30/05/2013 Question Time


In London, David Dimbleby is joined by Anna Soubry MP, Alan Johnson MP, Diane James, Mehdi Hasan and Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator of Downton Abbey.

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London town. Welcome to Question Time.


And good evening to you at home, good evening to our audience and how


our panel, Labour's former Home secretary, Alan Johnson,


conservative health minister, Anna Soubry, one of the rising stars of


UKIP, Diane James, political director of Huffington Post UK,


Mehdi Hasan, and the Tory peer and creator of Downton Abbey, Julian


Our first question, Michael Kerr. Following the slaughter of Lee


Rigby, should adopt a big rubber approach to the surveillance of all


forms of communication? -- a Big Brother approach. I do not regard it


as a big rubber approach, but if the questioner is inferring that we


should adopt the communications data Bill, then I think we should. -- big


brother. There was an important and constructive contribution by joint


committee of both houses, because the bill was published in draft


form. They pointed to a number of problems. They said the bill was


widely drawn. But they said it still needed legislation. Intelligence and


Security Committee, which are members of the house of parliament


from both sides, and from all sides, chaired by Malcolm Rifkind, they see


all of the MI6 and MI5 intelligence. Before you go further... They


reported there was a problem that needed to be tackled by legislation.


What would you like to see? It is not the content of communications.


When people communicate by land line, or by mobile, security


services have always been able to look at who was ringing who at one


time, the duration of the call, nothing to do with the content. That


is a completely different system that has not been changed. But, as


new technology has advanced, there are new forms of technology and


communication that are not covered by that legislation. And everyone


who looked at this dash me, my successor, Theresa May, the


intelligence and security committee, and even the joint


committee of both houses - said this is a problem and it needs to be


addressed. It has disappeared from the Queen's Speech, it seems,


because the Liberal Democrats have vetoed it. It is nothing to do with


Woolwich, incidentally. This would be an issue with or without


Woolwich. It is hardly a knee-jerk reaction. It has been known for six


years that there is a flaw in the intelligence services' ability to


track was very necessary intelligence. 95% of all the cases


that security services have tracked, seven people due to take


off in planes to America, all of these other plots that have been


uncovered, 95% of them were uncovered through this very form of


tracking who was involved, who was ringing who, the jury should not the


calls, not the content. This is nothing to do with the content. --


the jubilation of the calls. said Theresa May should resign if


she does not do this through. the Home Secretary. It is her


primary responsibility to keep the public safe. She sees the need for


this, we hear. Behind-the-scenes, and she argued for it on Sunday. I


think it is so crucial to a Home Secretary's role that it is a


resignation issue. If I was Home Secretary and I could not get this


legislation through cabinet, and could not convince them, as the


voice of the security services and the police in these circumstances,


then I would not be able to do my job as Home Secretary. When you were


Home Secretary, you did not do it. There must be a good reason. There


is a very good reason, because I was Home Secretary in 2009 and there was


an election in 2010. The way the government have approached this is


the right way, publish a bill in draft before, give a year for


committees to look at it, take a measured approach. We did not have


time to do that before the election. Or you would have resigned? Yes.Is


Ed Miliband in favour? Ed Miliband agrees with the amendments made by


the joint committee, which are very important and were supposed to be in


the legislation in the Queen's Speech but have disappeared. There


is this loophole. I used to be a criminal barrister, so I am aware of


what we can do, and the evidential benefit that there is in looking at,


for example, contact between people on mobile phones. The mad mass of


this is that you cannot get the same sort of evidence on the basis of


people using the Internet. -- madness. It is not about the content


but about the communication, the timing, the fact that if people, the


intelligence forces and police, they put it together in a grid. It is


extremely useful evidence to show conspiracy or joint enterprise. And


I would like to see it am. And I think now is the time for all the


political parties, because this should not be a party political


issue, to sit down and work out a way that we can essentially tie up


and secure this loophole so we can get what we want, without the


legitimate concerns that people have about any encroachment of the state.


Have you thought of ignoring the Liberal Democrats and going along


with Labour? I do not think we should start to try and see this as


damaging the coalition, frankly playing cheap party political


politics. This is a national security issue. What is cheap about


it? Saying that Labour and the Tories should gang up on the


Liberals. That is not the approach at all. We need to sit down and work


out a way of achieving what we all want to achieve. If you put the bill


aside, Lee Rigby's killers were apparently known for being


activists. Should they not have been under surveillance anyway, apart


from the bill? It is a good point about the existing powers,


surveillance techniques and flaws in the system. The very worst time to


change your laws is in the immediate aftermath of what is a terrorist


attack, or an alleged terrorist attack. This is the worst time to


have knee-jerk responses. I was 100% with David Cameron may rare occasion


last week when he said we should carry on with business as usual. And


Alan Johnson is a voice of reason on many issues, but on issues of


counterterrorism and Civil Liberties the last person we should take


advice from is a former Labour Home Secretary. That is the sad truth of


the matter. Even I think that is harsh! The coalition, for all of its


faults, has done good work in terms of restoring Civil Liberties that


were lost under 13 years of labour. Thank God for the Lib Dems standing


up against this snooper's charter, whatever you want to label it. The


Lib Dems have not exactly been people who have stood up for in


recent years. But Nick Clegg is spot-on on this. You think this is


an encroachment of Civil Liberties. You are going after everybody's


e-mail. What happens in these situations is that it is innocent,


ordinary people who get surveilled on, and the criminals and terrorists


find the loopholes. So you believe security forces should not have the


ability to track phone calls over landlines and mobile phones? I think


a government that could not keep control of 25 million child benefit


records on a CD and lost it in the post should not be entrusted with


the data of the entire population. All government is negotiating the


exchange of freedom for security, and you give up certain freedoms in


order that you may be free to walk home at night, whatever it is. That


is the whole basis of government. In this instance, it does seem to me


that the existing situation, which is when they do have permission to


go in, when they have some reason to suspect, all that is needed, and I


am only speaking for one of the lobbies, is to loosen the rules that


bind them. They can only hold information for 30 days, only do


this for something or other, they cannot repeat the request. If we had


a situation within the existing laws whereby once they have a reason to


investigate and interfere and actually look at whatever somebody


is doing on their computer, their telephone, whatever, but they are


doing it unfettered and able to achieve a result, surely that is,


apart from anything else, more realistic than trying to screen 60


million people. This is one of the things, simply to make it easier for


investigative forces, and to take away the current rules that restrict


them. That would make a big difference. The Communications


Bill, if adopted, would only solve the symptom of the problem of


terrorism. The source of terrorism really is extremism. And that has to


come down to the aggressive British foreign policy. We had an attack in


the US, that bombings in France, and now in the UK. All of this had to do


with attackers saying they were upset with the Western foreign


policy. We will come to that in a moment. Then they bring in Diane


James on the first point about surveillance. How on earth are we


going to resource this is the bill goes through? Mehdi Hasan has made


the good point that, quite frankly, governments of every colour have a


lamentable record in terms of the way they have held the data in any


form of security. The quality of the information, how that has been


handled, as such. My understanding is that MI5 and MI6 have a budget


which is under considerable threat from the austerity measures that


this coalition government is bringing in. It is very well to say,


and I would agree with the point that this is a gross intrusion of


generalised Civil Liberties with no necessity. There is a small


proportion of the population that does need monitoring. But if we


suddenly embark on this huge, very costly exercise, without the budget


to do it, it will fail at the first hurdle. This is not surveillance. We


have to get this clear. This is not surveillance. It is about the sort


of access to data which we currently allow with mobile telephones and


landlines, and we merely seek to extend that to the Internet. It is


not about surveillance. You are making a distinction. You are asking


the Internet service providers to say, we keep track of all of the


things that have been done but not the content. Absolutely, and it


shows a Trail. And you can access that with permission from the Home


Secretary, if you choose to. This is about the ability to get data, just


as you can at the moment for mobile phones. It prevented a whole series


of plots that you have read about, and that people have been tried and


imprisoned for. If we have prevented lots of plots, why do we need a new


law? If you look at the way we collected data, for example on


mobile phones and landlines, it has been particularly successful in the


prosecution, for example, of drug rings. It is incredibly important


evidence which I have seen in court. It is an extension of that and it is


really about filling in this loophole. It is not surveillance and


it is not snooping. If you want to talk specifically about


surveillance, you can do that otherwise we will widen it to the


question that was put over here with a question from Edward Poole,


please. Would we see fewer terrorist attacks in this country if we did


not invade, or support the invasion of other countries? I do not know


whether this particular Woolwich attack, would this count as one of


the examples you are talking about? That sort of thing, yes. The short


answer is, I think, yes. And I am glad of this question. I wrote an


article on this subject today. I do not think foreign policy is the only


factor in terms of motivating and radicalising people. To pretend it


is not a factor and has nothing to do with it, as Boris Johnson and


David Cameron were suggesting last week, I think that is mad. If you


look at all of the people who have been captured in failed terrorist


attacks, or after terrorist attacks, they all say the same


thing. They all talk about invasions and occupations and support for


dictators, and support for patients. At some stage, you have to ask, are


we going to take seriously what they are saying? That does not mean you


change foreign policy on the basis of their demands, and it does not


mean they are justified in carrying out acts of violence, but it means


if you want to take a multifaceted approach to preventing


radicalisation, you have to put foreign policy in the mix. It cannot


just be other issues and not foreign policy. The former head of MI5


said, I warned the government that if we invade Iraq it will spur young


British Muslims towards terror, radicalising young men. And now when


you say that, you are accused of being some extreme anarchist, when


the former head of MI5 and various intelligence agencies all warned us


what our foreign policy would produce, and it has produced. The


Woolwich case is sub judice, but the general point. My point is with


regard to the total communication (Inaudible) community leaders and


the politicians and the agencies which are responsible for this. I


can see that the community leaders have not played their role that they


were expected to play. I think there's a serious crisis there. They


have to win the confidence of the community they are living in and to


pass on these, their aspirations, their ideas to the politicians and


to the people, the public in general, so they should know what


they are thinking and what their feelings are about it. History has


shown us that when you have disaffected often young people, they


may be angry, they may have other troubles in their lives that they


fall prey off on the radicalisation and to extremism and it can go to


all sorts of appalling levels. I think when we look at, and we do


have to be careful, because somebody has been charged, so we are in


difficult legal territory, but it is an important matter this, because we


know that too many, usually meals, in our Muslim community in


particular, have been radicalised in this way and it has caused much


upset and anger in the Muslim community, because the vast majority


of that faith are decent, law-abiding, honest, good people. I


just feel this with some passion, having seen two members of my


constituency today who happen to be Muslims. They came to lobby me on my


views on plain packaging of cigarettes, but I thought that this


is a story worth repeating. At the end of our very interesting


discussion they felt the need to apologise to me in some way because


of their faith and to make the point to me that not all Muslims were like


some that we've seen in recent events. And I interrupted them to


say, you don't have to apologise at all for your faith, because good,


sensible people in this country know exactly that the overwhelming


majority of people of your faith are good, decent citizens and we are


proud to have you in our country. APPLAUSE


When we talk of extremism isn't it more a case of lack of belonging for


men, and the same thing that draws somebody towards Islamic radicalism


is the same issue that draws someone towards gangs, the EDL or violent


groups? We have a Corp group of young men with a lack of sense of


belonging and it is not just about Islamic radicalism.


APPLAUSE Alan Johnson, I would like to bring


you back to the question: Would we see fewer terrorist attacks here if


we didn't invade or support the invasion of other countries? Well,


9/11 happened before any country was invaded there. Would still be


jihadists around, I believe, with or without what happened. In terms of


Kosovo, we went in to defend Muslims, who were being butchered. I


think the argument there is we should have gone in earlier. So


there'll always be people who want to make that link. And you can't


divorce it from foreign policy. I agree with Mehdi on that. Foreign


policy has to be part of the fix, but this kind of suggestion that


this is all because of usually about the invasion of Iraq, I don't think


that's the case at all. In fact you could make a very good case for


looking at the Middle East if Saddam was still there, if you want to draw


the kinds of what if questions and find a very difficult situation in


the Middle East, as we are finding in Syria. I do enjoy lective quote


quoting. In 20032 joint Joint Intelligence Committee told your


Government if we invade Iraq we will Huyton threat to the Al-Qaeda of


Al-Qaeda. Today you are saying it is not to do with Iraq. The point I


made was 9/11 was nothing to do with the invasion of any country. It was


an attack on America. Palestinians have been occupied for


decades. The West supported Saudi dictatorships. You can't start the


clock on 9/11 and forget the oppress eggs of the -- the oppression of the


Middle East. I have to say, Alan Johnson hit the nail on the head


precisely. Before 9/11, there was no question in our minds as a British


nation of having an involvement with invading other countries. Our


presence in our countries is as a result of what was even voiced by


the man who is now standing accused of an awful crime last week. He


said, or is reported to have said, "I want to start a war on London's


streets tonight." We live in a surreal world. We've been at war for


many years, and what we are doing is trying to protect our freedom and


the safety of our nation. So the excuses given by radicals and


terrorists is feeble. That was Michael Kerr who asked the first


question. Julian Fellowes? For me the issue is not really that is


terrorism the result of our intervention? If we were absolutely


sure that our intervention was the correct thing and terrorism was the


by product of doing the right thing it could be a much clearer issue.


Agreed. I'm not sure what we think we are achieving with much of this


invasion and involvement. We read today that Helmand province is as


disturbed and the rest of it as we arrived, that's for every 2,000 for


every man, woman and child in the country. I know it is not the money.


The truth is if we are spending this money, seeing young men and women


give their lives or be maimed or whatever, we've got to be sure we


are achieving something. I think we would do much to go in with aid


after a resolution has been reached rather than this inevitable stoking


up of the whole thing. We are at the moment on the edge of it in Syria


and we were told yesterday by our leaders if we arm the rebels it will


take them towards the peace table. Well huh, the next minute that the


Russian Russians come in with arms for the other side and were


escalating a kind of proxy war. It seems to me we are amateurish in a


way about this. We are dabbling in cultures that we don't understand


and not getting the results we think we ought to achieve. The one thing


all these countries have in common is the outsider who goes in to


meddle is the bad guy. That's true across the board. We seem not to be


able to take that on board. APPLAUSE


The woman in the second row there. have to dis disagree with Mehdi


Hasan actually. He is saying this radicalisation and the thoughts have


existed for decades. However, what sticks out in my mind, and I'm 27,


is 9/11. A lot of the people who are going out and becoming radicalised,


being extremists, look at the gentleman last week. He is of my


generation. This has happened since then. That's what you need to


target. Yes it has been happening for decades but a lot of people have


become aware of it only since 9/11. I agree. I was saying that Alan's


point was that it had come out of the blue. It hasn't. It is not a


controversial point. I think there's a direct correlation. The number of


statements we've heard from young people who've turned to radicalism


and extremism, what they are citing is quite frankly they want revenge


and retaliation. Fundamentally we've made some very bad decisions I


believe over the last few years. We followed the the US. We've been


asked by the US to go into scenarios, war situations around the


world with no good evidence. The weapons of mass destruction was one


of the clearest misleading statements to get introduce that


particular conflict. Syria could be the next one. We've got no


justification, no jurisdiction and no interest. And every single time


we follow what I believe is absolutely misguided policy we are


going to fuel young people who listening to individuals, who should


be deported, it is as simple as that. There should be none of this


allowing them to stay here and still radicalise people on the streets, we


are going to continue with the problem. I can't allow one of Mehdi


Hasan's comments to go unchallenged. He said, I speak as somebody whose


father fought at Monty Cass in inknow -- Monte Cassino in General


Alexander's Army. He said Palestine had been occupied for a long time.


46 years. I'm old enough to remember 1966, 1967, 1973. I don't know who


the aggressors were but that is a totally unjustified comment. The


State of Israel exists through the decision of the United Nations. This


radicalisation by our going into other countries might be a fact, but


we have to do what's right. We got rid of a dictator in Iraq, Saddam


Hussein. The situation there might be wrong now, but we got rid of a


dictator. If we do the same in Syria we risk doing the sill thing. The


opposition there are just as radical as Assad, just as bad. However, we


can't sit back and do nothing. We have to follow our beliefs. Thank


you. I'm going to... I'm going to move on to Syria. We've got a


question on Syria. Before we do, you can of course at home take part in


this debate either by using our # Or Chris lark, please. Is arming the


Syrian rebels in our national interest? We started on this really,


they have lifted the ban and Mr Hague suggests that it will


accelerate them towards the peace table to know this is a possibility.


I personally think Russia's joining in with the offer of other weapons


rather make it clear that the danger is that we will be living this kind


of proxy war. It is a very frightening prospect to me. Of


course I understand that the President Assad is ghastly. I don't


have any problem with that. I hope he falls resoon, but I'm not -- I


hope he falls very soon, but I'm not keen on what the Chinese are doing


in Tibet. Should we get on there? And when we finish invagd let's push


off to Moscow and sort out Putin. Where does it end? One has to


somehow keep a grip on areas where we do have a kind of responsibility.


I suppose I do feel that. Sometimes there is a kind of historic


responsibility to get in, but I think that kind of reckless just


being the kind of policeman of the world, we can't afford it. But


anyway I don't think anyone can, so for me it seems Mr Hague says we


won't have any troops on the ground, but yes we will, because people will


have have to explain how to work the weapons we were sending. He says it


will go to the good rebels as opposed to the bad rebels. Yes,


dear. These things are impossible. APPLAUSE


I have a slight, just a qualifying admiration, I do rather admire Mr


Hague and Mr Cameron for going with something that God knows would not


be popular and certainly wouldn't be a question of governing for votes. I


sort of like that in them but I think in this instance there's


nothing for us there until at the end when we can go in with aid and


help the new post-Assad state get settled and set up. OK. You Sir at


the back. I'm finding the real problem is not so much arming the


rebels, it is what happens very similar to the Americans and the Bay


of Pigs arming the rebels is well and good but when it doesn't work


out, what does the state do? That's the dangerous line that I find. If


it doesn't work out arming the rebels, where does the state come


in? Alan Johnson? The rebels are already armed. Syria is awash with


weapons. The decision made this week wasn't about other countries in


Europe making this decision. It was about Britain making this decision.


It required unaninity to keep the sanction as, because the decision


had run out after two years, the sanctions and the arms embargo were


taken together. France was in an equivocal decision but the rest of


Europe knew if they didn't go along with this they wouldn't keep the


sanction as, because Hague would have vetoed it. The Americans are


supposed to support arming the rebels but there is no chance of


Obama or America doing it themselves. This is purely British.


This is British arms that are going into a country that's awash with


weapons. Julian is right. We don't know whether they are going to get


to the good rebels, if you like. There is plenty of evidence that


Assad does have a large proportion of the population on side. The


Alawites for a start, from his sect. So I can't see how this will help


the Syrian people. Leave aside is it in the best interests of Britain? Is


it in the best interests of Syria, where we want to see a peaceful


solution? There is no options here that are good options. William Hague


is faced with a series of options, none of which is perfect, but this


seems to me to be the wrong thing to do, at exactly the wrong time. It


has led to a production from Russia. Although the idea of peace talks is


tenuous, at least it was there for June and July. This seems to have


scuppered that as well. You think it is something they are seriously


considering, not just a matter of putting pressure by saying they


might. I do not think it will put pressure, not with Russia stepping


in with the most sophisticated air missiles in the world. Has it been a


misjudgement? Not at all. One of the things we have to accept, and Allen


has this wrong, is the fact that it was us and the French that wanted


the embargo lifted, and quite rightly and properly so, because it


gives us the opportunity, should we so choose, to supply weaponry and


armament to those people who are fighting against Assad. We are not


saying we are definitely going to do it, but we are lifting the embargo


so that we have that there are. second point in the question, is


arming the Syrian revels in our national interest? It comes back to


the point the gentleman at the front made, sometimes you have to do what


you believe is the right thing. Allen, in the previous answer,


referred to Kosovo. There are other instances where we should have done


things which we did not and to our great regret. What is your view on


this one? Obviously, we want a proper they go shaded peaceful


settlement. That is the way forward. We are putting in aid because we


know that millions of people are being displaced. Many more tens and


hundreds of thousands of people, innocent women and children inputted


tiller, are being slaughtered. There is good evidence that this man is


using chemical weapons against his own people. Forgive me, but I do not


think we should sit back on that. I think we have a right and a duty to


say this is not acceptable in the modern world. To put the question to


you, I repeat again, is arming the rebels in our national interest? You


have not answered. We have not got to that stage. We have lifted the


embargo so that is an option we have. If we were to do it, as


William Hague has made clear, it would be done in a very cautious and


sensible and responsible way. It is a difficult situation, nobody is


going to pretend it is anything other, and it is hugely complicated


as well. Do you mind if I just make the point that William Hague appears


the only individual in the UK at this point in time who thinks arming


the rebels, whether it is a diplomatic ploy for a month or so,


or whether it does actually deliver weapons, he must be the only


individual who thinks that is going to resolve this, or in any way help.


I can almost imagine somebody saying, how are we going to take the


weapons to make sure they are allocated to the right rebel? Who is


going to be the right rebel, and when is that right rebel going to


start talking to somebody in the UK and leading to Morag, is eight here?


It is just a ridiculous piece of policy. -- more radicalisation here


in the UK. We will go there, we will arm the rebels, they will take over


the government and then in 20 years when we are not happy with them, we


will have to kick them out again. It is absolutely ridiculous. They are


sovereign. There are no good options in Syria, that is true. There is an


old saying that whoever fights monsters should see to it that they


do not become on in the process. Usher shall Assad is a monster who I


load. I loathed him when the US government was rendering terrorists


to Damascus to be tortured by their secret police a few years ago. His


regime is responsible for much of the violence in Syria, but many of


the rebels have come monsters in their own right. The Syrian


revolution began more than two years ago as an Arab spring style protest


against tyranny but it has morphed into something else, hijacked by six


Terry thugs, ex-military, foreign jihadists, gangsters. The UN,


Amnesty International, read the reports about what the rebels have


done, some of them - torture, beheadings, use of child soldiers.


There have been reports they have also used chemical weapons. A few


weeks ago some of us watched a foreign -- a rebel commander cut the


heart out of a dead man and bite into it, and yet a few weeks later


our Foreign Secretary pushes the rest of the EU into lifting an arms


embargo so we can potentially supply arms to his allies. So that we can


supply arms to rebels who include a group that has openly pledged


allegiance to Al-Qaeda. Let me get this straight, at home we are


fighting against extremism and countering radicalisation. Abroad,


we are sending bombs and bullets to radicals and extremists, we are


planning to. That is not just double standards, it is insanity! I would


like to say that I support the arming of the rebels. The reason I


support it is because the reason Assad has been so successful in


killing his own people is because of the support that he has had from


Russia and China, and those are two powers that do not seem to worry how


many people get killed if they are pursuing their own interests. I


think it absolutely right for us to now start to draw a line in the sand


and say that we are not accept ting any more of this support and


killing, that we will stand up and say that what is happening in the


Syria, supported IVs powers, Russia and China, is wrong, and we are


going to start to try and reverse this process. -- supported by these


powers. Surely, arming the rebels is


fuelling the fire. As you mention, we do not know where the materials


will go to. I would also say that previous interventions have failed.


Look at Iraq and Afghanistan. We are leaving them in a bigger mess than


we found them. But mainly, is it any of our business? Is it our business


for the government to say that we have a right to get involved? Your


job is to represent Britain and put our interests first.


Is there a worry that this action may cause a bigger international


war? That is my worry on this matter. Yes, absolutely. They are


talking about this tenuous John Kerry goes over to Russia, they talk


about getting a peace conference, some diplomatic efforts underway. It


is essential that Russia is around that table, and Iran. They are


arming the Assad regime. It is essential to get all of the players


round that table. By the actions that William Hague is taking, he


does run the risk - I would not accuse William of doing this


deliberately - but it does run the risk of escalating the whole arms


race. And that means you are in a worse situation than before. It is


all right saying, put in more arms on the rebel side. There are plenty


of countries arming the rebels, but what is our object if? Our objective


is a peaceful solution. You do not get that by putting more weapons in


and killing more Syrians. It is keeping our options open. Let's


leave that and come back home, clearly domestic issues. Does the


fact that patients are more likely to die at the weekend demonstrate


the NHS's gradual deterioration? This survey showed you had a better


chance of living if you were operated on on a Monday than on a


Friday. Anna Soubry. Statistics show a fact but do not give the


explanation and the understanding behind the facts. The NHS medical


director, who is a heart surgeon by training, explained that when he was


operating as a heart surgeon, he would often have his most


difficult, most risky patients put into his surgery on a Friday, quite


deliberately, because he was not in surgery on a Saturday and Sunday.


The cause of the weekend, people would spend longer in intensive


care, and because he was not in surgery, he was available and able


to give them more attention over the weekend. Why do more people die when


operated on on a Friday? If you put more of your risky patients in on a


Friday, they run the risk, being risky, of unfortunately not


surviving the surgery. It is not as simple as saying, if you go in on a


Friday you run a higher risk because there is some failing in the system,


there is something wrong in the staff. It could be because you are,


in any event, more at risk of not surviving from your operation, that


you have been put there on a Friday specifically so that you can be


given extra care. But there is another story involved in this. It


is something that Sir Bruce Keogh is looking at, and that is making the


best use that we possibly can of our NHS, so that it reflects the real


lives that most of us live. That means looking at whether or not we


could do much better by having more parts of our hospitals open at the


weekend. If you have ever been in the unfortunate situation of going


into accident and emergency on Sunday night - and you may think I


am speaking from experience dash and then you are admitted but you cannot


have a scanner, because that part of the hospital is not open until


Monday, and so you wait in a bed on Sunday night until Monday comes


along. Because there is such a backlog Hamid cannot have the scan


on Monday, so they send you home. -- you cannot have the scan. So we


could have potentially much greater improvement in our NHS. That is what


this is about. Do you agree that gradual deterioration is not the


issue? This was analysis done by Doctor Foster at Saint Mary's


Hospital. They were looking at planned surgery, elective surgery,


not emergency care, but people planning to have a hip replacement,


etc. The mortality rate overall is something like 0.6%. It is tiny.


Over three years, they looked at the people who had died, that tiny


proportion, and equated it with this issue about the weekend. Anna Soubry


is right. I have plenty of political issues with her and her government


about the NHS, but this is not one of them. I goes you will find there


are reasons why the patients who are having a leg of surgery, the ones


least likely to come through our operated on later in the week. --


having elective surgery. This must not be pumped into another attack on


the NHS, as if people are dying on the operating table in huge numbers


at elective surgery. APPLAUSE


It seems that Anna Soubry was valued into a seven-day hospital, with


scanning and having scans available on Saturday and Sunday. One of the


main problems with more scanning facilities is that you need to put


more money in. The current climate, is that possible? Thank you for the


observation you have made. I would like to pick up on his point that he


has plenty of issues with the current coalition government's


policy on the NHS. When this reform was launched, part of it was that


the NHS had to find, before 2015, 20 billion in efficiency savings. I do


not know about you, but efficiency savings to me equals costs. Costs in


the NHS means you start to reduce things. One of the areas identified


very early on, and the audit commission costed this, was that 5


billion would be on staff alone. When you take staff out of the


system, they cannot man the equipment, cannot be on the wards,


cannot be doing surgery. So I go back to the question, which I


welcome, that this is a direct correlation. If you affect the NHS


in that way, and you supposedly ring fence it, when it is not being ring


fenced at all, you start to see problems. The accident and emergency


issue is just one of them. In the last few weeks we have had the


nonemergency number, and others. It just shows that it is seriously


creaking. �20 billion of efficiency savings was introduced under the


last government. This had cross-party agreement, and it is


ways of making sure money in the NHS is better spent. Forgive me, but it


is not about cuts, but about making sure you move money to better areas


and spend it more efficiently. On staff, there are more doctors than


before and the cuts that have been made in staff is to managers and


bureaucrats, which I would have thought you would have approved of.


Clinical Commissioning Group's have led to this. You take out one


element, primary care trusts, and you immediately launch into Clinical


Commissioning Group's, putting doctors into a situation where they


are trying to deal with bureaucracy when, quite frankly, they ought to


be treating patients. They are the people commissioning the services,


which is why we are seeing such an improvement in commissioning,


because we have trusted health professionals to do it. There are


many examples of where it is working exceptionally well. I am more than


happy to share them with you. essential truth of this is whether


or not more people die at the weekend, and I don't know enough


about it. We all have a better chance of surviving our illnesses


before there was an NHS. The fact is that the NHS is a marvellous element


of life in this country. Of course it is going through a crisis, it has


to deal with far more people, the treatments are more expensive and so


on. It is difficult to manage that. But this is a real area, Anna is


asking for a cross-party solution. We all want the same thing - an


efficient NHS that runs well and the rest of it. Surely this is one area


where the political parties could put their differences to one side


and work together as to what the NHS needs and the support it should get.


APPLAUSE I'm not argue arguing against


cross-party agreement. But when even the Royal Colleges don't support the


reforms, when David Cameron had to call a pause in terms of the launch


of the reform bill, haven't you really got a problem? You can have


cross-party support but when you haven't got the mechanics joined up,


I believe you've got a problem. Mehdi? I'm astonished to turn up to


Question Time and finding myself agreeing with UKIP on every issue


tonight. You can't have a cross-party consensus with some of


the things going on in the NHS. I'm with Julian, I'm a great fan of the


health service. But costs. Labour put in a lot of money to the NHS and


did improve quality. No doubt about that. But a lot of that money was


sucked up into salaries, the salaries of doctors, GPs and


consultants. We have some of the highest paid doctors in the world.


You look at any international league table. When it comes back to the


weekend point, and I'm not an expert on the weekend figures, it seems to


be the case that if you have weekend care surely there should be a


consultant covering hospitals at all times given what those consultants


are paid. I don't see why we shouldn't expect consultant-led


treatment at the weekend. The out of film for cuts - efficiency savings.


�20 million and the opposition bring in this unnecessary topdown


reorganisation, which nobody wants, which cost costs three to �4


billion, on a pointless reorganisation. A couple of points


from the audience. One of the issues being debated on the Conservative


policy this forum this week was to try and save money for the NHS by


restricting access to a GP and limiting the amount of times you can


visit your general practitioner. How is that improving the NHS and the


health of the nation It one idea among many and it is not my party's


policy and it will never come to fruition. I was one of the


bureaucrats made redundant from the NHS. I know from a lot of the people


I worked with, a lot of people lost their jobs at the PCTs at massive


public spent, with massive redundancy package as, and they've


been hired back to do the same jobs as they did before. Have you been


hired back? I work you GP's surgery now. Diane's policy is to have


elected county health boards. If there was ever a ridiculous idea,


that was it. You can't have politicians micromanaging the


commissioning of services. The evidence is clearly emerging that


they are proving to be extremely beneficial. We are seeing a


different approach to commissioning and in a way that we haven't seen


before. But public satisfaction in the NHS is falling under your


Government. This is led by the people at the sharp end. Doctors and


nurses and other health professionals are now controlling


those services and having a direct impact. It is for the benefit of


patients. Soubry sushgs you have made your -- Anna Soubry, you have


made your point and we will come back to it in six months no doubt.


Does the position on the UK's benefits policy mean it is finally


time to get out of the EU? This is the report that the EU is


going to take the UK to court on benefits. Cue Diane James. Of course


it is. What better example of the Prime Minister claiming he is going


to go to Brussels and repatriate powers and do this, that and the


other and there it is, it is almost as if he has been whacked around the


cheeks with a wet fish and told to go back and do his homework. It is


not something that he has got a leg to stand on quite frankly.


Employment law, right of access to all EU residents, cross-boundaries,


are it is there enshrined in law. You've got equality. You can't


fiddle with it. You either come out and start again and do your own


thing or stay in the party. I think it was one of the European heads who


said the UK always has this issue, is it goes on to the playing field


and plays wrong sports. You think the British Government will lose


this case? I believe it will.Do you believe that? No, I don't believe


that. It has been tested in the UK courts on several occasions and it


does not breach EU law. Someone in the commission is awe kip member,


because they are trying to help them at the moment. The simple fact is


this. The residents test we give to workers coming here is to ensure


that they have a spend a period of time here before they can claim


benefits like JSA. That's because we have a means-tested system. In other


European Union countries people go there. Don't forget Brits move to


other parts of Europe all the time. After Poland and Italy we are the


third biggest workforce in Europe. When we go to work in their


countries we have a contributory system, so you can't access benefit


until you've contributed so much. It is the same thing but done in a


different way. And that has been the case that the UK courts have upheld


all the time. It is one of the reasons why Europe needs to change.


Leaving Europe, in the economic mess we are in at the moment, with a


world that's increasingly dependent on regions to punch their weight, I


can think of nothing more self-destructive that we could do.


Would you like Labour to call... APPLAUSE


Would you like Labour to call for a referendum before the election so


that the public can have their say? No. Now is not the time to increase


uncertainty in the British economy and for British business. This is...


It might increase certainty nightn't it? You would have to have a debate.


Perish the thought! What I'm saying is we should be concentrating on


growth in our economy, getting young people back to work, recovering from


a terrible economic mess and having an in/out referendum on the European


Union would actually jeopardise that. Julian Fellowes? I don't know


whether we are going to win or lose this. The Alan thinks we might win


it and I hope we do, but I think there is a more central issue. The


whole thrust of European history over the last few centuries has been


driven by the desire for people to chrome the way they are Gordon, and


to have their voice heard by their governors. We have, in the ti we


have got ourselves into a situation where even if 100% of the population


of this country don't want something or do want something, that doesn't


mean it will happen. I don't believe, I agree with Alan, I don't


believe in leaving Europe. It seems the completely wrong time and very


destabilising and the rest of it. But I also believe that David


Cameron's desire to renegotiate is realistic. He sees it as a good


thing but appreciates that the terms we are living under are no longer


acceptable. But his instinct and I think it is a perfectly reasonable


one is first to see if they can be made acceptable, if they can be


renegotiated so we do feel we control our own Government, that we


are a free country. It is only after the failure of that effort that we


should even be having a conversation about whether we should stay in.


That's what I think. A brief point. I think it is quite ghastly what


we've heard today but I do believe that the UK is right on this matter.


The UK is particularly right on this matter and I agree with Alan Johnson


and Anna Soubry that the UK has policies in place that shouldn't be


Tam personed with. To leave the EU at this time would be particularly


destabilising to the markets. It is important that we remain for the


prosperity of our nation. Mehdi Hasan, do you think it is an own


goal for the commission? In terms of emboldening UKIP. In response to the


questioner, no of course we shouldn't pull out of the EU if one


legal decision goes against it. I'm not a lawyer. I want to make two


wider points. One is to echo what Alan said. There are two million


Britons working and studying in the EU, 800,000 in Spain alone, able to


access benefits on contributory principles. It is not just one way


traffic. Don't believe all the hype in your newspapers this morning.


It's a two-way road. And secondly, please, let's not use these


decisions or stories to scaremonger about the role that migrants play in


our society, especially in relation to the benefits system. All of the


studies show that migrants pay in more in tax than they take out in


benefits. They are less likely to be on the benefits system... I have to


stop you there. And less likely to abuse the NHS. So UKIP, please stop


demonise demonising them whether it is Bulgarians... We are into injury


time. Alan is right in his analysis. In the was a rule introduced in the


1990s and tested in the Supreme Court. Other countries support us.


We've supported other countries. The Austrians for example. You are


interrupting me and I didn't interrupt you. He is right in his


analysis. We need to renegotiate. We need to look at the way of doing


things in the European Union better. I think there is a groundswell of


opinion throughout the EU that's in agreement with us. So I look forward


to 2015, the return of a Conservative Government, and we'll


enter into all of that and then have a referendum. I hope we vote to stay


in the European Union but we need to have that referendum so we can lance


this boil once and for all. Time's up. Apologise Apologises to those


who wanted to get in on this. We had, if we had an hour and a half I


would bring you all in. But we can only do an hour. We are going to be


in Blackburn next week. Douglas Alexander will be on the panel for


Labour. And the writer and historian AN Wilson will be there. The week


after that we'll be in Edinburgh. Watch out if you can think of coming


to it. 16 and 17-year-olds only, because the first time in the United


Kingdom they are going to have a vote in the election for the


vote in the election for the referendum on independence. In


Edinburgh two weeks from now. Just 16 and 17-year-olds. And if you are


any age in Blackburn frankly, you are welcome to come. Apply via our


website or call. My thanks to our panel here, to all


On the panel in London are Conservative health minister Anna Soubry MP, Labour's former home secretary Alan Johnson MP, UKIP prospective candidate for European Parliament Diane James, political director of the Huffington Post Mehdi Hasan and Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator of Downton Abbey.

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