

0:31:200:31:28

happens. Linda Almond, please. the panel think we should be able

0:31:280:31:33

to stem the flow of Romanians and Bulgarians expected to arrive in

0:31:330:31:39

January 2014? We had a number of questions on this issue. Does the

0:31:390:31:42

panel think we should be able to stem the flow of Romanians and

0:31:420:31:48

Bulgarians expected to arrive in January 2014? We should be able to

0:31:480:31:52

make it less attractive for them wanting to come here. That is an

0:31:520:31:56

exercise that Government is engaged in now, across the board, every

0:31:560:31:59

department of Government, looking at what are the attractions for

0:31:590:32:03

immigrants, particularly from these two countries, to come to Britain,

0:32:030:32:08

whether it is welfare, jobs and so forth. But the honest truth is that

0:32:080:32:13

in terms of taking bigger action, in terms of controlling our borders,

0:32:130:32:16

we cannot do that unless we renegotiate the relationship we

0:32:160:32:20

have with the European Union, because those rights were given up

0:32:200:32:23

by the previous Government. This Government has inherited that

0:32:230:32:27

situation and we have to respect the agreements that are in place.

0:32:270:32:32

Until that changes, there is preyed little we can do about it. Are you

0:32:320:32:37

nervous about it? It is politically sensitive and nobody's in stab a

0:32:370:32:45

clue how many people might come. -- nobody seems to have a clue. When

0:32:450:32:48

other eastern European countries join, especially Poland, the

0:32:480:32:51

previous Government made a prediction it would be 80,000 and

0:32:510:32:55

it turned out to be 800,000 from that part of the world. In this

0:32:550:32:59

case, the number of countries that can accept people from Bulgaria and

0:32:590:33:03

Romania from January next year is a lot larger, so it is not just

0:33:030:33:08

Britain, which will have an impact in terms of the Barbarians and

0:33:080:33:11

remain is that want to leave, spreading it out, but we cannot

0:33:110:33:17

rely on that. -- Bulgarians and Romanians. We are looking at how we

0:33:170:33:23

can have a better relationship with the European Union. How do you make

0:33:230:33:27

it unattractive for people to come to Britain? For example, we have to

0:33:270:33:30

make sure that the right to benefits, whether they are out-of-

0:33:300:33:35

work benefits, housing benefits and others, do not taking unless you

0:33:350:33:39

have met certain conditions, unless you have got my job. There are

0:33:390:33:47

other issues. There are a lot of rules any wave. Before this takes

0:33:470:33:50

place in January next year, there will be initiatives announced that

0:33:500:33:55

will make a difference to this. If we want to control our borders we

0:33:550:33:59

have to renegotiate with the European Union. This is what the

0:33:590:34:02

Prime Minister set out when he said we need a new relationship with the

0:34:020:34:07

European Union, which is why he has promised that there will be a

0:34:070:34:11

referendum on Europe so that we can have the leverage to have this kind

0:34:110:34:15

of change. You are going further than next January when this is

0:34:150:34:19

meant to be happening. You talk about taking these measures, and

0:34:190:34:23

you are going to pinpoint Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants and say,

0:34:230:34:28

you are not going to be entitled to this. Is that what you mean? How

0:34:280:34:34

are you going to select? measures would apply to anyone from

0:34:340:34:37

the European Union that wants to settle in Britain. We have been a

0:34:370:34:41

soft touch for people wanting to come to Britain, whether they are

0:34:410:34:45

immigrants from the European Union or from outside. The measures will

0:34:450:34:50

apply across the board. We should have tightened this up in the time

0:34:500:34:54

of the previous Government, and now this Government is getting on with

0:34:540:35:00

the job. The rhetoric around this, the rhetoric we have just heard is

0:35:000:35:06

really disturbing. We depend, the NHS for health workers, bus drivers,

0:35:060:35:10

our teachers, we depend on huge numbers of migrants who come to

0:35:100:35:15

Britain and give much more than we give back to them. And what we have

0:35:150:35:19

seen, sadly, is that the three largest parties have played into

0:35:190:35:23

the utterly pernicious rhetoric of Nigel Farage, the anti-immigration

0:35:230:35:27

rhetoric. We need to accept the facts about immigration, which is

0:35:270:35:32

that we have the free movement of people across the European Union.

0:35:320:35:36

That is free movement for us to go where we like, and free movement of

0:35:360:35:39

peoples come here and contribute. They cannot just come here and

0:35:390:35:43

collect benefits. There are all sorts of rules already, and we

0:35:430:35:48

simply need to say that migration is a good thing for Britain.

0:35:480:35:58
0:35:580:36:01

Migrants are contributing. I know many people feel concerned

0:36:010:36:06

about migration. I talk to people on the doorstep. But about 60% of

0:36:060:36:10

people say they are concerned about migration. When you ask them about

0:36:100:36:14

their neighbourhood, only 20% say it is a problem in their

0:36:140:36:19

neighbourhood. We have a right-wing media, four parties that are

0:36:190:36:23

running a consistent anti- immigration, very nasty rhetoric

0:36:230:36:32

that simply has to stop. We need to speak up for migrants. Nigel Farage.

0:36:320:36:37

Yes, we should stem the flow, no question about it. I have just come

0:36:370:36:41

back from Bulgaria and have been to Romania in the past. You have to

0:36:410:36:45

see the poverty in these places to believe it, people doing jobs that

0:36:450:36:49

cannot afford to keep their houses, struggling to put bread on the

0:36:490:36:56

table. Like Britain, for example. It really is not funny. What is

0:36:560:36:59

happening to those people, you have millions of people living in misery.

0:36:590:37:03

They are being given the opportunity next year to come to a

0:37:030:37:07

country that will welcome them, allow them to work and access the

0:37:070:37:11

benefits system. And you cannot blame people from Bulgaria and

0:37:110:37:16

Romania for wanting to do it. But there is a problem. We have 1

0:37:160:37:19

million youngsters unemployed in this country at the moment. We do

0:37:190:37:24

not need an open door to masses of unskilled labour at a time when our

0:37:240:37:27

youngsters cannot get work. Secondly, what has happened since

0:37:280:37:33

2004 is that we have driven down wages, not just for the unskilled.

0:37:330:37:36

Talk to skilled people in the construction industry, working in

0:37:360:37:41

the IT game, or elsewhere. We have driven wages across the country

0:37:410:37:45

down. And the third reason why we really need to say no to an open

0:37:450:37:50

door to Bulgaria and Romania is that we are currently in London in

0:37:500:37:56

the middle of a Romanian crime epidemic. The figures are truly

0:37:560:38:00

astonishing. For only 80,000 Romanians living in Britain at the

0:38:000:38:05

moment, in the Metropolitan Police area alone there have been nearly

0:38:060:38:10

30,000 Romanian arrests in the last five years. That is without the

0:38:100:38:15

rest of the country. The one thing I picked up from Bulgaria last week,

0:38:150:38:20

speaking to a well-known national figure, he said the problem is that

0:38:200:38:23

what you will get in the first wave next year are a lot of criminals

0:38:230:38:27

who will come to Britain. Isn't it about time we said we are not

0:38:270:38:30

prejudiced against anybody but it is about time we put the interests

0:38:300:38:37

of our own people and our own community first?

0:38:370:38:47
0:38:470:38:47

We have a proud heritage of immigration in this country, but it

0:38:470:38:52

is not wrong to address people's very serious concerns about

0:38:520:38:56

immigration. I hear it all the time. We need to look at the facts and

0:38:560:39:00

the challenge is that we do not have the facts from his Government.

0:39:000:39:04

We do not know how many people might come because we do not have

0:39:040:39:08

figures from Government. That makes this conversation incredibly

0:39:080:39:13

challenging. We need to look at how many people might come here. I saw

0:39:130:39:18

the film of Nigel going to Bulgaria and it was interesting to hear from

0:39:180:39:21

university students in Bulgaria who said they did not want to come here

0:39:210:39:25

because they did not like our culture. We heard very deprived

0:39:250:39:28

people saying they did not want to come because they did not like the

0:39:280:39:35

weather. And it is colder there than it is here! May come from very

0:39:350:39:39

strong family units. They said, I do not want to leave my family

0:39:390:39:43

behind. But this is an abstract conversation because we do not know

0:39:430:39:48

the figures. What about his point about criminal elements in

0:39:480:39:55

Romanians who are here? Do you agree with that? I have not seen

0:39:550:40:01

those figures. Simon Hughes, have you seen the figures? I am aware

0:40:020:40:05

there have been some numbers of Romanians and others who live in

0:40:050:40:13

London... Oh, come on!I am dealing with the question. I am aware of

0:40:130:40:17

the crime figures in London. Crime figures have come down hugely in

0:40:170:40:21

recent years, but there are some people from Eastern Europe who do

0:40:210:40:25

commit crimes. I think we have to try to cool down the debate,

0:40:250:40:29

otherwise we end up in a very unhelpful position and I resent

0:40:290:40:34

Natalie suggesting that I have joined some Nigel Farage conspiracy

0:40:340:40:38

against immigration. As a Liberal all my life I have argued the

0:40:380:40:44

opposite case. Can I try very quiet be contesting a couple of things?

0:40:440:40:48

One, look around his audience, even in Worcester, this is a very mixed

0:40:480:40:52

community. Britain is a very diverse place. We benefit from

0:40:520:40:55

immigration which has come from the fact that we went round the world

0:40:560:40:59

and conquered it, and then we asked people to come here and help. We

0:40:590:41:03

are the Great Britain that we are because of our mixed community.

0:41:030:41:10

Secondly, the reason this is a topical issue is because when the

0:41:100:41:14

eight countries, of which Poland was the largest, joined the

0:41:140:41:21

European Union, the Labour government took a decision not to

0:41:210:41:25

phase in the seven-year opportunity for them to come, but to allow

0:41:250:41:28

everybody to come immediately. Sajid is quite right, they were

0:41:280:41:33

working on the prediction of 80,000. I thought that was highly unlikely.

0:41:330:41:37

I asked to slow the process but David Blunkett said it would be

0:41:370:41:40

fine and we would allow them to come immediately. And a lot of

0:41:400:41:46

people came, 800,000 people came. That, understandably, caused

0:41:460:41:50

disruption to employment and other things and has made people nervous.

0:41:500:41:55

Can we get to the point? Bulgaria and Romania, their ambassadors

0:41:550:42:00

predicted this week there might be a total of 25,000 people coming. We

0:42:000:42:04

cannot stop that now, but what we can do is to keep our own border

0:42:040:42:10

controls, have much more effective control... Know we cannot, we are

0:42:100:42:14

members of the European Union and anybody can come. You know

0:42:140:42:17

perfectly well that we have our own border controls which we should not

0:42:170:42:23

give up. The people running the Border Agency have done a poor job.

0:42:230:42:27

We have not kicked out illegal -- illegal immigrants effectively. We

0:42:270:42:31

need to do that. But then we need to make sure we understand that the

0:42:310:42:35

way in which we deal with the issue that the lady raises is to make

0:42:350:42:41

sure we have an economy that is successful, but that we have a

0:42:410:42:44

change in the immigration rules that does not allow people who have

0:42:440:42:48

just arrived to get the full range of benefits and the NHS that people

0:42:480:42:53

have had who have lived here all their lives. The man in spectacles.

0:42:530:43:01

The woman, I am sorry. We need to understand how could

0:43:010:43:06

multiculturalism is for our society. Without international students,

0:43:060:43:13

university campuses would be really dull.

0:43:130:43:18

Nigel, you said you saw so much poverty in Romania and Bulgaria. Do

0:43:180:43:20

you not think those people should have an opportunity to come

0:43:200:43:24

somewhere like here and better their lives and lives for their

0:43:240:43:29

families? If we had poverty here, we do not encourage us to go to

0:43:290:43:38

other places where we could make our lives better? -- would you not?

0:43:380:43:42

Simon Hughes, the immigrants you were talking about earlier were

0:43:420:43:45

controlled. That is what we need now, control of people who come to

0:43:450:43:52

this country, not an open door. do not have an open door. This is

0:43:520:43:59

why there are so many illegal ones in here. We had a very ineffective

0:43:590:44:05

Border Agency. It is ineffective because the illegals are in here.

0:44:060:44:09

The Border Agency has done a bad job but we do not have an open-door

0:44:090:44:19

policy. All three of the people who asked questions, I would like to

0:44:190:44:23

respond all at once with the same answer. All three of you are right.

0:44:230:44:27

My parents were immigrants. My father came to this country,

0:44:270:44:30

started work as a bus driver, contributed to this country, as did

0:44:300:44:35

my mother, and a respected this country, wanted to better their

0:44:350:44:39

lives, and that is what brought them here. But the gentleman there

0:44:390:44:44

is absolutely right about the issue is about control. That is what has

0:44:440:44:49

gone wrong's. In the last 13 years with Labour there were 3.2 million

0:44:490:44:53

new immigrants to the country, one of our highest rates, the highest

0:44:530:44:58

rate the country has ever seen. Our borders were not controlled. It

0:44:580:45:02

puts pressure on public services and infrastructure. We want to make

0:45:020:45:06

sure people who come to that -- our country respect our way of life and

0:45:070:45:12

the way we do things. Respect multiculturalism but also respect

0:45:120:45:16

our way of life, try to learn the language and do more to integrate

0:45:160:45:21

with the rest of the communities. That is what we want. Just two days

0:45:210:45:25

ago it was St George's Day. Saint George was an immigrant from

0:45:250:45:35
0:45:350:45:43

charge that Labour got it seriously wrong? There were things that we

0:45:430:45:48

got wrong and we put our hands up to say we should have dealt with

0:45:480:45:52

transitional controls appropriately. We introduced a points system but

0:45:520:45:55

we should have done it earlier. The Government should be doing other

0:45:550:45:59

things to address immigration. I want them to ensure that people who

0:45:590:46:02

don't pay the national minimum wage to people outside this country are

0:46:020:46:05

appropriately fined because at the moment that's not the case. I want

0:46:050:46:08

a Border Agency that has appropriate resources, it's been

0:46:080:46:13

cut by 10,000 so they can't do the job they are supposed to do. We

0:46:130:46:17

have seen an increase in people absconding and the Border Agency

0:46:170:46:20

can't do their job properly. The name has changed, I understand,

0:46:200:46:24

this week. I want the Government to address the fact that there are

0:46:240:46:27

some certain sectors like the construction sector, the care

0:46:270:46:32

sector, the hospitality sector, where we see lots of migrants come

0:46:320:46:36

into the UK to fill jobs in those areas. We should provide young

0:46:360:46:40

people in this country with the skill and training to be able to do

0:46:400:46:43

those jobs. A couple more points from the

0:46:430:46:48

audience. The woman up there? talked about making Britain a less

0:46:480:46:52

attractive place. How about we keep it a more attractive place but use

0:46:530:46:58

our position as a member of the EU to raise the lower poverty in these

0:46:580:47:01

nations, to keep those an attractive place? The person there

0:47:010:47:09

on the left with the spectacles? The Romanian crime figures were

0:47:090:47:13

mentioned. Surely these are as a result of making the country less

0:47:130:47:17

attractive. If these immigrants have come from hostile situations

0:47:170:47:21

as Nigel said, of sheer poverty, of course they are going to be unhappy

0:47:210:47:25

and if they arrive here and we make an even worse place for them, I'm

0:47:250:47:28

not surprised the crime figures are so high. I'm not saying it needs to

0:47:280:47:32

be easy for them to settle here. However, I don't think we can use

0:47:320:47:36

the crime rates as a fact of judgment for that. A brief answer,

0:47:370:47:42

Nigel Farage? In these countries, there is a large minority who're

0:47:420:47:47

completely ostracised from their own societies. Now, I do feel sorry

0:47:470:47:52

for those people but we need to look after our own people and our

0:47:520:47:54

own country first and this rubbish you are hearing from everybody else,

0:47:540:47:59

the fact is if it's an Eastern European country, there are no

0:47:590:48:03

limits to the number of people that can come, we have no control over

0:48:030:48:08

numbers of people coming here from Romania and Bulgaria next year and

0:48:080:48:13

that's absolute madness. It can't be changed by 2014, can it?

0:48:130:48:18

could be. Have a referendum! I want to pick up two points. I

0:48:180:48:24

agree with Mr Javid that's -- that there's too much pressure on

0:48:240:48:28

housing and the problem is, we failed to invest in housing and the

0:48:280:48:33

Public Services and the transport and that's where the problem lies.

0:48:330:48:38

Nothing to do with that. I agree with you Mr Farage. Under the

0:48:380:48:41

Labour Government, wages were driven down. That was a huge

0:48:410:48:44

problem. There was a report in the Independent last week about how

0:48:440:48:51

many people are not being paid the minimum wage but less. They are not

0:48:510:48:54

paid for travelling time spent travelling between clients, for

0:48:540:48:59

example. To have a living, minimum wage, enforce it properly and lift

0:48:590:49:05

the standards for everybody. That's what we need to do.

0:49:050:49:08

APPLAUSE A question from Kate Parkhouse,

0:49:080:49:12

please? Will longer school days and shorter

0:49:120:49:16

holidays really improve standards of education, or will children just

0:49:160:49:19

be exhausted? The Education Secretary, Michael Gove, suggested

0:49:190:49:22

pupils should spend more hours at school and have shorter holidays.

0:49:220:49:26

He said this just last week. Simon Hughes, do you agree with him?

0:49:260:49:31

schools do have longer hours already. I am the chair of

0:49:310:49:36

Governors at a primary school, we have a breakfast club, children

0:49:360:49:41

come in at eight, they have an after-school club... Longer than

0:49:410:49:45

who? Longer than the conventional 9-3 day, many children are in

0:49:450:49:50

school, primary and secondary, from 8 in the morning to 6 in the

0:49:500:49:55

evening. So you think it's a good idea? Schools often close their

0:49:550:50:00

days at 3 o'clock and are empty for the weekend and evening. They are a

0:50:000:50:02

community resource, people benefit from being there and youngsters

0:50:020:50:05

should have the opportunity to be there for longer hours, giving them

0:50:050:50:10

a chance to do lots of other things they wouldn't otherwise do. Do you

0:50:110:50:20

support what Michael Gove is doing? There is a ding I think theion make

0:50:200:50:24

between after school activities and education systems. I want an

0:50:240:50:29

education system based on evidence. A teacher at the weekend said, has

0:50:290:50:33

Mr Gove been to a school, because of all the different proposals they

0:50:330:50:36

are putting forward, they can't believe he's informed. We hear time

0:50:360:50:40

and time again that Mr Gove's policys are pie-in-the-sky, coming

0:50:400:50:45

from a Government that doesn't consult with teachers who're

0:50:450:50:48

professionals who know what they are doing. I don't know if the

0:50:480:50:52

evidence is there, I know they are currently doing a study and that Mr

0:50:520:50:55

Gove's come up with his proposal having looked at the east. Is that

0:50:550:51:00

appropriate for the UK? I don't know. There are studies that show

0:51:010:51:08

that later starts are a good idea for teenagers. That is a good idea

0:51:080:51:12

and some schools are introducing it. I don't want something Michael Gove

0:51:120:51:16

picks out of the sky because he thinks it's a good idea.

0:51:160:51:19

You, there? You have just said what I was going

0:51:190:51:25

to say in fact, that the UCL in London, the academy, have

0:51:260:51:31

introduced start times of 10 o'clock and have found a much

0:51:310:51:33

better attendance and concentration rate amongst teenagers.

0:51:330:51:40

What do the parents do? They can't go to work until 10. Can you leave

0:51:400:51:45

teenagers happily on their own? don't know, I wouldn't condone that,

0:51:450:51:49

but I would have thought if you were going to change the time, it

0:51:490:51:53

would be difficult to change it for primaries and young children can't

0:51:530:51:57

cope with a longer day, they don't need a day that long. Older

0:51:570:52:01

children, maybe it's a good way of introducing them to hours for

0:52:010:52:07

working than are longer than 9-3. You could say to the tairge, do you

0:52:070:52:13

prom toys get out of bed for 10 o'clock. -- teenager. What do you

0:52:130:52:18

make of the idea that Michael Gove just has these ideas that are not

0:52:180:52:23

worked through? I don't think that's true at all. He's

0:52:230:52:26

transforming education. It was failing rapidly under Labour. We

0:52:260:52:30

were falling on the league tables. On this particular issue,

0:52:300:52:33

independent schools, if you look at a lot of independent schools, a lot

0:52:330:52:38

of them have longer hours, some even have school days on a Saturday

0:52:380:52:42

or half a day on a Saturday. I think I'm right in saying that I'm

0:52:420:52:45

the only one sitting at this table that went to a state school like

0:52:450:52:49

90% of the population and state schools haven't benefitted from

0:52:490:52:53

things like that until Michael Gove's come forward. I would like

0:52:530:52:57

to see people in state schools try to see if they can benefit from

0:52:570:53:01

these changes as well. More hours and shorter holidays? I'm very open

0:53:010:53:07

to the idea, I think it's very sensible. The man at the back on

0:53:070:53:17
0:53:170:53:17

the gangway? It seems like Mr Gove and the Government's plan is for

0:53:170:53:21

everyone to work longer, have longer days, less Bank Holidays and

0:53:210:53:27

longer school days. Frankly, that's not what we need. We need better

0:53:270:53:32

quality, it's not working longer. It's exactly the same with

0:53:320:53:36

basically we need to also atress the work life balance as well. You

0:53:360:53:41

need to enjoy yourself as a child, you don't want to be at school all

0:53:410:53:45

day, along with the workers, you don't want to be at work all day.

0:53:450:53:48

You have got to enjoy life at the same time. There should be just as

0:53:480:53:51

much focus on that, as well as getting people in school. You would

0:53:510:54:00

cut the working day, would you? Well, I wouldn't mind the working

0:54:000:54:05

day cut. The lady here, who is a teacher?

0:54:050:54:11

currently work an outstanding academy in Worcester. To make

0:54:110:54:18

school hours longer when we are talking about family, where is the

0:54:180:54:22

family time? Where is the quality time with our family for our

0:54:220:54:27

children? I have a 13-year-old daugter who came home from school

0:54:270:54:33

the other day xaisted -- exhausted, came in had milk, toast, fell

0:54:330:54:38

asleep. 13. -- daughter. She's working so hard when she's at

0:54:380:54:42

school. You think she's not the exception to the rule? I know she's

0:54:420:54:47

not. Tough mum driving her hard?No, I'm not, I'm the opposite. I love

0:54:470:54:50

the fact she has the summer holidays to get that rounded

0:54:500:54:54

education that we all need. Holidays are just as much of an

0:54:540:55:00

education as being in school. We have forgotten the fact that the

0:55:000:55:03

family picnic is free, apart from the food that you take, the nature

0:55:040:55:09

walk you go on with them, the beach that you can stroll along. We have

0:55:090:55:14

forgotten that. That's education too. We are so concerned about

0:55:140:55:20

putting our children in a classroom from 8-6! I think Mr Gove needs to

0:55:200:55:24

come into our schools and have a look at what the children would be

0:55:240:55:30

doing between 8-6 when it wouldn't be with their families.

0:55:310:55:38

Nigel Farage? I think Michael Gove is trying to

0:55:380:55:43

make things better but I think he's a meany to try to stop the summer

0:55:430:55:47

holidays and I agree because it's a chance for people to excel at sport

0:55:470:55:50

and do different things, try the work place on a short-term basis.

0:55:500:55:55

It's not the amount of time we spend at school. Like everything in

0:55:550:55:58

your life, it's what we do during that time that really matters. The

0:55:580:56:04

big problem we have with British education is that the gap now, and

0:56:040:56:07

Sajid touched on this, the gap between the 7% that go to the

0:56:070:56:11

private schools in Britain and the 93% that don't is wider than it's

0:56:110:56:17

been for 100 years. Are you for abolishing private schools? No, I'm

0:56:170:56:21

for re-introducing the one thing that gave bright children from poor

0:56:210:56:24

backgrounds the chance to excel in politics, media, the arts and the

0:56:240:56:29

world of sport, and that was the grammar school system which we

0:56:300:56:33

should never have vandalised out of here.

0:56:330:56:38

APPLAUSE I very much agree with the audience

0:56:380:56:43

member who said we have to let children have a childhood. I also

0:56:430:56:46

agree with Miss Berger about needing to look at the evidence. We

0:56:460:56:51

have three days more days in the school year than the OECD average.

0:56:510:56:56

We need to look at the evidence of what works. Mr Gove is presiding

0:56:560:57:01

over a great increase in class sizes, particularly for the young

0:57:010:57:04

children. He's introducing performance related pay, even

0:57:040:57:09

though the OECD evidence is that that doesn't raise the performance

0:57:090:57:15

of the school. Mr Gove doesn't dream up a bright idea and write it

0:57:150:57:21

on the back of the envelope. What you said reminds me of an old

0:57:220:57:27

Etonian saying he was educated during the holidays at Eton? Well,

0:57:270:57:32

I learnt a lot, you know, the School of Life, and actually, we

0:57:330:57:37

all went and there's probably not one of us here during their six

0:57:370:57:41

weeks summer holidays has gone "Mum I'm bored, mum I want to do

0:57:410:57:46

something, what can I do? "Wtion well what happened to us having

0:57:460:57:50

boredom and learning to deal with that boredom? We don't. We have to

0:57:500:57:55

get our kids doing something all the time and actually, they've lost

0:57:550:57:59

their imagination because of that. We have to stop. Our hour is up.

0:57:590:58:03

Sorry, I would have liked to have come to you. Next week, we are

0:58:030:58:07

going to be in Dartford in Kent. The panel will have on it Shirley

0:58:070:58:12

Williams, Victoria Coren and David Starkey, among others, and the week

0:58:120:58:17

after that, we are in Coventry when we'll have David Davis and Germaine

0:58:170:58:23

Greer on the panel. If you want to Greer on the panel. If you want to

0:58:230:58:26

come to Dartford or Coventry, the address is on the screen. Ck apply

0:58:260:58:31

that way or you can call us -- you can apply that way or you can call

0:58:320:58:37

us. Thanks to the panel and thank you to you for being a wonderful

0:58:370:58:41

David Dimbleby chairs Question Time from Worcester in the last programme before the local elections.

On the panel are economic secretary to the treasury, Sajid Javid MP; shadow energy and climate change minister, Luciana Berger MP; deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, Simon Hughes MP; Nigel Farage MEP, leader of UKIP; and Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party.


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