20/06/2013 Question Time


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


think you should certainly jail anybody guilty of criminal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


livelihoods and the livelihoods of their families depend entirely on


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


talks about ensuring there is individual responsibility, that


systems are changed. What I found astonishing during the banking


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


system encourages that behaviour. When looking for the culprits after


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


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


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


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


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


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


punitive measures immediately employed so it does not continue to


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


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


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


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


mistakes, surely we should also prosecute politicians? I have


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


thinking is that incompetence of that degree, that has those


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


scale of damage that the malpractice, the incompetence, the


malevolent practice by some bankers, completely unaccountable,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the behaviour of irresponsible and reprehensible individuals.


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


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


answered your own question. female Prime Minister would have


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


them, but we need them to be more responsible.


I agree that the Conservative party supported deregulation of the banks


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


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


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


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


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


who want to work honestly within these organisations to make them


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


banking system. APPLAUSE


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


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


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


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


susceptible to corruption or fraud or incompetence or malice or


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


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


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




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


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


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


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


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


establish a single agenda. Particularly ton banking issue. Say


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


have whatever is considered appropriate. So you are not in


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


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


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


criminalise something by making the possession or use of something


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


compassionate and empathetic way, the opposite of what Melanie is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


APPLAUSE Is it not sometimes necessary to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


pursuing sensible rehabilitation policies, looking at the problems of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sending a conflicting message to people by having some drugs as


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


APPLAUSE Ed Davey? I think that question


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


complicated than just following one particular country. There are a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


commitment to the treatments that people have been referring to.


are seeing more people under rehabilitation. Downlike?I was


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


answer - a combination of legislation, which is properly


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


miles from Shoreditch where the streets are alive with people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


efforts to deal with the appalling humanitarian suffering of civilians


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


those appallingly difficult choices. I understand totally what David


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


being canvassed by other EU countries and indeed the United


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


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


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


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


own judgement, it would be absolutely impossible to carry it


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


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


recruits for our army at minimum salaries and sending them


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


elsewhere? I am a former Army officer myself,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


works when they voted for that. APPLAUSE


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


mead to be cautious, like our man said there.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Government policy, the Government could would have to take


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


new Iranian President Mr Rouhani, who has promised more nuclear


transparency, don't you think the international community should


demand the same thing from Israel? APPLAUSE


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


nuclear issue, the ugly reprehensible things that the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the privileges of people that are already rich, not prosecuting


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


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


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


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


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


the Government would accept a voluntary contribution.


APPLAUSE If I was going to voluntarily hand


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


intensification areas in London. What about controlling rents in


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


prices in London are becoming extortionate. Wait until the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


London attracts over this period a very large number of extremely


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


week when the Spending Review is announced that housing is a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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