10/04/2014 Question Time


10/04/2014

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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Transcript


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kirsty Williams. Singer, songwriter and political campaigner Billy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Parliament rightly protected privileges. We understand why that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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prefer to live in a more forgiving society.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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apologise and therefore she did. Different people apologise in

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

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

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

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

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

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want to investigate politicians' wrongdoing, or any other public

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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and an allowance system, or something where the public think

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

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

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

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Democrats and conservatives about the power of recall in the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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private sector. It is certainly not OK in the public

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

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

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

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anger that there was around the previous expenses scandal erupted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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trust and confidence in an independent situation. I think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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mistake. Some people deliberately defrauded the welfare system, they

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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to remove the expenses issue completely by having one figure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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comedies only been in the job one day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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not think to truly bring transparency and accountability, MPs

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should be issued with credit cards and their expenses and expenditure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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blow into something bigger but he stopped it.

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

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

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

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You mean politicians as a class? Yes.

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Not the individuals sitting at the table? The politicians.

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

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At: A question from Rosanna Geary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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infrastructure issues, obviously, there are healthcare issues,

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

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

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greater degree than many other economies on tertiary economies it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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National Health has large tracts of land.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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time we stopped putting money behind subsidising debt in the mortgage

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market and building more. APPLAUSE

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

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

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

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

:24:19.:24:23.

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

:24:24.:24:27.

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

:24:28.:24:32.

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

:24:33.:24:36.

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

:24:37.:24:42.

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

:24:43.:24:46.

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

:24:47.:24:50.

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

:24:51.:24:54.

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

:24:55.:25:04.

mad. We urgently need more building. APPLAUSE

:25:05.:25:07.

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

:25:08.:25:16.

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

:25:17.:25:20.

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

:25:21.:25:26.

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

:25:27.:25:31.

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

:25:32.:25:35.

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

:25:36.:25:40.

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

:25:41.:25:46.

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

:25:47.:25:51.

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

:25:52.:25:56.

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

:25:57.:26:03.

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

:26:04.:26:05.

not investment for a second property.

:26:06.:26:10.

APPLAUSE. Kirsty Williams? I agree that part

:26:11.:26:19.

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

:26:20.:26:23.

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

:26:24.:26:27.

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

:26:28.:26:31.

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

:26:32.:26:38.

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

:26:39.:26:43.

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

:26:44.:26:48.

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

:26:49.:26:54.

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

:26:55.:27:02.

whether it is Regstered social landlords making the properties

:27:03.:27:07.

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

:27:08.:27:13.

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

:27:14.:27:18.

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

:27:19.:27:23.

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

:27:24.:27:30.

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

:27:31.:27:34.

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

:27:35.:27:38.

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

:27:39.:27:42.

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

:27:43.:27:47.

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

:27:48.:27:54.

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

:27:55.:28:02.

Harriet! And a couple of other points.

:28:03.:28:05.

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

:28:06.:28:10.

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

:28:11.:28:15.

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

:28:16.:28:18.

England says there is not a housing bubble.

:28:19.:28:22.

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

:28:23.:28:28.

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

:28:29.:28:33.

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

:28:34.:28:39.

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

:28:40.:28:45.

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

:28:46.:28:49.

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

:28:50.:28:57.

APPLAUSE Let me introduce facts to the

:28:58.:29:02.

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

:29:03.:29:07.

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

:29:08.:29:14.

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

:29:15.:29:22.

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

:29:23.:29:29.

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

:29:30.:29:35.

Government. The average wage is down by ?1600

:29:36.:29:40.

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

:29:41.:29:45.

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

:29:46.:29:49.

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

:29:50.:29:53.

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

:29:54.:29:57.

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

:29:58.:30:02.

longer have proper representation in the workplace.

:30:03.:30:09.

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

:30:10.:30:20.

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

:30:21.:30:23.

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

:30:24.:30:27.

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

:30:28.:30:33.

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

:30:34.:30:37.

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

:30:38.:30:43.

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

:30:44.:30:46.

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

:30:47.:30:50.

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

:30:51.:30:53.

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

:30:54.:31:03.

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

:31:04.:31:08.

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

:31:09.:31:11.

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

:31:12.:31:18.

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

:31:19.:31:24.

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

:31:25.:31:31.

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

:31:32.:31:38.

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

:31:39.:31:42.

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

:31:43.:31:45.

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

:31:46.:31:51.

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

:31:52.:31:56.

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

:31:57.:32:00.

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

:32:01.:32:04.

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

:32:05.:32:10.

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

:32:11.:32:19.

because Labour tuck away responsibility and gave it to the

:32:20.:32:25.

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

:32:26.:32:27.

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

:32:28.:32:32.

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

:32:33.:32:36.

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

:32:37.:32:41.

people, that can afford mortgage payments, comfortably afford

:32:42.:32:44.

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

:32:45.:32:48.

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

:32:49.:32:52.

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

:32:53.:32:56.

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

:32:57.:33:00.

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

:33:01.:33:03.

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

:33:04.:33:07.

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

:33:08.:33:10.

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

:33:11.:33:15.

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

:33:16.:33:19.

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

:33:20.:33:21.

the Financial Services Authority. That is just absolutely ridiculous.

:33:22.:33:27.

And also, the Conservatives were arguing for us to deregulate

:33:28.:33:31.

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

:33:32.:33:37.

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

:33:38.:33:41.

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

:33:42.:33:45.

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

:33:46.:33:52.

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

:33:53.:33:55.

think there is anything wrong with increasing housing stock so people

:33:56.:33:59.

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

:34:00.:34:03.

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

:34:04.:34:07.

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

:34:08.:34:14.

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

:34:15.:34:19.

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

:34:20.:34:24.

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

:34:25.:34:30.

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

:34:31.:34:33.

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

:34:34.:34:36.

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

:34:37.:34:44.

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

:34:45.:34:48.

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

:34:49.:34:52.

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

:34:53.:34:59.

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

:35:00.:35:04.

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

:35:05.:35:10.

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

:35:11.:35:17.

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

:35:18.:35:21.

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

:35:22.:35:25.

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

:35:26.:35:30.

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

:35:31.:35:34.

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

:35:35.:35:38.

with. What is clearly left outstanding from the peace process

:35:39.:35:45.

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

:35:46.:35:50.

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

:35:51.:35:55.

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

:35:56.:36:03.

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

:36:04.:36:06.

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

:36:07.:36:12.

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

:36:13.:36:15.

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

:36:16.:36:23.

Good Friday Agreement? I think things need to be properly

:36:24.:36:26.

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

:36:27.:36:29.

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

:36:30.:36:34.

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

:36:35.:36:37.

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

:36:38.:36:43.

some way of creating a conciliation process that can bring those

:36:44.:36:46.

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

:36:47.:36:55.

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

:36:56.:36:59.

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

:37:00.:37:02.

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

:37:03.:37:06.

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

:37:07.:37:12.

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

:37:13.:37:15.

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

:37:16.:37:18.

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

:37:19.:37:24.

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

:37:25.:37:30.

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

:37:31.:37:33.

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

:37:34.:37:39.

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

:37:40.:37:44.

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

:37:45.:37:48.

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

:37:49.:37:55.

reconciliation process, I thought it was remarkable and highly

:37:56.:38:00.

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

:38:01.:38:07.

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

:38:08.:38:14.

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

:38:15.:38:18.

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

:38:19.:38:21.

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

:38:22.:38:25.

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

:38:26.:38:29.

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

:38:30.:38:36.

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

:38:37.:38:40.

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

:38:41.:38:44.

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

:38:45.:38:46.

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

:38:47.:38:49.

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

:38:50.:38:53.

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

:38:54.:38:59.

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

:39:00.:39:06.

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

:39:07.:39:10.

Chief Constable told people of Birmingham who have lost family

:39:11.:39:12.

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

:39:13.:39:18.

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

:39:19.:39:23.

the law and then we can move on. APPLAUSE

:39:24.:39:29.

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

:39:30.:39:35.

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

:39:36.:39:41.

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

:39:42.:39:46.

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

:39:47.:39:53.

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

:39:54.:39:59.

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

:40:00.:40:05.

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

:40:06.:40:08.

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

:40:09.:40:12.

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

:40:13.:40:15.

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

:40:16.:40:20.

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

:40:21.:40:24.

those things with the people of Northern Ireland seeing themselves

:40:25.:40:29.

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

:40:30.:40:33.

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

:40:34.:40:39.

long-term reconciliation and resolution in Northern Ireland, we

:40:40.:40:42.

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

:40:43.:40:45.

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

:40:46.:40:50.

should apply to Republicans, unionists and British soldiers,

:40:51.:40:52.

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

:40:53.:40:57.

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

:40:58.:41:02.

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

:41:03.:41:06.

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

:41:07.:41:12.

that by forgiving and not prosecuting terrorists, you

:41:13.:41:14.

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

:41:15.:41:19.

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

:41:20.:41:24.

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

:41:25.:41:29.

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

:41:30.:41:36.

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

:41:37.:41:42.

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

:41:43.:41:48.

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

:41:49.:41:53.

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

:41:54.:42:00.

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

:42:01.:42:08.

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

:42:09.:42:16.

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

:42:17.:42:19.

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

:42:20.:42:23.

terrible suffering in Northern Ireland. Many people lost their

:42:24.:42:28.

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

:42:29.:42:31.

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

:42:32.:42:35.

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

:42:36.:42:40.

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

:42:41.:42:45.

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

:42:46.:42:49.

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

:42:50.:42:52.

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

:42:53.:42:57.

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

:42:58.:43:00.

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

:43:01.:43:03.

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

:43:04.:43:15.

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

:43:16.:43:18.

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

:43:19.:43:22.

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

:43:23.:43:28.

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

:43:29.:43:34.

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

:43:35.:43:39.

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

:43:40.:43:43.

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

:43:44.:43:49.

I find unbelievable. OK, thank you very much.

:43:50.:43:53.

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

:43:54.:44:03.

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

:44:04.:44:08.

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

:44:09.:44:16.

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

:44:17.:44:19.

everybody is now saying the Government is not getting the money

:44:20.:44:23.

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

:44:24.:44:31.

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

:44:32.:44:35.

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

:44:36.:44:38.

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

:44:39.:44:43.

need to have a university system that financially is sustainable for

:44:44.:44:46.

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

:44:47.:44:51.

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

:44:52.:44:55.

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

:44:56.:45:00.

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

:45:01.:45:06.

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

:45:07.:45:11.

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

:45:12.:45:16.

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

:45:17.:45:21.

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

:45:22.:45:25.

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

:45:26.:45:28.

before. But the question is, you put the

:45:29.:45:33.

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

:45:34.:45:39.

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

:45:40.:45:46.

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

:45:47.:45:54.

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

:45:55.:46:03.

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

:46:04.:46:08.

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

:46:09.:46:13.

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

:46:14.:46:17.

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

:46:18.:46:25.

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

:46:26.:46:31.

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

:46:32.:46:35.

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

:46:36.:46:40.

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

:46:41.:46:45.

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

:46:46.:46:49.

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

:46:50.:46:54.

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

:46:55.:46:59.

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

:47:00.:47:03.

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

:47:04.:47:09.

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

:47:10.:47:14.

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

:47:15.:47:19.

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

:47:20.:47:23.

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

:47:24.:47:31.

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

:47:32.:47:35.

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

:47:36.:47:39.

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

:47:40.:47:44.

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

:47:45.:47:50.

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

:47:51.:47:55.

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

:47:56.:48:00.

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

:48:01.:48:06.

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

:48:07.:48:09.

portion. Then why not giving it to them in

:48:10.:48:14.

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

:48:15.:48:19.

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

:48:20.:48:24.

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

:48:25.:48:28.

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

:48:29.:48:33.

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

:48:34.:48:36.

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

:48:37.:48:40.

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

:48:41.:48:46.

subsuddenise those that have decided to go.

:48:47.:48:51.

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

:48:52.:48:55.

Ask her. If we funded everybody who wanted to

:48:56.:49:00.

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

:49:01.:49:04.

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

:49:05.:49:09.

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

:49:10.:49:14.

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

:49:15.:49:19.

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

:49:20.:49:25.

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

:49:26.:49:29.

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

:49:30.:49:34.

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

:49:35.:49:37.

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

:49:38.:49:42.

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

:49:43.:49:47.

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

:49:48.:49:51.

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

:49:52.:49:57.

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

:49:58.:50:04.

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

:50:05.:50:07.

failed and needs to be looked at again.

:50:08.:50:13.

APPLAUSE So, the Liberal Democrats are being

:50:14.:50:17.

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

:50:18.:50:23.

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

:50:24.:50:27.

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

:50:28.:50:30.

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

:50:31.:50:35.

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

:50:36.:50:40.

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

:50:41.:50:46.

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

:50:47.:50:52.

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

:50:53.:50:59.

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

:51:00.:51:05.

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

:51:06.:51:09.

students applying are actually going. Members from our minority

:51:10.:51:17.

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

:51:18.:51:22.

system, actually, that is not the case.

:51:23.:51:25.

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

:51:26.:51:32.

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

:51:33.:51:38.

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

:51:39.:51:43.

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

:51:44.:51:47.

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

:51:48.:51:54.

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

:51:55.:51:59.

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

:52:00.:52:03.

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

:52:04.:52:10.

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

:52:11.:52:15.

You are come pairing apples with apples.

:52:16.:52:23.

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

:52:24.:52:29.

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

:52:30.:52:34.

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

:52:35.:52:45.

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

:52:46.:52:50.

Maybe I should sit there the next time.

:52:51.:52:55.

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

:52:56.:53:01.

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

:53:02.:53:07.

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

:53:08.:53:15.

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

:53:16.:53:20.

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

:53:21.:53:26.

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

:53:27.:53:31.

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

:53:32.:53:37.

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

:53:38.:53:46.

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

:53:47.:53:56.

estimate. We have time for a last question,

:53:57.:54:06.

Tessa Stuart. Does the televising of Pistorius'

:54:07.:54:10.

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

:54:11.:54:15.

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

:54:16.:54:18.

It hinders. Because? Public exposure, the

:54:19.:54:25.

theatrics. Possible miss interpretation,

:54:26.:54:29.

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

:54:30.:54:33.

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

:54:34.:54:37.

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

:54:38.:54:44.

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

:54:45.:54:49.

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

:54:50.:54:55.

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

:54:56.:55:01.

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

:55:02.:55:05.

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

:55:06.:55:08.

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

:55:09.:55:13.

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

:55:14.:55:19.

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

:55:20.:55:25.

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

:55:26.:55:32.

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

:55:33.:55:36.

have been completely forgotten about.

:55:37.:55:43.

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

:55:44.:55:47.

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

:55:48.:55:53.

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

:55:54.:55:57.

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

:55:58.:56:05.

Pistorius. It must be immensely distress distressing to Reeva

:56:06.:56:08.

Steenkamp's family, immensely distressing.

:56:09.:56:14.

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

:56:15.:56:17.

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

:56:18.:56:23.

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

:56:24.:56:28.

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

:56:29.:56:35.

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

:56:36.:56:40.

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

:56:41.:56:44.

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

:56:45.:56:48.

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

:56:49.:56:57.

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

:56:58.:57:02.

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

:57:03.:57:05.

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

:57:06.:57:09.

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

:57:10.:57:15.

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

:57:16.:57:19.

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

:57:20.:57:23.

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

:57:24.:57:28.

excruciating for them. Kirsty Williams? I welcome the

:57:29.:57:32.

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

:57:33.:57:37.

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

:57:38.:57:43.

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

:57:44.:57:47.

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

:57:48.:57:54.

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

:57:55.:57:58.

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

:57:59.:58:03.

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

:58:04.:58:06.

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

:58:07.:58:12.

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

:58:13.:58:17.

African judicial system. Something tells me that our time is

:58:18.:58:22.

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

:58:23.:58:27.

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

:58:28.:58:32.

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

:58:33.:58:39.

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

:58:40.:58:48.

Nick Bowles and the week after we are in Southampton.

:58:49.:58:51.

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

:58:52.:58:56.

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

:58:57.:59:12.

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

:59:13.:59:16.

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

:59:17.:59:19.

night.

:59:20.:59:27.

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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