01/05/2014 Question Time


David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Leeds, with Yvette Cooper, Tim Farron, Conor Burns, Suzanne Evans and Simon Jenkins.

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Tonight, we are in Leeds. Welcome to Question Time.


Welcome to you at home, to our audience who will be putting


questions to the panel, who do not know the questions until they hear


them. Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper. President


of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron. UKIP's communities


spokesman, Suzanne Evans. Writer and chairman of The National Trust,


Simon Jenkins. And the Conservative MP Conor Burns.


The first question, please, from Martin Mullen. Should British high


schools have airport style security installed following the tragic


murder of Anne Maguire? This dreadful event earlier this week.


Should there be airport style security installed in schools, ,


Bourbons? Let me start by directly answering the question, no, I do not


think there should be airport style security in schools. This has been a


tragic, appalling incident in this school in this community. But we


make our worst laws in this country when we legislate on the back of a


very emotional situations. The worst thing politicians can ever say is


more I am going to legislate to ensure that ex never happens again.


If you see some footage in American schools, where it is like going into


a war is own to get into a classroom, I do not want to go down


that route. Can I say a word about the tragic event at Corpus Christi


College and the murder of Anne Maguire? The more one finds out


about it, the more poignant it becomes. 40 years of service to that


school, to different generations of new polls. Children of former pupils


coming to pay tribute to her. The fact that she was in school, helping


her students get the very best start in life, on her day off, the fact


that she was only one term away from retirement, all adds to the


poignancy of those events. I remember when my own headmaster


retired, and I dug out his retirement speech. I was educated in


a Catholic school. He talked about how, I hurt with you when some tried


periodically to bring the violence of society into the school


community. But the worst thing that we could do is to destroy that


school community by making it not a place of learning but a place of


fear. And can I say quickly, we have all, I imagine, thought about


teachers who have made a real difference to us. Anne Maguire's


murder touched a chord in the nation. And I hope that, through her


death, we will shine a light in the fact that in all the schools in this


country we are so blessed to have the dedication of so many teachers,


for whom teaching is not a job but a vocation that they dedicate their


lives to. APPLAUSE


So, the question is, should high schools have airport style security


after this murder. Simon Jenkins. No, of course they


should not. I agree with everything that has been said and the whole


panel will share that feeling at the moment. All that I would say in


addition is that the concept of fear as a driver of policy is really


dangerous. I am a Londoner and I see on the streets of London police with


guns all the time. They are there because someone, somewhere has said


there is a slight risk of a terrorist attack. All right, there


is a slight risk. Everyone goes about with slight risks attached to


life. If you give into that slight risk, given to the policy of fear,


you capitulate to it, you give into it. I don't think that is what we


should do. The one thing we can take from these tragedies is a reinforced


determination not to give into the politics and policies of fear. The


question was, should we have airport style security in schools, and I


absolutely agree that laws made in haste are bad laws. When I was 15


years old I went to a school exchange trip to France and spent a


week in a French school. I was horrified that there was a high


security fence around and security guards inside. It was such a


contrast to the beautiful rural school I was privileged to go to in


Shropshire. I thought, please may our schools in Britain never been


like this. The woman in the third row from the back. Instead of


police, maybe there should be a type of person, if any of the pupils have


concerns or any thoughts like that, maybe somebody there as a counsellor


in a school, instead of airport style security, because that will


just strike fear into pupils. Some different preventative measure.


Yvette Cooper. I also think it would be completely wrong to have airport


style security, not just in Corpus Christi, but in other schools as


well. Everybody has been struck by the outpouring of support, as well


as the grief, not just for Anne Maguire and her family, but for the


whole school. It is a tribute to the headteacher, to the school itself,


that they have worked so hard to support all of the pupils at such an


awful time with such a dreadful thing to happen. I think as a result


we should listen to the headteacher, listen to the community, and to what


they have said, which is that they want to keep the community a part of


the school because it is the community that supported them


through such a dreadful tragedy as well. We should hear their views and


support them. APPLAUSE


There are some schools with metal detectors at the gates, aren't


there? I think there is a big difference


between schools where they had problems, for example, with teenage


gangs over a considerable period of time, and where the headteacher


themselves says they think there are some safety issues that need to be


addressed, and a situation like this where nobody is saying that was the


circumstance at Corpus Christi. In fact, circumstances were very


different. I totally disagree with the fact that we should bring in


airport style scammers and all that. It is very intimidating. I happen to


work in the community and I knew Anne Maguire very well because I


also work with the church. The government should be bringing in an


intervention for these pupils. But nothing is being done to ensure that


the problems are resolved. The government is not doing anything.


There are so many cutbacks already within the Department for Education


which has made a very negative impact on the schools and


headteachers. Teachers have a problem time with the children.


Children don't listen any more, so we have to come in and intervene,


and it is not working. Teachers also should be guaranteed safety in the


school. Policies should come in to play on all these things. What are


your memories of her? She was a fantastic woman, very God-fearing.


She played instruments, she loved every pupil. She treated everybody


as if they were her own children. She had a passion to ensure that


every child succeeds in the school. APPLAUSE


I feel that teachers are under that much pressure with statistics,


targets. They are so pressured into trying to


make the school look good based on what the government is making them


do, they do not have time to go back to the drawing board and look at the


basic needs that children are wanting, because they are too busy


trying to get the stats are up, like exams. In a couple of weeks my


daughter is doing her exams. In year six, everything is about the exams


and teachers do not have the time to be looking at the emotional


well-being of children and the government needs to address this.


Tim Farron. I know that is not the question, but you could not be more


right. We need to value teachers and allow them to teach and not spend


half their time doing things that are about ticking boxes and


conforming to league tables and so on. It is a huge distraction and has


been a wrong direction for education policy for 30 years. But to answer


Martin's question, of course there should not be airport security or


anything like it in our schools. It is hugely tempting when something as


heartbreaking and bewildering as this takes place, for somebody who


lives the kind of lives that we do in politics, to come up with a nice,


simple, neat solution, and I haven't got one. I haven't got one. In the


24-hour media world we live in, there is a desire to keep the story


going, find another way of talking about it, keep it fresh. Let's


instead stand in solidarity with the family and with Corpus Christi and


recognise this as an appalling tragedy. For those of us who are not


from Leeds and did not know Corpus Christi College until this moment


and what a wonderful school community it is, what a dreadful way


to find out. We have found out what an outstanding community it is, how


fantastically people have stood with one another, what leadership the


headteacher has shown, and what tremendous love and affection people


at the school have shown. I am certain that Anne Maguire would be


proud of all of you. APPLAUSE


You asked the question originally. What do you think? There should be


some form of added security at schools but I do think that airport


style security is a bridge too far. Maybe somebody like a police


community support officer. Or maybe somebody children can go to if they


have any concerns, not just to protect children but teachers as


well. And you on the right, sir. I doubt if airport style security


would be effective. It is quite easy to take a piece of plastic into the


school, or a piece of sharpened bone would have the same effect as a


knife, so airport style security would be a waste of time. OK, let's


go on. Just a reminder that you can join


the debate on text or Twitter. Let's take a question now from


Carolyn Booth-Jones, please. In light of recent news, is it fair to


describe UKIP as a racist party? Is it fair to describe UKIP,


represented here by Suzanne Evans, as a racist party? Tim Farron. I


wouldn't say so. Clearly, there are individuals in UKIP who have come to


the fore with opinions that would make the BNP wince. And you have the


French National front reaching out to UKIP. I guess there is a sense


where that would be a source of great embarrassment, but that is


wrong to start playing the man rather than the ball. It was Barbara


Roche from Labour who did this. My take is that in one sense the UKIP


position, particularly on the European Union, is clear, and I kind


of respect it, actually. If you want to leave the European Union, and I


think it would risk several million jobs on our ability to tackle


climate change, threaten a union that has helped keep peace in Europe


for over 50 years, it would stop us catching criminals across borders,


but if that is what you want, you know who you should vote for. If you


believe those things are bad and it would be anti patriotic to do those


things, I hope you will support the Liberal Democrats instead. The


questions about these remarks which have led to people being suspended


from UKIP, like saying Lenny Henry should go back to a Black Country


and all the rest, does that make you think it is a racist party, or just


one that attracts them? Those individuals are guilty of racism and


have made appalling quotes and have appalling back history, including


the guy who was on the party political broadcast the other week.


We should be very careful in not trying to dismiss an entire


political party. First of all, it is unfair. Having said that, UKIP up to


account for some of the people they put up on their behalf, who have


some of the most objectionable views. I will come to Suzanne Evans


in a -- Yvette Cooper. This was described as a racist campaign by


Barbara Roche, former Labour Immigration Minister. Do you agree?


It is not racist to talk about immigration, to say you are worried


about immigration, it is not racist to say you feel strongly about


leaving Europe. I do think it is racist to say that Lenny Henry


should leave the country because of the colour of his skin, as one of


the Enfield candidates did say. APPLAUSE


And there are other UKIP candidates who have said things I believe are


racist. The old candidate who said that


mosques should be pulled down. There is a Walsall candidate who has said


Mo Farah cannot be British. We should challenge that race is where


ever we hear it and UKIP should do so, too. The right and responsible


thing for UKIP to do is to expel those candidates, take them off the


ballot paper and not to be asking people to vote for them. If they do


that, we can have a sensible conversation about the serious and


legitimate issues, whether around Europe, around immigration,


important issues. But they should not be marred by candidates pursuing


divisive views. Just before I come to UKIP, what Barbara Roche said was


that they are deploying the language and tactics used by openly racist


parties like the BNP. Is that an accurate description? I have


criticised the government for their go home adverts which they did last


summer, which I think Drew on the language of the National Front.


Unfortunately, this is your government which is doing it. When


they were put up, the Labour opposition were silent and that of


the Liberal Democrat to speak out. Those adverts were going round for


months. You have Liberal Democrat ministers in the Home Office. It was


two or three days. Unfortunately, that is not true, Tim. Trying to be


outside the government when you are voting for every single thing that


the government does just will not wash.


The Labour spokes people, who were questioned about those racist vans,


saying nothing because they were worried it would put off their


voters I remember them saying. It was outrageous that any government -


This is a fiction. It's also a distraction. We should bring UKIP


back into this fight and leave the two of you for a moment. Suzanne


Evans. Thank you. No, UKIP is not a racist party. I would certainly not


be in it if it were. Neither does it attract racists in particular. We're


currently running in the European elections at 38%. So that means a


good sort of, just over a third of this audience, if you are a typical


audience of the British voter, will be voting for UKIP. Technically that


means you could be called racist. I know you're not. I know you're not.


You know that you are not racist either. The problem that we've had


is that UKIP has risen phenomenon Ali. We are being put under a huge


amount of scrutiny. I have no problem with scrutiny. Everybody who


stands for election for UKIP or any other party, I'm sure my colleagues


would agree, must be subject to scrutiny. We cannot expect to stand


for public office unless we are fit for public office. It has to be a


fair playing field. How many of you in this audience know that seven


councillors in the London borough of Harrow, all black minority ethnic


councillors resigned from the Labour Party because they thought it was


racist and discriminated against them? Hands up how many know that


practically none of you. Maybe you should address it is to Miss Cooper.


You would like to ask the audience. You can't ask the audience. Nobody


put their hand up. Nobody knows that. A serious issue. It didn't


make the national headlines or the lead story on the broadcast news.


Barbara Roche, who we talked about, set up this campaign group. We know


people being through our candidate's Twitter accounts. They are not doing


it to other parties. Do you want to answer the charge. Do you know about


this? There is always scrutiny of candidates. There rightly should be.


Our view in the Labour Party is, where we have the suggestion of


racism it should always be challenged. That is my point about


what UKIP need to do. They need to ex-compel candidates expresses


racist views. We do oond we have expelled all of them. That is not


correct. I hope you do quickly. We can move on to a serious debate


about the issues. The danger is that this row is preventing us from


discussing what I think are genuine issues and concerns that people


have. Some of them have been hijacked by UKIP, when there are


important things, whether it is about immigration or the need for


controls on immigration or to tackle the concerns that people have about


the way that cheap migrant labour is exploited, to under cut wages and


jobs. We need to deal with those sorts of issues. If we don't, then


it's easy for a party like UKIP to build up anger rather than provide


answers. It's answers that I think we need. We need to have a debate.


By refusing to tackle these issues when you were in government for 13


years. Barbara Roche and cross-party campaign that Barbara set up. No


longer Labour? She is a Labour Party member. It was a cross-party


campaign. My point is you need to have a serious debate about the


issues and deal with individuals. OK. You, sir. My certain is that


we've been talking about vetting candidates, however, obviously,


there have been several in just recent history UKIP candidates. My


question would be, how can we be sure that you are vetting your


candidates? These aren't just views expressed in meetings that people


have reported on. This is on social media. And, how - my question is,


how did they get away with it? In the first place? Yes. The idea of


vetting political candidates for being fruitcakes fascinates me. You


wouldn't have many candidates left, some of the ones I know. I don't


think it's a crime to be a fruitcake. I sympathies with


Suzanne, they are under extraordinary scrutiny at the


moment, all fringe parties tend to be. The thing I worry, the word


"racist" it is like a law that says when you begin to lose an argument


you mention Hitler, when you lose an argument you mention racism. A


dangerous way trying to resolve a reasonable political debate. The


reasonable political debate to my mind is about the nature of British


borders and immigrants into this country. How far we can handle


particular numbers of immigrants. What is the nature of citizenship in


Britain? Real questions, which are not related to race. I don't think


it helps the debate about them, which many people have been


concerned about for a long time now, largely ignored by the major


political parties, to say the people who do raise them are racist. That


is wrong. OK. The woman there, on the left and in black-and-white.


Yes. I'd like to read you a bit from the UKIP leaflet that came through


my door. Speed up. Let's have it. "These are anxious and trouble times


as crisis has fold crisis. Our politicians are doing nothing in the


face of dangers rearing up around us. Violent crime erupts in our


cities. It goes on" it's the politics of fear. Everything we hear


that comes from UKIP. APPLAUSE


To answer the question directly. I don't think UKIP is necessarily a


racist party. Although I think they have racist people in it. As they


emerge they are dealing with them. That is clear. The guy who talked


about Lenny henny going back to a black country. I was reminded after


Lenny Henry's comments after Enoch powels speech where he offered him


?1,000 to go home. Which was generous as a ticket to Birmingham


cost ?10. My worry about UKIP is not that are a racist party, they are an


ineffective party. We saw what happened when we elected people from


the European parliament have not turned up and done the job. David


Cameron negotiated in the council in the E EU Summit a cut of 34 billion


to euros. Nigel Farage and seven other UKIP MEPs failed to turn up to


support the resolution that implemented that cut. I think they


are a vent for protest. They are whipping up anger. Speaking to some


of the worst fears and frustrations of austerity and concern about


immigration. I think the sooner that they actually spark the mainstream


parties, as Yvette says rightly, to engage in the arguments seriously


the better. The sooner they will recede to where they came from.


There are Conservative councillors who made offensive comments? We all


have people in our parties. Is the only party that will not allow


former members of the BNP to join. One lied last week. We kicked him


out straightaway. The Conservative have a former BNP member standing as


a candidate. The Lib Dems have someone convicted of a racially


aggravated assault. We don't have the monopoly of the stupidity. You


are ahead of the field. No. Let me come back to that.


APPLAUSE The man up there with the beard on,


I mean beard, not on! Not suggesting you came in disguise. We are talking


about racism as if it should be a big issue in today's world. We are


all human beings, we are equal in society. Different cultures and


different nations made Great Britain today what it has been over


centuries. United Kingdom regardless of anyone's colour or beliefs. If we


work together we are human beings at the end of the day in a peaceful


society. APPLAUSE


UKIP is not classed as a racist party, then that's fine. Do you not


tend to agree the way you go about your campaign provokes the general


public to be racist. I recently heard when Nigel Farage was visiting


Wales the visit had to be stopped because of UKIP supporters and


fellow people arguing over racism? No. No. Can I just answer that.


Briefly? No. I mean, Nigel Farage is possibly being stopped from speaking


at public meetings at the moment because of antifascist groups which,


frankly, are among the most facist people I have encountered. There is


a hard wing in this party of anti-UKIP feeling people who want to


pleat completely shut down the debate. They will not allow free


speech. These people have no interest in democracy. That is


something that UKIP stands for fundamentally. All right. A couple


could of quick figures. We have fielding 2,235 candidates in the


local elections on 22nd May. More than we've ever fieldled before. The


amount of people that have been caught out doing something wrong so


far, it's about 0.3%. Let us put that into context. In 2011, 0.61% of


members of parliament were in prison. We are doing a lot better


than MPs in the House of Commons. Less non-statistics. A point from


you in the middle there. The time it took UKIP to respond and condemn the


Lenny Henry tweet say it is all. They are bigots and use scare


tactics to try and get votes. One hand up there. I will take from you


as well. We will then move on. If UKIP are coming across as a racist


party due to a few members saying some racist comments, does it mean


that Labour are all fraudsters after the (inaudible) scandal? Is


Absolutely. We are four months off an incredibly important vote as to


whether the United Kingdom stands together. UKIP are focussing on


fear, and it makes it more likely this country will fragment. We are


better together full stop. The mistake UKIP made was to go for


immigration. It was about Europe. UKIP is about Europe, not


immigration. Immigration is, in a sense, the politics of fear. That is


the last thing you want in politics. Immigration is what people in this


country tell us they are concerned about. 60% of black minority ethnic


community people say they are worried about. We are politicians we


cannot ignore 70%, the major - We should be talking about immigration.


We should be talking about immigration. We should talk about


everything. This election is about Europe. It's right to talk about


immigration. It's something that people are concerned about. We said


that we, in the Labour Party, got things wrong in Government in


immigration. - Are you saying immigration is not a European issue?


Of course, it is. Electing members of the European parliament. I'm keen


on elections being on what the election is about. It's about


electing a member of the European parliament. If it was about electing


members Members of the European Parliament do you think members


would take it as seriously as they seem to be. I come back to the


question about the politics of fear. People are afraid of things. One of


the reason why I admire UKIP in this sense is they had the guts to say,


you suppressed this debate for a quarter of the century. We raised


the questions and will give you a party you can vote for. I respect


this. This particular election, I care about Europe one way or


another, I'm sorry if actually the election is no longer about Europe.


It is about immigration and the tendency to couch that in racist


terms. Let us move on to another question. Thank you very much. Peter


Pickard, please. Let us get into this other topic. Will Ed Miliband's


proposals on rent help or hinder the rental market? The proposals made


today by Ed Miliband to control rents and make rental agreements


last for three-years to cap the increase in rents and all the rest


of it. His aim being to cut the cost of living for people, nine million


living in rental accommodation. Has he stolen a march, Tim Farron, with


this on the coalition's policy? I don't think. Is it a good idea? Some


of what he said today is a good idea. Some of it really isn't. He


has shown he has identified the problem, Peter, but not understood


it. The reason why private rents are high is because of a lack of supply.


It's blindingly obvious. Amongst the things that, you know, the Labour


Party should be embarrassed about with its 13 year in power they built


fewer council houses than Margaret Thatcher. That took some doing. That


is why rents are as high as they are. The answer is to build


affordable homes. How do you do that? Identifying new fresh places.


It is about regenerating the north of England in a way which will be


making advantage of what is Britain's largest untapped resource,


which is much of the north of this country, this part of the United


country, this part of theUnited United Kingdom. In favour of a rent


cap? No, I'm not. In theory a great idea, in practice you will crush


supply. You will put people out of homes who would have been in homes


otherwise. You reduce rent by increasing supply. You do that by


allowing Housing Associations just want to be allowed to bory against


the value of their stock. We need 300,000 houses a year. We will not


do it by tinkering. Ed Miliband is wrong if he thinks the housing


crisis is caused by too much regulation. It's caused by not


enough building. OK. So it is the wrong problem that Ed


Miliband is going for. I don't think so. We have to do both. We need to


build houses. We need far more homes and we need to help the 9 million


people in rented accommodation across the country. Tim can sound


indignant, but the reality is that under this government we have had


the lowest level of house-building. We build more than you did. I did


not interrupt you. The lowest level of house-building since the 1920s,


and that is the consequence of what this government have been doing.


Yes, we need to build more homes but we also need to help people who


cannot wait for homes to be built and are living in rented


accommodation, often with children. If you go back a few decades,


families with children would think they would be maybe in social


housing, maybe in their own homes having bought them. Many people now


are really struggling, if they don't have the bank of mum and dad to rely


on, to be able to buy their own home and get on the mortgage ladder. They


are in rented accommodation with their kids, never knowing whether


the landlord might say, sorry, you have to move out, or, sorry, I am


going to put the rent up, and they have to move away from their


children's school, a neighbour who does the baby-sitting. That


insecurity is really damaging for families. That's why I think you


need longer term tenancies, three-year tenancies, and a ceiling


on the rent increases that landlords can apply during that three-year


period. All right. I think Yvette Cooper is being disingenuous. You


can't turn on the volume of house-building on and off like a


switch. It takes time. It was the great recession Labour brought in


that brought the collapse in house-building and the number of


houses being built, and that is starting to recover. What do you


think of stopping rent increases? I am with Tim Farron. The issue is the


supply of housing, not about how much. It seems the Labour policy is


concerned about energy prices, and says, let's cap it, that's the


solution, but does not address the underlying issue. Actually, whilst


Ed Miliband was in power, he brought in these green taxes that raised the


cost of energy. The man behind you. We need to build more houses, not


come out with the gimmicks that Labour seems to all the time.




We talk about the rental culture as if it is wrong and in places like


France it is normal to rent for most of a person's life. I also accept


there is a need for accommodation that is affordable. However, one of


the things we missing is that the developers are wanting to do their


new builds, and these are not affordable houses but expensive


houses, on land that was formerly green belt. That is going to be


destroyed for ever. There are places in many of the city centres, old


Brownfield sites, that are ready to be redeveloped to make affordable


homes for people who can live near where they work, and that will not


happen in the outer suburbs. All it will do is make developers more


wealthy and it will destroy our heritage, our children's and


grandchildren's heritage, for ever. APPLAUSE


There is a difference of opinion between Simon Jenkins for The


National Trust, wearing his National Trust at, and the Conservative Party


on the planning of this. Conor Burns, you answer first. Lets


answer the question about the proposal by Ed Miliband. I often


worry that what can appeared to be very good politics for a party can


be very bad policy for the country. I fear that when a politician comes


forward with a very simplistic answer to what is a very compensated


problem, it is probably the wrong answer. Remember back to the Labour


Party Conference when Ed Miliband was in Brighton and he appeared on


the soapbox in the town centre and was asked, are you going to bring


back socialism. His reply to that was, that is what I'm doing, sir. We


are seeing a trend in some of these rather populist announcements. The


gentleman referred a moment ago to the energy price freeze. No freeze


before the freeze, no freeze guaranteed after, pure populism. We


saw the suggestion he might nationalise land, take it away from


private developers. I think this one is a bad idea, too. This is a


compensated problem. We have to catch up from the fact that the last


Labour government built fewer houses than any government since the 1920s.


And we are trying to do that. We have over ?19.5 billion of public


and private money going into housing. The number of first-time


buyers is that a five year by and construction is at the highest level


since 2007. But the point the gentleman made, you cannot simply


turn on the tap and say, I want to develop 100,000 houses next year.


But you turned it off. The government turn off the tap. I did


not interrupt you. David is going to get very bored! When the


Conservative Party left office, net immigration was 48,000 people into


the country. At the end of the Labour government, it was 233,000.


If you are going to welcome a number of new people into your country, you


have to make sure you have a houses and infrastructure and all the


things that people need when they come to live in the UK. So you're


planning Minister is right to want to build more on greenfield sites to


get the thing moving. That is the Tory policy on this. If he were


here, you could ask him. He ain't, so I'm asking you. Some of the stuff


we are encouraging with localism and encouraging councils take the lead,


in Bournemouth I am seeing town centre that elements mixing retail


and residential and getting the town centre moving. That is the sort of


thing I want. Simon Jenkins. The idea that you increase rented


accommodation by capping the rent is absurd. That is illiterate


economics. I have to say I am mildly in favour of some safeguards for


tenants, but the idea that you solve the problem by capping rent is like


Castro, it is absurd. What do you mean by that? He fixed all of the


rent in Havana and no house has been restored for about 30 years. If you


want to wreck the housing market, cap the price. Coming back to the


question on housing, you will never build your way out with house price


rises by simply allowing the fields to let rip. It is stupid. It


destroys what we value about the countryside, it is not necessary, it


is caving in to a particular powerful lobby, the house-building


lobby. They all want the same thing, rural sites for 300 volume units of


housing. It is the most damaging thing to the countryside we have


seen since the last war. It mustn't happen. But the resource, the real


resource far housing in this country is in cities in underused property.


There is a vast store of empty rooms. We have more empty rooms in


Britain than any country in Europe. We are so hysterical about


house-building because the lobby wants us to do that. Every week you


will see a story about a chronic shortage of house-building. It is


house Restoration we should be concentrating on. That is the green


thing to do. Use existing city sites which are empty, where people now


live, people want to work, people want to move from under the property


into one that fits their needs. Make the urban housing market fluid. That


is the way to solve the housing crisis.


APPLAUSE Try and find some younger people in


the audience who may be stuck in them entered accommodation, may


choose to live in them to the accommodation.


Oh, you put your hands down immediately. I think the problem is


nothing to do with supply, but the type of housing. In Leeds, we have


around 27,000 people on the council waiting list. We need more council


houses. Both the Conservatives and Lib Dems have been selling off the


housing, some of the right to buy schemes. We need a maths building


programme of council housing, to take public sector housing back


under public control. That is how we can control the rent.


I want to make a point to the Conservative MP. When you try to


pass the blame for current things to the Labour Party about immigration,


it just makes me want to turn off. But to the gentleman that asked


about housing, surely Ed Miliband should be concentrating on helping


people get a mortgage and buy a house, rather than focusing on the


rental market. You, in the front. Everyone keeps mentioning turning


off the tap, turning it on for building houses and it can't be


done. That is why we need more security measures for people in


rented accommodation at the moment. Suzanne Evans. I don't want my


countryside to be concreted over. APPLAUSE


. At the moment we need to build one


house every seven minutes to keep up with supply. Like it or not,


migration is a factor in that. Net migration is still 212,000 each


year, despite the fact that David Cameron promised to get it down to


tens of thousands. I don't think he's going to be able to fulfil his


manifesto promise by 2015 unless he shuts down the borders but everyone


outside the EU, and I certainly don't want to see that happen. --


shuts down the borders for everyone outside the EU. Homelessness is now


caused in the main by the ending of private tenancies. But this


reactionary policy brought in by Ed Miliband today, which has already


been described by experts as possibly one of the most stupid


policies ever invented, it really is not the answer. Before we leave


this, Yvette Cooper, is this one of the most stupid policies ever


invented, and Simon Jenkins says this was Castro -like, and would


bring housing to disrepair if it was put through. It would mean nothing


was built and repaired and the place would become like Cuba. The problem


is that nobody on the panel is suggesting answers for people in the


entered accommodation who find themselves in really insecure


tenancies, and find that the landlord can suddenly increased


their rent way above the local market, way above inflation. The


normal tenancy, since Margaret Thatcher introduced it in the 1980s,


the tenancy that most people can get is a six month tenancy. After that,


you could be asked to move by your landlord with very short notice.


What we are saying is the normal tenancy people should get is a


three-year tenancy, to give people some security. The rent would still


be negotiated, just as normal. The government would not set the rent,


the council would not, it would be the normal market negotiation about


what the rent would be. But in those three years, you would have some


limits on the increases in the rent landlord could introduce, so that


you could not just suddenly yourself being exploited, or unable to stay


in the area where your kids are going to school. I think that is


sensible intervention in the housing market because it is a way of


helping people with the cost-of-living crisis that is really


squeezing people. It is all very well to say it is like Castro, but


if people are not providing answers, I think they are letting people


down. Simon Jenkins, you are not providing answers. The answer is to


free up the urban housing market, make it tax deductible to let out


your spare room. Spare rooms are the problem, not housing in the


countryside. Millions of spare rooms which ought to be liberated into the


market and then rent will come down. One more point from the man in the


second row from the back. It is comments like this that stop young


people being interested in politics. It is an anomaly to say that this is


going to help people in any kind of way. Surely this is the male of --


the nail in the coffin, the cost-of-living crisis, this piece of


spin which Labour has drawn out which has failed. Why do you think


it won't work? Because the economy is on the up. Everything that has


been said over the last three years regarding the economy is untrue.


People are getting wealthier. It is spin like the cost-of-living crisis


which is spiralling out of control. I think a lot of people are not


feeling it. This is a funny question. Ron Fallows. Quickly. Are


the panel breathing a I sigh of of relief at the news that Jeremy


Paxman is to leave Newsnight? The politicians on the panel, I assume?


I have no dog in this fight, myself. I don't think Simon Jenkins does.


I'm gutted. I have been on Newsnight a couple of times. I've never been


interviewed by Paxman. I better hurry up. I haves missed out. His


strengths are in his expression on his face when people are answering


the questions, as much as it is the questions themselves. Yeah. I think


everybody will miss Jeremy Paxman. I think he is an institution. I have


been too busy about worrying to play alongside a legendary Dimbleby. Good


answer. Very flattering and quite right. David there is a vacancy,


come on. On Newsnighting? You have to stay up all night. He should make


way for an older man. I'm disappointed. Who can forget the


time he was questioning Michael Howard he asked him the same


question 12 times and Michael Howard still didn't answer. Fantastic. We


immediate people like that to give us... I watched that. It was on


today. It wasn't the same question. It was cleverer than that. The same


question put slightly differently a lot of the time. It wasn't sitting


there muttering the same old thing. Very good interview. In the middle


of he said, "I don't want to be rude, but I have to ask this again.


" "I'm not trying to be funny or anything... Miss Miss He is less


polite now. I have been on Newsnight. Great to be there. I was


able to tweet the mortal line "I survived Paxman." We can go back to


the state of the economy in general. We can take a question, important


stuff. Libby Tinworth, please. Do the panel think steps should be


taken to protect workers on zero-hours and temporary contracts?


Does the panel think, say it again... Do the panel think steps


should be taken to protect workers on zero-hours and temporary


contracts? Which is, as we know, a lot of it about at the moment. What


is your view, Libby? I think the Government should put something in


place to support businesses so that we can, the workforce can have peace


of mind. Things like rent much you don't know where you will be from


week-to-week. If you can afford to live. Peace of mind for the


workforce and make people want to get out there and enjoy working.


What would you do, abolish the zero-hours contracts? Yeah. I think


it definitely needs looking at. It's very hard to live not knowing where


you are going to be and how much money you will bring into the family


home. It's something that needs to be minimised, taken back. How long


have you been on a temporary contract, zero-hours contract? Since


August last year. Right, Conor Burns? Look, I think probably


anybody on the panel who is a member of parliament will tell you that


possibly the most distressing case that comes to you is someone who


wants to work, and can't find the dignity of work. I have had a number


of those since I was elected in 2010. Let us be clear, for some


people, particularly those unemployed for some time, sdeer


ehours contracts can better and can be a route back into full-time


employment -- secure owe hours. Students, a lot of them welcome the


flexibility that gives them to do part-time work. Should the


Government do something about it? The answer is, this Government is


doing something about it. This Government launched a consultation,


the Department for Business, they have had over 30,000 responses. We


have been talking to people on zero-hours contracts, talking to


businesses. We have been talking to trade unions. That consultation


closed on 14th March, the Government will come forward with a response


soon. Now, that is something. We are, unlike the previous government,


looking at it. We recognise there is a problem. We need to tackle those


for whom zero-hours contracts are not the right thing. Can you define


what the problem is. How can you have a contract if it doesn't say


anything about how long you work? How can you be under a contract if


they are not under obligation to offer you work. It's like when you


had in ports. People would turn up in the morning to see if there was


work available for that day. For a lot of people that is an


unsustainable way to organise their lives. It's not unsustainable. It's


completely immoral. When we encourage people to come off


benefited and get into work we need to put the incentives in place to do


that. When they cannot guarantee their income under those contracts,


for whom these are not suitable, there are people, students and


others, for whom they are suitable. The Government is doing something.


The previous government didn't do. They grew under the last Labour


government. We can wait and see what the consultation says. What are the


workers saying they will will do be available any time. When ordered to


come they will come. Otherwise they won't get work at all, that is the


deal, is it? Yeah. They won't get travel expenses. Waiting hours


between shifts. It's unacceptable to treat people like this. Yes, there


might be the few tiny minority for who it works. Libby summed up the


situation very well. It really does have to change. What has been


forgotten in this debate. We can directly chart the increase, massive


increase, in the use of zero-hour contracts from the time that the EU


agency workers regulations were introduced into this country. That


meant that temporary employees, after 12 weeks, had to be on exactly


the same term and conditions as a full-time employees. Big businesses


didn't like this. Zero-hours contracts was a way of getting


around that particular piece of EU legislation. That's why they have


rocketed. Once again, we have the EU to blame for this one.


APPLAUSE Jennings Simon Jenkins. This is now


huge. It's not a small matter. As with the rent, capping rent control.


You legislate into the free market at your your peril. There are ways


to ease the pain of zero-hour contracts. There have to be minimum


standards expected of people. Travel expenses, The National Trust have a


lot of these. National Trust have a lot of zero-hour contracts?


Everybody does in this business. Everybody does. You are talking as


if it were - where do you all work? People working in service industries


are on these sort of contracts. Can you make them as fair and painless


as they can be? Many people don't want to work full-time. Many people


are happy to be called in when the sun shines. You want two or three


times your staff when the sun is shining when it rains. You have to


be sensible about this. I think it ease fair for the Government to


regulate fairness and humanity in employment. That is fine. The idea


you can get away from a massive source of employment for young


people is ridiculous and counter productive.


APPLAUSE The woman here. Yes. I don't think


it's as zero-hour contracts that are the problem. They provide huge


flexibility to the economy. It's the employers are exploiting them and


making the workers lives hell. Are you on one yourself? I'm not on one.


I know people who are on one. You are on one? Yeah. What is your view?


They should be kept, certainly. It was the break into the industry, as


you mentioned. The way into a job. That right. I got a contracted place


from that. I mean, obviously, as you mentioned, it might have been my own


case, not sure on the figures. I'm not into that. It worked for me.


Yvette Cooper? Why is it so often the only route into a job? Why is it


that so many organisations, as Simon refers to, are seeing zero-hours


contracts as normal? They should not be normal. There should be areas


where there are seasonal fluctuations there may be areas


where people have retired who want to work on flexible contracts. For


them to expand so much, so substantially in such a short period


of time, I think is a very serious problem about the way in which the


labour market is working. There is a series of problems, there is a big


problem for people who are told they have to be available. Telling


somebody they have to be available, but not guaranteeing them work is


completely wrong and completely exsplotive. People can't plan


holidays or anything. They can't get things like Working Tax Credit. They


don't know how much they will be earning in a particular week. There


is also a problem where people are kept on zero-hours contracts when


they are working regular hours. They are working week after week after


week after month after month on regular hours contracts, and not


given the employment support that they should be in those regular


hours. I think that is not fair on people too. That also ought to be


addressed. At the moment, there is no suggestion that the Government


seems to be addressing that issue, about what happens to people on


long-term regular hours. They should do that as well. How do you know


until we published our review. The woman there in the fourth row. I run


a business that provides services for the care sector. The care sector


is almost exclusively zero-hour contracts. I think sometimes it's


very easy to hit employers over the head with a hammer about them. The


reason zero-hours contracts came out because local authorities who


contracted out their services for care refused to pay for block


contracts. So now they say you can employ a workforce. You don't know


how many people you need. You don't know when you need them. Local


authorities pay for services by the minute.ful it's very - they won't


pay for time. Local authorities will not pay employers to pay their staff


for travel time. They won't make allowances for training. They won't


pay anything other than contact time. They have engineered the need


for zero-hour contracts. Could the law be changed so they can't do


this, in your view? You can't interfere with what employers do. I


agree with you there. What they should, it is all about funding.


Particularly in essential services like care, it's about getting the


funding right so that we can provide the proper services in jobs for


people who provide those services. OK. Tim Farron. A whole different


question there really. You are working in a profession that is


dealing with and providing services for the most vulnerable people in


this country. Millions of us, there will be millions more of us as the


years go on, yet it needs to be - we have seen with the abuses that have


been spoken about. Which of course are entirely a minority of cases. We


need our care sector to be as funded as esteemed as much as people who


work in the NHS, for example. On the issue of zero-hours contracts. You


make the point, Simon makes the point, when the Government legislate


and regulate, and it should, we need to be very careful we don't throw


the babies out with the bath water. There is a range of things to get


right. People on sdeer ehour contracts, not because it is


convenient for them, it's convenient for the employer. It exploits the


employee. You do not have zero rent or bills. To have zero-hours and not


know when you won't have income that week when you might be eligible for


benefits one week and not the next. And all the heartache that builds


in. That is something we must restrict.


APPLAUSE Got to stop, I'm afraid. Our hour is


up. Next week we will be in Southampton. Panel, Shirley


Williams, from the Liberal Democrats. Grant Shapps, Chuka


Umunna Labour's Business Secretary and, guess who, Nigel Farage, leader


of UKIP. The week after that we will be in Coventry. Come to Southampton


and Coventry, apply the usual way. The website address is there The


telephone number: If you are listening to this on 5 Live, it goes


on with Question Time Extra Time, it doesn't go on in Leeds, that ends


this edition of the programme with my thanks to the panel and all of


you who came to take part. Until next Thursday, from Question Time,


good night. APPLAUSE


David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Leeds, with Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, president of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, Conservative MP Conor Burns, UKIP's communities spokesman Suzanne Evans and Simon Jenkins, columnist for the Guardian and Evening Standard.

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