03/07/2014 Question Time


David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Croydon. The panel includes Liberal Democrat business minister Jo Swinson MP, and Labour's former home secretary Alan Johnson MP.

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Tonight we are in Croydon and welcome to Question Time.


Good evening to you home. Here in our audience, an audience that will


be putting questions as yet unknown to our panel. Our panel tonight,


Labour's former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, Liberal Democrat Business


Minister, Jo Swinson, Conservative chairman of the Select Committee on


public administration, Bernard Jenkin, Christine Blower, General


Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, and Mail on Sunday


columnist Peter Hitchens, we are grateful to him for coming in at


short notice to replace the Daily Mail editor, who is indisposed.


APPLAUSE Remember, as ever, you can join in


this debate by text or Twitter: Let's have our first question


tonight please. Is the NUT strike action justifiable as it will risk


parents lives, hold back education and damage the profession. The NUP


strike, planned next week, is it justifiable? Bernard Jenkin. This is


really a dispute about pensions. There've been plenty of public


sector employees who have had their pensions changed because the


pensions were very generous compared to what you can now get in the


private sector. The police can't go on strike. The armed forces can't go


on strike. I don't think it is right that teachers go on strike. What


about the inconvenience it causes to others, not just disrupting the


children's education, but to the parents who've their working lives


disrupted and possibly affecting their income tax? No, it is not


right. It is an extraordinary thing. There are so teaching associations


who don't agree with strikes. They are not going on strike. It is only


the NUP that is organising a strike. I think it is unfortunate that a


profession as important as teaching is infected with this kind of


old-fashioned 1960s adversarial Labour trade union approach to


resolving disputes. APPLAUSE


Straight to a member of the audience there. Do you not think that


teachers have a point when pay has been cut in real terms over the last


four years? I'm a secondary school teacher in South London. I would be


happy to have my pay increases index linked to MPs' pay increases who I


gather are getting 11% next year. No, we are not.


APPLAUSE Are you going on strike on Thursday?


I beg your pardon? Are you going on strike on Thursday? I'm not. I'm not


a member of the NUT, the but I would if it actioned it. My union hasn't


balloted yet. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers. Christine


Blower, cue be a recruiting Sergeant for him. Strike action isn't the


only thing that the National Union of Teachers is doing. We have for a


good number of months been running a stand up for education campaign.


Members have been out on Saturdays and the weekend in town centres and


city centres, engaging parents, governors and young people to


explain why we think that very many elements of Government policy on


education are wrong. Also on June 10th, teachers covered for each


other. In some cases the head teachers allowed them to come to


London and lobby MPs. We lobbied 156. That's about a quarter of all


the MPs in the House. Including me. Bernard was also lobbied by two NUU


members. We are also organising, plagiarising this, Question Times up


and down the country, inviting prospective parliamentary


candidates... But you are going on strike. That's what the question is


about. You are going on strike, which is what the questioner says,


it affects parents and children. But I want you to know that it is not


the only thing we are doing. Yes, next week we have called strike


action. We will be the only teachers' union on strike, but we'll


be on strike with Unison, the Unite. It is quite broad. It is not


only about pensions but pay. Significantly, it is about workload.


Michael will shore says that at the end of the fifth year of teaching,


only two out of every five teachers who starts in the profession is


still there. That's at least in part because at the moment teachers are


working 60-hour weeks. They are not spending that time writing exciting


lesson plans and doing all the things they want to do. It is very


largely to do with the dead hand of an accountability regime. Our


dispute with Government is not just about pay. Not just about pensions.


It is also about that. The fact is that we are heading towards the


place where we will not be able to recruit enough teachers unless we


get the pay right but also critically we get the conditions


right. So it is across the board for all of those things.


APPLAUSE Peter Hitchens? The right to strike


is an incredibly valuable part of any free society. I'm very much in


favour of it being maintained, but the...


APPLAUSE Those who decide when to wield it


have to be careful when at the do soft. It simply isn't the case that


you can do it when you feel like it or to pursue a political campaign.


It must u feel like it or to pursue a political campaign. It must only


be done - it is almost a nuclear option. It's the thing that you


actually do eventually when you really have no alternative. I


honestly don't believe you have no alternative.


The other thing I might point out to Christine Blower is. This the main


beneficiary of your strike is Michael Gove, a man I believe is a


much overrated Education Secretary...


APPLAUSE He will make a great deal of the


fact that you are opposing him and will be delighted to the fact that


you are publicly opposing him. He will be able to point to the huge


disruption to parents. Anyone in the public sector, when they strike, it


is not against the Government but against the public. I don't think


there is a more futile act that the union could undertake.


APPLAUSE You on the left there. I think I


agree with your point. If anyone should have a voice it is teachers


to. But surely if you are having an issue with the Government, that


shouldn't come to the detriment of pupils. We are trying as hard as you


do. We want you to succeed, to do well, but if you are not there, we


cannot help you and you cannot help us. Surely there must be another way


over strike action that you can make yourself more improved but not at


the cost of the pupils. APPLAUSE


Jo Swinson? I have to say, that young woman there put pit incredibly


eloquently. ORCEDWHITE Jo Swinson? I have to say, that young woman there


put pit incredibly eloquently -- put it eloquently. Christine is right


that trade unions do a lot of good in our society. When we focus on the


ballot we are focusing on the part that the unions do, they do an


important roar in resolving disputes, and training. The other


things that trade unions do are more effective for achieving goals. It


has been an incredibly difficult four years. The economic crisis has


affected everybody. I understand that your members, Christine, the


gentleman in the audience and so on, people have been struggling with


very difficult pay in times of austerity. We've been trying to do


what we can as the Government to We've been trying to do what we can


as the Government to make things better - cutting taxes for people on


low earnings. But it is incredibly difficult. But that's the case for


people in the public sector. For people in the private sector as


well. As that young woman said, there is ultimately a very important


job still to be done in educating the next generation. I think it is


incredibly regrettable that this is going to be happening. Happening. I


hope it is just one day and will be able to be minimised in terms of the


disruption of pupils and parents of younger pupils. I hope that the NUT


can get round the table and have discussions constructively with the


Government to find resolutions to these issues. The man up there with


the beard and the T-shirt. I just think it is really important to note


that no teacher actually wants to go on strike. They all value their


work. When Michael Gove repeatedly disvalues, doesn't credit


professional opinion and advice, what else do you expect the teachers


to do to have their voices heard? Let me come to Bernard Jenkin on


that and then to you, Alan Johnson. I thought it was about pensions and


pay but it is sounding a more and more political strike as I hear more


and more being talked about. The stand up for education campaign. I


looked at the leaflets. There was very little about improving literacy


and numeracy in that campaign. That's not the style projected by


the National Union of Teachers. I think trade crowns are important. It


is important that they act in the interests of their members, but this


strike is not right. What about the Michael Gove point? Make your point


again. You said it's the only way of getting at Gove? Yes, he has


repeatedly ignored all the advice on how to handle teaching in this


country. I think you will find that's been said about virtually


every Education Secretary for 20 years. But Michael Gove more so than


anybody else. APPLAUSE


Alan Johnson? Well, I would like to start where Peter started. The


question was ever right to go on strike? And it is part of, an


important part of a mature democracy. The question was is this


strike justified in view of the disruption. I must have misheard it.


It is a fundamental part of a healthy mature democracy and


everyone someone is going on strike you condemn it. In terms of this


dispute, the lady there is right. A union no longer takes strike action,


if it ever did, without considering the pros and cons. For a start it


hat to be balloted industrial action. You have to prove that


you've got your members' support. In terms of what's happening at the


moment to people's pay and conditions, there's a good argument


for a stronger trade union movement in this country rather than a weaker




There is also a good argument about how restrained trade unions have


been in this country. If you look at other countries that have been going


through the austerity we've been. There's been a great deal of


restraint. I understand this industrial action. Two principal


reasons. Health workers... (Inaudible) Yes. The sky didn't fall


in. The world didn't end. I think a union that balances their


responsibility towards parents as well, and that's always, because you


can turn public opinion against you. When you look at the fact that in


the health service the recommendation of the pay review


body, which has never ever been rejected before, was rejected by


Jeremy Hunt. He said that health workers couldn't get a 1% pay


increase if they were on the incremental scale. If you look at


teaching and performance related pay introduced in schools, which is


affecting your children, because the bureaucracy that goes with it, I


guarantee that in five or ten years we won't hear more about


performance-based pay. It is a phase I hope they are going through and


we'll come out of the other end. These are big issues. They are


taking one day's industrial action to draw attention to it and given


all the frustrations they've faced, I think that's absolutely


defensible. APPLAUSE


Alan Johnson mentioned that you have to get your members on side. How


many of 300,000 teachers voted for this


strike action? We have two ballots, about 43% in one and less than that


in the other. You don't know the numbers I didn't bring them. 43% of


the 300,000? So under half voted for strike action and fewer in the


second ballot? Yep. So it is not popular with the teachers then.


Actually it is very pop larks because more of them take the


action. A you have to have a legitimate ballot. More people take


the action than vote. Just as more people are happy to see their MPs


than ever vote for them. We have a legitimate ballot. We've complied


with everything that the law requires us to comply with. The fact


is that people are following the strike call, yes. On the performance


related PayPoint, Alan is right. What's very interesting is that


Dominic Comings, previous adviser to Michael Gove, is saying that


performance related pay is wrong. Katherine Singh, who was chosen to


come and speak at the Conservative Party conference about free schools,


she is saying performance related pay, absolutely wrong. One issue of


this dispute is that we believe this is the wrong pay system to have in


schools. It links teachers' pay much too closely and America knitsically


to student outcomes. Bernard Jenkin, you are nodding in agreement? I am


sceptical. The whole public sector works on my committee and the way


the public sector is rewarded. Most people work in the Civil Service


because they believe in what they are doing. The reward they want is


to want to work in a trusting environment. They want too be


valued, supported and they want to work in an environment where when


things go wrong they learn with their bosses and suborder that's in


about what's gone wrong. To have this transactional relationship in


such a vocation is a misunderstanding. It is rather the


fashion that people have to be on performance related pay but people


don't live in these relationships happily.


the public sector at the moment. I liked everything Bernard Jenkins was


saying, but none of that is how it feels on the receiving end in the


public sector where jobs are being cut. Austerity, it's hard


everywhere, but we are seeing the public sector being taken apart,


dismembered piece by piece in education, in... Can I say very


briefly in response to that lady - it doesn't feel that in the


poorly-led schools and education. I'm not in schools, I'm just talking


about the public sector. We need to think about how we want people to


feel. What are you in fact? A local council employee. I was an


industrial reporter during the great years of the incessant strikes in


this country and saw many, many people using the nuclear option and


almost invariably they destroyed the industries they claimed to be saving


and it does not actually do any good. It's usually disastrous for


the industry and Alan Johnson's industry, the Post Office, was


almost ruined by strike action and has almost never recovered. Peter is


going back to the days when he was industrial correspondent for the


Socialist Worker and what happened every time we had a strike, we had a


socialist worker say, spread the strike, don't resolve it, spread it.


He is right about one thing, things have changed dramatically since the


70s. When I was in my tank top and flares I said when we were in the


Trade Union that is what we should have done. Certainly now, within


people are closely regular gated, when unions are regulated more than


anywhere else in the world, when you are getting to the stage to take


strike action, it's very different to the days we remember in the 70s.


Another question from Diane Squires, please? Is David Cameron a hero for


standing up to Europe? Is David Cameron a hero for standing


up to Europe? There were some answers there? Jean-Claude Juncker,


of course, only two people voted against him. Alan Johnson? Is he a


hero? Poor David. No, someone should buy him a book on the art of


negotiation. I mean, the poor man. APPLAUSE


Every time an MP, Tory MP is under threat of deselection, David writes


the local party and they get deselected. He supported Maria


Miller. He supported her and yew The Knew she was going to be gone. He


was the only man who could unite Europe in fave of Juncker. He needed


roughly four European Union countries with the right number of


votes to block it and his approach was totally wrong and if people


think he's a hero for that, they would have thought he was a hero


back in December 2011 when he vetoed that directive. That went through.


It went through. The veto meant absolutely nothing. I'm concerned


about this because I'm pro-Europe and I tell you someone else who is


as well - David Cameron. If you read Cameron's speech, his Bloomberg


speech, where at the end, he put in a bit to please people like Bernard


and his backbenchers, he made a very powerful case for Europe, one of the


best arguments I've ever seen. The bit at the end wassen about what's


right for this country, it's about what's right for the Conservative


Party and this's the truth of where they are going in terms of this


policy on a referendum. APPLAUSE


Peter Hitchens? I'm amazed that this complete fake has achieved such


success, that somebody can go... APPLAUSE


Somebody who loves the European Union, the words European Union run


through him as they run through a stick of rock, a man who a couple


years ago made a speech saying the European Union should be extended to


the Ural Mountains. This person, one of the most pro-European countries


probably, he's an opponent of Brussels. He's a tribute either to


the amazing powers of spin of the Conservative Party or the


extraordinary gullibility of members of the population. I just can't


understand how anyone can swallow it. He got into this position by


accident. He was wrongly briefed by somebody who told him that he could


have an easy victory against Juncker because they thought that Angela


Merkel was against it. When it turned out she wasn't, he decided to


do a huge reverse ferret and, instead of being the great victor


who got rid of Jean-Claude Juncker, he'll be the lone opponent of him,


along with the Hungarians. This is all completely staged, it has no


content at all. David Cameron, if it ever came to a referendum, one of


the many post-dates chequed he signed which he almost certainly


won't have to honour, if it ever came to a referendum, it would


without doubt urge everybody to vote to stay in it. He has no intention


to stay in this country. His whole stand against the European Union is


phoney. The supposed Euro-sceptics in the Conservative Party - what


does that mean, Euro-sceptic, what is there to doubt? You are in fave


of leaving it or in fave of staying in it. David Cameron's in fave of


staying in it. I don't know what Mr Jenkins is in favour of because, at


the moment, he's able to avoid the question thanks to his performance.


The Conservative Party in general is and always has been the most


pro-Brussels party in the country and for it to pretend to be


otherwise is an extraordinary act of dishonesty and anyone who believes


it, it's an extraordinary act of gullibility.


Many hands up. I'd better let Bernard Jenkin just comment on that.


Is your Prime Minister a hero for the way that he stood up? Just to


answer Peter's question to start with. If there was a vote tomorrow


as to whether we should stay in this centralised bureaucratic failing


mess that is the European Union, against which the Labour Party gave


away the veto on this question, we should have been able to veto the


President of the commission. Unfortunately, the Labour Party gave


that veto. Could you carry on with if? I would vote to leave. But what


I hope we can do is renegotiate a different relationship. If that's


not possible, I will vote to leave and a I want you to have the choice,


you see. David Cameron wants you to have the choice. The Labour Party


doesn't want you to have the choice. Is David Cameron a hero?


Israil-Lebanoning a hero for doing this one thing, which is going into


opposition in the European Union where you have the majority votes,


not pretending to agree when he doesn't agree, openly saying I don't


agree. There were heads of state whispering behind their hands


agreeing but they were worried about the Germans. Germany is now the most


powerful country in Europe, and even Chancellor Merkel would quite like


to not have had this person, but she was frog marched by her backbenchers


who told her that she wanted Jean-Claude Juncker and that's the


end of it. So she's no hero but Cameron? I think he is, for pointing


out that a spade is a spade and this is not the one we wanted so I'm not


voting for him. You in the front row? I wouldn't


call David Cameron a hero but it was nice to see him stand up for British


interests. I mean, after the European election result, it's clear


that the British people want a referendum on the membership of the


European Union and whether he sticks to it or not is probably a different


story. He's slightly phoney on this, but I think... If he doesn't do it,


he'll really have some problems with backbenchers? He's got backbenchers


like you and UKIP to kick him up the backside if he doesn't do it. No


doubt the Liberal Democrats and Labour are going to block that Bill.


Well, I hope they are not going to because the signs are that they are


going to let it through, then we can put it through the House of Lords.


You might as well offer a referendum as well. Everyone else wants it. I'm


not saying that. APPLAUSE


I'm just saying, a referendum is in people's interests. My generation's


never had a say. I don't know whether I would like to stay in or


leave but I would like to have a stay of whether I want to stay in


the European superstate and do I leave? I don't know, I would like to


stay but the way things are going with the increasing power in


Brussels, it's alienating for someone like me. Doesn't he make you


a tiny bit suspicious that this referendum is being offered more


than two years hence after that? It does. I feel as though it's


because... If helps a referendum, he can hold it now. It's because of


UKIP, that's why he's offering it. I'll come to you and the man at the


top, to the man who says he's waving. I wonder whether the Scots


feel the same about Westminster. They are not having a referendum,


you see. Good question. Interesting question that, very good question. I


would say that I hope the Scots are going to vote no. If in two years'


time on this concocted referendum on a time scale to do with the Tory


party, not national interest, if they did vote to leave, if we voted


to leave the European Union, the Scots would demand another


referendum and I bet they would leave the UK. That's a very real...


The Scots elected the MEPs. Christine Blower, you cited Unite,


you were going on strike with them, you cited them with approval, they


have asked for Labour to have a referendum on the EU, McCluskey


wants it, would you join him? It's not the policy of the NUT to have a


referendum, we don't have policy in this area. Your policy, as a


politician yourself? Well, I'm in a very interesting position which is


that when we very first went in, I voted no. But I now think that it's


absolutely right for Britain to be in Europe and if there were a


referendum, I would actually personally vote to stay in, but that


isn't the policy of the National Union of Teachers, we don't have


policy. You said personally you would vote to stay in. Would you


like to see Labour offer that choice, as speaking personally? What


the Labour Party's said is if there were significant changes to


treaties, they said there would be a referendum and it seems to me, that


is a reasonable position, that if there is a significant change in


terms of the relationship, the way Europe works, that that might be a


point at which you make the decision. I happen to think the idea


of offering a referendum beyond the next election is a bit phoney and I


think it's destabilising and unsettling. Mr McCluskey says Ed


Miliband's going to have a difficult job explaining why he's not joining


other parties on offering a vote that's grown concern? Well,


that's... So they should do it? That is the policy of ewe but it isn't


the policy of my union. Jo Swinson? Do you remember the question? It


was, is he a hero. We are on a coalition Government, so my answer


to that question is no. I actually think the stoking up of


anti-European sentiment is not particularly Consignia deucive to


our national interest -- condusive. Whether it's on trade or jobs, we


rely on other countries. I think that is an important relationship


for the UK to have. I hope in a future referendum and I think


there'll be one, I hope we'll vote to stay in. It's not a perfect set


of institutions, we'll reform it. Then it comes down to typing. Rather


than picking a date out of the air at random of saying it should be


2017, what we have legislated for is picking up exactly on the point the


gentleman in the middle say, he said he felt uncomfortable about more


powers going to the European Union. So when there is a treaty change


and, of course, it's feasible that with all of the changes in the


eurozone as they work themselves out after the financial crisis that we


faced, that there may well be some treaty change and at that point the


referendum would kick in as per legislation. What changed your mind


on all this because you used to say the exact opposite, never good


having a vote on the Lisbon treat eye, you said we needed a vote on


the principle. Why did you change your mind? Why don't you ask Clegg


who is against it to say we'll do well with the British public? If


there's treaty change we should have a vote but the only sensible


question would be to have whether we are in or out of the European Union.


It's dishonest this, because the European Union treaties take power


from our own country every day, every court judgment, every new


directive is taking power from our country. If we want that to stop, we


need to change the treaties. If we won't, then you have to accept the


city of London becomes regulated by the European Union and we have open


borders with the rest of the European Union, we can't control


immigration with the rest of the European Union. We are going to have


to accept that all these things keep happening and there's nothing we can


do about it. This sounds like Batman and the


Riddler. The other three main parties, up against this situation


with regards to us having a referendum. Why cannot the British


people be allowed to put the great back into Great Britain and give us


a referendum so we can make up our own minds? We are the experts out


here. We know what's going down. Let's put the great back into Great


Britain. You Sir, what do you think? I'm coming back to the fundamental


point about David Cameron. He missed a chance where he could have


nominated an alternative to Juncker. By staying in the EPP and getting it


sorted out there. Wouldn't need to be a hero. The woman there in the


second row. I think a yes/no referendum is too simplistic for


such a complex issue for the public to say no or yes. You need reform


and perhaps a better solution would be yes we want to stay in with no


reform. Yes we want to stay in but we want reform in the EU but we want


to come out completely. Yes and no is too much of a dichotomy. Too


brutal? Yes. But if there was a renegotiation and a Prime Minister,


say, Cameron, would say yes if he were in a position to do it, would


it be right to say yes or no? Yes, I think if there was a change in the


way the EU was run, I think you would be in a position to the say


yes or no. This is a myth. The whole idea of renegotiation is a fantasy.


Just as the idea that there is an alternative to Jean-Claude Juncker.


If it hadn't been Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU keeps cupboards full


of men in grey suits just like him. To complain that a European Union


official is a federalist is like complaining that a bicycle has


handlebars. That is what they are. There is no renegotiation. The


European Union has been since it began, and since the Treaty of Rome,


a clause calling for ever closer union. That means abolition of our


power. Mr Jenas, Jenas, he poses as an opponent of the European Union.


The European Arrest Warrant, which we have uniquely got out of, which


allow as magistrate in Europe to issue a warrant to somebody in this


country which we have to execute. We could if we wish opt ouch that. By a


unique anomaly of the European Union we can but they are not going. I am


completely at one with you. I'm going to vote defence this. It is


mad. We stood on the platform of the European elections saying we are


going to take back power over justice and European affairs. It is




It helps us to catch criminals. You don't have to be in the European


Union to get an extradition warrant. Without the European Arrest Warrant


we would never have got the London bombers. We would have had different


(Inaudible) Cameron picked the wrong fight. One of the reforms we are


trying to get out of Europe is making it more democratic. The point


was that Juncker was a democratic choice of the European Parliament.


We had only just elected. Would you like the next time there is a


general election here that the leader of the largest party wasn't


the Prime Minister? Or the leader of the country. That's what the lodge


irk of not having Juncker est party wasn't the Prime Minister? Or the


leader of the country. That's what the lodge irk of not having Juncker


was -- logic of not having Juncker was. He was the leading candidate


and he had just won that election. APPLAUSE


On that puzzle, we'll go on to another question. The Croydon MP


Richard Ottaway has suggested that residents who can't afford a house


in the area should move to Manchester. Do you agree? This was


Richard Ottaway's view. You should move to Manchester if you can't


afford to live in Croydon. Bernard Jenkin. That's my name. I called you


Patrick because I knew your father. I don't agree with my colleague. I


know what he's saying and I think it probably came out wrong. What we


need in London is to deal with this housing bubble, to have a lot more


homes built. And we need imagination. We are going to have to


have a lot of imagination to get it wrong. I was in opposition during


the 1990s and 2000s. We got very green-mind about building on green


fields and being against building on the countryside. We were very


against what Labour were trying to do. Now we are trying to do what


they were trying to do. We were wrong. We've got to build more homes


in the South East. But it comes down to this other point. We've got to


make it so that you can have a career in Manchester. You don't have


to come down to London. We have to focus the economic centre of graft


in our country. Re of graft in our country.


APPLAUSE -- gravity in our country. I think


what Lord Adonis announced this week, along the lines of what Lord


Heseltine announced a couple of years ago, reallocating resources so


they can be controlled and spent by local forces in different parts of


the country. Maybe we can go further and make much more tax-raising


power, more autonomy for the city regions. We've got to try and


balance out the fact we've got this megacity in London. A fantastic


global hub but it must not crowd out what's happening elsewhere in the


UK. You are saying we should be getting people on trains up to


Manchester? What's wrong with that? Alan grew up in Chelsea or Notting


Hill. He wouldn't be able to afford to live there now. Or perhaps you


do! LAUGHTER Have you got a policy to


allow him back in? Come on! There was a poll in the Standard. Kick the


Russians out and not allow people to move back into Kensington or


Chelsea? That's a yes. There was a poll in the Standard which showed


that most Londoners now think London property prices are too high and


should fall. That just shows how much people are worried that their


children and their grandchildren aren't going to be able to live in


the communities where they were born. Rosemary, do you agree with


what Richard Ottaway said? No, not at all. I find that I lose staff


because there's not enough affordable housing in the area. My


daughter has really struggled to get her foot on the housing ladder.


We've had to help her out. I think we do need more affordable housing


to support a cross range of the population. The high-end and it has


to be affordable for people that are in local authority jobs, teaching


positions, nursi staff. No, I don't agree with him.


APPLAUSE Christine Blower? Well, I'm in


agreement with what Bernard Jenkin has said. The royal institute of


architects this week brought out a report saying we need to build


300,000 homes a year for the future, because we haven't been building


enough. We do have to think about whether every bit of the green belt


is doing what it needs to do. Critically we have to make sure


there are affordable houses for people who want to stay in the area


where they grew up. I live in Hammersmith and Fulham, where almost


all the development over the past eight years has been distinctly


unaffordable for anyone who is the son or daughter of working people


who live in Hammersmith. How do you achieve it? Well, you obviously have


a policy of building some social housing and some part ownership, all


of those things. But you have to think about where else you can


build. The fact is that, according to the architects, there are bits of


the green belt on which we can build, because it is not good


amenity green belt. We have to use all the brownfield sites we've got,


but we have to make sure brownfield sites we've got, but we have to make


sure that there aren't - I believe there are large number obvious these


- numbers of unoccupied house in this city centres, whether in London


or Manchester. Absolutely, I think that we shouldn't be focusing


everything on London and the South East. I don't personally want to go


and live in Manchester, because I live in London and have lived in


London for a long time. But die want there to be sufficient -- but I do


want there to be sufficient housing in Manchester for people to be able


to sustain themselves in their own home on the kinds of jobs that they


can get. Ottaway's point was that it is much cheaper to live in


Manchester and you should leave London if you can't afford to live


here. But there is no reason why people should have to leave in


London if they want to live in London. Manchester is a vibrant and


wonderful city, but I don't think people should be forced to move to


other parts of the country. They are in the BBC. The BBC forces them all


to go and live in Salford. It is common in the area where I represent


that people who are trying to get on the housing ladder can't necessarily


do so easily close to the area where they grew up. They might have to


move a little further away initially as they get on the housing ladder. I


think 200 miles is a little extreme for that. People do live in


communities. Those family ties can be incredibly important. Do you


think the right number of houses are being built? If not, why not? We


need to build more houses. We are building more. We are. 450,000 since


the general election, which is a significant increase, more than


double the amount that were being built. But Harold Macmillan built


300,000 houses a year. That was when the population of the country was


smaller. Why couldn't you have done that? We do need to ramp up and


build more. Then why haven't new Various things have made it


difficult, not least construction and the economic crisis that we


faced. We are looking at more garden cities, to have new places with good


transport lines that can become new hubs and new communities. I think we


need to get a lot more inventive with brownfield. It strikes me, I


never cease to be surprised in London, some little corners in zone


1 or zone 2 and you have der lit buildings. I don't want to stop you


in full flow. What can you do, you say we haven't built enough houses,


but what can you do to get developers to build on the


brownfield sites, where they seem unwilling to do? Or are you saying


that councils should build more house insist Councils also should.


One of the things that Nick Clegg set out clearly in terms of our


plans for the future is to say we need to make sure once we've dealt


with the deficit we are changing the fiscal rules to make sure sure we


have investment and we borrow to invest in house building, because we


do need many more homes. That's the only solution to this issue. I think


one of the issues in London is the number of properties that are being


bought up by foreign investors and not even lived in. But empty


properties... APPLAUSE


What we have done, we've increased stamp duty in such circumstances to


15%, but do we need to look at whether there's more things to do?


We want to introduce a mansion tax. High-end property is undertaxed.


There's a range of different things, but we need to stop London being the


centre of the universe as far as our mind-set is concerned. There are


lots of different corners of this country that have a fantastic amount


to offer. Creative industries this Manchester, financial services in


Leeds or Edinburgh... Hull. I worked in Hull. Hull is wonderful too.


Harwich! OK. I think there is too much emphasis on houses and not


enough emphasis on homes. At the end of the day my best friend had to


leave his childhood home and now he can't go back there. People need


homes. If you are going to build houses you then need a hospital, a


school for people to go to. An infrastructure, a community. There


are so many empty houses out there. Croydon do ghost tours of all the


empty building. A councillor is telling you to leave when there are


properties empty there. What is a guest tour? Is it exciting? You


don't see actual ghosts. Just memories. They show properties no


longer in use? They go around the derelict buildings and say look at


how good this architecture at all. I think this is the mindset


of a number of Westminster MPs that when they look at this, they think


that the easiest thing is for people to up sticks and two because it's


not in their interests to have those people around. The trouble, is I


don't think it will hit home until the nanny of that person doesn't


turn up in the morning and the fire dozen get put out because there is


no firemen around the corner and the police don't turn up at his door. I


think for some of these people, only in time, the truth will hit home.


OK. Peter? Mr Ottaway seems to have done that thing which the


politicians here seem to do, the horrible thing politicians are never


supposed to do is tell the truth. It may be as a result the May have to


move out of Croydon, I don't know that. Will be up to you. This whole


subject is the reason why people like me have been banging on, as we


are accused of doing, about the European Union, because the reason


for our housing crisis is that we have had, thanks to our open


borders, imposed on us by the European Union, the greatest wave of


mass immigration in our national history, begun under Labour,


continued under the coalation and that's why there aren't enough


houses. There's another reason for it.


APPLAUSE. It's not because... Absolutely not


blaming immigrants, no. The people that came here were perfectly


reasonable to come here, encouraged to come here by Governments, they


came to better themselves, I don't blame them in the slightest. What I


blame, if you'll let me... My friend had to move out of his house because


the council realised they could sell it for ?2 million and some rich


people could move in. It's a separate issue. It's a housing


issue. To say that I'm blaming immigrants is a big, fat lie and I


reject it. It's to do with the politicians. They open the borders


and made it happen and we are going to have to find some accommodation,


but I do not think they should escape the blame. When we realised


that much of our country is going to have to be concreted over because of


this, we should always remember who made that happen. There is another


aspect of this, which is that Government after Government


repeatedly failing to find any way of generally stimulating the


economy's gone over and over again into the creation of housing bubbles


to create the illusion of prosperity. It's going on now, it's


dangerous for the economy and very, very bad for people who have to live


in houses. For most of us, it doesn't matter what your house is


worth, you can't sell it and two and live in a tent. What matters is


whether you can afford to buy it and whether your children will be able


to buy one or rent one. Mass immigration is to blame.


You at the very back? I have a couple of suggestions. We need to


have tax or Government policies whereby we can force land banks


built on, rather than waiting for inflated house prices to generate


major profit. Many the London area, we need to get a Government policy


for vacant houses and third, I do agree, immigration is also one of


the angles which we have to look into. We can't start categorising


people into giving them certain things because they are making this


valid point. It's high time we are all honest about this situation. I


heard arguments about this in Notting Hill when I lived there,


people coming over from the West Indies to drive buses, work in the


NHS and work in the Post Offices. We heard the same things then. I'm not


associating you with this, Peter. It's a straightforward smear. It's a


smear. We have Mosley saying the same thing and it was always blame


the immigrants. Now, on this issue in particular, the argument is


ludicrous. The argument is ludicrous. There was a housing


crisis. David just mentioned 300,000 houses a year under Macmillan,


250,000 before him when Nye Bevan was the Housing Minister. In London


now ?135,000, four times the London average wage. The point Jo made was


right about the need to build extra houses and Bernard said it as well.


The time to have done it was over the last four years. It's never been


cheaper to construct houses than over the last four years. All these


houses are going to have to be built eventually. We could have stimulated


the economy, instead of that, Osborne cut back on the capital


spending budget and so we are still talking about the same things that


we should have been doing three or four years ago.


APPLAUSE The woman at the very back there? I


have to disagree about what at toeway said about having to up


sticks families away from the area if they can't afford it -- Ottaway.


The point is, there are families there that have family members to


help them look after their children. How would that work if they had to


move out of the area? The woman at the back? The housing crisis is due


to the widespread selling off of council property due to right-to-buy


which was one of the most devisive policies of the Tory Government.


Bernard Jenkins, do you want to answer that point? It's a policy the


Labour Party have carried on with and the people living in those


houses, whether they are owned by the council or somebody else, maybe


we should have built more council houses and we are now building more


council houses, but actually, every suggestion that's being made, when I


said I needed some imagination, we are going to have to build new


settlements, by new settlements and Boris has this great idea. Who is


Boris? Who is Boris? Erm, you're showing your age! Boris Johnson got


this brilliant idea of moving Heathrow Airport to the Thames


Estuary which would create a huge opportunity to create a new City on


the site of Heathrow, build hundreds of thousands of homes. Are you in


favour of that? Yes, I very much am. That is the kind of imagination we


need to tackle this problem. Can I just say one thing. We politicians


have allowed this extraordinary influx of population into this


country. I mean, the... That point's been made so I'll stop you there and


we'll go on to the final question because we have only a couple of


minutes left. Andy Richardson? Richardson?.s a recent pop list poll


described leading polices as weird, arrogant and out of touch. Are they?


CHEERING AND APPLAUSE -- populist poll.


You can answer that first, Bernard Jenkin? Given that about 0.01% of


the population is involved in active politics, that does make us pretty


weird, doesn't it, Alan? And Jo! We do tend to live in something of a


bubble in the Westminster village, but every MP goes to their


constituency at weekends and deals with everyone's very, very


straightforward problems and very difficult problems. And ignores


them. No, that's not true. No. You can always get a round of applause


by attacking politicians. This one is a poll that was done on what


people think, it's not a cheap round of applause, it's what people say.


You should answer what they say. I'm answering what they say. I do think


that politicians who say things like, people who go to food banks


are doing it as a lifestyle choice are clearly out of touch with what's


happening. I do think that there are many politicians, not all by any


means, but many politicians who do get out of touch, notwithstanding


the fact that they have to speak to their constituents when their


constituents come in. And they are a bit weird, as you say, because there


are so few people doing it. The serious point is, I think we


absolutely have to have politicians who understand what life is like for


working people who frankly there are plenty of working people having to


claim benefits because they are just in such a poor state. I really don't


think that the vast majority of politicians understand that. I think


that is a serious matter. Alan Johnson, weird? Do you think


yourself as weird? Well, many people would say that. You do? Look, this


is really serious and it's a big problem because there is this


disconnect and it's true, Bernard says it's always been the case,


there was never a stage when politicians were popular, if you


look back in history, even Winston Churchill after the Second World War


had an independent stand against him and get 10,000 votes in his own


constituency. It's got to a stage now, and that might be something to


do with the expenses scandal and other things where it's worrying,


you can't just dismiss this and say, as I would say, it's a noble


profession and anyone's welcome to join it and stand for election, it's


a great thing for us to have a democracy with people voting for the


people that represent them. Go to many places in the world not too far


away, go across to Russia, you will see communities that really would be


desperately keen to have that system, but if we've got to the


stage now where so many people feel this and whether it's the


institutions, whether it's the way MPs behave, whether it's the


process, we've got to tackle it because we can't just dismiss this


and I think whatever the solutions, and I can't come out with them


tonight, whatever the solutions, we have to take it seriously, all


parties, because I've never known this disconnect be so bad. The man


in suspecticals? Do you think we have got a problem when the Prime


Minister can guess the price of a loaf of bread and get it 50% wrong


and Boris can guess the price of a pint of milk and also get it 50%


wrong? I think being very actively involved in politics whether you


have elected or the fantastic people in the constituencies that go out at


weekends and give up their evenings and so on, that is not the norm so


perhaps that is a bit weird but I also think people have a different


view of politicians as a group than their own elective councillor in


their community or their own Member of Parliament. I'll often have


people explain their frustration to me when I'm out knocking on doors or


in my constituency, and they'll say, I don't mean you. So there is a


disconnect about people's experiences. Given some of the


comments from the local members, that might not be the right


audience, but people sometimes have an appreciation if their local


councillors and local Members of Parliament that they have been


helped and don't necessarily think the same. Peter Hitchens? Some are


all right, most are pretty much like us and that's the problem. Alan goes


on about being elected. You don't get elected, but you get selected by


the parties, and you can't get selected unless you accept studenth


stupid discredited ideas on which have been exploding which they'll


not give up. That is the real reason for the disconnect between them and


us, they are still thinking in categories and ideas discredited


many years ago and you can't get into the magic circle unless you


accept that. Until that changes and the three parties are ejected from


Westminster and replaced with ones which truly represent what we are


worried about... But you Your party would never select me, his party


would never select me. Do you not see how Parliamentary elections


work? You voted for those put before you by the major parties. If anybody


outside that point stands... It's exactly the point at which people


get into politics. How did Caroline Lucas get elected? It's Brighton.


The hour is over, next week will be the last Question Time until the


autumn and we'll be in Inverness and will have no politicians on the


panel for a change. It will be made up of musicians, businessmen,


journalists, and we are going to be back on the 25th September, that's


after the Scottish independence vote and we are going to have the


programme from Kelso which is close to the English border and what we


are looking for on the 25th September is an audience made up in


part from people from England, in part from people in Scotland,


clearly to debate the result of that referendum and, of course, whatever


else is in the news. If you want to come to Either programme, go to the


website. The address is on the screen. Or you can call us. If you


are listening on Five Live, the debate goes on on Question Time


Extra Time. My job is to thank the panel and all of you who came here


to take part. From next week, when we'll be in Scotland, good night.


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