David Dimbleby presents from Stratford-upon-Avon. Panellists include Justine Greening, Lisa Nandy, John Nicolson, June Sarpong and Theo Paphitis.
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Here we are in Stratford-upon-Avon, and this is Question Time.
And a big welcome to our audience, to all of you watching or
listening on the radio, and of course to our panel.
Tonight, the Conservative International Development Secretary
Justine Greening, Labour's Shadow Energy Secretary Lisa Nandy,
the SNP MP and culture spokesman John Nicolson,
the broadcaster June Sarpong,
and the businessman and former star of Dragons' Den Theo Paphitis.
As I always say, you can join in this debate from home.
You can do it on Facebook, on Twitter - #bbcqt,
you can follow us @BBCQuestionTime.
You can text comments...
All the details are on the screen.
And push the red button and see what others are saying.
But let's take our first question from Christopher Walsh, please.
Has David Cameron really done enough to persuade the British public
that we should remain in the European Union?
-This is assuming he gets everything he has been asking for, yes?
Yes. Theo Paphitis.
If he wins all his points, has he done enough?
Well, so far, what I've seen from both sides is Project Fear.
From my perspective, I am not really sure where I am
at the moment. I'm sort of reasonably well-read,
I have unprecedented access to people in the know,
I am in business
and at the moment, I just have not got a Scooby-Doo which side
to go on.
Certainly, so far, it just seems - I hate to say this -
but like a big pantomime.
When will we be told facts?
Not scaremongering that the world is flat
and if we leave the EU we're going to fall off the edge, you know,
which are the sort of things we are hearing.
Or, in fact, Brexit is the best thing since sliced bread
and we're going to be ever so rich if we leave tomorrow morning
and it will be so much easier. The sun's going to come out
and we will all be looking great and feeling happy.
There's been no facts, just scaremongering from both sides.
But you are a successful businessman,
apart from your Dragons' Den life.
-That wasn't that bad!
Surely you have a considered view about in Europe or out,
as a businessman?
I have a view, but it is not a view that I am prepared, at the moment,
to put a cross on the ballot box to say, "We are off,"
or, "We are staying,"
because there's just not enough facts coming out.
As for this renegotiation, I don't know if it is just me but I am
struggling to see why it makes any difference to why
-we are in or we are out.
So, Justine Greening, it's a pantomime,
Theo says, what is going on in Brussels tonight and tomorrow.
I don't think it is at all.
I think the Prime Minister is trying to get the best possible
deal for our country, which is what he should be doing.
It's potentially a deal that can see us
have a much better place within Europe.
And indeed, what's interesting, some of the debate tonight
is going to be from other countries, leaders around the table
who want some of the things that
Cameron is managing to negotiate for Britain.
But at the end of the day, I think
it is going to be about what is in Britain's interests -
how do we want to stay influential in Europe,
what is the right future for us?
And it's going to be up to everybody in this room,
the whole of the British people, to have their say.
As you say, I don't think we have really got into the debate yet,
but it has to be about what we want as well as what people don't want.
And you are right to say we must make sure it is not simply
some kind of Project Fear, where both sides set out the risks.
I think there is no black-and-white solution.
There's going to be pros and cons whichever side people go,
whichever way our country goes.
But the bottom line is we are all going to have to make our own
minds up, and hopefully this time tomorrow
we might have a clear idea what
Britain's deal is that the Prime Minister has managed to get.
The question that Christopher Walsh asked was, even if
he got all the things he is saying he wants to get, would that
be enough to persuade you, for instance, to remain in the EU?
I've said I think it's the basis for a good deal
and if we can get it I would prefer it if we could stay in.
I think, in the end,
for me, it is about interest and influence -
interest in terms of jobs
and influence in the sense that the discussions and decisions
that happen at EU level do impact us whether we like it or not,
and I would prefer to stay around that table being able to
-have our say and stand up for our country.
It will be really interesting to hear what you all have to say.
I'll just take one more member of the panel
and then we will come back. Let's hear Lisa Nandy's view of this.
I think he will come back with some kind of deal.
I don't think it will do enough to convince
the Euro-sceptics in his own party,
I don't think anything could do that.
But my concern is that it won't do enough to convince
people in the country who are particularly concerned about jobs.
The Europe that they need to see is the Europe that has delivered
us many of those workplace rights, a Europe where our Prime Minister is
pushing to make sure that employers can't undercut wages using
a Europe where we work together, collaboratively, to stop
companies like Google playing us off against one another and avoiding
paying their fair share of taxes,
and a Europe in the end where we work
together in our shared interests to
tackle the big challenges that we face.
Because whether it's climate change
or mass movement of refugees or international terrorism,
these are all things that demand more cooperation from us, not less.
What about the things being negotiated, which Theo
described as pantomime? Do you think it's pantomime, what we're seeing?
I would describe it as tinkering, when we need a Prime Minister who
is going to fight for a Europe that works for people
and not a Europe that works for big business.
Jeremy Corbyn, that would be?
That's the Europe that would stand up for Britain's interests
and give us influence in the coming centuries.
And that's Jeremy Corbyn?
That is exactly what Jeremy Corbyn was arguing for in Brussels today.
OK. You, sir, at the back, in the blue shirt.
I think we should have a Prime Minister
that fights for the UK, not Europe.
Do you think David Cameron is fighting for the UK?
I don't know.
I'm sitting on the fence with Theo. We just don't know.
You... The lady here in the front.
What makes anybody think it's going to be any different?
Our country's infrastructure cannot cope with any more mass migration.
If Turkey joined the EU, no matter what David Cameron gets us now,
it's not going to be enough.
-So will you vote out?
-Out. Definitely out.
You're a definite out. June Sarpong, what are you?
Well, I am definitely in, I am part of the campaign to try
and keep us in.
I come at this from a different perspective, I am not a politician
and I don't run a big business, like Theo.
-It's not all that bad!
-I wish I did, but I don't.
But...I care about the future
and I don't want to live in the past.
And I think Britain is stronger in Europe for three reasons.
The first reason is economically - we will be poorer
if we leave Europe. We will,
because three million British jobs are linked
to those we trade with in the EU.
-APPLAUSE AND DISSENT
-Yes, they are! Yes, they are.
So therefore if we leave, we could be putting those jobs at risk.
-That's not Project Fear, that's Project Truth.
-Can you justify that?
-Come on, I'm listening.
-I'm here to be convinced.
Those are government statistics, not mine.
-No, they're not...
-I didn't make them up.
I'm here to be convinced.
-Who has come up with three million job losses?
-They didn't say three million job losses,
they've said that three million jobs are linked to our trade
with other EU countries.
And five million jobs are linked...
Five million jobs in the EU are linked directly with the UK economy.
-And where did you get that statistic from?
-Where does that get you?
Where does that come from?
No, where does that get you?
Basically, we need each other.
It is not a case of if we leave, they're going to...
They're going to flood the Channel Tunnel and say,
"You can't deal with us any more."
-They need us more than we need them.
-No, they don't.
Why would we want to leave a leadership position
in the biggest trading bloc in the world? Why would we do that?
Why would we want to limit the chances for our younger generation?
The biggest trading bloc in the world?
Have you seen the decline of the EU GDP figures?
Still 50% of our foreign direct investment comes from Europe, Theo.
You've got to realise...
You are a businessman, Theo...
-A very good businessman...
-And I know the true figures.
The fact remains, the EU is the only trading bloc that is declining
while the rest of the world is actually growing.
But while it still accounts
for half of our trading, it makes sense for us to stay there.
-I feel a bit rude interrupting.
Look, we should be clear about what we are getting
and what we are not getting. We are not getting a treaty change.
So anything the Prime Minister comes back with can be
rejected by the European Parliament, so we can go into this referendum
and vote on something which the European Parliament can then reject.
It is important to recognise that.
Can the Council of Ministers not override the European Parliament?
-More likely than not, I think.
But still, we are voting for something
which could then change subsequently.
We are also voting for something that could be
overturned in the European courts.
There could, for example, be a challenge.
So it's all very vague, and the reason it is very vague is because,
I agree, it is a pantomime.
It is about internal Conservative Party politics
rather than really changing Europe.
But nevertheless, you will vote on it.
I will vote, I will vote and I will vote to stay,
because I think we are getting terribly
absorbed in a lot of the minutiae of this rather than the big picture.
Last week, I was in Berlin,
and I think what Parliament really misses is the statesmen.
It's the elder statesmen, it's the Ted Heaths, Denis Healeys,
it's the Jacques Chiracs, people who
have a memory of war and remember what this whole project was about.
It was about peace in Europe, the iron and steel community,
growing peace in Europe and stability
between these warring factions.
And what's been achieved in Europe is an extraordinary thing.
And can I just make one point, David?
Which is about something, if you remember, called subsidiarity.
Do you remember that word?
Because the Prime Minister says he is in Brussels at the moment
and one of the things he is trying to stop is Britain being
sucked deeper into European integration.
John Major tried to do that,
and he tried to do that in a way which has hoisted the Tories
with their own Europe petard, because he broadened Europe.
He was keen for Romania to come in, and Bulgaria...
And what was the inevitable consequence of that?
A huge amount of immigration.
And you're not in favour of those countries being in the EU?
I am in favour of those countries...
Why do you criticise him for allowing it?
Because he's so clearly not achieved what he set out to achieve.
I'm completely consistent...
Turkey would like to be a member as well. From your point of view...?
I'm not sure about Turkey.
I wouldn't necessarily reject Turkey coming in,
but when you think of what the European Union did in giving
hope to the ex-communist countries,
integrating the ex-fascist countries,
it's been an extraordinary success.
OK, let's go back to the question about Cameron...
and the negotiations and
whether the negotiations, which were described
at the beginning as a pantomime, whether they are enough to
persuade people. You, sir.
Yes, it is all smoke and mirrors
and he has no chance of delivering anything.
It's jam tomorrow.
We have to get control back of our borders.
As far as the comment you made about business,
the trade deficit with Europe - our deficit is 88 billion.
Do you think Europe will stop doing business with us?
And you, sir, let's have a wide range of views from an
audience of mixed opinion, yes...
With regards to the question of is David Cameron going to get
a deal, absolutely he will, but will it be in Britain's best interest?
It will be another David Cameron manifesto
full of "no ifs, no buts", promises that he will not
-Are you voting yes or no?
Regardless of what he does?
-OK. Anybody want to vote yes, regardless of what happens?
You, sir, in the pink there.
Isn't the bottom line here sovereignty
and the UK being in control of its own destiny?
-And currency as well.
The man there in the turquoise shirt, the short-sleeved shirt on...
If that identifies you.
The Prime Minister gave an interview today where he said
he was battling for Britain.
By the weekend, we might find out that he's buckled for Britain.
Yes, you, sir, in the middle there.
Just to take the gentleman on the left there - his point...
He said that Europe was established to stop war.
It wasn't. It was established as a European free-trade association.
And that's what we voted for!
If I may, you said you were in Berlin.
I think people in Berlin, at least their leader, needs reminding,
when she keeps telling this about preventing war,
their country started the last two wars.
I would just say to the gentleman there,
I really do disagree with you.
The EU was established to make war not only unthinkable
but materially impossible.
I think that on that basis it has been a success.
It hasn't done that, we've had...
I wanted to take on this point that a number of people have
mentioned about sovereignty.
It's absolutely right to recognise that we need more democratic control
within the EU.
But surely nobody would think, in today's world, that we
will have more control over the major issues that affect us,
like trade and jobs, like climate change,
like international terrorism, by turning our back on the EU?
We need more cooperation
and need to be right at the heart of Europe
so that we make sure that Britain is shaping
the nature of that cooperation and not being dragged into it...
-They don't listen to us...
-..on someone else's terms.
Firstly, the Prime Minister has been very clear
he wants to get a good deal, but if he can't get one today,
tonight, he won't accept a deal
that is not good enough for our country.
The second thing is, we do need to look at what Europe needs to
be for the future, rather than just looking at the past.
There is no doubt that in my area in international development
we have done huge amounts of work in Syria, but we have seen
the impact of that much closer to home here in Europe,
and it makes sense for us
to try and work in partnership with other countries in Europe on that.
But the bottom line is this - we have had Question Times over
the years, we have had debates over the years.
What is different now is you are all going to get,
we're all going to get to have our say, for the first time ever.
So whether or not you think the PM's going to get
a good deal, whether or not you think he is,
the bottom line is we get to decide as a country,
and surely that is something we should be able to agree on?
It's a massive step forward and it is the right thing that
after all these years
people here in our country get to have their say.
OK. Just before we go on...
We heard a number of voices on the out side.
I want to hear from people who would like to remain.
Just a couple of people who would... You, sir, yes.
Britain is not a beggar, you know.
The Prime Minister should stick on his points
and whatever he wants - he can have that from the European Union.
So he should stick, for the Britain,
for Westminster, to make it safe for our children in future.
OK. And you, sir... On the right. Yes.
I think... A lot of attacks have been made against David Cameron
but in my lifetime it's the first
time I have seen a British Prime Minister
stand up to Europe and challenge them on their principles.
We can argue whether these are long-term changes
but the process of negotiation has begun and I am voting in
because I believe that once this first change is made,
hopefully other European leaders will be brave enough to stand up
and make more reforms in Europe.
And you on the gangway there.
Lisa Nandy is right, how can we ever be able to trade with the EU
if we can't be part of it
and we can't be the big player which affects it from the middle?
Why would we want to go out and lose that power?
Is that regardless of what Cameron comes back from Brussels with?
-It doesn't affect you one way or the other?
It does affect it, but if we go out of Europe we won't have that say.
If you had just had a referendum...
Cameron just saying,
"We'll have a referendum without any renegotiation.
"Just want to know, cos we haven't asked you since 1975..."
Well, you weren't born in 1975... LAUGHTER
"We haven't asked you, we are just going to ask you again,
"without any attempt at changing anything."
-Would you have still voted in?
We will have more of this as the weeks pass, I've no doubt,
but let's just take this as a coda to it,
from Andy Chilton, please. Slightly off-beam and quickly, I think. Yes.
Was actress Emma Thompson's description of Britain
as a "cake-filled, misery-laden, grey old island"
a fair reflection of
our country or just another example of metropolitan elitist snobbery?
She said she felt European even though she lived in Great Britain.
"I'm living in Europe. Of course I am, as it were...
"A tiny little cloud-bolted, rainy corner of sort-of Europe."
-Erm, is that how you see Europe, June?
-I mean Britain.
-No, not at all,
I see Britain as a fantastic Victoria sponge.
I have to say, the one thing that I am slightly anti-EU on,
being a pro-EU campaigner,
is I see far too many French tarts in our bakeries!
So rather than Emma's description, I would say I think we are a fantastic
Victoria sponge and I completely disagree with her on that one.
I don't actually recognise that description of the United Kingdom.
We've got our problems.
We have got our down sides, we've got the odd bit of rain,
-but at the end of the day...
No, I think she's been in LA for too long.
That's her problem.
All right. Lisa?
We have our fair share of rain in the Northwest, I can tell you that.
But I don't recognise that description of Britain.
I much prefer the celebration of Britain that we saw
Danny Boyle put on during the Olympics opening ceremony -
a Britain that has worked over the centuries to strive,
to work together and stick up for people
and to defend values of social justice around the world.
That's why I want to see us stay in the EU,
cos I want to see us not just have global influence
in past centuries but in the coming centuries as well.
Poor old Emma Thompson, anyone want to come to her defence?
-I want to.
-As a Scot...
-I want to come to her defence.
Her politics isn't great, that said.
I notice that she said she had lived in Great Britain and Scotland.
Maybe she knows something about the next referendum that I don't!
Look, one of the problems, I think, for people like Emma is that
she's in the public eye. And she sometimes says things,
and then you have all these very po-faced journalists,
of which I used to be one, who then listen to what she says,
make it into a big banner headline
and blow it up out of all proportion.
I suspect she probably regrets saying it.
Is it the worst thing she could say?
I doubt it. She seems very English to me. Proud of being English.
I wish she would lead a campaign...
Actually, since we are talking about cake names -
to revert from "cupcakes" to good old-fashioned "fairy cakes".
-What is wrong with a fairy?
-What is wrong with a fairy cake?
This is getting wildly out of hand!
Justine Greening, you are International Development Secretary,
you go around the world and hear people talking about Great Britain.
Do they think about Great Britain that it's a "tiny little
"cloud-bolted rainy corner of sort-of Europe"?
I think they all know it rains in Britain quite a lot.
But in the end, I think most people recognise that it's a unique
country with an amazing history.
We do some of the best comedy in the world
and we should be really proud of that.
I don't know - maybe Emma was having a bad day.
But I'm sure that...
We are quite proud of Emma Thompson, aren't we?
I'm sure she loves our country as much as the rest of us do.
At least, I hope so.
We wouldn't have nothing to talk about, would we, if she
-didn't say something.
-Or if it didn't rain.
We would, we've got have masses to talk about...
When it comes to her comments, if it wasn't for Britain,
would she be in the position she is now?
The hint is in the name, isn't it? GREAT Britain.
OK. Now, look... We had better get on.
Just before we go to the next question,
a reminder about where we will be. Next week it's Poole,
and the week after that it's Liverpool.
Funny verbal twist there. All the pools!
We made a list of pools - Welshpool, Hartlepool, Ullapool,
Blackpool, Pontypool, you can...
Anyway, it's Poole and Liverpool.
The website says how to get to us.
I'll give that at the end again.
David Haugh, please.
Do you agree with the Pope that
Donald Trump is not a Christian?
Let's deal with this one.
The Pope said today on his aeroplane
on his way back from Mexico
that a person who thinks only about building walls, referring to
the wall between Mexico and the United States, is not a Christian.
And Trump replied, the Pope would only wish and pray that
Donald Trump HAD been President if the Vatican was attacked by Isis.
I don't know... John Nicolson?
Um, who knows what is in Donald Trump's dark soul?
I don't think it's for me to say whether he's a Christian or
whether he's not a Christian.
He certainly doesn't seem to abide by some of the basic tenets
of Christianity, as I understand them - love thy neighbour
being one, for example, the Good Samaritan being another.
Doesn't seem to be too engaged with that. He's a dreadful man.
The good thing is...
If he gets the nomination he will get absolutely
whipped in the general election because the problem with the
Republicans these days is in order to win the Republican nomination
you've got to go so far to the right that it makes it almost impossible
for you to steer back to the centre and to win a general election.
That's why, when we look at American politics, the Democrats just
keep winning because America is no longer a white, male country.
If you go out of your way to alienate Muslims and Mexicans
and gays and every other conceivable minority, you cannot bring
together the coalition necessary to win an election.
And I'm so looking forward to the night of the election
-and watching the smirk wiped off his face.
It's a bit of a tricky one for you because you welcomed him,
Alex Salmond welcomed Trump to Scotland build an enormous
golf course on a nature reserve
and now you want to ban him from coming to Scotland.
No, I don't want to ban him.
I mean, there is an argument that the Home Secretary should be
consistent with the people that she declines to let into the country.
But I know you like this question, David,
because you have asked it before.
But of course, it's very important to remember
that the person that first...
What question have I asked before?
The question about Donald Trump being welcomed by the SNP.
It was in fact the Labour Party that made him
a trade ambassador for Scotland.
I just think it's worth putting that on the record.
Alex Salmond, I heard him saying he was wrong to have supported him.
But the party that made him a trade ambassador was the Labour Party.
But look... He's a businessman.
Once upon a time he worked in business
and he provided jobs for people.
And of course, in Scotland we want jobs.
-But I certainly don't support him as a politician.
I'm just staggered that they are even treating him seriously,
to be honest with you.
I've been watching the hustings on television
and some of the things that he has been saying,
you just wonder, you just wonder
what he has to say for people to say, "Stop!
"This man has got to go!"
because he keeps pushing the boundary every single time.
And you just think, he's going to push it...
I just actually believe it's a publicity stunt and he's hoping at
some stage he can get off the wagon and go back to doing
what he's doing.
It seems the American people just keep encouraging him. It's amazing.
I suspect that ironically this is exactly what Donald Trump loves.
And he then gets to say something outrageous on the back of it.
The serious point is that he is in this seemingly leading
position in the Republican race.
And I think, as much as we might think some of the things
he says are funny, a bit of a joke, actually,
the American election for president is no joke.
And I think we have to wait and see how things work out.
But I do hope that by the time we get the two final frontrunners
from the Democrats and the Republicans, they are people who
are serious politicians with serious proposals and that we move away
from this almost reality-TV style of contest that we've seen so far.
Because we need the person who is in that role of president
to be someone,
frankly, who is going to be helping us to solve problems...
-The most powerful man in the world.
-..not creating them.
But does it worry you that American democracy,
the democratic process, can produce Trump at this stage,
with this amount of support?
I think the problem is, unlike here in the UK
where there are lots of seats that are marginal seats, they switch
between the parties - I won a seat from Labour and I'm a Conservative -
there are far fewer of those in the United States.
So what happens is the real contest is becoming the candidate
for your party for the state or the seat that you're going in.
And what that means is that people tack off to the extreme.
And actually, one of the good things about the British system is
A - we have first-past-the-post.
B - we do have seats that switch regularly during the election.
That means people representing those communities have to
stay on their toes and do it well, otherwise people simply get
someone from an alternative party.
OK. June Sarpong.
I think, before we get to whether or not he is a Christian,
the question is whether or not he's a human being!
I think he is absolutely frightening
and the fact he's got this far should scare us all very much.
I'm hoping, just as Theo said, at some point people are going
to wake up and say, "You know what? This isn't a joke any more.
"This is serious. There are jobs at stake. There are lives at stake."
And in terms of what this means about national security,
this man is a threat to all of us and he needs to go.
-I don't feel at all qualified to...
-Judge his religion...?
Whether he's a Christian or not.
Do you think the Pope is qualified to judge?
I'm sure the Pope is a lot more qualified than I am.
What I would say is that anyone who preys on people's insecurities
and does it at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people,
not just in his country, but in the world, isn't fit to lead.
And before we get a bit preachy and complacent about ourselves,
we should reflect on the fact that we have a Prime Minister who
just recently stood up at the dispatch box and referred to
people fleeing persecution in Syria as a "bunch of migrants".
I'm saying this not just because I was appalled
by what David Cameron said, but because I think
there are times in this country when we stray into that level of debate
ourselves and we should always be vigilant to make sure that we don't.
Because as we're seeing in America, you know, you start with
something that looks like just adding a bit of colour to politics,
you start with something that looks like a bit of a sideshow
and what you end up with is that it gathers pace and then
at the end it has real and profound consequences for people's lives.
And whether Trump gets the nomination or not,
whatever happens next, there will be people who have already suffered
as a result of what that man has said and done.
HE COUGHS Yes, you, sir.
I lived in the United States in the early '80s
and at that stage Ronald Regan was president,
which was scary enough.
But I think the recent endorsement of Donald Trump by Sarah Palin was
a new low for American politics
And I think that the sensationalisation
and the cheap rhetoric
is a poor excuse for good government and good governance.
OK. The woman there in the spectacles,
I will come to you and then we will go on. Yes, up there.
So you mentioned democracy in America.
I don't think that the issue is Trump, it is the actual system.
The system isn't democratic at all
and if you listen to a lot of his supporters, they are not as
much listening to what he's saying. Their main reason for supporting him
is that he has money and that he's not listening to pressure groups.
So the issue is how much American politics is run by money.
-People aren't really listening to what he's saying.
I think, in all honesty, I think it does make the general population
wonder just how farcical politics itself is becoming.
That probably has a greater bearing
on any other politician in the world.
If they're trying to be serious and they are seeing this kind
-of farcical thing going on, then...
-It damages our politics as well?
Absolutely it does, yes.
Let's go to another question -
Annabel Matharu, please.
Stratford-upon-Avon has two excellent grammar schools.
Is it now time to remove the barriers that prevent new
grammar schools from opening?
This is a big issue here, Stratford-upon-Avon,
which has two very successful grammar schools, as you say.
But the issue is whether there should be more of those
and whether they damage the education system as a whole?
The Conservatives did allow a grammar school to grow,
put another grammar school in a nearby town,
but refused to allow brand-new grammar schools to start.
What's your policy on it? What's your view of it?
I think, broadly, what you have seen happening
over the last five to six years is
more and better schools, better-qualified teachers,
more children... Around 1.3, 1.4 million more children
in good or outstanding schools.
So our education system is doing a better job now than it has in the
past of preparing children for being successful in life and for work.
And in terms of what is the best school to do that, we have been more
flexible in allowing grammar schools to expand.
But in the end, from my perspective, it's less about that and more
about the teachers that are in the school,
whether they feel they can do the
best possible job, whether children have the right learning environment.
We tried to free up the system by allowing more free schools to
set up, so people with different ideas about how schools
should run can give those a go.
But it should be less of an argument about structure
and more about the substance
and the quality of what children are learning in the classroom.
-What do you think?
-Well, I had two children.
One went to the local comprehensive school
and my daughter went to the girls' grammar school in Stratford.
For me, it was a case of finding
the right school for the right child.
And my daughter, who was quite academic,
really thrived in that academic environment,
and I think this one-size-fits-all in education
isn't necessarily right.
We have to find the right school for the right child.
I think that's an important point. I went to my local comprehensive,
but we have tried to make sure parents have got more choice.
And having a wider variety of schools
means there is going to be more choice on people's doorstep now
than we have seen in the past, which is a good thing.
But you think the policy should change?
-There should be more grammar schools?
-I do, yes, definitely.
Theo, what do you think?
I think we've got to accept one big fact,
that not all children are the same.
And what we need to do is find choice and freedom of choice
and allow people to choose schools
that are right for their kids. I am dyslexic,
so I would have been a total waste of time in a grammar school.
In fact, I would have been negative in a grammar school,
I went to a comprehensive school.
But there's other children who will thrive in a grammar school.
But I think we need to be able to accept that we are all
very different and we've got to get the right school for our child.
We can't just shoehorn everybody in some mythological school that
just does one thing and produces the same character at the end.
But hang on, your comprehensive school would have had
people of all abilities, wouldn't it?
The point about the grammar school is you select, at 11 or whenever,
a number of children to go away and have that kind of education.
That's the difference between the comprehensive
-and grammar school system.
-Well, not in practice, no,
because the local grammar school would have taken the other kids,
er, and the kids at my school were more vocational, more practical,
and in fact a lot of the kids in my school went on to apprenticeships.
And that's what suited us.
But you think it was better for your school not to have the more
-academic children in it.
-I think we just...
Not to have the more academic,
but we majored in different things that actually rocked our boat,
-that we were interested in, that worked for us.
But to put a child in a situation, or a challenging situation,
where it's not right for them, it's not... We're all so very different.
-Well, I really disagree with pretty much everyone
who's spoken on this so far
because I think that comprehensive schools like the one I went to
aren't just factories, actually,
they are capable of dealing with the fact that they have different
children in them. And the point's been made that
not all children are the same,
and that surely is the reason why we shouldn't allow
the expansion of grammar schools,
because children develop at different rates,
they come from very different backgrounds,
and we know the evidence is very clear that children who come from
more deprived backgrounds often end up catching up later
in terms of their academic achievements. And I think
we do a real disservice not just to those children, actually,
but to all children when we seek to divide them in that way,
because the greatest thing that my comprehensive school gave to me
was the chance to meet and get to know children from all
different backgrounds and of all different abilities
and I think that's what we should be aiming for,
to give a good chance to every child,
not just for social advantage
-but for social enlightenment as well.
-In the third row from the back.
-Are the panel totally unaware...
No, the woman in the third row. I'll come to you in a moment. Yes.
Yeah, you made the point that it's kind of almost
sectioned off areas of society, so the elitist go to grammar schools,
the non-elitist perhaps go to comprehensive.
I come from a non-elitist family, I go to a local grammar school,
I travel about 40 minutes a day to get there.
My sister went to her local comprehensive.
She's achieved just as much as I've achieved,
she's accomplished everything she wanted to accomplish and so have I.
I think it's wrong in a way to say that it is...
You know, "I got to mix with a whole range of people
"because I went to a comprehensive."
I've mixed with an equally versatile and variant array of people
and I've been to a grammar school and my sister
and I have accomplished just as well as each other.
-So you're in favour of keeping the grammar schools?
You don't think you could have got what you got from the comprehensive?
I think you get different things.
I wouldn't have done particularly well at a comprehensive -
I like quite small environments -
whereas my sister thrived on mingling
and lots of different people, socialising.
I think it's a different learning environment.
Man at the back.
Are the panel totally unaware
that there's a national teacher shortage?
We can't recruit teachers, we can't hold on to teachers,
and our further education system is so underfunded it's falling apart.
And where do you stand on the grammar school issue?
You think it's relevant in that context?
Secondary schools were perfectly fine for me
-and they should be perfectly fine for everybody else.
Erm... SOME APPLAUSE
-Erm, it's a great question.
My grandma left school at 12 and my mum left school at 14.
Education has absolutely transformed my life and my prospects.
There is nothing more important for us as a society, I think,
than education, but I think 11 is far too young to choose.
You're not formed at 11, and we all develop at different rates,
so the idea of taking an 11-year-old child and saying, "Look,
"you should go to a grammar school because you're bright,
"and you're not quite so bright,
"and therefore you're not going to a grammar school," I think
sends out all the wrong signals, because you're absolutely right...
You're absolutely right, children are all different,
but then adults are all different as well, and we don't segregate
adults, and I don't think we should segregate children.
One of the great joys of the comprehensive school system is
that children mix with people of different abilities,
from different backgrounds and different ethnic groups,
different social classes,
and that prepares them for the rest of their lives, because we're
going to spend the rest of our lives mixing with very different people.
Do you mean bright or academic?
I take exception to that, do you mean bright or academic?
Well, a bit... Well, obviously academic.
Well, no, they're different words, totally different words.
They are, but try teaching that to a child,
because if at 11 you're told that you're not going into that class,
you're going into another class, you won't make that distinction,
you'll just think you haven't made the grade, and it's wrong
-to treat children like that.
-That's the generalisation.
The woman in green up there, I want to hear from the audience.
Now, I teach in a non-selective local school.
When I say local, it's actually 15 miles from here, but because
of the boundaries we actually fall into the same category.
Now, it seems to be the opinion of everybody I've heard so far
that if you've got local grammar schools they somehow
detract from the other schools in the locality.
It's absolutely not true.
My school is one of the top schools in the country
and we are totally non-selective,
and yet a lot of the students go to the local grammar schools here.
So do you have any view
about whether it's desirable to have more grammar schools?
Are you saying they can live perfectly well cheek by jowl?
I think they can live perfectly well side-by-side and I think
academic children deserve the right to have a more academic one and...
And the... Thank you.
The woman in the...black dress with the white spots.
Erm, a few of the panel have mentioned about the importance
of choice, and while I agree with that,
in that all children are different
and will thrive in different environments, as a parent myself,
what I want to know is whatever my local school is there is
a good standard of education and my child will get a good education,
and, yes, it is nice to have choice
but actually wherever children go to school we want them
all to be getting that good standard of care, of education,
wherever they go and whatever the choices.
-Well, I think
that grammar schools do not address one of the biggest problems
we have in our education system, which is
the low literacy rates of boys from poor communities.
Our education system is completely failing them.
So grammar schools help the gifted children,
but what are we going to do about the whole generation of young boys
from poor families who are completely being left to just...
just squander because we are not investing in those?
-And I think that's what we also need to be looking at.
-And this government needs to be addressing it.
I think I'm reasonably well qualified to talk about this
because I taught in one of those grammar schools.
I've also been in about 100 schools over the last five years
as a supply teacher.
And one of the things that I would say
is that there are three key things about this.
One is that you make sure that you get the very best people to be
the head teachers and that they have around them a really good
team of senior teachers who can support them in everything they do.
But that would apply to all schools, private, grammar or comprehensive.
Very much so. Secondly, more important than this,
teachers are getting buried under paperwork
and they are being forced by league tables and Ofsted to comply
to all sorts of rules which are just plainly against education...
But again, sorry, this would apply to private and grammar
-and comprehensive schools.
The question is about whether grammar schools are desirable.
Well, personally I...I think that it really doesn't matter particularly.
The most important thing is that the system is changed radically
and very soon, before all the teachers that the gentleman
at the back referred to, who are leaving the profession...
I know why they're leaving the profession,
because they're actually sickened off by what is going on.
Irrelevant whether we have academies,
grammar schools, comprehensives.
Make sure that the teaching profession is valued,
because it is a very important profession and it is one that
people should look up to, not try and slate,
-and this is very important.
-But would you...
-would you abandon testing of schools, would you...?
-You would abandon all of that?
-There are systems working...
There are systems working in Europe which don't test
children to the nth degree. This is getting ridiculous, people are...
-Finland, for example.
Teachers are now teaching to the exam.
I've been in a really good school in Northamptonshire
for the last four weeks.
The senior teachers there say that we are playing the exam game
because we know that we've got talented
pupils in our school who've just got to be schooled through the exams.
-That's not education.
-All right, well...
That's nothing like it!
-Nothing like it!
Well, a lot of these new tests were introduced by Michael Gove
when he was Education Secretary, Justine.
What do you make of what he's said?
I think we've got to make sure that
if we are measuring schools that it is worthwhile and it allows
parents to have meaningful information so they can get
a sense of how their child is doing,
but also how the school overall is doing.
Go to the school and then you would realise what it's really about!
Just go into the school, speak to the head teacher,
speak to the people who are really in charge and then you will know.
You will feel its pulse.
You are right and I have spent ten years as a school governor
in my local community as well.
The key to this is,
as I said to the response before, is making sure there is a learning
environment and that teachers can get on with their job, but we need
to make sure parents have got the kind of information they
need to know about how the school is doing and how their child is doing.
What I did want to say was there are lots of places in Britain
where we are seeing our schools radically improve and get better.
I am an MP in London and we've really seen London schools
come on in leaps and bounds over recent years.
We now need to make sure we understand how that
kind of progress is happening and why.
I agree, a lot of it is about leadership
and the senior leadership team around a head teacher.
I have a fantastic school in my constituency
called Ronald Ross which has transformed over the last two
years and it's because of that.
We know what works, the question is how can we make sure that in
schools that are failing - and some can be in affluent areas as well -
how we don't accept that?
And if we need to change leadership we should.
You have to engage the parents.
We need to make the parents feel they are involved in the school,
they have an engagement with the school, because that transforms
the quality of education for children,
if parents don't feel locked out.
We have ten minutes left. I want to move on to another point
unless anybody wants to desperately come in with something.
Yes. You've spoken already tonight, haven't you? You, sir.
I would say, I work in what would be a comprehensive school,
-now an academy. I've worked there for ten years.
-As a teacher?
No. That is an important thing. I was in business.
I now work as an enterprise manager, a work experience manager helping
people, our students, to link with the world of academia and business.
Yes, grammar schools are desirable. I went to one.
My old comp, now an academy, is desirable.
I work there every day and work with fantastic colleagues...
Do you think there should be more grammar schools than there are?
Personally, I think there should be more schools.
There should be more schools, quite honestly,
either grammar or whatever.
The point I'm trying to say is - what you have all said is brilliant
because it's getting that for the right thing.
The only test that you need is that the student comes out of that
school well prepared for life.
Whatever school gives them that is the best school.
Last quick point.
Very briefly, if you would.
What I've heard during this discussion is segregation, elitism.
What I keep hearing - grammar school, comprehensive, academy -
far too many levels of separation.
We have faith schools, comprehensive, grammar -
all we are encouraging is segregation.
Separating societies and isolating young people in establishments
and expecting them to come together as adults,
and they will have challenges then.
You are against faith schools, you're against grammar schools...
We have too many. What's next? We keep separating.
Next we might have segregation in councils,
in the NHS, for example.
Why is there a need to separate and have all these separations going on?
OK. Thank you very much for that.
-Can I say...?
-No. Be brief.
Equality of opportunity -
that is how you stop segregation in the long term.
Kids coming out of school feeling like they all have a great chance
of being successful in our country wherever they start.
That goes without saying.
Nick Rendell, your question, please.
My 87-year-old mother pays just over 50% more than me for electricity.
Why has Ofgem been so hopeless at protecting the vulnerable?
Why is your 87-year-old mother paying 50% more than you?
-Well, she's not any more. I changed it at the weekend.
You could protect her rather than Ofgem!
I only discovered it at the weekend and we've sorted it out.
My point is really, I think someone who is 87 is maybe...
her eyesight is not as good.
The internet is the only way you can get really good prices.
I don't give a damn how much the people in this room pay because
they can all access the market, perfectly easily access the market.
70% of the population choose not to change their utility prices,
which is their lookout.
I'm concerned about people who don't have internet access,
can't access the sainted Martin Lewis' website
to get the best prices on the market,
which is lower than the standard rate price
which 70% of the population pays.
Lisa Nandy is the Shadow Energy Secretary. What do you say?
The energy market is not competitive enough.
I would say that it can be incredibly confusing
and it makes it difficult for people like your mum who aren't
necessarily on the internet, like you said,
can't necessarily weed out where the best deals might be found.
Actually, I do care about everybody else as well because it has
become increasingly clear in recent years that most of us are getting
ripped off by the energy market and the way that it works at the moment.
Today, we saw British Gas announce a leap in profits of 31%.
Yet we have seen a dramatic fall in the wholesale price of gas
and those falls have not been passed on to consumers.
There's a body called the Competition and Markets Authority
that was commissioned to look at the way
that the energy market is working.
That found that consumers had been overcharged to the tune
of £1.2 billion a year every year between 2009-2013.
The truth is, the Energy Secretary says she has been crystal clear
that the companies need to change their behaviour.
But the energy companies have been crystal clear
they are not listening.
When she wrote to the Big Six, only two could be bothered to reply.
I think we need real action to bring proper competition into this market.
Next month the CMA will report.
They said last year that we should have a safeguard tariff to
make sure that people, particularly the vulnerable,
get the best deal in the market.
They got a lot of kickback from the industry on that.
What I want to see next month is some really bold proposals
that give us real competition, that give us decent deals.
I want to see a government that is prepared to step in and act
and not just lecture the energy companies who aren't listening.
So we're all getting ripped off
and the energy companies ignore your Energy Secretary.
First of all, I have to point out
if we had what Labour wanted at the last election
we would have had an energy price freeze which would mean a cap...
Cap, which means it couldn't go above a certain amount.
..we wouldn't see the kind of falls we are seeing now.
That is not true, you know that.
This government had the CMA look into this situation
and more than that, though, as you will know,
we've brought through legislation that means simpler tariffs
and energy companies having to flag up to people
when they are on a more expensive tariff than they ought to be.
"What has it achieved?" is my question to you.
It's a lot more than you achieved over 13 years which saw competition
exit the market, and we're trying to get competition back into it.
-It's not quite so straightforward
to say this problem has arisen now.
We are making sure Ofgem has teeth,
making sure the market operates effectively,
making sure consumers do know whether they are on the best
tariff or not and making the tariff simpler.
That is why that gentleman knows his mother is
not on as good a tariff as she should be.
-The tariff system is mad.
-The tariff system is mad!
Which is why it's been simplified.
If you try to find what you're paying per kilowatt-hour,
it's virtually impossible.
I've never known a market that can be so mismanaged.
I think again, I don't think it's the companies.
I think it is Ofgem who have structured the system.
If you go on to the website, you try and find how much you pay
per kilowatt-hour and the tariffs are buried so far away
-it's virtually impossible to find it.
-You at the back.
I think the regulators need to be brought to book.
The companies, while they are in private hands,
will try to maximise their profits.
It's up to the regulators to control that
and to stop people getting ripped off.
All those British Gas customers that haven't had a price decrease
should get a rebate today.
You need a PhD in Applied Maths to understand the tariffs.
Maybe that is what we should teach 11-year-olds to help them
later in life.
It is disgraceful that old people are shivering in their homes
and scared to turn on their energy supply.
It is disgraceful. It has gone on for far too long.
We don't have a functioning system of competition.
One of the problems, of course, is that people don't switch.
They don't switch because they can't understand
the benefits of switching.
Many of them stay with the old utility companies that have
been privatised and so a lot of people are paying
much more than they need to.
They get little help from the government in understanding it.
One of the disgraces, of course, is when energy supplies
come down in price, those are not passed on to the consumer.
When they go up, then they are passed on to the consumer
as quickly as the energy companies can possibly do.
So they are rascals, the energy companies.
They need to be called to heel
and they need to be strictly regulated.
Theo Paphitis... Do you come to the defence of the energy companies?
We have a minute or two left.
We talked about the regulator.
They have to be called to account here.
But each company has their tariffs.
They have got more details on our usage than we have.
They know exactly what we're spending.
It's not rocket science for them to automatically put
everybody on the right tariff that's best for them.
But for some reason, they don't wish to do so.
It's down to the regulator.
-They could be instructed to do so.
-It's dead easy.
We have legislated for energy companies to have to be clear
with people when they are not on the right tariff.
They are saying it's not happening.
You don't have to be clear or notify them -
you don't have to do anything.
It's really, really easy, this.
-You just do it.
-I'm with Theo.
OK. All right.
You, sir, there on the left. We have to come to an end.
I know it's Stratford-upon-Avon, so I might be in the minority.
Why don't we nationalise the energy sector?
Because it should work for the benefit of the people.
That ship has sailed, unfortunately.
That ship has sailed. The last point here.
I have a friend who moved to Spain, they get the winter fuel allowance.
How can that be?
Again, that's something that we are changing and announced
I think at the last Budget that we are not going to be paying
the winter fuel allowance to people living in countries like Spain.
The person there. Yes, you.
Do you not think that the government should be helping smaller
energy firms to grow so that bigger energy firms
don't have a monopoly over the market?
Especially because what we really need to see is a lot more
competition in where our energy comes from.
What this government did when it attacked renewables
and removed overnight the subsidies for solar and wind energy and taken
away the tax relief for community energy projects has meant that more
power is given to the Big Six energy companies
and taken away from people.
Labour and the Tories blaming each other.
One thing they could have controlled in office
was the level of tax on fuel, whether it is gas,
electricity or petrol.
None of them ever seem to bother to do it.
When it comes to green taxes,
that is part of the reason why
fuel prices, energy prices are so high.
-We have to stop.
-I would agree with Piers Corbyn, not Jeremy!
Yeah, we might go into that another time.
A whole new debate.
Our energy has not run out, has it? But we have to stop, the time is up.
Now, where will we be next week? Poole in Dorset.
Julian Fellowes, who wrote Downton Abbey, will be on the panel.
That's all I know for the moment.
The week after in Liverpool, where we always get a good programme.
If you want to come to Poole or Liverpool, go to our website
or call us:
On Radio 5 Live this debate goes on, on Question Time Extra Time.
From here, my thanks to all our panellists
and to all of you who came to Stratford-upon-Avon to take part.
Until next Thursday, from Question Time, goodnight!
David Dimbleby presents from Stratford-upon-Avon. Panellists include Conservative international development secretary Justine Greening, Labour's shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy, the SNP's John Nicolson, broadcaster June Sarpong and businessman and former Dragon Theo Paphitis.