13/02/2014 Question Time


David Dimbleby presents the topical debate from Scunthorpe, with a panel including Damian Green MP, Chris Bryant MP, Janice Atkinson, Lord Winston and Cristina Odone.

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welcome to Question Time. Welcome to you at home, to our audience, who


will ask the questions, and our panel, who do not know the questions


until they hear them. Conservative Home Office Minister, Damian Green,


Labour Shadow employment minister, Chris Bryant, from UKIP, one of


their leading candidates for the European elections, Janice Atkinson,


Daily Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone, and Labour peer, broadcast


and Professor of science and society at Imperial College London, Robert


Winston. The first question from Max Bell,


please. Why does it take flooding to hit the south-east of England before


the Westminster village notice or even care? Damian Green. I think


that is half fare. Which bit? When you say the Westminster village, it


is certainly true that the 24-hour news channels found it easier to get


to the Thames Valley than they did to the Somerset Levels. But the


truth is that the spread of the floods, and the incessant nature of


the bad weather, has just made this a more important and bigger


emergency as the weeks have passed. We now know that we have had the


wettest period for 215 is, so it is not surprising that various


authorities dealing with it are having to catch up around the


country. -- 250 years. That is why we have schemes to help not just


householders, but separate schemes to help farmers, rate relief for


businesses and so on, because this is a very serious emergency in large


parts of the country, and people need and deserve that help. That is


why the Army have come in, and obviously the police are doing a


good job, as always. But his point is different, that this has only


happened because the flooding is in the south-east. Isn't that right?


Absolutely. In Scunthorpe we have the River Trent and the River Humber


which are extremely liable to flooding. Back in December, hundreds


of people had to be evacuated. There are members of the audience here who


had to raise thousands of pounds because they were not getting any


help. There was no news coverage, nobody cared, there were no


statements, nobody looking daft in wellies. It is -- if it is not


within ten miles of London, they don't care. Do you agree at the


back? I would like to quote some figures in relation to flooding


historically in the UK. There is a blog currently on with Paul Hudson,


that presents north-west weather. He has quoted that in 2007, there were


23,500 homes flooded in the UK. Last year, in the Yorkshire and Humber


region, there were 66,000 homes flooded. And you can compare that to


the Somerset Levels which, apparently, 40 houses were flooded.


I understand there are print -- plenty of other properties that were


cut off, and I understand that in comparison to the south of England


currently that pales into insignificance. You have heard the


number of people complaining about how they were treated. I would be


spitting with fury if I lived up here. Today it is announced that the


people who were flooded in December will get the same money it was


announced by David Cameron earlier this week and is going to people in


the Thames Valley and in Somerset. Why did that not happen in Sepp Ash


in December? -- why did it not happen in December. In 2007 there


was major flooding in Hull. We had a scheme in place in two weeks. It is


two months we have been talking about here, and longer in relation


to the north-east. I remember when I was first elected in 2001, we had


terrible flooding in the Rhondda Valley in two very small areas,


basically because the local authority had not cleaned out the


water channels for a long time. There were bricks and all sorts of


stuff in there, which meant the water built up behind. Secondly,


because the pumping station was frankly Victorian. I get really


depressed that we still talk about Brunel's engineering and wanting to


protect that. What about modern engineering? Why are we relying on


Victorian engineering? You attacked the government, and everybody here


was critical of the government for doing nothing in December. The


?5,000 people are getting as a result of what happened in the


Thames Valley, why wasn't it here? As I remember, the local council


actually set up a compensation scheme straightaway which was very


good and sensible. I remember at the time thinking, why is this not being


reported? The truth was, as I remember, it coincided with the


death of Nelson Mandela and the entire world media decamped to South


Africa. Actually, I agree, it was certainly under reported. You, on


the right. I think there is a serious lack of planning for


flooding. David Cameron, the reason he had no involvement for maybe six


or eight weeks was because he was letting the guys on the ground get


it into some kind of order as to what they were going to do with the


floods. For a start, people say, what is David Cameron going to do?


Build a wall around the country? There were 60 foot waves crashing on


some of those beaches. We cannot stop those floods. We are talking


about ground water coming up from the water table. We cannot prevent


that. We have that much rain coming down. When I referred to the lack of


planning, is it not time firefighters were used as a


statutory obligation to respond to floods, because at the moment they


are doing it out of goodwill and using parts of the budget that are


therefore other activities? I agree there is not much David Cameron can


do except where wellies and go around for a photo opportunity. But


there is such a thing as the environmental agency. What I would


like to point out to those of you who are very cross about the North


and lack of activity, lack of support here, I have in-laws in


Somerset and friends who are farmers in the Somerset Levels. They were


calling the Environment Agency in December, before Christmas, and


saying, look, the dredging of the rivers must happen now, because we


can see, everybody is predicting a bad winter and we can see what is


going to happen. And the Environment Agency said, no, it is not really


necessary. So I think that Cameron himself, what could he do? But there


is a regulatory body there. It is the Environment Agency. Why were


they so inactive, not responding to people who were calling and saying,


we have lived here a long time, we know what is about to happen, let's


not dilly-dally? We hear now that dredging the rivers would not


benefit people. It is just going to move the problem further downstream.


Damian Green, comment on this, because you will remember that Eric


Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said exactly what Cristina Odone is


saying, I apologise, I am really sorry, we took the advice of what we


thought, we thought we were dealing with experts. Is that right? Is it


the feeling in government that you were let down by the Environment


Agency? Or let down by Eric Pickles? There is clearly a crisis we need to


sort out. Let's stick with Eric Pickles. He was very clear, he went


on television and said, we thought we were dealing with experts. He


criticised the Environment Agency for being responsible. My


understanding, and I do not intend to become an armchair hydrologist.


The nation is now full of people, who, just as we go to war, we all


become armchair generals, we are now becoming experts on river flows and


hydrology. I am not an expert. But my understanding is that in the


Somerset Levels, dredging might have helped a bit but actually would not


have been a magic bullet. In other places, such as the Thames Valley,


there are so many locks and weirs and so on, that you do not alter the


flow very much by dredging. Let's go back to the issue of whether it was


because it was in the south-east that the government acted. Is it not


the fact that it is highlighting the north- south divide again, and there


are more Conservative seats down south than up north? Well, I don't


think it is a political issue. I think we are missing the point


entirely, actually, to tell you the truth. In a way, and I hate to say


this, because it is a terrible thing to have your house inundated like


this wherever you live, but in a way this is a good thing, because it


should be an awful warning to what is going to happen increasingly in


the future. Virtually all sensible scientific opinion is clear that we


are undergoing climate change, that there is going to be increasingly


chaotic weather around the world, overheating in some places like


Australia, flooding in places like Bangladesh, which will kill


thousands and thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people. And


even in Britain the Thames Barrier is now inadequate for the purpose.


Perhaps it would be good if Westminster were flooded. I don't


know. But actually, quite seriously, it is shocking to blame any


minister, or indeed the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency has


certainly been underfunded, that is clear. Therefore, it could not


respond in the way it should have done. I think it is regrettable that


Chris Smith did not visit the places earlier, as its boss. I think there


was a big mistake. But in a sense, one has to say that 1000 years ago


we had King Canute. In a sense, David Cameron is looking like King


Canute, looking at the waves which are inevitably going to come in. The


sea level has risen. We know that there is measured heating. We know


it is changing. And we need to do something about the next generation.


For a long time, scientists have been saying, we must look at


flooding. It's going to be one of the most serious consequences of


heating. Not simply crops drying up, or the shortage of water. In some


places there will be too much water, and we are seeing that at the


moment. The trouble is that we cannot prove it is the case. But


now, in a place that Lincolnshire, you are desperately vulnerable. You


have already said that. One of the problem is, of course, is that we


know from history that you cannot beat nature. If you take reclaim the


land, nature may well try and reclaim it again, and that is a big


problem. So many hands up, I don't know where to go. I would like to


come back to the original question, and I appreciate everything that


Lord Winston has said. But my concern is that nobody did come up


to this part of the world. And on the night of December the 5th, 120


homes were devastated in one tiny village. Can any of you name that


village? Janice Atkinson. The reason they went to the south-east is


because that where the Tory heartland is. I can name it, but I


have it written down, so it would be cheating. Nobody would name it,


because if you are right that nobody knew it was happening, nobody knew


it was happening, and that 700,000 chickens died in a shared. And one


of the hotels closed and has not been able to open again. You can


name it? I can't, but I did read earlier. In December, there were


debates in the House of Commons. They were not reporting it, but


local MPs were raising these issues. Let's come back to the main


question. We have an environmental agency. They are the largest


employer of the whole of Europe. So what were they doing? They were not


dredging the Thames because they are frightened of upsetting the odd


minute, the odd mollusc. It is actually right, Robert, it really


promising us money am a blank promising us money am a blank


cheque, and open cheque. We have ?1.2 trillion of debt. Where is the


money going to come from? This government and the government before


this present coalition are spending money on useless wind farms. 1000


million pounds has been spent on useless wind farms. Coming up on the


train, just a few miles from here you have a very rich landowner and


he has invested in hundreds of the wind farms. And the reason why is


because there is a vested interest in this. It has become an industry,


the climate change industry. That man is creaming off hundreds of


thousands of pounds of taxpayers money. That is lowing come families


and pensioners. That man is David Cameron's father-in-law and I think


that is disgusting. -- low income families. If we had invested in


flood defences and dredged the rivers, we would not be in this


mess. I would say to you, the reason why it has not been reported, what


happened to people up here, is because of the London centric media


and the Tory heartland. They are all running around in their wellies in


the Somerset Levels trying to shore up their votes, not to shore up your


rivers. You are not blaming gay marriage for the God's retribution


from the floods? I have never held that position. It was never UKIP's


position? He was a Tory. He was a Tory? No, he was a Tory... So were


you, weren't you? You can never tell which party they are in! As soon as


he stepped over to UKIP, and all of a sudden, the old parties are all


over us. Chris's party has got a unit that is dealing with UKIP at


the moment. They should be dealing with the policies. Alright. Can I


return to flooding? There will be people watching this programme


worried that their house is going to flood. I think it is a serious issue


that deserves serious attention. I disagree with Janice about wind


farms. All of you do! If you take Robert seriously, who is the most


distinguished scientist on this panel, and if therefore you think it


is likely or even very possible that climate change is caused by man-made


emissions and that climate change is contributing to these terrible


events that we are seeing, then having renewable energy to generate


our electricity is a good thing. It is a good thing that we are moving


down that route. I agree. I want to disagree with another point. I don't


think dredging is always the answer. There are places where, as Richard


Benyon, a former Conservative Minister, I think he was a very good


Environment Minister. One of the things that he was saying this week


was - there are many places where, if you dredge, you will be doing


dramatic damage. You didn't want to set yourself up as a professional...


He said that! You don't mind? I'm saying that I think you have to have


different responses in different places and that is why you need...


It is also maintenance of the hedges, of the plains. It wasn't


just dredging. Let's hear more from our audience. Lord Smith said that


Government funding is only available if you get 800% economic return on


money spent. ?8 for the ?1. That is probably why the Thames easily


meets, the Thames Valley meets that criteria. We, in the rural


communities, don't. We get 50% less Government funding than urban


communities. Even in this situation, we get kicked in the teeth and say


because you don't give us enough return on investment, you don't


deserve help. OK. Hold on. The man with the beard? Given the risk of


flooding and that very likely there will be - we can't guarantee funding


in the future, do you think it might be negligent, or irresponsible of


local authorities to grant permission for housing to be


developed on floodplains? Do you think that ought to stop? Or it


should be... ? I think there may be - you may have to design - you might


be able to design housing to be able to be not so affected by flooding.


The lady in the front? I was going to say our council is about to give


planning permission for 60,000 homes on a floodplain. What will happen if


they get flooded? Are they going to be able to get insurance? The


council knows it's floodplain? Of course they do! It is under water


every winter because of the snow and the rain! You can go behind Tescos


and... Right here? Yes. You, Sir? North Lincs Council are not keen on


that but there's very little planning criteria that we can avoid


doing it. Going back... Are you on the council? Yes. You can't say no


because you get appealed and it is turned down? The appeals have cost


us ?400,000 when we have tried to stop them. That is not for flooding.


We tried to stop things. Going back to the flooding in South Ferriby, I


was down there, I got my feet wet and was there for five days


afterwards trying to help people. It was a tragedy. I came across a guy


in a foot of water in his slippers who joyfully told me I could have


done without this, I'm just back from hospital, I have had my first


chemotherapy. It was devastating. However, I do feel - and I will not


be popular - in 1953, when the flood defences were not as good as they


are now, and we were flooded by a flood that was not as serious as the


one that we have just had, 300 people were killed, 300-plus people.


Thankfully, nobody has been seriously injured or killed, apart


from 75,000 chickens, 45 sheep and a dog. Now, in looking at it, and I am


going to give a plug to the Environment Agency, the Environment


Agency invested a lot of money because we have a haven that comes


in, which was the old harbour into Barton. I was looking over that


haven. They did a big civil engineering job there and it was


within six inches of the top of it. I was head and shoulders above the


grass bank and I was on tip-toes looking over the flood defence. You


look like you are about 6ft 6in tall? I am. We would have lost 1,000


houses in Barton. Without that? If that defence hadn't been there. We


lost two. Tragic - and I have met both the families and I have been to


the families with the local MP. OK. That is true in other parts of the


country. The previous Government spent lots of money after the 2007


floods. You cut the money? No. Let's not have a partisan discussion,


Chris. There are people whose lives are under threat here. It is... If


you don't spend enough money, you won't be able to maintain the


resilience for the future. The shocking thing is, I was there and


there was nothing we could do when that flood came over apart from run


away, just like in Bangladesh. The advantage we had that the next day,


and the following days, we had the infrastructure to go in there and


help people and we had enough people in the area to also help people. We


must move on to another question. I have six solutions to the problem.


It will take 60 seconds? Very quickly. We need to do this. We are


looking so short-term. In the longer term, I think we have to invest in


nuclear power, we have to understand carbon capture, I think we need to


look at renewable energy which will include wind farms, though you have


a problem on this coast moving them in from the sea. We all need to save


energy and save water from our taps. Simple things like that. I think it


is not just housing - housing brings roads, schools, hospitals, concrete


in gardens, so there is no run-off. Most importantly of all, we need to


engage globally. Unless we do that, we are not going to solve the


problem. OK. APPLAUSE


So, do join in tonight's debate by text or Twitter. You can follow us


at www.bbc.co.uk/questiontime. If you are texting, 83981. Stuart Maw,


please? Are the British establishment trying to scare the


Scots into voting to stay in the UK by refusing to let them keep the


pound? What is your view? Well, I think Scotland are entitled to the


pound as much as England are, as we are down here. We all share it. And


I just think for once, you see it is very rare, all the parties seem to


be coming together for once. It would be nice to see it more often.


The Labour Party, the Conservative Party - or the Coalition - are all


coming together to bully the Scots into voting to stay with the UK.


Cristina Odone? Is it bullying? It did look like that when you had


Danny Alexander, George Osborne and Ed Balls ganging up and, as you


said, a political unity that the floods somehow didn't give rise to.


But I also have to say - I think the Scots are not going to put up with


it. The Scots are used to having a pound that most of my shopkeepers in


London won't accept. They are not going to be scared of being bullied


over the currency. Whether in the end it is a good thing for the more


serious question of will Scotland break away, be independent, will


Holyrood detach itself from Westminster? I'm not convinced. I


think a United Kingdom is a better kingdom.


APPLAUSE Robert Winston, you are a politician


as well as a scientist. You watch these things. Do you think this is


an attempt to scare the Scots? Or is it a serious - or do they mean it?


David Cameron has been remarkably altruistic. It's in his interests


that Scotland does succeed. It would - that would - don't you think so?


Make it easier? I disagree. Sorry. Having said that, to be serious for


a moment, I think one of the concerns that I have - I think we


are right to stay together and say you can't have bits of the United


Kingdom that you want to have and not other bits. If you have the


pound, you have responsibility for interest rates, you have


responsibility for currency control, and if the Scots want to go it


alone, it is up to them to have their own border controls and their


own currency. It won't be in their interests to join the euro. What


currency will they have? Not the dollar. Maybe they should have the


bit coin. You, Sir? Do you think the establishment in Westminster is


trying to bully the Scots into voting no? I think they have played


right into Alex Salmond's and the SNP's hands. They have stirred a


hornet's nest up there north of the border. It's almost - it is going to


backfire against them. The Scots will vote yes for independence now.


It is that big. Simply because they feel bullied? Yes, absolutely. The


Scots, we know what they are like. They are rebellious. They don't


particularly like us. Especially not the Tories. I was up there a few


days ago and they are really - a Tory Government - the next


Government will be Labour. That will be too late. I think being in


September, they will vote independence for sure. I will come


back to you. Damian Green, do you think there is an animosity towards


the Tory Party in particular, which makes this a counterproductive thing


to have done? I disagree with all of that. Robert's right and I will make


myself unpopular by speaking in praise of politicians and political


parties. Everyone assumes political parties are only in it for their own


narrow self-interest. It is clearly in the party's own interest, the


Conservative Party, for Scotland and its dozens of Labour MPs and its one


Conservative MP to break away. We are campaigning as hard as we can,


absolutely united party to skeep Scotland in the United Kingdom -- to


skeep Scotland in the United Kingdom. We think it is right for


Scotland. Anyone who says politicians are only in it for


themselves should consider that and Robert, as a member of the Labour


Party, is very good. The Prime Minister is not going up to


Scotland? He is. The Cabinet is going up to Scotland shortly. He is


not going to debate with the Scottish Nationals? Nor should he.


Why? Only the Scots have a vote. The debate needs to be between the two


campaigns in Scotland, between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. I


don't think the Scots will feel bullied by this. I also think the


Scots will be far too sensible to vote to separate from the rest of


the United Kingdom. It's in Scotland's interest as well. This is


a reality that if you are a different country, you can't say we


are going to have a say in your currency. And you can have different


sovereign countries that come together and share a currency - and


we have seen it in the euro. That has caused a lot of strains,


particularly for smaller countries and, in effect, the Alex Salmond


plan would be to impose that kind of thing on everyone in the rest of


Britain as well. We would have two different countries trying to run a


currency. It's much more difficult to run that in the interests of both


countries. I think it is fundamentally undemocratic. If you


want to do that sort of thing, which fundamentally undemocratic. If you


has a huge effect on everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,


England, Wales and Northern Ireland should have a vote on this as well.


APPLAUSE What kind of vote would you give


England, Wales and Northern Ireland, one that prevented Scotland becoming


independent if it chose to? Scotland... It would go to war if


you do that! If what Scotland is saying is that we want to run your


currency as well, then, clearly, we should have a say as well. Only in


those circumstances. Alright. I go back to you, Sir. I'm sitting on the


fence, really. It was my question. As a half Scot, my mother is


Scottish, my dad is English, I can understand where the Scots are


coming from if they do vote to go independent because they don't vote


for Conservatives in Scotland but yet are always run by Conservatives.


That - if I was living in Scotland, that would be my reason to go


independent. Irrespective of any other idea. Janice Atkinson, what do


you think of today's action from all three main parties, and UKIP as


well, or not? What has UKIP said? We can't keep the pound. He actually


sees his future in Europe, so let him have the euro and we will see


how far he gets. We believe we are stronger together, we are Better


Together. When they have their referendum, and they are lucky,


because we are being denied a referendum. David Cameron has agreed


to give them a referendum but will not give us a referendum on Europe.


We do not actually believe cast iron Dave on that one because he has


promised it before. But at least they are having their referendum.


When we have our referendum, and I hope we do in 2017, and we will have


a Parliamentary referendum next year, and it will come down to the


economy and it will come down to jobs. Those are the two main thing


is people worry about, so they will have their say. I think the Scots


are a canny lot and they will vote to stay in, because together we are


stronger. When they are on about what currency Scotland can use,


would they meet the criteria for entering the euro? Has anyone looked


at that? I don't know the specific answer to that question but it


almost certainly wouldn't be immediately. There is no guarantee


they would be allowed to join the European Union. I note that your


name is Stewart. There is quite a lot of Scott in you, and also in me


as well. My brother always used to say he was half Welsh, half English,


half Scottish, because he wasn't very good at maths! I just feel we


are all part of the same thing, aren't we? Emotionally, I disagree.


I don't think it will boil down to economics and things like that. I


think it will boil down to the emotion of it all. What about the


tactic of George Osborne going to Edinburgh and his views being


endorsed by Ed Walls, for instance? I think you have to lay out the


facts. You cannot have an independent country where you are


expecting England to prop up the Scottish banks if the banks go


under, which is what the Bank of England, presumably, would have to


do. We have ?1.2 trillion of debt. Exactly. So I think it is perfectly


legitimate to simply lay out the facts, and that is what has happened


today. I hope you are wrong, sir. The Scots I know are taking this


whole issue very seriously. It would be an enormous step into the dark, I


think. This is one of many, many issues they are going to vote on.


Didn't the Bank of England prop up the Irish banks when they went


under? They did, didn't they? ?7 billion. Is that right, when the


Irish banks went under, we said it was in our interest to keep Ireland


afloat. Which it was. Ireland is a significant trading partner.


Wouldn't Scotland be in the same position? There is a difference


between propping up someone's banks and allowing them to run your


currency. If Scotland wants to retain the English pound, as it


were, and still have a say on interest rates, I think that would


be inappropriate. The point about devaluation as well. It is just bad


economics to say, we want to be independent but keep the old


currency. The SNP still seem to be in denial about today's decision.


When are they going to shut up whingeing and start deciding what


they are going to do about it because the policy isn't going to


change? You think it is up to the SNP. They still believe we will


allow them to keep the pound. They have been told we will not. They


don't believe it. It is a stand-off. They need to come up with plan B


quickly. They just say they don't believe them. The Scottish people


will decide, as they will in a referendum. Linda Lewis, please. Can


a smoking ban in cars with children realistically be enforced? Agreed in


the House of Commons, legislation to come, detailed legislation banning


smoking in cars. Can it realistically be enforced? Janice,


what do you think? Of course it can't. Is it wrong to smoke in a car


with children? Absolutely. I am a libertarian. The only


anti-libertarian streak I have in me, I am so anti-smoking. I hate


smoking. I grew up in a house with two smokers and it made me ill. Both


my parents smoked in the car. How do you get on with Nigel Farage? He


never stops smoking. He is outside, I am inside. We don't have smoking


in our cars. I hope you don't have children either! There is a serious


point, how far do you go? We all know that if you are smoking or


drinking in pregnancy it is a harmful to the baby. So is the next


step down the line that actually we make that a criminal offence? Or


when mums go to Iceland and start loading their cars with full fat,


ready-made meals, do we make that illegal? If you think about policing


and the strains on our policing at the moment, in this area you have


violent crime rising. Your car crime is flat-lining. I would actually


prefer the police appear to be getting on with solving serious


crime and stopping violent crime. You are in favour of a legal ban on


smoking in cars with children, or not? I would prefer not to be


criminalised. We should be educating people. And tell me, how are we


going to police this? Robert Winston, is it proven that smoking


near children gives children all of these diseases? I am rather proud of


the fact that this amendment started in the House of Lords and I, among


others, voted in favour of this plan. We recognise that it is


difficult to enforce and might be impossible. But, to be honest, the


evidence that it really damages children in general, passive


smoking, is not quite as good as is made out. It probably does, but


there is not long-term evidence to clearly demonstrate that. But I


would say that smoking in a vehicle when you are driving it under any


circumstances, with or without a child, is dangerous. You were just


ban smoking in cars, period. The moment you are distracted, you drop


the cigarette on your trousers or skirt and there is a smell of


burning. You are distracted and a danger to other road users. If the


child in the back is fractious as well, you are doubly dangerous to


other road users. I think that is a real problem. You are not saying it


is a danger to children's lungs. You are saying it is bad practice when


you are driving. I am saying it probably is bad for children's


lungs. Most doctors are certain it is bad for children's lungs but the


clear evidence is not quite as clear as was stated in Parliament. It is


certainly not good to smoke around children, for lots of reasons, not


just the damage to their lungs but the habit and the copying, because


children mimic their elders. I think whether it is restrictive or not and


a law that is difficult to enforce, nowadays, with photography on


motorways and roads generally, it is very easy to actually pick up people


who are smoking in cars. You could actually see that. I think if you


are at risk of prosecution, it may not be such a massive amount of


police time after all. It is more surveillance, Big Brother watching


us. We are watched in our cars. Damian Green, what was your view? I


think smoking in cars in front of your children is disgusting and


stupid and you shouldn't do it, mostly for the reason of setting an


example. I take Robert's view on medical evidence. I was interested


in that. But you shouldn't do it. It's a bad thing to do. But I voted


against the ban, one, because I'm the police minister and therefore


spend a lot of my time worrying that the police are doing what most


people want them to be doing most of the time, and so just piling new


criminal offences onto the statute book, meaning the police have two


enforce them means, whether it is a huge amount of time or a small


amount of time, that means less police time available. In violent


crime and that kind of thing. And also because I think there are a


large range of activities that I personally disapprove of and wish


people didn't do and certainly don't want them to do anywhere near me, or


that society as a whole doesn't like people to do, but which we still


shouldn't make criminal offences. Because I think the state interferes


too much in our lives. The lady in the second row, who asked the


question. I am wholeheartedly in favour of the ban and even if it


can't be enforced, any small steps that make people think about their


actions have to be really good. I am slightly cynical about the fact that


the government is trying to bring it in. We are aware that it is down to


education. This is the government trying to close down sure start


centres, where the root of education for families is.


I would like to reiterate that point. Just because it is hard to


implement, surely that does not mean you should not implement it. It


would just make people think twice before they smoke, if a policeman is


to see them and maybe they might get caught. The problem is not to,


obviously, implement it. You need to make people think twice before they


start smoking. The problem is, and I am a parliamentarian, so I respect


the will of Parliament. I was on the losing side of this vote, so we will


go ahead with it. But the idea that you pass something into law and then


it does not matter if it is enforced or not is not true. Because if in


three years time nobody has been prosecuted for smoking in their car,


two things will happen. One, people will start doing it again. Secondly,


people would think, they are passing laws that they do not enforce, which


brings the rule of law into disrepute, and that is a bad thing


as well. But the law presently requires people seated in the


back-seat of a car to wear a seat belt. I've never seen anybody be


prosecuted for not doing that, but I think now many more people wear a


seat belt in the back of their car than used to before we changed the


law, so it must be a good change in the law. Secondly, I think probably


in my constituency, a former mining constituency, lots of people had bad


chest complaints from working in the minds, but the single most important


thing I did as an MP for the health of people in my constituency was


voting to ban smoking in public places, because it means fewer


people smoke, fewer people will die of smoking-related illnesses. The


third thing I would say is that I remember my mum. She smoked like a


chimney. She never stopped, all day, every day. The worst place for me


was in the car, because it was a really small place. She would


pretend the cigarette was outside the window but it always managed to


blow straight back into the car, and I hated it. It is a sort of set the


children free moment, I think. I fully agree with Lord Winston about


smoking in cars. People have been fined for eating apples, chocolate


bars and things like that. If you drop an apple, it is not a problem.


I used to smoke when I was younger and I have dropped cigarettes in


cars, and blind panic sets in. It is not a bad idea at all. You know


what, I don't have a car. I used to smoke. I no longer smoke, but I


still didn't like this. I just don't want laws telling me what I can do


or not do with my children in the car that we don't have. I feel


really uncomfortable with it. I think parents, yes, of course we


must promote anti-smoking education. Not legislation but


education. Tell parents again and again, don't smoke when you're


pregnant, don't smoke anywhere near your child, passive smoking is bad.


But a law to do this! It is as if the government were telling us that


the government is a better parent than we are. And do you know what,


do you know what, I don't think it is. When we have children in care of


the government, those children are not doing well. Care homes are


terrible places. Those reform institutions, where young offenders


go, they are terrible, abysmal. At is where self-harming youths and


suicides are skyrocketing. I don't think government is always best when


it comes to our children. I think we are. Now, what do you want? Thank


you. The law also presently says that if children are seated under a


certain age in the back of a car, they have to be in a children's


seat. Would you remove that legal requirement, because that is the


logic of your position? It is not the logic of my position. I think


there is a certain room for legal interference, but let's not


interfere at every step in every second of our lives. What about a


ban on children smoking in front of their parents in the car? I wish we


could do that. The gentleman in the tie? Is the slight loss of liberty


imposed by the Government not justified in the safety which is


ensured of the children in the car? Absolutely. I don't buy it. You look


like my stepson when you said that! Last point from you, up there? I


don't understand why anyone would defend the right to be able to smoke


in front of a child in the car. We have ten minutes left. I take a


question from Paul Foster. Should the UK take its lead from the Swiss


when renegotiating its relationship with Europe? Switzerland is not part


of th EU. But it has close relationships with the EU, which


involves accepting a lot of EU practices and they decided they


weren't going to do this any longer and they are going to have to


renegotiate it with the EU. Should t UK take a lead? What do you think?


Should we have a referendum on that? Well, UKIP believes we should have a


referendum on a lot of things. What do you think of the Swiss example?


Brilliant. They have control over their borders and financial services


industry. They have control over their tax. They are rich. Oh, to be


like the Swiss! There is a serious point here. Is that not a serious


point? Brussels won't allow them to keep that vote. Brussels will


overturn it because actually it's against the single market and part


of being part of the single market is open borders, completely open


borders uncontrolled immigration. So they voted against it. Like the


French were told, and the Irish, when they voted no, they didn't want


certain things. They were told to go back and get the right vote. Vivian


Reading was over in the week, she thinks that we are a bit thick to


have our own referendum because YOU don't understand the real issues


facing us at the moment. She said 710% of our -- 70% of our laws come


from Brussels. Basically, it's made them redundant, or maybe that is a


good thing. You can have a referendum on the things that you


want. To be like the Swiss? Absolutely. But the Swiss have


accepted a lot of the EU legislation, haven't they? They have


to. And you think that they won't be allowed to opt out of this? It is


fundamental. The EU will say if you do that, you are out of the deal, we


close the deal? Absolutely. You would like to see Switzerland close


the deal? You know what, Norway are contesting it now. I think you will


see a sort of complete waterfall effect here and I hope they do. The


people need to take power and sovereign Parliaments need to take


back power. Chris Bryant? I don't want to be like the Swiss. They have


to implement everything that the EU comes up with and they don't get to


sit at the table to decide on what the rules are. So, it is a nonsense


to say we should be like the Swiss. No, I don't want to say that


Europeans shouldn't be allowed to come into this country and that


there should be some kind of cap on the number of Europeans that come


into this country from other members of the EU. Guess which is the


country that has most nationals living elsewhere in Europe? The


United Kingdom. 2.6 million Brits living elsewhere. Now, yes, some of


those are retired people who are wealthy and own their own homes in


Spain. Some of them are over 65 and using the NHS for free, something


that they never contributed to. So, I want, I believe passionately in


Europe. I think in the end, I know some people dismiss and they say


that the only reason we have had peace in a continent that has been


at war for centuries and centuries is because of NATO. I don't believe


that. It is. It is because people sit round a table and negotiate


their way to peace these days and that's partly because of the


European Union. I tell you one other thing. When was it that Britain


became so pathetic that we said oh, we are worried about other people


coming here, we are not worried about what opportunities there might


be for us to make our way in France and Germany and Spain and Italy, to


make big businesses in other countries? What is the country that


invests most here? France. We should be - we should seize hold of our


membership of the EU and say yes, we believe in it, we are committed to


it. We are not going to renege on it because it's been good for this


country. You, Sir? Isn't this just a matter that the Swiss have showed us


what true democracy is? It's the will of the people. Hold on. What do


you make of the UKIP position? Are you a supporter of UKIP? I'm not. I


also think that there is something else that is much more sinister that


has motivated the Swiss. It's this fear, this alarm about the other and


it's the person who comes in into your country and is taking your job,


is taking your benefits, is taking your services and this is what


appeals to UKIP. They have the same narrative. I think you can protect


your identity, you can protect your legacy, your heritage without making


other cultures into a threat to your happiness. I think we are sitting


here in Scunthorpe and we are thinking about the biggest employer


around here, Tata Steel. It's Indian. Let's not forget. Immigrants


of all kinds are either giving us incredible opportunities like Tata


Steel, or working their somethings off and guess what? Claiming less


than 45% of the benefits and tax credits that the average domestic


worker does. So, I think there's something really sinister and it's


not the cuckoo clock, it's a kind of inherent xenophobia. This is what


appeals to UKIP and it is what appeals... OK. You were shaking your


head when Cristina Odone was talking. You don't agree with her?


If you are referring to Vivian Reading's figures, she is using the


figures about the amount of benefit being claimed by immigrants, not the


percentage of immigrants claiming benefit. What do you think of - hold


on a second. What do you think of the main issue? The point isn't just


about immigrants and migrants, it is about us being able to make our own


rules. It is about us not being dictated to by Brussels on all sorts


of policies. Such as human rights, we are not allowed to get rid of


terrorists. Which human right do you want to get rid of? We want to be


able to get rid of a terrorist that is a risk to our country. It is not


whether we can or can't, we should be able to make that decision


ourselves. Wes are being dictated to by Brussels. -- we are being


dictated to by Brussels. That is the human rights court. There are so


many parts to this other than just the people coming to the country. We


are talking about that. There are so many other things that are involved


with being in the EU. The Swiss set a good example in your view?


Absolutely. Do you agree with that? The woman there? My problem is that,


of course, I'm not English, but I'm British. The problem is that over


here, with negative propaganda by politicians, people are too scared


about any other nation but this island. Whoever comes in is an


intruder and that is not the fact. People come here to work and earn a


good living. Absolutely. And pay taxes. We want the brightest and


best from around the world. I'm quoted in the Times to say I want


the best from India and China. It's sheer numbers. Propaganda... We


need... I have to finish this. The negative propaganda, what it does


is, even though I'm working as a doctor, in the street I will be


called a lackey. That is wrong. You are very welcome to work here as a


doctor. No matter what I'm doing for society, the society is doing for


me, the baseline is we are scared of each other. Damian Green, you want


to take issue with UKIP on this? I do. Your policy at the last election


was for a five-year freeze for no immigration at all. Have you dropped


that policy? Yes - well... I'm on the policy review committee. I no e


what is happening. When we have got our policies, we will tell you.


Good. Excellent. No, they don't have a policy on this. Yes, we do. You


don't. I was the Immigration Minister for two-and-a-half years.


Exactly! Can I explain? Britain benefits from immigration, it


benefits from people coming in. I agree vment What gives rise to the


fear, which gives rise to UKIP and other parties is when immigration is


out of control. Yes. Ten years ago in this country, immigration was out


of control. If you try and change a society too fast, then people get


worried and that gives rise to unpleasant consequences. That is why


we have instituted systems of controls, that is why we have had a


cap on the number of work visas, that is why we have closed 700 bogus


colleges so people can't come here pretending to be students when they


are coming here to work. And it's a long-haul but the system is getting


better. Controlled immigration is beneficial to this country. What do


you say to the man in the centre, who said that the Swiss at least


showed they are in control of their own policies and they have a vote on


it and they decide and that is democratic? So do we. All those


things I have just explained were passed through the British


Parliament. They were put into power because we won a general election.


You, there? I want to know how you define who the brightest and the


best are. Surely that is opinion? You can't just say we are going to


have the brightest and the best people here because you cannot judge


that. Robert Winston? Whether someone has a job as a doctor


doesn't mean they are a wonderful person. I'm not saying doctors


aren't wonderful people. She maybe! -- may be! We have hugely benefitted


from people like yourselves. I'm a bit concerned Damian about what you


say. You have introduced the most restrictive Immigration Bill. There


is one area that is of concern - the restriction of students coming into


this country, which is an ?11 billion bill. The number of students


has reduced because of all these bogus students. The number of


university students coming into this country, which we want to see, has


increased, so look beneath the aggregate figures. Robert, you have


- we have 50 seconds left. Students are being put off to apply for


university in our main universities. There is no doubt, we have the


figures. It is massive. I come back to Switzerland. What Janice - she is


out of touch. You would not want to be like the Swiss. They have a


totally different system of government. First of all, there's


part of Switzerland that would like to be in the EU, around Geneva,


there is another part around Zurich that is opposed to Europe. That is


the division. Secondly, of course, they have a multiplicity of little


Parliaments that all sorts of referenda which we would never have


on insignificant subjects. Most of the time, they don't really do much


for really changing the Swiss mentality or the Swiss attitude. One


of their problems is they haven't benefitted from immigration in the


way that we have. It's been quite clear that they haven't. That's a


major reason why I don't think we would want to be like the Swiss. 25%


or more of Switzerland is immigrants? Yes, but you try and buy


property in Switzerland, you try and deal with the - they have a huge


problem with their currency. It's massively valued. I think they have


very big problems. Alright. Let's leave it there. We have to stop,


Chris. Our hour is up. Thank you all very much. Next week, we will be in


Swindon with Question Time and we will have the novelist Janette


Winterton. If you would like to come to either programme, Swindon or


Newport, you can apply on our website, or you can ring. If you are


listening to this on Radio Five Live, the debate goes on Question


Time Extra Time. I would like to thank our panel very much. And all


of you who came here to take part in this edition. Really great to see


you. Thank you very much, indeed. From Scunthorpe, until next Thursday


night, good night.


David Dimbleby presents the topical debate from Scunthorpe, with a panel including Home Office minister Damian Green MP, shadow employment minister Chris Bryant MP, UKIP's Janice Atkinson, scientist and broadcaster Lord Winston and Daily Telegraph blogger Cristina Odone.

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