10/04/2014 Question Time


David Dimbleby presents Question Time from West London, with Sajid Javid MP, Harriet Harman MP, Kirsty Williams AM, Billy Bragg and Sir Martin Sorrell.

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Tonight, we are in west London. Welcome to Question Time.


Good evening to you at home, to our audience ready to question our


panel. They, of course, don't know the questions until they hear them.


The new culture secretary, Sajid Javid. Promoted to the Cabinet


yesterday to replace Maria Miller. Labour's deputy leader, Harriet


Harman. The leader of the Liberal Democrats and the Welsh assembly,


Kirsty Williams. Singer, songwriter and political campaigner Billy


Bragg. And while Britain's most successful businessmen, the chief


executive of the advertising firm WPP, which employs 170,000 people


worldwide, Sir Martin Sorrell. Thank you. Let's go into our first


question, which comes from Dick Hogbin, please? What will it take


for the public to trust MPs on expenses again? Billy Bragg? A lot,


I think. What we have seen this week is the failure of self-regulation.


Parliament rightly protected privileges. We understand why that


happens. It seems to me that the attitude expressed by Maria Miller


to the Independent body that looked at her expenses and initially found


she should pay back ?45,000, I didn't think she was giving it


enough respect. I think, in her dealings with them, director


dealings, she clearly felt they shouldn't really even be


investigating her. For the public, I think this has a very corrosive


effect. There is simply not enough accountability in our society. At


the same time, you have the press, snapping at her heels, because of


the Leveson Enquiry, it's her job to implement the Leveson Enquiry. There


is another situation, where I feel there is not enough accountability


in our society. I think, in the long term, the public's anger, in some


ways, has been fuelled by the press and some politicians, who take...


Shall we say take... They think the worst of people on benefits, they


think the worst of immigrants. They think the worst, encourage us to


think the worst of these people. So when they themselves fall foul of


the authorities, we immediately think the worst of them. I would


prefer to live in a more forgiving society.


Sajid Javid? I watched the expenses scandal unfold and engulf our


politics, not as a member of Parliament but as a member of the


public. I was outraged by it, just as much as everyone else in the


public was. Rightly so. I think it did tremendous damage to our


parliamentary system and our trust in democracy. That is why I think it


was right at the time of the scandal that an independent body was set up,


IPSA, accountable and transparent, but most of all independent. What


happened in the Maria Miller case is because the claims that were being


looked at were from the pre-2010 period, it was done under the old


system. That is part of why we have had the response we have seen.


Sorry, you are losing me. How do you mean that is why? Because IPSA is


there as the new body to look at the expense claims. Had she done


anything wrong or had it all been made by the press? She admitted she


did something wrong. What was it? She was cleared of the central


allegation, that her parents were somehow profiting at taxpayer's


expense. She was cleared of that and that is an important point. But she


did accept that she made mistakes in claims that she had made and she was


asked to pay that back, which she didn't. She was asked to apologise


and she did that as well. -- which she did. Do you think of the apology


had been more fulsome it would have made a difference? She was asked to


apologise and therefore she did. Different people apologise in


different ways, she did it her own way. The public were right to judge


her on how she responded. There is nothing wrong with that. The media,


where I would disagree, much like Billy said, I don't think you can


blame this on the Leveson Enquiry, the media, I think the media are the


cornerstone of our democracy, their freedom is very important. If they


want to investigate politicians' wrongdoing, or any other public


official, nothing should stop them doing that. Clearly, in this case


the pressure was immense. Maria felt it was becoming a distraction from


all of the good work she had done and the rest of the Government was


doing, she decided to resign and that is something I respect. Are you


saying she resigned because she was getting in the way, or because she


did something wrong and had to resign? What Maria said yesterday


was... What do you think? I can't read Maria's mind. She has accepted


she did wrong, she has paid back the money, like many other MPs did. She


also made an apology and that's the most important thing. I will finish


on this, I think the public are rightly still outraged. There is


still very raw anger. I understand that. The other thing we must do is


see what other lessons we can learn from this and what more can be done


to restore integrity, because I think this shows that not enough has


been done. What is your view? I think this is so damaging to


democracy. There have been so many cases of MPs that seemed to be


bumping up what is a fairly small basic salary with dubious claims. It


needs to be taken outside of MPs' hands. Maybe an increase in salary


and an allowance system, or something where the public think


that the expenses outside of MPs' hands. The Maria Miller example, it


damaged public trust again, in your view? Absolutely. You, sir, in the


spectacles? Surely, the public were offered the option by the Liberal


Democrats and conservatives about the power of recall in the


manifestoes. That needs to be implement it to give the public


faith in politicians. Part of recall being that they can petition to have


a by-election? It could be put to the public and they can decide if


she should remain. Kirsty Williams? I agree. The question is what it


will take for the public to trust MPs on expenses. I think we need to


ensure that politicians never become complacent. We have a feeling that


it was the old problem, everything is now all right. Clearly, for the


public, it is not all right. I think we need to insure that we are acting


in the spirit of the rules, rather than trying to hide behind the


letter of them. We need to redouble our efforts to reform the political


system from top to bottom, including recall, as you said, it was in the


Liberal Democrat manifesto and we haven't been able to realise that. I


think that is back on the table and we need to keep pushing to take


action on that. But wider reform, as well. Looking at big money in


politics, looking at the electoral system, that means that people do


not have safe seats. Were it doesn't matter what they do, they will be


elected anyway. Look at reforming the House of Lords. If we are going


to regain some kind of trust in politics, we don't just have to look


at the expenses issue, we need to look at how we do politics in the


country in the total. Man in the third row? I wonder what the motive


is of politicians who over claim expenses. I agree with the


suggestion that maybe the basic salary of MPs is too low. Harriet


Harman? I don't think it is ever justifiable to say or to feel that


because the pay is not what somebody thinks it might be that it is OK to


top up the pay with expenses. I don't think that is OK in the


private sector. It is certainly not OK in the public


sector. What people saw was that the independent commission is all that


Maria Miller needed to pay back ?44,000. Then the system, which


involved a committee of MPs, said it was only ?5,000. I think all of the


anger that there was around the previous expenses scandal erupted


again. I think the lesson, what it will take for us to get to start to


try to rebuild the trust which is so grievously broken, is a recognition


that we have not gone far enough yet in order to sort the system out. One


of the problems is that if you have got independently one figure set,


and then a group, a committee of MPs reduces it, people will just think


we are letting off our own side and the system is not fair. I think what


we need to do in Parliament is we have to work together to make sure


we have an enforcement of a system that people can have confidence in.


I agree, this is really important. There is enough distrust around in


politics. Our democracy is important and we need people to have


confidence in the system. Therefore, this is something that we absolutely


have to sort out. I agree, it's a cross-party issue. Harriet, you


mentioned the original suggestion of ?45,000, cut down to just over


?5,000. Did you think that was the wrong decision by the committee of


MPs? I noticed your leader call for Maria Miller to resign. He said, I'm


not calling for it today. He didn't think she had done anything wrong?


Do you think she had done anything wrong? I think the problem and


concern is that... Oh, yes, she obviously had done something wrong


and that is why she had to apologise and pay the money back. Was it made


worse by the figure being cut? I think it was. I don't want to


second-guess the committee decision, but as far as the public is


concerned, if the public have to see that a committee of MPs has made a


decision in relation to an MP, or if it is independent, there is more


trust and confidence in an independent situation. I think


that's why we need to work together to solve the situation out. I think


mistrust has been caused by this again. Yes, you, sir? If you steal


money, basically, do you not think they should be investigated by the


police and prosecuted by the courts? A normal employee, if they steal


money from a corporate company, they will be pursued through the courts


and a police investigation. Why are MPs different to the normal public?


The gentleman's point is exactly right, MPs should be treated the


same as any member of the public when it comes to wrongdoing. Let me


give you this quick example. As Treasury minister I was responsible


for the tax credit system. In that system, there are some people that


did wrong but it was a mistake. They over claimed on tax credit but it


was not deliberate, it was a mistake. They didn't claim ?44,000!


But the principle is still important in making sure everybody is treated


equally. They were asked to pay it back and it was accepted as a


mistake. Some people deliberately defrauded the welfare system, they


were taken in front of the police and convicted. Some MPs made


mistakes and they were asked to pay money back. Some were convicted.


Five of Harriet's colleagues went to prison because of what they did. The


system does work, in that regard. The person three rows from the back?


Essentially, it all depends upon two key terms, accountability and


transparency. If we don't have these implemented, essentially, it


impinges on the democratic system. Also, letting MPs slip into their


comfort zone is very disheartening. As a university student, hearing


about this was so disheartening. You felt she had been treated to


leniently by fellow MPs? I do, I feel as though it was media coverage


which blocked the system too much and there was no element of


transparency. Martin Sorrell? Coming back to the question, you asked us


to be brief and pertinent in the Green room, two things. Salary and


expenses should be combined, it should be one fixed figure.


Secondly, there should be no self-regulation. It should be


independent assessment. There have been lots of cases of MPs meddling


with their expenses, if I can put it this way. The degree of trust, we


run polls on what the electorate think, the degrees of trust of MPs


in general, of government ministers, it is about 14% in the sample that


we run. The only lower group are tabloid journalists, 10%. So, there


is a real trust problem. The only way of dealing with it, I think, is


to remove the expenses issue completely by having one figure.


And, secondly, having self-regulation off the table. The


other thing that happened this week, I do agree with Billy, Leveson


has played an important point in this. The pressure put on Maria


Miller, in part, was the press and media going after her because of


Leveson. I think that exacerbated it. The Prime Minister deferred


action, delayed action. Of course, a standard, brilliantly, by appointing


Sajid Javid as the replacement. We are yet to see if he is any good


comedies only been in the job one day!


The clear issue is that there seems to be some form of double standard


going on. I feel like the rules apply to backbenchers more, as


opposed to MPs or ministers. I don't think it should be the case. It


should be black and white. If you steal or take money that is not


yours you should be punished for it. It shouldn't be, oh, no, I'm an MP,


I shouldn't do that, I shouldn't do this, I took it accidentally. Do you


not think to truly bring transparency and accountability, MPs


should be issued with credit cards and their expenses and expenditure


should be monitored by the public and put to the public to


scrutinise, to take the issue of public money out of MPs and is? I


think in the short term, the standards committee itself needs to


be reformed. I think it needs more independent members, more lay


members than just MPs. And perhaps some sort of video link to the


public, being published in the press, for example. How do you rank


the Maria Miller affair with previous ones? The duck houses, the


hangs baskets, a year or two back? Does it rate with that, or this is a


minor affair in your view? It has the potential to be big. I think


that David Cameron had a serious error of judgment in the way he


handled it. But he did stop it. She resigned. So it had the potential to


blow into something bigger but he stopped it.


I think it is disappointing to see that we trust you to lead our


country, then you clearly are not leading by example. I think that is


very, very disappointing. That's, you know, I wanted to say that.


You mean politicians as a class? Yes.


Not the individuals sitting at the table? The politicians.


OK. You can join in the debate as always by text or Twitter.


At: A question from Rosanna Geary,


please. Is the increasing use of buy-to-lets


as investments a major contributing factor to house price inflation? Is


buy to let a major contributing factor. Martin Sorrell? It is a


factor but there are a number of others. Cheap money or low interest


rates, post layman, 2008, it has been used to avoid further financial


catastrophe and to stimulate the economy. As a result, that leads to


bubbles in the economy. That is one it is not just buy-to-let, that is


an aopportunity approach but it does cause a little bit of a bubble in


the housing market, the cheap money does. And last but not least, there


is the success of London. London as a capital city, as a focus for the


foreign companies, as a place to work, a muti cultural society, the


infrastructure issues, obviously, there are healthcare issues,


education issues but generally, as a place to locate a company and grow a


company, it is very effective. The UK economy is dependant to a far


greater degree than many other economies on tertiary economies it


is a country no attracts services businesses. London's boom, and


London's strength, and London house prices are a reflection of that.


Rosanna Geary, does that answer your question? What is your view about it


yourself? Partly. I feel that perhaps something could be done in


relation to taxation. So increased taxation on rental income. Also I


feel that maybe there should be a restriction on the number of rental


properties that an individual can own. I appreciate that there is a


lot of investment coming into the country, that is a positive thing...


Sajid Javid, you answer this, you were at the troughry, well, until


yesterday! I have not forgotten. She has a good point about the


number of people buying to let, excludeing other people buying for


themselves? I understand the point. But from the evidence I have seen,


the house prices are not really driven by buy-to-let, own as there


are a small proportion of the number of total houses that take place,


mostly they are for private, their main use. But the important point is


the talk of a house price bubble. I don't think there is a house price


bubble. But you don't have to take my word for it. Even more important


are the independent people to look at this, the Bank of England, they


have looked a at this again and again and on a regular basis. They


recently pointed out that house prices are on average 15% below in


real terms from the peak. And a just over 20% rise in West


London? As Martin said, London is different. There are factors that go


into London, such as the huge number of cash buyers getting into London


from overseas, in particular. That is difficult to have impact on, even


by changing the interest rates as they are cash buyers but it is


important to be vigilant. We have given the Bank of England


significant powers to act if they see there is a problem and that


there is a bubble developing. That is in no-one's interest.


What can they do about Russian oligarchs coming in? Yes, there is a


stamp duty increase. As you increase the cost, it should have an impact


on the bank as well. You sir? I wanted to illustrate a point on the


house bubble. I tried to buy one in London in December. I could not


afford it. The house prices are about half a million for a three


bedroom property. I have moved from London that is fine. From the time I


bought the house in December for 285,000, the company listed a new


property exactly the same for 345,000, so in that short period of


time, my house price has gone up ?50,000.


Where is that? In Stevenage. Billy Bragg? The problem with


buy-to-let, now the individual pensions have more or less


disappeared. If you put the money in the bank, it will disappear. People


are desperate to find something that they believe will give a return. In


that sense, buying a property does make economic sense. The knock-on


effect on somewhere like London is a housing shortage and a rise in the


prices. You talk about the success of London. One in four Londoners are


on Housing Benefit because of the prices in London. In our capital


city should be able to live here. People want to work here. It is not


helped by the fact that since the 1980s, councils have not been


allowed to buy houses after social housing was sold off. There has been


a cap on building houses. We are in a situation where the growth we are


getting is driven by household debt. This is not sustainable. One part is


demand and supply. Where I agree with you is that land banks have not


been freed up. There are certain institutions... We need a solid land


tax on people... People own holding land. And even Government and the


National Health has large tracts of land.


I echo what the gentleman said earlier. The houses in the roads


where I am living have gone up 38% in 18 months. My concern is what


happens to the provision of essential services in the areas? The


teachers, the nurses, where are they going to live? I would like to


challenge Sajid Javid on something. I know he knows his economics, how


about help-to-buy, I imlower you to learn the lessons of the American


housing boom and bust, help-to-buy it is great politics in the


short-term but it can have chrome economic effects. There is not a


time we stopped putting money behind subsidising debt in the mortgage


market and building more. APPLAUSE


The moths important thing about housing, and the starting point is


that people need housing to live in. The difficulty is if it becomes just


a question of investment. Investment in people as they are compensating


for not having a pension or investment as they see the property


market zooming up, so they incest in buying cash, overseas buyers. I


think we definitely need, Martin need, this is a supply and demand


issue. We have not built the homes we need a massive building


programme. That includes affordable housing built by the councils if you


do help-to-buy but not supply the homes, all that happens is that the


prices go up and more people from abroad see it as a massive


investment. I don't know how Sajid Javid can say that there is not a


house bubble in London it is worse than a bubble. The prices have gone


mad. We urgently need more building. APPLAUSE


The woman in yellow at the back? I don't have a problem with buy-to-let


but what I find concerning is that the builds designated to bring first


time buyers on to the property market are being sold off-plan in


East Asia. That is a problem as someone who wants to use


help-to-buy, if that is used as an investment, it defeats the purpose.


What about Martin Sorrell saying that this is a big city, people wish


to put their money here? I think in that case if the homes cost ?500,000


or ?1 million, if that is taken up by people as a second investment or


property, it is not as concerning as if new homes are built with the


intention to the help-to-buy scheme is used for the first-time-buyers,


that should be used for the residents planning to live in them,


not investment for a second property.


APPLAUSE. Kirsty Williams? I agree that part


of the problem is cultural. We see houses as investment rather than


bricks and mortar and homes to live in. The point about the key workers


is crucial. We are in danger of creating imbalance in the society,


which is not good for anybody, even those who can afford to live here


and buy properties. The lack of key workers will be a real problem for


them. I think we need to address the issue of the number of hourses that


are built. The type of houses that are being built. I would love to get


back to a situation where we are really focussing on the councils, or


whether it is Regstered social landlords making the properties


available and how to deal with the oligarchs, then use the tax system


as a mansion tax to gain revenue for the troughry to be put back into


building houses that ordinary people can afford to live in. It is not


just acute in London but believe me, there are parts in Cardiff and rural


Wales where people who were brought up in the communities cannot afford


to live in them any longer. Sajid Javid, you said it was not a


bubble. How do you know? There has been a steep increase in the prices


at the moment? I rely on the experts. The experts at the Bank of


England. That what they are there for. They do a very good job. These


are the macro fundamentals of the economy... You are not convincing


Harriet! And a couple of other points.


No, just answer that one. If that is what it takes to be an expert on the


Bank of England, I could be one. There is obviously a housing bubble.


It needs to be addressed. There is no good saying that the Bank of


England says there is not a housing bubble.


Go to my constituency, they will not take you seriously.


Housebuilding is as the lowest peacetime level since the 1920s. The


houses built in London are not affordable. There is an area, the


land to be knocked down and the land sold, do you think that there will


be affordable housing there? At Charing Cross Hospital? How much of


that will be affordable housing? Lots of people need to live locally.


APPLAUSE Let me introduce facts to the


argument of Billy's. Billy talked of inflation. That is 1. 8%. The lowest


level we have seen below the rate of 2%. Billy talked of social housing.


So did Harriet. Under Labour, social housing fell by 420,000 units, under


this Government it is up. Household debt was 170% of average earnings


under the previous Government in 2009, it is down with the last


Government. The average wage is down by ?1600


since the General Election. How do you expect people to be able toy


afford to get on the housing ladder, not just in London.


Then look at why the wages are down. That is because our country went


through the great recession, the deepest in almost 100 years. Of


course the wages are down. The wage is down as workers no


longer have proper representation in the workplace.


You have put forward inconvenient truths, Harriet? The idea we're


going to be told that everybody is better off and living standards are


rising, it looks completely out of touch. People are struggling to make


ends meet, pay is stagnant, costs are going up, presenting a mouthful


of figures to say, these are the indicators, the recovery is on its


way, people will say the recovery has not arrived at my door. The fact


that there is no inflation, or limited inflation, the Bank of


England is worried about deflation. You see house prices increasing at


the rate you here, just the evidence from the people in the audience,


surely that demonstrates there is a house bubble? House prices are due


here, they are going about a very rapid rate at a time when we don't


have inflation, and I'm so worried about that fact and the fact we


might have deflation as a result. -- and banks are worried. London or UK


wide? I think it is at its height in London. What do you do about a


bubble? Be blunt about it, buy to let was a political move. It was a


move that was... Help to buy. Sorry, yes. That was a political move. It


was done as a political move because it would be very popular. The


problem is, be careful what you wish for. Prior to the election it


resulted in significant house price inflation. The man second row from


the back? Sajid Javid is talking about how the Bank of England hasn't


seen this coming, but last I checked they didn't see the last problem.


The Bank of England doesn't actually put house prices in when it


calculates for inflation. Apparently, I'm not sure. The reason


the Bank of England didn't see the last problem, the credit crisis, is


because Labour tuck away responsibility and gave it to the


FSA. We have given the power back to the Bank of England because it


should not have been taken away in the first place. Can I just address


the help to buy issue, why have we introduced that? It is because there


is plenty of evidence that there are many people, especially young


people, that can afford mortgage payments, comfortably afford


mortgage payments, but they don't have rich parents that can help them


get a ?40,000 deposit. I make no apologies to help people get on the


housing ladder and have their own home and meet their aspirations.


That is the purpose of help to buy and I'm glad it's working. It's also


a temporary scheme, unlike the US scheme, where divine covenant has


powers of control over some of the parameters. It will last three


years. It has a three-year shelf life and I think that is the right


way to intervene in the market, a temporary process that addresses the


issue. It is not true to say that the global financial crisis was


caused by anything that the Labour government did or bios setting up


the Financial Services Authority. That is just absolutely ridiculous.


And also, the Conservatives were arguing for us to deregulate


financial services when we were in government. Let's not rewind that


argument that we have had many times here. There is a pub in Hackney,


every time you say that and you say that, they have to drink a glass of


wine because they are so fed up with it. On the right, briefly, if you


would? I don't believe everybody wants to buy their own home, I don't


think there is anything wrong with increasing housing stock so people


can rent in affordable housing. When you talk about affordable housing,


think about people who are on a third of the salaries MPs are on.


You have to earn the not everybody is on ?66,000 a year. You have to


gear the rents for people to afford them and provide for their families


as well. When people say affordable housing, do you smell a rat? I think


politicians in particular have lost touch with the realities of people's


finances. There are people that are still only earning ?20,000 per year,


trying to live in London and pay their rent and they will never be


able to afford to buy. But they would be happy to rent a council


home. Lindsey Copeman, please? If Martin McGuinness is able to dine


with the Queen, should we draw a line under all offences committed


during The Troubles, prior to the Good Friday Agreement, thus saving


the taxpayer great expense? Kirsty Williams? I can't begin to put


myself in the shoes of those that have lost people in The Troubles at


the hands of the IRA, and I can't begin to imagine how they must feel


to see Martin McGuinness go to Buckingham Palace as part of the


Irish President's state visit. What I am certain of is that nobody in


this country, and I don't think anybody in Ireland, wants to go back


to The Troubles. We have got to find a way of moving forward. Sometimes


that has painful images and painful things that we have got to deal


with. What is clearly left outstanding from the peace process


is our historic issues and historic crimes, how those can best be dealt


with. We have got to find new impetus behind talked to look at a


reconciliation process to address those concerns. I don't think we


will truly move forward from the Troubles, until those things are


laid to rest on a reconciliation process that all sides can feel


happy with. When you abandon prosecution of crimes, murders,


assassinations and forms and all the rest of it, that happened before the


Good Friday Agreement? I think things need to be properly


investigated, where there are cases two and some people that can be


brought to justice, I think justice needs to be seen to be done and


needs to be done. We also need, alongside that, some of those issues


are never going to be brought before a court of law. We have got to find


some way of creating a conciliation process that can bring those


communities together, otherwise we will never achieve the well-being


that we want for the people of Northern Ireland who have suffered


so dreadfully. Peter Hain spoke about this and said he thought there


should be an end to prosecutions of offences committed before the Good


Friday Agreement. Was he right to say that? Do you agree with that? I


don't think you can just simply say that and say I think there should be


an end to prosecutions. I think it is right that there should be a


process to look at how you deal with these cases from the past, as Kirsty


said, as part of the reconciliation process. But I think you have to


have the victims, it can't just be a politician on this programme saying


they think that is the case, there has to be a process with which the


victims are at the heart. I think it was remarkable what happened with


the Irish President's state visit. To have the Queen, after all, whose


uncle was killed in a terrorist attack, being part of that


reconciliation process, I thought it was remarkable and highly


significant. There needs to be now, I think, after the end of the


talks, which stopped, we need all-party talks to look at not only


prosecutions but also parades and flags. But it has to be a process


that involves all sides and has the victims of the heart of it. It is


not for us to pronounce we are fed up with spending public money on


this, let's move on. We can't do that, we have to have a process that


takes everybody with us. We've made a lot of progress, I'm sure we can


make more. Something close to my heart, as you can hear from my


accent. I think Peter Hain's comments were insulting to me. I


think the people of Northern Ireland have swallowed a lot of bitter


pills. There are what you call terrorist Sindh government. I would


ask Peter Hain, tell that to the sons and daughters of Jean


McConville, still waiting for a resolution of their problem. Yes,


let's move on, let's move on, people that have served time for crimes,


fine. Like in Birmingham, where the other day a number of people, the


Chief Constable told people of Birmingham who have lost family


members that they were not going to reinvestigate that, I think that is


an insult. These crimes need to be investigated to the full extent of


the law and then we can move on. APPLAUSE


What was your reaction to seeing Martin McGuinness in a white tie and


tails at the banquet? It's a bitter pill, but it is a pill


I am willing to swallow when Northern Ireland is hosting the tour


of Italy. The country has moved on. While I hate the fact he is there


toasting the Queen, who am I to say? I think the gentleman's comments are


the hopes that all of us have for long-term resolution in Ireland.


They do rely on people like this gentleman being prepared to swallow


bitter pills. It must be very, very difficult. All of the things that


happened as a result of the Good Friday Agreement, the agreement


between politicians, the people of the Irish Republic voted to drop


their territorial claim to the north of Ireland, the most difficult of


those things with the people of Northern Ireland seeing themselves


people being released and out of the streets, that had been convicted of


terrorist crimes. That is a very bitter pill. Though I believe in


long-term reconciliation and resolution in Northern Ireland, we


do need to perhaps swallow some more bitter pills. I think it should be


that whatever the decision is made, it should apply to everyone, it


should apply to Republicans, unionists and British soldiers,


whatever decision is made, ultimately. As Harriet said, the


concerns of people that have been directly affected by this, who have


lost loved ones, there concerns have got to be paramount in the


decision-making process. You, sir? My concern is that there is a danger


that by forgiving and not prosecuting terrorists, you


validated as a political means. I think that is a big danger and sets


a precedent for the future. Martin Sorrell? I think most of it has been


said, but there are two levels. What about what he said? I agree with it,


one level we have to move forward and forgive, can't forget. There is


a quid pro quo, prosecution has to continue, whichever side, soldiers


that have abused their position, terrorists, I agree with that point.


At two levels, it has to operate. I think it was uncomfortable for the


Queen, having lost a family member. You think about Norman Taggart's


wife, all of these things, -- Norman Tebbit. I totally disagree with


Peter Hain. You have to pursue justice in the way that we talking


about. Sajid Javid? I agree with the gentleman from Northern Ireland that


spoke earlier, and I disagree with Peter Hain on this. There was


terrible suffering in Northern Ireland. Many people lost their


lives and lost loved ones. Given all of that, I think John Major was


still right to start the peace process. It required, as we have


heard, some very difficult decisions to be made, really difficult


compromise. No one can underestimate how difficult that is. As we have


seen this week, particularly with the Queen, it is an opportunity to


pay tribute to her for the role she has played in this and we saw that


again today. I think the rewards are there for all of us to see. It has


been a sacrifice, but it has been worthwhile to bring peace to


Northern Ireland. In defence of Peter Hain, he has been Northern


Ireland Secretary. So he may have some insights that led him to make


that decision. You, sir? We all praised Mandela for reconciliation


and forgiveness in South Africa. If you look at the number of people


that were killed in Soweto, the number of people that were killed in


Northern Ireland, why is it that we cannot forget the past? I have a lot


of sympathy for the gentleman here. At the same time, we should be able


to move forward. If there are people identified to be prosecuted, you can


do that. To say that we continue to live in the past is, it is something


I find unbelievable. OK, thank you very much.


Let's go on. Hajarah Batanda, please. What is the point of raising


student fees 145% of students not expected to earn enough to repay


their student loan? These reports that have coming through, despite


the fact that student fees have gone from ?3000 to ?9,000 per year,


everybody is now saying the Government is not getting the money


back anyway, so why did they bother to do it?


I was the first member of my family to go to university. It opened up


opportunities for me. I want as many young people to access those


opportunities for themselves. What it does mean, though, is that we


need to have a university system that financially is sustainable for


the long-term. This is an issue, it has been an issue for a long time.


When Harriet was in office. The Government rightly set up the Brown


Review to look into the issue. It was clear from the way that things


were going, the old system was not to work. It needed to change. We


introduced the use of loans, the higher fees, and the intention was


to make sure that it is sustainable and to make sure that students from


poorer backgrounds, like myself when I went to university, are not put


off, and the evidence is encouraging in that the number of students going


into the system, even with the changes, is higher than it was


before. But the question is, you put the


fees up, you allowed the university to put up the fees from ?3,000 to


?9,000 but the evidence is saying that it is counterproductive. That


70% of students will not pay the loan off and 4 a -- 45% will not


earn the money to pay it off either. Is that what you are on about? Just


go on, tell him what you think. I can answer that point.


You don't know her point. That answer was my point. Row I don't


want to do your work for you. I don't see the purpose of raising


the fees if you are not expecting anything back in return? What is the


point of bringing it up from ?3,000 ah to ?9,000, if the people cannot


pay back the money? It is not clear. When the Government introduced the


system, at the time we did, because the way it works is after 30 years


if you have not paid off the loans, for the fees, for the maintenance,


it is forgiven. That was the intention of the system.ed idea


again is to help people, not to see this as a huge burden on them, to


link the payments to the salaries that they earn. And as the report


said today it is a progressive system, so that those who earn the


most pay the most. That is the right thing. There was always an element


to be written off. The Government estimated it could be about 25%. But


in the new system, there is an estimate, I don't know if the IFS


numbers are correct but it was foreseen that an element would be


written off. So, 23% to 73%, is that correct? I


cannot tell you. But there was always a principle that some of it


would be written off. The point is, if the majority of


students are not paying it back, you may as well pay it through the


taxpayer. Is that the argument? That is exactly it. At what point you


decide then that the game is not worth the candle? And just fund


students to go the university. The burden of... For those people who


don't pay back the money, the burden is taken on by the ex-checker? The


burden was always planned to be taken by the ex-checker for the


portion. Then why not giving it to them in


the first place. Instead of making it a hurdle. For many that is a huge


amount of money. Just say, you can fund people to go to university.


Because as what level does it get to that you think this is working


better? There is a principle at work it is fair that students that go to


university, that benefit the most from the education should be asked


to pay a little more when they graduate. I think that is fair. Why


should the young person that decided not to go to university, sub


subsuddenise those that have decided to go.


Then why not just tax the graduates? That is Harriet's policy, not ours.


Ask her. If we funded everybody who wanted to


go to go, and those that from successful, graduated and tax them.


Is that not a fairer way. Harriet, come in on this. How we


ended up on the situation, we said we wanted to see many more young


people going on to higher education. We wanted to see more funds going


into higher education to deal with this. So we put in more public money


but said that some of the students themselves mutt put some money in,


so we introduced tuition fees. That was controversial, up to ?3,000. But


the idea was that some money came from the public purse, some from the


students. What the Conservatives and the Lib Demes did, is that they took


the public money out and slashed that. They put all of the money on


to the students. Raising it to ?9,000, and now, surprise, surprise,


the students, as they are unable to go out and earn and then pay it


back, they have seen therefore a collapse in the funding. This sounds


like another one. And the point is that the situation has completely


failed and needs to be looked at again.


APPLAUSE So, the Liberal Democrats are being


blamed by this too, by Harriet Harman, is this your fault? Well,


they did vote for it, let's be fair. Actually, I don't think that any


political party has got the right to say here that they have done the


right thing necessarily about the fees. The Labour Party said that


they never introduced the feeses, they did. They said they would not


increase them, they did. We have paid a heavy price for making a


pledge that we could not keep and Nick Clegg has apologised for that.


Many, many, many, many times! Yes, many, many, many times! Now the


issue is, is this policy a barrier to people going to university? The


figures would suggest not. The number of people of our poorest


students applying are actually going. Members from our minority


ethnic communities are going up. In Wales, where we have a more generous


system, actually, that is not the case.


So the more generous system fewer people are going? If you look at the


number of people applying, there is a differentiation, and one would


have thought that is counterindue incompetentive to think that. What I


am saying is if you look at the facts, despite people claiming that


this would put people off university but the numbers are going up. I am


confused, is this I if S a project ex-? Ewhy.


So the system is not in place long enough for us to know.


It is a study. It talks about 23% and 37%.


He said 23%, they say 37%. That will not pay off all debts.


You are come pairing apples with apples.


Don't confuse me of that! That says 73% of students will fail. But the


20% number I use is the total debt. That is not the total amount. You


are not doing it deliberately but it is not accurate! You should bring


your own notes in! 45% of the loan goes unpaid, not 23%.


Maybe I should sit there the next time.


I would favour a system where people as we have said before, where people


pay, ultimately, for the benefit of going to university. I don't, I


think it is a right, and also a responsibility. Not dissimilar to


the American system, where people make a sacrifice to go and there is


a benefit and then they in some way pay for that benefit.


The nan the beard. Policies made in the private sector,


where there is a project ex-made, one allows for the differences, 23%,


fine, 45%, you take that into account when setting a retail price,


so that one is not surprised. At the end of the day, 9, 500 was a was an


estimate. We have time for a last question,


Tessa Stuart. Does the televising of Pistorius'


trial help or hinder the course of genuine justice? You may have seen


the scenes in Africa of the trial. Martin Sorrell, what is your view?


It hinders. Because? Public exposure, the


theatrics. Possible miss interpretation,


publicly. I think at that this particular trial, indeed others


should be behind closed doors and decided in that case, not by the


jury but by the judge. Sajid Javid? I think that it hinders


too it sensationalises a really important case. It is a case that


affected, tragically, a number of lives. It should not be public.


Billy Bragg? I think it hinders as well. I find it difficult to listen


to the dialogue in the court and to listen to Pistorius himself.


Do you think that the presence of the cameras and the voice being


heard is changing the way that he gives evidence to the judge? I think


that the fact it is televised and we are used to seeing reality TV. It is


reality TV, it comes over as such. I don't think that helps in the form


of justice. And you sir? I think it has been a circus, a disgrace to the


families involved. And Pistorius's wife to be, I think that her family


have been completely forgotten about.


Tessa Stuart, what is your view? I fail to see how justice canoe cure


where everything is out in the social media. It just gives the


media an opportunity to distort and prey on and change the course of


events. That is my strong feeling. Again, the whole circus around


Pistorius. It must be immensely distress distressing to Reeva


Steenkamp's family, immensely distressing.


I was going to say I think it has become almost not about the trial


anymore it is just about who can cry the most and what kind of faces that


they are pulling and regardless of whether or not Pistorius is guilty


or innocent or whether he is telling the truth, it has become not about


what really happened about that night, or finding the truth. It has


become a circus it is disgusting. Harriet Harman? I think we have been


moving in this country to more openness in our justice system. For


example we started for the first time to televise in courts but it


has been carefully control. -- coaled. So it has started with the


judgment being televised. I think it is difficult for the situation that


we have there. One of the questions in the Pistorius case, one of the


things very much in my mind, is that he is not on camera. We can hear him


but he is not on camera but the mother and the father of the victim


and the relatives, they are on camera all of the time. I wonder why


they don't have protection in that situation. It must be beyond


excruciating for them. Kirsty Williams? I welcome the


greater transparency in the judicial process that we have in the country.


But having witnessed of what we have seen of the Pistorius trial it has


echos of the OJ Simpson trial, I think we have to trade carefully


before we decide to put this kind of exposure to some of our case cases.


There is pressure building up to make it more open? There is


pressure. In some ways it has been happening. There has been tweeting


from the phone hacking trial. You can almost follow that minute by


minute. So we have to trade carefully. What we have seen


recently is unnedifying. One wonder what is value that does to the South


African judicial system. Something tells me that our time is


up. We have to stop you there. Apologies for those of you with your


hands up. We are away. It is Parliament's Easter break. We are


back on the 1st of May. We are in Leeds then. Yvette Cooper from


Labour is there. The Liberal Democrat party planner, Tim Farron.


Nick Bowles and the week after we are in Southampton.


So if you wish to come to either Leeds or Southampton, then do the


usual thing. Go to the website and aah ply there. There is the address:


I would like to thank or panel and all of you who came here to take


part in the panel. Until three weeks from now, from West London, good




David Dimbleby presents Question Time from West London, with Conservative culture secretary Sajid Javid MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman MP, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams AM, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg and chief executive of the global advertising company WPP Sir Martin Sorrell.

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