20/06/2013 Question Time


20/06/2013

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from London. On the panel are Ed Davey MP, Dame Tessa Jowell MP, Boris Johnson, Russell Brand and Melanie Phillips.


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Transcript


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setting, City Hall on the south bank of the Thames, the home of London's

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government, with the city of London behind us and the tower of London

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over my shoulder, which used to stand as a warning to errant

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citizens. Welcome to Question Time. To our audience at home, the

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audience here, to our panel, we welcome them. The Conservative mayor

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of London, Boris Johnson, the Liberal Democrat energy Secretary,

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Ed Davey, Labour's former Olympic Minister, Tessa Jowell, Daily Mail

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columnist, Melanie Phillips, and question, please. Should we jail

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reckless bankers, and which bankers would the panel wish to be

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prosecuted? Should we jail reckless bankers, a proposal which came up

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this week, and which bankers would the panel wish to see prosecuted?

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think you should certainly jail anybody guilty of criminal

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behaviour. The trouble at the moment, what people find so

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frustrating, is that for all the grievous mistake is, the

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semi-criminal acts that bankers got up to in the period leading up to

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the crash, absolutely nobody has been so far successfully prosecuted,

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nobody has been sent to prison. There is a huge amount of anger

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about that. What could you send about to prison for? At the moment,

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the statute does not cope with the things that they were up to. You

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would need to frame some law that said that if they were going to

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imperil the asset 's, or the savings of their customers, with risky

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behaviour, the addictively risky behaviour they got up to, they

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should face some sort of penalty. You could imagine a criminal

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sanction, a law against such behaviour. How do you distinguish

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bad judgement as a banker from wilful, criminal attempts to take

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people's savings offer them? That would be a matter for the court. I

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do not think it would be very easily done. I think you have to be very

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careful how you draw that up. The general point I would make, four or

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five years after the whole thing exploded, is, yes, by all means

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let's regulate these people and make absolutely clear to them that they

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got it wrong. But I really do not see any long-term advantage to this

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city, or this country, in continuing with an all G of anchor bashing,

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bashing financial services, when, don't forget, there are hundreds of

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thousands of people in this city who are not on big incomes, who do not

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take huge bonuses, who are earning very modest salaries, but whose

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livelihoods and the livelihoods of their families depend entirely on

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the success of financial services in London. Don't forget that fact.

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Don't imperil London's position as the greatest financial capital on

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earth. Maybe we have bankers and financiers here. If anyone has read

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the Stanford prison experiment, it shows that good people do bad things

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if the system let them do it. I wonder how much the system is to

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blame, rather than individuals. feel the gentleman has a point. The

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interesting thing about this commission's report is that it does

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not just say, jail the bankers. If there is a criminal offence, it will

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be a high test and that will be the ultimate sanction. Commission also

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talks about ensuring there is individual responsibility, that

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systems are changed. What I found astonishing during the banking

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crisis is some of the people at the top of the banks were able to say,

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we did not know what was going on, we did not understand the risks that

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our banks were taking. That is just not acceptable. Look at the mess it

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has got our banking system and economy into. We are right to take

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these measures. The government has been acting. We have the biggest set

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of reforms to the British banking system ever. We have a new

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regulatory system with the Bank of England in charge. We have ring

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fenced the casino banks from the banks that you and I invest in. We

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have the toughest regime on bonuses in the world. We have done a whole

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range of things. The good thing about this banking commission is it

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gives another set of ideas to make sure we reform our banks. Boris is

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right, banks play a critical role in our economy. But I do not think

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there is enough competition in the sector, so I would like to see these

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reforms and take them further. would you like to see prosecuted?

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Anybody? Before the offence has even been brought in, we should not start

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retrospectively applying it. And all G of anchor bashing, Russell Brand,

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do you think that is happening? -- banker bashing. That would be the

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best kind of or GI can imagine. What you said was wicked, I thought. The

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system encourages that behaviour. When looking for the culprits after

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these transgressions, look for the people that after the crash where

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people lost loads of money, look for people who got loads of bonuses and

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loads of money. They are the people that are criminal. Those are the

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people that need to be prosecuted. Whilst to a degree we have to

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placate the city, don't you think it has happened too much, that they can

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behave in this manner while ordinary people suffer? I think we need

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punitive measures immediately employed so it does not continue to

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occur. Not because of some weird, lefty agenda, but because if there

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are not penalties, the behaviour will happen in cycles. People need

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to go down, and it is the people that have got the money that need to

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go down. If we are going to prosecute tankers for making

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mistakes, surely we should also prosecute politicians? I have

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sympathy with that point of view and I think that is what the previous

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gentleman was getting at with reference to the system. There may

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be good reason for bringing in a new criminal offence and there may be

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individual bankers who should be deemed to be guilty and should be

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prosecuted and found guilty of that or other offences. But I think it is

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very easy to whip up a witchhunt atmosphere against bankers. One of

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the reasons why the banking crisis happened, it was not simply the

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greed of individual bankers, be that as it made. It was the fact that the

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Bank of England took its eye off the ball. The Treasury basically said,

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let rip. We are going to lift up the regulatory system in order to let

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rip, because we want to get the money coming in. There is a

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responsibility for politicians to bear in all of this. I am not saying

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they should be prosecuted, but it is very easy to single out bankers.

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Everyone hates bankers, don't they, because they are rich? It is so easy

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to raise a cheer against bankers, isn't it? But it may be that other

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people are responsible, and it may be that when you look at what they

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actually did, is it always going to be so easy to decide when it was a

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bad judgement, which is culpable, negligent, incompetent, and where

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that shades into kind of deliberate and even malicious recklessness. I

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think we all feel recklessness should be punished, but I think we

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have to be very careful not to just dam everybody. Melanie, what I am

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thinking is that incompetence of that degree, that has those

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consequences, is indistinguishable from malice, in my opinion. Do you

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think it might be likely that if 50% of Tory party funding comes from

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bankers, it might be hard for them to think up ways of penalising their

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mates? That is where they get their funding. If I was 50% funded by

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people, I would be reluctant to Pina lies them. When you say politicians

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and bankers, there is not much of a distinction, as far as I can work

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out. I am with you, Russell, on that last point. The chap in spectacles,

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who asked how you target the right culprits, that seems to be the key

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problem. You probably could frame a law that would stop bankers who took

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extreme risks with other people's money, but what about the Labour

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government, who were in power in the period, as Melanie indicates,

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leading up to the crisis? They were sitting there, deregulating. Gordon

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Brown went to the city of London in June 2007 and said, we are entering

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a golden age of banking in the city of London. What kind of signal did

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that send to those people? Now, should Gordon Brown be sent to

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prison? Yes.Tessa Jowell, she was part of that government. Should she

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be sent to prison? I would go and visit a in prison. She might not

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welcome that. First of all, to answer the question, yes, it is

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right that criminal sanctions are introduced. Why? Because of the

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scale of damage that the malpractice, the incompetence, the

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malevolent practice by some bankers, completely unaccountable,

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because of the scale of damage that it did to the economy. And yes, it

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is right that our economy is heavily dependent, has been very heavily

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dependent on the tax receipts from the financial services and from the

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banks. And yes, it is right that financial services and the banks

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were under regulated, and were under regulated while we were in

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government. And we have recognised that. But what is also important to

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recognise is that the Tories, and I think even you, Boris, were saying,

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even in that under regulated time, the banks were to regulated. So

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there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this. And the fact is

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that criminal sanctions will be one thing, but also, let's hear it for

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women on the trading floor, women in the boardrooms, changing the culture

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of banking. Because it is the culture that was as much to blame as

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the behaviour of irresponsible and reprehensible individuals.

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women? Do they behave differently on the floor of banks? Are they less

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competitive? There is plenty of evidence to show all that. You have

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answered your own question. female Prime Minister would have

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recklessly racked up the deficit in the way that Gordon Brown did.

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Margaret Thatcher, for instance. know that we well that the deficit

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was considered a cause, the global collapse of the financial sector.

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am concerned about our expectation of bankers to be the moral barometer

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of what is acceptable in that environment. There were no rules.

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They were able to push the boundaries to the apex of what was

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acceptable. So I think we do not need to look back on what we should

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be doing, but we need to look forward about what we need to do to

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make sure. Because they do, at the end of the day, it is a very

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aggressive job and they do make money for our pensions. So we need

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them, but we need them to be more responsible.

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I agree that the Conservative party supported deregulation of the banks

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and should not forget that. But I am one of the people that Boris

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mentioned who works in one of these banks, one of these moderately paid

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people who works in these banks. What I think is important is that

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there are plenty of people there who do work hard and honestly. But there

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are not enough of us. Something needs to be done to support people

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who want to work honestly within these organisations to make them

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better. I do not want to intrude on your professional life, but are you

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in a position where you have people above you whose behaviour you are

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critical of, or despise? Are you forced to do things you do not want

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to do? Don't lose your job on hair! I have absolutely resigned my

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position. You can answer them.I would never say I have been forced

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to do anything wrong. But there are behaviours I have witnessed, almost

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on a daily basis, that I am critical of all stop compliance issues that

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people laugh off. That should not be allowed to happen. Perhaps there

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needs to be some external, in-house regulation. Is this in a big trading

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bank? An investment bank. The woman in the fourth row. I would like to

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hear what Tessa thought of women in banks and boardrooms before she was

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rudely interrupted. Probably by me. That's alright. That's part of the

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game. Christine lag Aircast head of the IMF -- Christine Lagarde head of

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the IMF said if it had been the Lehman Sisters it wouldn't have

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started. You know if women are present, women act differently. More

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consensually, more risk averse, more... Sexy.

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LAUGHTER Maybe that too, Russell. Part of the problem has been the

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macho male go for it, very gross, "I'm in it for my bonus at the end

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of the year." That's the culture that's got to change. You were

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absolutely right. There are thousand thousands of people, decent people,

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working hard in banking in this City. It is important we remain the

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banking capital, the financial capital of the world, with a decent

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banking system. APPLAUSE

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I can't say I entirely share Tessa's optimism about women being the

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paragons of integrity and competence. We may come later to the

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Care Quality Commission, headed by women. It is not exactly a great

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advertisement. I don't think it is the case that men or women are more

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susceptible to corruption or fraud or incompetence or malice or

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reckless. I think we are all frail. We all need to have systems of

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regulation put in place and we need to be in a society with a shared

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culture of integrity and trust and honesty. That's what we have all

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lost. APPLAUSE

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We'll go on to another question. A lot of questions, including possibly

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one on the NHS. You can of course join in tonight's

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debate by text or on Twitter. Russell Brand, you have 6. 5 million

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followers, I don't think Question Time has quite that, but it is

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building up. We can unify our followers if we are allowed to

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establish a single agenda. Particularly ton banking issue. Say

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the banks - I heard this, nationalise them banks, because you

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know how we have to bail them out when they lose our money. Don't flog

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Lloyds Banking Group, as George Osborne said, to his mates, keep

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them banks to us the so we'll reap the benefits as well as the

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deficits. Peter less than even, please. Are UK drugs laws working?

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Melanie Phillips, do you think the drug laws are working in this

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country? According to the statistics that I read, fewer people now are

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taking drugs. Drug use is going down, so from that point of view

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drug laws are working. I think that they are working in so far as they

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are working with it is against a background of a movement to stop

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them working at all. This idea that it is not the drugs that are the

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problem, it is the laws that are the problem, that we've had a failed war

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on drugs. I don't see it that way myself. I see in the last few years,

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or several years in fact, a policy which has been to have a move away

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from law enforcement into what's called harm-reduction. What that

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means that you don't try as a society to stop people using drugs,

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on the basis that all illegal drug use is harmful to the person and a

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sociality don't try and stop that. Harm reduction means that you accept

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that it is going to happen and mitigate the harm. In my view that

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gives a green light for people to take drugs and more people get

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hooked on taking trust. On -- on taking drugs. In Sweden, they have a

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kind of "zero tolerance" of drugs, which means not that every drug user

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gets locked up but every drug user is regarded as a problem, not a

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victim, who needs some kind of attention. He may, he or she may be

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sent to prison, but not that often, especially if they are not dealing.

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What they are made to do is have some sort of attention, which helps

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them kick the habit, which helps them into treatment. It makes them

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have whatever is considered appropriate. So you are not in

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favour of criminalising in the sense that anyone found with drugs should

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be sent to jail or banged up, you think there are other ways of

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dealing with it? Is those are two different questions. You can

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criminalise something by making the possession or use of something

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illegal, but it doesn't mean you have to lock them up. That in my

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view may be appropriate in some circumstances but not in others.

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Russell Brand? Well, mate, I don't think drug laws are working, because

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people taking drugs all the time. People take drugs because of social,

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psychological and emotional reasons. Are Yous section lot are in the

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young pad on-line you might not be the most vulnerable to addiction.

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For me it is about treating people with addiction issues in a

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compassionate and empathetic way, the opposite of what Melanie is

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saying, who on a personal level is really lovely, I was chatting to

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her. But on that issue I disagree with her wholeheartedly. When I was

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using drugs, I don't care if they are illegal. If I'm in pain inside,

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I'm taking drugs. If you criminalise them and marginalise them you place

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an industry in the hands of criminals and you make it difficult

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and shaming for them to get treatment. That's the wrong way to

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handle the situation. We have to reach out to people compassionately

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and then we have a chance of a solution. Would you like

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decriminalisation of all drugs? Mate... Sir David. Just David will

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do. I don't like to be drawn on that. People that are suffering from

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drug problems don't care about the law. They care about getting the

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right treatment, which I believe is abstinence-based treatment.

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APPLAUSE Is it not sometimes necessary to

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criminalise these people to show other people, such as young people

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at college that I'm with at the moment, that that isn't the road to

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go, and that in fact there is another path of education and

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working towards a better future? Boris Johnson, due agree with that?

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I think your drugs policies should be dictated by what you are trying

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to achieve. We are trying to reduce drug use overall. And we are trying

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to fight crime. The two most important things. Listening to what

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Melanie had to say, I'm a huge admirer of Melanie generally, but

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there was a contradiction. I began by saying rightly that drug use in

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this country is at an all-time low. That is partly because we are

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pursuing sensible rehabilitation policies, looking at the problems of

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the users, trying to deal with their struggle with addiction, and so on

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and so forth. That's right way to do it. You simultaneously have to have

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a tough law and order response. That is working too. Crime is well down

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in London over the last few years. By 6% in the last year alone.

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Drugs-related crime is down. So in that context, I would myself be

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pretty reluctant to change the law in order to make drugs more readily

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available. I think I would, I think we've got the balance about right,

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and when I look at other cities, which I don't need to name to you,

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where they do... You had better not, you've got bad previous on that,

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man! I don't mind being sent to apologise to the people of Amsterdam

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or wherever it is. When I do look at areas where they have had an

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experiment, I'm not convinced that the quality of life, the kind of

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stuff that's associated with that area is the kind of thing we want to

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see in London, so I'm pretty fixed on the way things are. OK. Aren't we

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sending a conflicting message to people by having some drugs as

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illegal and others such as alcohol and nicotine as being legal?

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APPLAUSE Ed Davey? I think that question

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shows we need to be evidence-led. We need to look at the evidence. I

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think there is some evidence that drug policy is working on the

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rehabilitation side, as Russell said. If we can treat people with

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humanity when never got on addiction and try to help them get off this di

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diction, that can make a difference to that person's life and to wider

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society. But I'm not convinced yet we've won the war on drugs. There

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are still thousands of people dying from drugs. They scar communities.

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There are drug barons making billions from this. I think we do

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need to review the drug laws. I think we need to look at the

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evidence. Nick Clegg's asked our ministerial colleague Germany Brown

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to look at the experience in Portugal, in Amsterdam, in the

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United States, in the Czech Republic and other places, where they've

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changed some of the laws. Let's look at the evidence. If changing the law

:24:40.:24:44.

leads the a positive effect for society, we should consider that.

:24:44.:24:50.

Can you clarify what changing the law means, in your mind? Abandoning

:24:50.:24:58.

the legality of certain drugs -- illegality. There is a debate

:24:58.:25:03.

whether we should decriminalise the use of cannabis. I've never been

:25:03.:25:06.

convinced of that, but I'm determined we should review the laws

:25:06.:25:10.

from the evidence. There's been a lack of policy based on evidence in

:25:11.:25:15.

this area. That's what we should do. You've had evidence in Holland

:25:15.:25:23.

haven't you? There's been some quite new changes. It is rather more

:25:23.:25:26.

complicated than just following one particular country. There are a

:25:26.:25:30.

number of places around the world in certain states in the US, in

:25:30.:25:36.

Portugal and the Czech Republic, and in Amsterdam where they've made

:25:36.:25:41.

changes. It may mean as a result we don't make any changes but we should

:25:41.:25:46.

be based on evidence. But you are encouraging people to think that you

:25:46.:25:49.

would. Boris is against change. Melanie is against change and you

:25:49.:25:56.

are saying let's look at how it works and maybe we'll change.

:25:56.:25:59.

already spending �500 million a year, rightly in my view, on

:25:59.:26:04.

rehabilitation. We are spending lots more, billions more, on dealing with

:26:04.:26:09.

the crimes. And a lot of money is going to these wicked organised

:26:09.:26:13.

criminals. I'm wanting to make sure we are more effective. And if as a

:26:13.:26:17.

result of the review of the laws we got a better policy, surely that's

:26:17.:26:27.
:26:27.:26:29.

From what I understand, the budgets for the treatment centres have gone

:26:29.:26:34.

down in the last few years, so I don't think it is much of a sign of

:26:34.:26:38.

commitment to the treatments that people have been referring to.

:26:38.:26:45.

are seeing more people under rehabilitation. Downlike?I was

:26:45.:26:52.

taken by -- Tessa Jowell? L?? I remember when I was Public Health

:26:52.:26:55.

Minister many years ago now and we were very concerned to reduce

:26:55.:27:00.

smoking and the harm caused by smoking, and if you are poor you are

:27:00.:27:05.

more likely to die from smoking-related diseases. The Chief

:27:05.:27:09.

Medical Officer at the time observed that if tobacco was being introduced

:27:09.:27:13.

today it would be classed as an illegal drug, as there is no safe

:27:13.:27:20.

level at which you can smoke. I agree with the balance in Boris's

:27:20.:27:25.

answer - a combination of legislation, which is properly

:27:25.:27:30.

enforced, but the point about treatment and help for people who

:27:30.:27:37.

either don't want to form a habit, who want to kick the habit, is

:27:37.:27:44.

absolutely vital. I think that, for me, what effects mean most about

:27:44.:27:50.

this is the fact my constituents of Dulwich and West Norwood is about

:27:50.:27:54.

three miles down the road. I see week in, week out, the effect on

:27:55.:28:00.

young people of gang violence, gang intimidation, by people who've made

:28:00.:28:05.

enormous amounts of money and destroyed the lives of young people,

:28:05.:28:11.

and they were the drug barons. I would be absolutely horrified if we

:28:11.:28:17.

did anything at all that made life easier or more profitable for them.

:28:17.:28:22.

You say it is not working? I agree with you. We've got to make sure

:28:22.:28:25.

these criminals are brought to book and aren't making billions of pounds

:28:25.:28:29.

out of vulnerable people. The question is, what is the best drugs

:28:29.:28:32.

policy? I think we've made some improvements over the years,

:28:32.:28:36.

particularly on rehab, as I've said, but if there is evidence from abroad

:28:36.:28:40.

that we can learn from to test whether we make the changes, surely

:28:40.:28:44.

you would want to do that. I'm open minded about that. And prepared to

:28:44.:28:50.

go a with the evidence. My question to others why not go with the

:28:50.:28:56.

evidence? As a person who knows about addiction, the it is from the

:28:56.:29:01.

Dark Ages, the way we are people with addiction we are a couple of

:29:01.:29:04.

miles from Shoreditch where the streets are alive with people

:29:04.:29:07.

affected by this disease. The treatment has to be available to

:29:07.:29:12.

them. People do want to get clean and the more we stigmatise and

:29:12.:29:19.

alienate them, the less likely it is that they are going to get help.

:29:19.:29:29.
:29:29.:29:30.

William Simmons. With MPs set to vote on arming rebels, will such an

:29:30.:29:38.

action only lead to bloodshed? think that I would vote against

:29:38.:29:47.

arming Syrian rebels, putting more arms into Syria. I think the

:29:47.:29:51.

situation has changed over the last year. Those who are allied with the

:29:51.:29:57.

rebels are not just Syrian national insurgents, but Al-Qaeda, other

:29:57.:30:07.
:30:07.:30:07.

jihadists groups. I think it defies belief that you can provide weapons

:30:07.:30:11.

only to the people that you want to receive those weapons. I think what

:30:12.:30:17.

we should be doing is twofold. First of all, taking a lead on the rather

:30:17.:30:27.

paltry start that was made at the G8 earlier this week, to reach a

:30:27.:30:32.

negotiated solution, which has got to include the Russians. And I think

:30:32.:30:38.

with new leadership in Iran, it may also be the time to bring in Iran

:30:38.:30:42.

into and around the negotiating table. And also, to redouble our

:30:42.:30:47.

efforts to deal with the appalling humanitarian suffering of civilians

:30:47.:30:53.

in Syria itself, but then also the displaced people in refugee camps on

:30:53.:30:57.

the borders of Syria. That is where our effort ought to be going, not on

:30:57.:31:07.
:31:07.:31:09.

harming the rebels. -- arming. Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary

:31:09.:31:18.

are at least considering arming the rebels. What is your view? The Prime

:31:18.:31:20.

Minister and William Hague are doing the honourable thing in trying to

:31:20.:31:26.

put pressure on Assad of Syria, who is running a nightmarish regime that

:31:26.:31:34.

is killing hundreds, tens of thousands of its own citizens.

:31:35.:31:37.

83,000-90,000 people have died. That is the diplomatic little objective

:31:37.:31:45.

in talking about arming the rebels. -- political objective. It is trying

:31:45.:31:49.

to get Vladimir Putin to focus on what is happening, to put pressure

:31:49.:31:56.

on him, and trying to get Assad to draw back from carnage. I have to

:31:56.:32:02.

tell you, and you agreed with me just now, that I do not share

:32:02.:32:06.

anybody's optimism that you can get those arms to the right people. I

:32:06.:32:11.

think you are right in what you say, Tessa, some of the people who are

:32:11.:32:17.

fighting on behalf of the rebel army are some of the most unpleasant

:32:17.:32:21.

jihadists that you can think of. You will have seen some of the stories

:32:21.:32:25.

about atrocities they have been committing. As far as I can make

:32:25.:32:29.

out, those are not false stories. There are some terrible things being

:32:29.:32:34.

done in the name of the rebellion in Syria, and I do worry that any

:32:34.:32:38.

engagement by us in trying to harm them will simply intensify that

:32:38.:32:43.

conflict. Then we would be in the terrible position of trying to make

:32:43.:32:46.

sure ourselves, physically, that we were getting arms to the right

:32:46.:32:51.

people, to the so-called Democrats. I am not sure that we could ensure

:32:51.:32:55.

that. Even if we could arm the rebels to the point where they

:32:55.:33:01.

defeat Assad and install a new regime in Syria, it is far from

:33:01.:33:07.

clear to me what kind of regime that would be. I am afraid this is one of

:33:07.:33:12.

those appallingly difficult choices. I understand totally what David

:33:12.:33:16.

Cameron is trying to do. I think he handled it very, very well at the G8

:33:16.:33:21.

the other day. He is trying to put maximum pressure on the Russians.

:33:21.:33:29.

But I would not vote for arming those rebels. You say you would not

:33:29.:33:32.

vote for it, not that you have a vote in the House of Commons, but

:33:32.:33:41.

isn't it dangerous to talk up the possibility of giving alms? You say

:33:41.:33:46.

it is a way of getting Assad to the table, but if you do not intend to

:33:46.:33:54.

use arms, is it right to say that you might? Of course, the UK

:33:54.:33:58.

government is not alone in this and this is something that is an option

:33:58.:34:01.

being canvassed by other EU countries and indeed the United

:34:01.:34:06.

States. When the United States speaks, people around the world, in

:34:06.:34:09.

the Middle East, know that they carry a big stick. People will be

:34:09.:34:14.

aware of what has happened to regimes in the United States has

:34:14.:34:21.

threatened in the past. It is not a wholly meaningless threat. But in my

:34:21.:34:23.

own judgement, it would be absolutely impossible to carry it

:34:23.:34:33.
:34:33.:34:34.

out. Why are we even considering arming external forces when we are

:34:34.:34:38.

sacking 5000 of our top troops with 15 years experience, recruiting new

:34:38.:34:41.

recruits for our army at minimum salaries and sending them

:34:41.:34:46.

ill-equipped into these war zones? Why are we sending millions

:34:46.:34:53.

elsewhere? I am a former Army officer myself,

:34:53.:34:57.

and that is complete rubbish. Our troops go into battle fully equipped

:34:57.:35:04.

nowadays. It is rubbish that we are minus body armour, etc. I fully

:35:04.:35:09.

disagree with arming the rebels. I know that arms change hands in the

:35:09.:35:12.

blink of an eye in the Middle East. They would be used against us in a

:35:12.:35:17.

matter of months. Leave the weapons out of it and look at humanitarian

:35:17.:35:27.
:35:27.:35:33.

I definitely agree that arming the Syrian rebels is wrong. I think it

:35:33.:35:37.

is against UN policy, if I am not wrong. It is also the question of

:35:37.:35:42.

the Syrian government's sovereignty. More should be done to work with

:35:42.:35:47.

China and Russia to broker a peace deal. Sovereignty, meaning Assad

:35:47.:35:50.

should be allowed to sort out his own country. Melanie Phillips, do

:35:50.:35:57.

you agree? I agree with what has been said, that arming the Syrian

:35:57.:36:02.

rebels would be a bad move. But this is a hideous situation. There are no

:36:02.:36:07.

good outcomes for us, or for anyone, from this. What you have is a war

:36:07.:36:14.

between on the one hand Assad, Iran and the soviet union, versus rebels,

:36:14.:36:18.

Al-Qaeda, Islamist, and possibly America. I do not think the Prime

:36:18.:36:22.

Minister had a good G8 at all. I think what he did was foolish in the

:36:22.:36:28.

extreme, extremely stupid, anti diplomats see, made the British look

:36:28.:36:33.

ridiculous and allowed President Putin, who does not seem to me to be

:36:33.:36:36.

someone I would want to have acted tea with my grandma, look as if he

:36:36.:36:43.

was running the show. -- back to tea with my grandma. And I read in the

:36:43.:36:48.

press that it was Mr Cameron who tried to gee up a very reluctant

:36:48.:36:54.

President Obama to think about arming the Syrian rebels, and thus

:36:54.:36:59.

led him to the brink of doing that. And then he said, my goodness, I

:36:59.:37:04.

cannot get it through my own parliament. What a mess! The fact is

:37:04.:37:09.

that if the rebels, Al-Qaeda, win in Syria, nobody should be under any

:37:09.:37:13.

illusion that there will be human rights and democracy. It will be

:37:13.:37:18.

awful for the Syrians and awful for us. But no one should be under any

:37:18.:37:22.

illusion that if Assad remains, it will be terrible for his people, who

:37:22.:37:26.

he has butchered in such large number, but also terrible for us,

:37:26.:37:32.

because Syria is a rogue state which has been funding, arming, organising

:37:32.:37:38.

terror against Western interests for many years, and it is the porn of

:37:38.:37:48.
:37:48.:37:58.

Iran. And this is the bigger game going to do anything, we should have

:37:58.:38:04.

our eye fixed on where our interests live. And where our interests lie,

:38:04.:38:11.

as the West, is in neutralising Iran. We have allowed Iran the time,

:38:11.:38:15.

over many years, through this farce of talking to people who cannot be

:38:15.:38:23.

talked to, to pursue its pursuit of a nuclear bomb with which it

:38:23.:38:29.

intends, it says, to commit genocide against Israel, a state which has

:38:29.:38:35.

declared for the last 25 years war against us. That is the problem.

:38:35.:38:40.

That is the problem, the defeatism of the British people against a

:38:40.:38:48.

clear threat to this country's interest is. You are the problem.

:38:48.:38:58.

was with you all the way until you said we have to neutralise Iran.

:38:58.:39:03.

laugh. Neutralise Iran. The British audience laughs. How trivial of

:39:03.:39:07.

you. How incredibly ignorant of you. Do you not understand what the

:39:07.:39:17.
:39:17.:39:22.

threat this country is to us? No, you do not. Paranoia? All right. Who

:39:22.:39:26.

said paranoia? Maybe you want to comment, in large on what you said.

:39:26.:39:36.

You do not want to speak. You do. This would turn into a proxy war

:39:36.:39:39.

between America on one hand and Iran on the other. Wider she always had

:39:39.:39:44.

to bring it back to Iran, and we cannot negotiate with Iran and

:39:44.:39:49.

Israel. It is very irrational. Why can we not deal with Iran? Where is

:39:49.:39:53.

your evidence that we cannot deal with Iran? And where is your

:39:53.:40:01.

evidence that Syria... It is not rational to think you can negotiate

:40:01.:40:05.

with Iran because it is currently run by people who believe, as a

:40:05.:40:08.

matter of religious belief, that if they bring about the apocalypse,

:40:08.:40:15.

literally the end of the world... Who said that? That is false.

:40:15.:40:21.

you let me speak? Is it rational to stop somebody speaking? They believe

:40:21.:40:23.

if they bring about the apocalypse they will bring to earth the

:40:23.:40:33.

Messiah. That is the people you are dealing with. They do not believe

:40:33.:40:38.

that. You are simply ignorant. Melanie Phillips said the Prime

:40:38.:40:43.

Minister made a mess of the G8, in effect, by encouraging Obama to send

:40:43.:40:51.

forces into Syria. Your comments, Melanie, on Iran, could not be more

:40:51.:40:58.

poorly timed. There has just been an election in Iran. Oh, please!We

:40:58.:41:03.

have a new president in Iran. In the Financial Times today, one of his

:41:03.:41:06.

advisers has written about wanting to make sure that we can reach out,

:41:06.:41:10.

and is telling the West that if we can reach out there are ways to deal

:41:10.:41:14.

with the nuclear problem and the other tensions. Surely we should be

:41:14.:41:17.

doing that, rather than some of the words we have just heard from

:41:17.:41:24.

Melanie. Let him finish his point. Coming back to the question, which

:41:24.:41:30.

was on Syria, there are a few things... This current government

:41:30.:41:33.

broke promises to us. Who is to say the Iranians government will not

:41:33.:41:39.

break promises? Do not put the microphone to people unless I call

:41:39.:41:47.

them, if you don't mind. We are not arming the Syrian rebels. We are

:41:47.:41:51.

giving huge amounts of human Terry and assistance. We are providing

:41:51.:41:56.

non-lethal assistance to the rebels. -- humanitarian assistance. Far from

:41:56.:42:00.

the prime and is the failing at the G8, quite the contrary. He managed

:42:00.:42:03.

to get an agreement with seven actions, with all the members of the

:42:03.:42:09.

G8 signing up to it. That was a real achievement and I think the

:42:09.:42:16.

relationship between Balmer and Putin, between Kerry and Hague, has

:42:16.:42:20.

been improving. -- between President Obama and Putin. We are going to

:42:20.:42:23.

have to try to work with the Russians to turn this round, because

:42:23.:42:29.

they are the biggest sponsor of the Assad regime. Unless we get the

:42:29.:42:33.

diplomacy with the Russians right, nothing will happen. So diplomacy is

:42:33.:42:37.

the main thing, and working with the Russians is right, and you could not

:42:37.:42:42.

be more wrong. Just before we leave that, I will come to you rustle in a

:42:42.:42:46.

moment, if you are not going to use weapons, why go to the trouble of

:42:46.:42:51.

getting the EU to lift the ban on providing weapons? Boris was right,

:42:51.:42:56.

it is about raising the pressure. it not dangerous, if you do not

:42:56.:43:00.

intend to do it. He does not think the government is going to do it,

:43:00.:43:05.

and Tessa Jowell says nobody will do it. It is a bluff. We have to raise

:43:06.:43:09.

the pressure on the Assad regime, just like the Prime Minister was

:43:09.:43:13.

talking about at the G8, that Assad had to go. The military regime under

:43:13.:43:18.

Assad, we will work with them for a transitional government if they get

:43:18.:43:22.

rid of Assad. All of this is about putting pressure on the Syrian

:43:22.:43:26.

regime so we can get a peaceful solution, without resorting to

:43:26.:43:29.

violence. I think that is a very constructive approach by the Prime

:43:29.:43:38.

Minister. I lost my faith in what the Government thinks after the Iraq

:43:38.:43:43.

works when they voted for that. APPLAUSE

:43:43.:43:46.

I know you never voted for it but some of the other people here voted

:43:46.:43:52.

for it. For me, my trust has been diminished. You are an Army officer

:43:52.:43:57.

aren't you mate, so you know the score. We need to focus on the

:43:57.:44:04.

humanitarian component. There's 4 million refugees inside the borders,

:44:04.:44:09.

1 million outside the border. This is world refugee day, which no-one

:44:09.:44:16.

seems to care about. Our leaders like to be heard being militant and

:44:16.:44:21.

bellicose, but that's not helpful for us to exacerbate conflict in

:44:21.:44:26.

Syria because there may be chemical weapons. I don't totally know the

:44:26.:44:34.

deal on that, but Patrick Coburn says it is highly dubious that the

:44:34.:44:36.

weapons are, there the same with weapons of mass destruction. And we

:44:36.:44:41.

mead to be cautious, like our man said there.

:44:41.:44:47.

APPLAUSE A couple of points and we'll go on.

:44:47.:44:53.

We thought the same about Iraq when we decided that yes they have

:44:53.:44:57.

weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons and now we seem to

:44:57.:45:02.

be pointing the finger at Iran. They've just had a new President, so

:45:02.:45:06.

they should be give an chance. at the back on the left. I have two

:45:06.:45:14.

points. One point if you would.I'm from a Shia Muslim background and I

:45:14.:45:24.
:45:24.:45:27.

find that statement extremely offensive. You at the back there and

:45:27.:45:31.

then the woman. I find it really concerning that this week the Prime

:45:31.:45:35.

Minister said if conditions were right, he could arm the rebels as a

:45:35.:45:42.

country without a vote. I would like Ed Davey's assurance as a Cabinet

:45:43.:45:46.

Minister, as a coalition Government the Liberal Democrats won't let this

:45:46.:45:51.

happen? There is no proposal to arm the rebels at the moment. We've

:45:51.:45:56.

debated it at the Security Council... I'm a Liberal Democrat

:45:56.:46:01.

myself. I'm pleading with you that, as a party, we won't let this

:46:01.:46:06.

happen. We know there are lots of arguments against arming the rebels.

:46:07.:46:11.

Just as Boris said, I've heard those concerns and we are debating those

:46:11.:46:16.

concerns. The reason why we are not taking it off the table is we want

:46:16.:46:19.

to ratchet up the pressure. What about the question, if there is a

:46:19.:46:24.

vote in the House of Commons, the vote is no? If I answered that

:46:24.:46:30.

question, I would undermine the ability to ratchet up the pressure.

:46:30.:46:34.

There's got to be a vote, absolutely, there's got to be a

:46:34.:46:38.

vote. The Prime Minister has said, if there was military action, there

:46:38.:46:46.

would be a vote. And want would the vote be, advisory, or a vote which

:46:46.:46:51.

the Speaker says it ought to be, decisive? If there is a vote against

:46:51.:46:56.

the Government policy, the Government could would have to take

:46:56.:47:01.

it as binding. So is that a vote at least? I think that's what you've

:47:01.:47:06.

got. As I understand it, the Prime Minister said if there is military

:47:06.:47:12.

action, we would have to... You sit in the Cabinet, so you should know

:47:12.:47:17.

what is going on. And I sit in the Security Council, where we've

:47:17.:47:22.

debated this on a number of occasions. We've debated is the

:47:22.:47:26.

issue of Syria at length. We haven't debated the question that my

:47:26.:47:31.

colleague has raised, but the Prime Minister has said, as I understand

:47:31.:47:40.

it, if there was military action there would be a vote. OK. With the

:47:40.:47:46.

new Iranian President Mr Rouhani, who has promised more nuclear

:47:46.:47:49.

transparency, don't you think the international community should

:47:49.:47:58.

demand the same thing from Israel? APPLAUSE

:47:58.:48:03.

Boris Johnson? It is a curious fact that as far as I can make out Iran

:48:03.:48:08.

is is not in breach of the non-proliferation treaty. I don't

:48:09.:48:14.

think a lot of people realise this. Nor is there yet any convincing

:48:14.:48:19.

evidence that I'm aware of that Iran is actually in the process of

:48:19.:48:24.

developing a nuclear weapon. I don't mean to say that they don't intend

:48:24.:48:29.

to or they don't want to, but studying the evidence that we've got

:48:29.:48:34.

that is publicly available, I'm not aware of it. I think what is going

:48:34.:48:41.

on at the moment is unquestionably to do with a desire to use the

:48:41.:48:45.

nuclear issue, the ugly reprehensible things that the

:48:45.:48:50.

Iranian regime has said as a means of driving regime change in Tehran.

:48:50.:48:55.

I think that's basically what the United States wants. I'm not

:48:55.:48:58.

convinced they are going to achieve it. The risk is on the contrary they

:48:58.:49:03.

will just entrench that regime in power. I must go on, because we only

:49:03.:49:12.

have ten minutes left. German Munoz, please. With UK with

:49:12.:49:17.

average house price rising to new highs and wages falling in real

:49:17.:49:21.

terms, should younger people get used to the idea of a lifetime of

:49:21.:49:29.

renting? Russell Brand, house-owns, renting, price up. You know the

:49:29.:49:33.

score. I think if we continue to organise a seat around protecting

:49:33.:49:37.

the privileges of people that are already rich, not prosecuting

:49:37.:49:41.

bankers, allowing people to cleverly avoid taxes, then yeah, ordinary

:49:41.:49:48.

people are going to be penalised and aren't going to be able to pursue

:49:48.:49:54.

the dream that Thatcher left us of owning council houses. Unless there

:49:54.:49:59.

are changes where we get our revenue from, and I might suggest people in

:49:59.:50:05.

the top tax bracket, like me, mate. I'm happy to pay more tax. I'm sure

:50:05.:50:09.

the Government would accept a voluntary contribution.

:50:09.:50:12.

APPLAUSE If I was going to voluntarily hand

:50:12.:50:17.

over my money, it would not be to the Tory Government, man. I don't

:50:17.:50:21.

trust them people, they exist solely to protect the interests of the rich

:50:21.:50:26.

and powerful. They are not there for you, you are know that in your

:50:26.:50:30.

heart, so yeah, get used to a lifetime of renting unless you want

:50:30.:50:34.

to do something serious about it. Boris Johnson? It is absolutely

:50:34.:50:38.

true, I think owner occupation in London is now beneath 50% for the

:50:38.:50:43.

first time in our lifetimes. More and more people are driven to rent.

:50:43.:50:47.

Rents are skyrocketing. We've got a terrible shortage of house housing

:50:47.:50:55.

overall. The best answer is just to build more. We've got, you will see

:50:55.:51:02.

in this fantastic volume which I make no excuse for plugging on this

:51:02.:51:06.

show. What is that? You are not allowed to show things like that. It

:51:06.:51:13.

is written we you! -- it is written by you! It is written by me.

:51:13.:51:18.

LAUGHTER You will find in it just some of the 33 opportunity areas and

:51:18.:51:22.

intensification areas in London. What about controlling rents in

:51:22.:51:32.
:51:32.:51:33.

London so people didn't have rents that go up? I don't have Rental

:51:33.:51:38.

prices in London are becoming extortionate. Wait until the

:51:38.:51:43.

microphone comes to you. When are you going to introduce a cap on

:51:43.:51:47.

crippling rental prices in London, because it is now exceeding what an

:51:47.:51:53.

average mortgage would cost somebody? It is.They have it in New

:51:53.:51:59.

York. Why not here, Boris. You failed to meet your targets. You can

:51:59.:52:04.

take the microphone away now. She says in New York it happens. And in

:52:04.:52:09.

Germany. Why not in London, why not in Britain? In New York they are

:52:09.:52:13.

moving away from it actually now. They are moving away from rent

:52:13.:52:19.

controls. The difficulty is that you choke off supply. What we've got to

:52:19.:52:24.

do is to increase the amount of housing. The point I was going to

:52:24.:52:31.

make before you confiscated my report is that we've got within it

:52:32.:52:35.

ambitions for opportunity areas. Contrary to what you have just said,

:52:35.:52:40.

we built a record number of new affordable homes in London. Who are

:52:40.:52:45.

they affordable for, mate? 44,000. They are affordable for people, they

:52:45.:52:51.

are both for social people, who need homes for social rent, but they are

:52:51.:52:59.

also there, and you slightly powered scorn on the idea of a home-owning

:52:59.:53:03.

democracy but I think there are many hundreds of thousands of people in

:53:03.:53:07.

this city who would welcome the opportunity to get just a share of

:53:07.:53:12.

the equity. What's the answer about affordable that Russell wanted?

:53:12.:53:17.

answer is to build more homes. about the ones you've been boasting

:53:17.:53:24.

about, what price are they at, who can afford them? They are at normal,

:53:24.:53:32.

they are about, 17 or 18% of the newest ones are at council, normal,

:53:32.:53:39.

I think and we have a huge number that are part-buy, part rent. If you

:53:39.:53:42.

look at what we've done over the last four years, it is a record

:53:42.:53:48.

number. And the programme that we've got will deliver 100,000 over the

:53:48.:53:54.

eight-year term. Now that is far more than the previous Government

:53:54.:53:58.

achieved when they were awash with money. I'm not denying that there's

:53:59.:54:03.

a massive shortage of housing. have to ask you to stop, as we only

:54:03.:54:11.

have three minutes left. This is lick Just A Minute. You've had your

:54:11.:54:16.

minute. You are supporting a lovely development on the outskirts of

:54:16.:54:22.

cowls den and the first phase under pre-application isn't for affordable

:54:22.:54:32.

housing but the ones at the top of the hill. There are 78 five-bed

:54:32.:54:36.

proposed and 200 and something three beds. The little one and two beds,

:54:37.:54:41.

I'm trying to talk to Croydon council about it and you are not

:54:41.:54:46.

having it. Melanie Phillips? There's a need for more affordable housing.

:54:46.:54:50.

Young people do have a difficult time of it at the moment in terms of

:54:50.:54:56.

either getting on the housing lad tore boy a house or affording rents.

:54:56.:55:01.

I don't think one can avoid saying that people of my generation, we saw

:55:01.:55:06.

house prices in London become just dizzyingly go into the stratosphere.

:55:06.:55:11.

Why that happened was quite a complicated procedure I think, but

:55:11.:55:18.

part of the reason was that we were the victim of London's own success.

:55:18.:55:23.

London attracts over this period a very large number of extremely

:55:23.:55:28.

wealthy people who were pushing up house prices. Have young people got

:55:28.:55:33.

to get used to the idea of renting now as a lifetime's way of living or

:55:33.:55:36.

living with parents until they are 40? At the moment that's the case.

:55:36.:55:42.

Whether it will endure, that's another matter. We have to press on.

:55:42.:55:49.

I think young people have to get used to renting. When we come out of

:55:49.:55:52.

university we are already in debt, so we have to pay off that debt

:55:52.:55:58.

before anything else. Do you resent that? Yes, buzz the Lib Dems

:55:58.:56:08.

promised they wouldn't put up the amount and it is now �9,000.

:56:08.:56:14.

Davey? When you leave university you'll be paying back less a money

:56:14.:56:19.

than under the old reef. It is going to be easier, with less money coming

:56:19.:56:24.

from your pocket once you've graduated. There is no doubt that

:56:24.:56:29.

housing is one of the biggest, if not the biggest problem in London. I

:56:29.:56:33.

have advice surgeries in London and the biggest problem has always been

:56:33.:56:37.

since I became an MP in 1997 has been housing, overcrowding, poor

:56:37.:56:41.

housing, people who are homeless. I see that every week in my surgery.

:56:41.:56:46.

This is a problem. The person asking the question is right. What can we

:56:46.:56:51.

do about it? The Government has been trying a huge number of initiatives

:56:51.:56:56.

to get the housing market working again. One of the reasons why

:56:56.:56:59.

developers weren't building houses is that house prices were going down

:56:59.:57:03.

and down and they didn't want to build an asset that would reduce in

:57:03.:57:08.

value, so getting the housing market working is critical. I hope we'll

:57:08.:57:12.

see more house building promoted by this Government. You will see next

:57:12.:57:15.

week when the Spending Review is announced that housing is a

:57:15.:57:21.

priority. You must start adding also. I have to stop the programme.

:57:21.:57:29.

A huge investment in London, which is housing as well. Town? The most

:57:29.:57:33.

important thing, build more homes. The Mayor has to up his game on

:57:33.:57:41.

this. I've done far better than Ken. Also let's take all the profiteering

:57:41.:57:46.

out of the process of renting and let's get shared equity schemes.

:57:46.:57:51.

There are 3,000 homes about to be let in the Olympic Park. Through for

:57:51.:58:01.
:58:01.:58:03.

keeping it short. 50%...Shush! This is a television programme, not a

:58:03.:58:10.

mayoral press conference. I forget where I am! Our hour is up, sadly.

:58:10.:58:15.

I'm sorry we couldn't get to the last question, who has more power,

:58:15.:58:19.

politicians or pop stars, but our time's up. Next week we are in

:58:19.:58:22.

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from London. On the panel are Ed Davey MP, secretary of state for energy and climate change; Dame Tessa Jowell MP, Labour's former minister for the Olympics; Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London; comedian Russell Brand; and Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips.


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